The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards honour the best and brightest students who run businesses in between classes – no small feat, considering the majority of us find school alone tough to ride out.
Students who win the competition here in Vancouver receive a prize pack worth a sizeable sum of money – $170,000 to be exact – that includes six months at Victory Square’s incubator program, office space for three months, and PR, accounting and legal services.
North Vancouver native Daniel Dubois is a contender this year. He started ShareShed, an app that allows you to rent or list outdoor equipment such as kayaks anywhere in the world. Think of it as an Airbnb for sports equipment.
The idea hit him after he came home from a backpacking trip through Australia.
“In my entrepreneurship class, we watched a TED Talk called ‘The Rise of Collaborative Consumption’ by Rachel Botsman and the talk was on the rise of the share economy,” Dubois told Vancity Buzz.
“She said ‘to redefine wealth, from what you own to what you’ve got’ and it made me think back to Australia when we truly were wealthy, even though we didn’t own anything.”
And ShareShed is growing, partially because Dubois entered the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards last year. His situation is unique for this competition – he won on the local level, but came in second in the nationals in Toronto, so he wasn’t able to advance to the global competition in Bangkok, Thailand.
The prize pack for the winner of the global competition is worth over $400,000. Dubois’ goal this year is to make it to Bangkok.
“This year, I’m going to focus more so on myself and my background and some of the other things I’ve done rather than on ShareShed. At the end of the day, it’s not a business pitch competition, it’s more or less focused on the entrepreneur,” he said.
The Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards are funded by the Entrepreneur’s Organization, a global non-profit that aims to “Engage leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow.” They have 11,000 members in 50 countries and to join, you must have a business worth over $1 million.
Students entering the competition don’t have to have a dollar value attached to their business, but it does need to be registered. Ultimately, it’s not about the business itself, but the young person aspiring to be an entrepreneur.
“The competition is before a live judging panel, and we bring in VIP-type judges. They get half an hour to do their pitch and then they’re judged on that and we pick a winner,” GSEA Vancouver Chair Calvin Johnson told Vancity Buzz.
This year’s panel of judges include CEO of Hootsuite Ryan Holmes, Co-Founder of The Next Big Thing Meredith Powell, and partner at Varshney Capital Praveen Varshney.
Dubois and two other student entrepreneurs have been selected and will go head-to-head in the competition on Tuesday, November 10 at Hootsuite headquarters where it will be decided who advances to the nationals in Toronto.
In the end, it’s important to recognize young entrepreneurs for their achievements, said Johnson.
“They’re the future for the economy. Millennials are so smart, and I think the next up-and-coming profession is entrepreneurship. For us holding these competitions and sharing our knowledge, I think it’s the best job out there.”