Humber Startup Skills Mixer connects students with entrepreneurs

by | Mar 16, 2015 | Biz/Tech

Matthew Pariselli
News Reporter

Michael Wickware enters room L1017 at Humber College’s Lakeshore campus with business on his mind.

Wickware owns Wickware Agency, which specializes in advertising and marketing in the investment industry.

He’s here to attend Humber’s Startup Skills Mixer, an event put on by HumberLaunch.

The event aims to connect entrepreneurs and mentors in the Humber lakeshore community with students of the college looking to apply some of their newly acquired skills to business projects.

The mixer features students in the schools of Media & Information Technology, Applied Technology, and Business.

Wickware said his eyes are on students with technology-based backgrounds.

“I have two startups in various stages of development and I’m able to bring a lot of the strategy, relationships, sales and marketing to the table. But I can’t actually build the products that I’m envisioning. I would love to meet some person or people that would help me build these ideas,” Wickware said.

Sarah Lenarcic, Community Outreach Coordinator for HumberLaunch, said this is exactly what the event is designed to achieve.

“It’s an opportunity for these groups of students and entrepreneurs to network in the hopes that entrepreneurs can receive some skills and talent from the students, and the students can receive potential job opportunities or experience they can add to their resumés,” Lenarcic said.

The event was born out of a startup weekend Humber College hosted in October 2014, Lenarcic said. That event attracted nearly 70 people, but the feedback suggested there was a shortage of students in attendance with technological skills and interests.

The shift in focus that the Startup Skills Mixer endorses plays into Erik Smith’s hand nicely.

Smith is a student in the college’s comedy writing and performance program. He acknowledges the disparity between the purpose of the event and his program of study, but said it’s his technology-based background that prompted him to attend.

“Before I was in comedy, I was in computer science focusing on security and network administration. I have a certain amount of experience developing web-based applications and websites, so I figure that’s something entrepreneurs would want,” Smith said.

The difficulty in cracking the comedy scene makes earning money challenging, Smith said. The ideal outcome of the mixer would be landing a summer job.

“I’m not here for egregious self-promotion. I’m just trying to find a way to make a little bit of money. Something that would help me eat a little better, maybe pay some rent, too,” Smith said.

Self-promotion is something Mike Hook isn’t here for, either.

Hook is a lawyer and an entrepreneur. He was invited to the event by HumberLaunch and asked to serve as a mentor.

Hook said the path to becoming a lawyer and entrepreneur is paved with obstacles.

“There is a whole lot of learning and making mistakes, so if there are things that I can pass on that help people not make those same mistakes, then everybody’s a little better off,” Hook said.

HumberLaunch is the college’s business incubator. It puts on networking events and workshops to provide free resources and services to entrepreneurs with the objective of turning ideas into successful businesses worth launching.

The Startup Skills Mixer was held on Thursday, March 12 from 11:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. It attracted 70 people including entrepreneurs and Humber students.