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Entrepreneurship opportunities key to unlocking the full MDM experience

Feb 18, 2021 By Elyse Economides

Tim Matindas knew the Master of Digital Media (MDM) program was the right fit for him after attending an information session. “Hearing that I could form a team to pitch an idea, and then receive support from faculty and the school every step of the way was an opportunity I knew I wanted to take,” he says. “Entrepreneurship is never something I thought I could ‘do,’ but as I did more research into the program, the clear message I heard from staff and faculty at Centre for Digital Media was: we want our students to dive in deep; we don’t want them to miss out on anything the program has to offer.”

From partner projects to pitch projects

During their second term in the program, as students work alongside our industry partners to develop and deploy solutions to real-life problems, they can also prepare to pitch their own project ideas. Those who make it through the MDM’s pitch project process and wow MDM’s own Expert Panel (similar to Dragon’s Den) use their third term to develop a proof of concept for their product. In their final term, teams can continue their journey with a venture internship, where students focus on building a business around the product, with the support of the many resources at Centre for Digital Media (CDM) and our partner schools.

MDM Expert Panel for Pitch Project Teams

In previous years, teams would gather at Centre for Digital Media to pitch to MDM’s Expert Panel. This year, pitching will take place remotely.

Once admitted to the program, Tim focused on creating a schedule that would maximize his learning. “The first term was really the ‘bootcamp’ term, where the faculty put us through the paces of demanding assignments and coursework, so we would be prepared for the next two terms,” he said. “I learned the level of commitment needed to excel in the program, but more importantly, I learned how to leverage project management strategies like agile methodology and product development skills like rapid prototyping to develop the most effective ways of working.” At the end of that first term, he and a few like-minded colleagues had settled on pitching a VR project, so he asked to be placed on a VR project team for his second term. “I was asked at the end of the first term if there was a particular area I wanted to focus on in Projects 2, and I requested a chance to work on a VR project. The project advisors honoured my request, and I was placed on a team creating a virtual environment for BC Children’s Hospital’s Digital Lab.”

Team Dazzle

As part of Team Dazzle, Tim is helping to create a flexible and simulated VR environment that enables patients to be placed in real-world scenarios that would normally trigger symptoms, thereby reducing the chance of injury while performing the treatment tasks and exercises.

Finding the right fit

To select his courses, Tim heeded advice from former MDM students about instructor Lydna Brown-Ganzert’s “Finding Product Market Fit” class. “I was told this course was a necessary elective for anyone who wanted to do a pitch project. Other students who had taken the course told me that it would be another tool to add to my arsenal, and that it would help me find a niche and make connections.” With that goal in mind, he structured his schedule around taking that course during his third term. “We’re limited to taking one elective in term two or one in term three, so I knew I wasn’t going to be able to take all the electives I wanted to,” Tim said. “So I decided to apply for the Instructional Assistant position in another elective I wanted to take. That way, I could still benefit from learning the course material, but I wouldn’t have to try and fit another class into my already full schedule.”

Above all, the program has given Tim the confidence to believe in himself and his team. “The guest speaker series Dennis (CDM’s Director of Industry Relations) hosted in the fall really inspired me; it made me believe that connections - between my peers and members within the industry - really can happen. We’re just three non-Canadians with an idea, and hearing the stories of other alumni (many of whom were also international students) made me believe we were capable of bringing a product to the marketplace.”

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Looking for some advice to start your own entrepreneurial journey? Last year, two of our alumni shared their top tips for anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur. Want to learn even more? Our current student teams regularly share insights and advice on their project blogs.