How student entrepreneurs thrive in London

London, ON, Canada / 106.9 The X

Building a business from the ground up isn’t easy, and turning an idea into profit can use some guidance.

Leap Junction work space

Two services in London aim at mending this gap – by providing students with consultation and mentorship, and connecting them to funding opportunities, workshops, education, and the business ecosystem in the city.

Leap Junction is Fanshawe’s student entrepreneurship program, located at SUB 1035 (Student Union Building).

Partnering with Pillar Non-Profit, TechAlliance, and the Small Business Centre, Leap Junction not only offers a vibrant orange working space in the college, but professional advice from successful business-owners.

Success stories such as GamerLink have come from Leap Junction – a mobile app designed to group like-minded gamers, created by students Deion Farrington and Ryan Figueiredo.

“I think they’re at about $141,000 that they have raised. They just got back from Korea cause they wanted to expand their opportunity to see what an international market might be able to do for them,” says Annette Markfert, the Entrepreneurian Animator for Leap Junction.

Propel work space

Propel on the other hand is Western’s version, located at WSS 2130 (Western Student Services).

With similar partners as Leap Junction, Propel provides university students with the same mandate – helping student entrepreneurs make their dream a reality.

Michelle Stanescu is Propel’s Program Coordinator, and says it’s important to target students so they can be established on their feet earlier, compared to the common businessman or woman.

“Typically entrepreneurs are a bit older. When they start a business they’re about 40 years in age. Hitting the younger group allows students to know right away that this is an avenue for you to pursue. Entrepreneurship is something you can do. You don’t have to wait until you’re more established,” she says.

In Propel’s workshop you can find Soojeong Choi – an example of a Propel success story.

Along with Murray Wu, the two developed the V.O. magnetic charging adapter for all electronics.

“Six months ago it was an idea. Four months ago we had the prototypes. One month ago we got our first investment. And now, I’m almost going full time into this,” Choi says.

With the help of Propel, V.O.’s success even reached the popular television series Dragons Den.

Leap Junction and Propel are both open 9am until 4pm on their respective campus, and offer both drop-in or one-on-one counselling appointments.

“I think it’s really important for students to be able to have the support and an access to the network within the London community. Because when you’re starting up with an idea and you don’t know where to turn to, it’s great to have a resource on campus that  you can just walk to right after class,” says Stanescu.

As for how students feel about these services? Choi assures the entrepreneurship community is like a family.

“They’re there to help  you out, they’re not there to take your money. Cause you know, we’ve been scammed a couple times from businesses like PR agencies that weren’t there for our own interest, they were there for their own. And I know people at Propel that I trust, are here to actually support us as a startup,” he says.

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