On March 13, the Louis Riel School Division hosted the Tiger’s Den Entrepreneurship and Innovation conference.
The event occurred at the LRSD board office and included all seven LRSD. high schools, along with River East Collegiate.
Some 72 students arrived at 8:30 a.m. and met their teammates for the first time. After quick introductions, each team got down to the business of creating an innovative product or service.
By 2 p.m. that afternoon, all teams began to present their concepts in a ‘speed-dating’ format of 12 continuous five-minute presentations to 20 entrepreneurs and businesses from in and around Winnipeg.
Lisa Barkman-Hobbs, a teacher at Windsor Park Collegiate, said that "events like Tiger’s Den help students understand that creativity isn’t just something you do in art or creative writing classes. Employers from all fields want graduates who can exercise creativity to solve problems and spark innovation."
The teams were tutored by nine LRSD teachers and 15 Winnipeg business professionals who coached them on how to discover an opportunity, connect to customers, build a brand, market with social media and shape a financial plan.
Tiger judge Scott MacAuley, of Red River College’s entrepreneurship program, believes that "schools need more entrepreneurial mindsets to help high school students see that starting their own business is a viable and exciting life."
Dave Angus, chief executive officer of Winnipeg’s Chamber of Commerce said "workplace norms are changing. Working for a single company in a lifetime will be a rarity. Student need transferable skill sets to be successful; in fact, they may have to create their own careers.
The winning team created an organic fast food restaurant called True Food; the second-place team, Cube-It, invented a cube-shaped device with five screens that connected to cell phones. The Komposters, a mobile composting service, earned a commendation for their carbon footprint impact. One student, Shelby Juer from Dakota Collegiate, earned an award as outstanding presenter at the event.
Windsor Park Collegiate student Maria Colvin enjoyed the frenzied atmosphere: "I’ve had to work in pressured situations before but the Tiger’s Den took the cake. Creating an idea from scratch, solving so many problems and selling it in one day took a lot of work, but it was an amazing experience."
Student exit surveys revealed that 89 per cent of the participants would consider becoming entrepreneurs in the future; 100% of the students recommended the event to their peers — pointing to a real appetite for entrepreneurial training among high school students.
To connect to a conversation about students and entrepreneurship, check out Twitter at #LRSDTigersDen.
Adriano Magnifico is a community correspondent for St. Boniface. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org