The Master of Digital Media program has opportunities for students who want to explore entrepreneurship. Taking a different route from other students, in the 3rd semester students can choose to pitch an idea for their own project and spend the semester working on bringing their idea to life. It’s a chance to test out an idea and see if it would be viable as a product in the real world. If successful, some students decided to develop their idea further with a venture internship.
Last month, two MDM alumni gave a lunchtime talk on entrepreneurship and their tips for students thinking of taking that route.
One of the speakers was Jason Elliott, alumni and current faculty member who came into the program to get the skills and connections to start his own company. He ultimately decided that being an entrepreneur and running a company wasn’t for him.
The other speaker was Angela Hamilton. She came to the MDM program from the US with a journalism background and thought that she would go back into journalism after she graduated. But she ended up starting a company with some of her MDM peers and now runs Quupe—a sharing economy platform. Angela is currently our entrepreneur-in-residence at the CDM.
Though they both had very different experiences exploring entrepreneurship, they had similar tips on how to make a startup work. Here are their top tips for anyone who wants to become an entrepreneur.
1. Start with a strong, lean team.
A successful startup starts with team members who are invested in the idea and the company. There also needs to be strong communication amongst team members. To help with communication, teams should be small, ideally 2 - 3 people. More people complicate all of the decisions that you have to make, especially in the early stages.
2. Have an exit plan.
From the very beginning stages of your startup, you need an exit plan for all team members. This is so that if someone decides they want out, the company’s momentum doesn’t stop. For example, there can be a plan in place for teammates who want to leave to help out part-time to get the company on its feet.
An exit plan also ensures that team members will leave amicably and will be supportive of the company’s future.
3. Know your country’s visa rules and local startup organizations.
If some team members are international, make sure to understand the rules of their visa. For example, some visas require that you work for an established organization and a startup organization doesn’t count. If you’re in Canada, look into Canada’s startup visa program.
It’s also helpful to become familiar with all of the startup organizations and support that are locally available to you. Startup organizations in Vancouver within our CDM’s partner schools include:
- SFU's Venture Connection
- SFU Radius
- UBC Hatch Accelerator
- Emily Carr’s Shumka Centre for Creative Entrepreneurship
- BCITSA Entrepreneurship
Centre for Digital Media is hosting Demo Day & Mixer tomorrow night to celebrate early-stage start-up companies from UBC, SFU, BCIT and Emily Carr.