EWeek 2016 Highlights
See the full EWeek 2016 highlights release.
From November 14th to 17th, an estimated 20 million people participated worldwide in 35,000 events and competitions for Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW). At Dawson College in Montreal, EWeek events included a diverse and inspiring lineup of speakers, mentors, networking opportunities, contests and activities for students, alumni and the Montreal community.
To mark the event’s 5th anniversary, EWeek 2016 was celebrated in style by raffling off 5 Google Chromebooks for each year, courtesy of our partners, the Dawson College Student Success Action Plan (SSAP) and Google Montreal.
On November 14th, Frank O’Dea, our keynote speaker and co-founder of the Second Cup, was welcomed by a full house of over 250 people. Mr. O’Dea delivered a truly inspirational and moving talk where he detailed his journey from his childhood in Montreal to his life as a homeless person on the streets of Toronto. He further elaborated on how his life changed on a dime, and how he ended up co-founding the Second Cup, a chain of nationwide specialty coffee shops. Mr O’Dea is not only the co-founder of one of the biggest national coffee chains but he also built and founded Pro-Shred Security, a successful international document shredding company and a leader in the document disposal industry.
Frank O’Dea is not only a successful businessman, he is an active member within the non-for-profit community as well. O’Dea saw an opportunity during a chance meeting on an airplane, and launched a worldwide charity: Street Kids International. He has been part of many initiatives to raise funds for, among others, education and children of war. At the end of his keynote address, Mr. O’Dea graciously accepted to autograph copies of his book, “When All You Have is Hope”. Audience members were able to connect with him and reported being thoroughly impressed by his kindness and humility.
This year’s volunteer organizing committee, the ESquad, had a unique challenge to raise $2000 for CUSO International, a foundation named by Mr. O’Dea. Mr. O’Dea generously waived his speaker fee in exchange for a contribution to CUSO International, a foundation for which he is the Chair of the Development Committee. Our donation to CUSO International was matched and multiplied by the Canada International Development Agency making the total contribution to CUSO a whopping $30,000!!!
Under the supervision of Pauline Fresco, the ESquad flawlessly managed EWeek’s promotions, sponsorships, décor, graphics, video, photography, social media, and volunteers – including the Blue Ring, and portraits for the speakers. Lotfi El-Ghandouri’s portrait caught this speaker’s eye immediately. His picture post on social media exploded with likes!
That Monday evening, Lotfi El-Ghandouri took the stage with high energy showcasing his dynamic personality. A true pioneer in his field of work, Lotfi created the framework for the unique and prestigious C2MTL conference attracting the likes of Richard Branson, Martha Stuart and astronaut Julie Payette.
Lotfi shared his thoughts on the connection between audacity and innovation, how to manage your constellation, and a few paradigms one should keep in mind when building a new venture. He offered a copy of his book “Will you Dare?” to the first 75 attendees.
Lofti El-Ghandouri’s talk was followed by the wildly popular Dawson’s Den Initial Pitches, which mimics the same principles of the television show Dragon’s Den. Friends and family cheered on 21 student teams who pitched ideas for social and commercial enterprises. Eleven student teams were selected by the audience to go on to the finals that were held later on in the week.
Throughout EWeek, Dawson’s very own business teacher Robert Soroka and communications officer, Geoff Kloos moderated panel discussions. We heard from tech gurus, artist-entrepreneurs, designers, fashionistas, aquaponic farmers and food truck owners. One of our panelists, local entrepreneur Corey Shapiro, who owns Vintage Frames, Notorious Barber Shop and various other businesses, impressed the audience when he told us clients like Lady Gaga, Jay-Z and many other stars are willing to pay close to 48,000$ for his Vintage frames. No wonder he can afford to drive a gold car. But don’t let appearances fool you. Corey has a big heart and makes sure to give back to the community. This unique panel also included Olivier Demers-Dubé who built Montreal’s first aquaponics farm installed at the Jean Talon Market. Aquaponics is a closed system growing both fish and plants in one system each providing nutrients to the other.
In support of Dawson’s EWeek, Dushan Nikolovski from Purdue University, flew to Montreal from Chicago at his own expense to give a talk entitled Avoid the Number One Killer of Dreams. Nikolovski shared his thoughts on how the educational system may stifle children’s creativity by encouraging conformity. He continued on by explaining how most spend a lifetime trying to regain the artist within after conforming to the prescribed societal norms. His message was that, it is possible to reclaim your spark, discover what drives you, and create work that makes you happy in order to live the life you want.
Our “Coup de Coeur” was Christopher Olimpo, a Dawson College alumnus who became emotional when recounting his journey from being our Social Media volunteer during EWeek 2013 to leading the creative team at Montreal’s own, 5th Wall Agency. Thanks to EWeek, Chris connected with Armando Gomez, the VP of Advertising at Askmen.com, who soon discovered Christopher’s talents as a creative entrepreneur. Within a span of two years, Chris found himself working on various creative projects and pitching ideas to bigwigs in New York and Los Angeles. Looking back at that time, Chris Olimpo still can’t believe how much his life has changed in such a short period of time; all because his teacher, Pauline Fresco, asked him to volunteer for EWeek.
For young entrepreneurs who are aspiring to launch their own businesses, the popular “Speed-date an Entrepreneur” event offering one-on-one time with 25 entrepreneur-mentors was the perfect setting to help successful entrepreneurs, and students connect.
The EWeek grand finale of Dawson’s Den was preceded by a presentation from Google, one of our event sponsors. Marijke Hoste, Account Executive at Google sent an email to say:
“…a quick note to thank you for another fantastic edition of EWeek. The event is better organized than the Olympics, all volunteers are helpful/smiley, the students are grateful and the pitches are diverse. It’s been a pleasure to be part of EWeek again. You can definitely count on me again next year…”
Dawson’s Den winning pitch was by ex-business student Eduardo Orellana and his partners Jessy Bercier and Patrick Marois who created and developed the world’s first 5-lens multi-camera. They built and tested a prototype and are now looking for investors. The grand prize was truly exceptional and included one year of free coaching and mentoring from La Fondation Montréal Inc.; 1000$ in cash courtesy of the PME MTL; a Google Chromebook courtesy of Google Montreal; Business in a Box courtesy of Biztree; a goodie bag from YES Montreal consisting of a voucher for free coaching, a voucher for a free Business Basics workshop series and a business book.
Dawson’s Den saw two students in the new AEC program, Venture Creation in the Creative and Cultural Industries, win second and third place. Our second place finalist, Vicky Avramopoulos is an artist-entrepreneur-student who wants to build the Airbnb of artist studios.
The third place went to Valérie Pelletier whose social enterprise the Legal Tender Day Centre will offer refuge, activities, crafts and much needed services to the underprivileged of the Southwest Montreal community.
Visit our website to see all of the Dawson’s Den finalists and the winning pitches.
The pièce de résistance was the expression on our speakers’ faces when they received their thank you gifts. Pauline Fresco’s illustration students produced gift portraits of all the speakers as a token of our appreciation. The speakers were especially grateful and very proud to show off their gift produced by Dawson’s very talented illustrators.
EWeek could not have been possible without the Dawson Community including the contribution of the Dawson College Student Success Plan, SSAP, as well as the collaboration of Campus Life and Leadership. Shout out to Barbara, Cliff, Elizabeth, Gianna, Janet, Julia, Jorge, Kinga, Laurel, Mary, Peter, Raymon, Sarah, Tina, Vahan, Veronique, Vince, the Blue Ring volunteers and the Illustrators.
A big thank you the Den Dawson’s Den mentors, Fabienne Cyrius, Rosario Lo Raso, Nick Papatheodorakos, Tim Miller and last year’s Dawson’s Den winner, Brittany Dalfen; to all our hosts, Robert Soroka, Dan Delmar and Geoff Kloos for moderating discussions.
Special thanks go to our community partners and sponsors: SSAP, PME MTL, Fuller Landau; YES Montreal and the CEDEC.
Thanks also to GEW, Futurpreneur Canada, JCCM, Google Montreal, La Fondation Montréal Inc., Biztree, Saputo, IGA, Ciderie du Minot, Brasserie McAuslan, Mr. Pretzel, JugoJuice, Trou de Beigne, ADnARt, and YES Montreal for their generous in-kind contributions of mentors, prizes, food and drinks. For a complete list of our contributors, please consult our website.
Lastly, a big thank you goes out to Pauline Fresco for her incredible energy and ESquad leadership and to Felicia Solomon for her invaluable hard work, diligence and support.