By Colleen Marasigan
Ryerson University has signed a new agreement that spans international waters. The university, along with the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), have signed a memorandum of understanding with The Hatch for Startups (The Hatch), a non-profit organization in India that aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs succeed.
When Ryerson employees, including President Sheldon Levy, visited The Hatch last spring, cofounder Prajakt Raut knew both parties saw the potential benefits of collaborating.
“Ryerson is known to be an institution that has a significant emphasis on entrepreneurship. The faculty associated with the entrepreneurship program at Ryerson come with prior entrepreneurial experience,” said Raut in an e-mail. “And that makes a big difference.” Ryerson entrepreneurs visiting The Hatch will occupy the Canada Pavilion. A recent contribution to The Hatch made by the Canadian government, the Canadian addition to The Hatch, was launched by Edward Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia Pacific Gateway.
The pavilion was inaugurated on Nov. 7 upon the visit of Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
With the launch, Fast welcomed agreements with Extreme Startups in Toronto and Venture Cap TV of Montreal, as well as the partnership with Ryerson’s DMZ.
Described as an “incubator,” the Canada Pavilion within The Hatch helps entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition. Through The Hatch and the pavilion, entrepreneurs are able to focus on the concepts of their businesses, transforming ideas into success, while also connecting them to larger companies and successful mentors in a new and unfamiliar market.
Raut said that many investors tend to look for “winners” amongst businesses, leaving a huge number of start-ups to go unfunded. That’s what the creators of The Hatch hoped to change.
“We work with concept stage startups and we assist them through a large pool of mentors and potential angel investors who will collectively co-invest in startups mentored by The Hatch,” said Raut.
Ryerson and The Hatch will exchange information, knowledge, and office space during visits. With this agreement, The Hatch hopes to better their programs, knowledge, and form more connections.
“Ryerson is in the process of reaching out internationally to a number of organizations,” said Lauren Schneider, the DMZ’s media relations officer. “We think international relations and entrepreneurship are the wave of the future.”
By connecting with an international organization, and by using a digital platform as a means of communication, DMZ entrepreneurs can tune into how businesses operate in India and make those international connections.
Some exchanges have already happened, with The Hatch and the DMZ collaborating through instructional videos, online conferences, and webinars.
Schneider said, webinars have ranged from interactive videos which entrepreneurs at the DMZ can watch, to Skype calls. During these meetings, both parties have discussed common issues like finding the right market for their product, marketing the product, legal ramifications and certain types of patents.
Although The Hatch and the DMZ are located in different time zones, Schneider said there are very few technical or timing difficulties.
“I think the world is really going global and Ryerson is really a leader in making these connections and making these opportunities,” said Schneider.
The DMZ already referred a new business, Ticket Zone, to The Hatch this past summer.
A seminar called International Indian Fellows, which included nine individual Indian entrepreneurs from various Indian universities, came to the DMZ to create successful business ideas and products.
Ticket Zone – a program that would allow buyers to purchase tickets for events online, a concept that is lacking in India – proved to be successful and was eventually referred to The Hatch, to continue the business in India.
While Ryerson aims to help The Hatch, much can also be gained from this partnership.
According to Schneider, this new international opportunity will help the DMZ’s entrepreneurs in learning how to invest in different markets, to work with like-minded people with different points of view, or how to build a better product.
While no big events or collaborations have been planned, this new partnership may have hatched a new concept of entrepreneurship and business at Ryerson.