Students pitching their ideas at the <Ad>Venture Conference.

Photo: Zeinab Saidoun

SAGE Canada holds <Ad>Venture Conference at Rye

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By Zeinab Saidoun

SAGE Canada, housed within Ryerson University, held their <Ad>Venture Conference on Feb. 27 at the Ted Rogers School of Management.

Students for the Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship (SAGE), is a non-profit organization helping young entrepreneurs ages 13-18. They provide the high school students with the opportunity to start their own business ventures. Currently, Ryerson’s SAGE is supporting 14 businesses.

“We are basically the foundation of their business,” said startup consultant Shreya Khurana. “Our job is to provide them with marketing, corporate and sponsorship mentorship, to list a few.” Throughout the school year, SAGE provides mentorship, educational resources and networking opportunities to help the students design and implement their businesses.

As a whole, SAGE aims to create a platform where young entrepreneurs feel confident to get help and support. “More than anything, our goal is to drive the passion within youth entrepreneurs,” said Syed Ahmed, vice president of business development. “At SAGE, the students are surrounded by leaders who have the experience to help achieve that goal.”

This event specifically focused on personal development. The workshops were run by Toastmasters, an organization which aims at helping individuals improve their speaking skills as well as Purple Patch Inc., a business advisory firm.

Contests during the workshops included pitching business plans and improving teamwork skills by partnering up with other students. The finalists were able to move onto the final part of the night where they present their business plans to industry professionals. Representatives from Fujtsu, TD Bank and others were of attendance to listen to the pitches.

The students, generally in Grade 11 or 12, are encouraged to find both local and global problems and create businesses that solve them. Grade 12 students at Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute, Frank Nguyen and André Bertram, created HelpWear, a wearable heart monitoring system. Currently, they are working with the Biomedical Zone at Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital.

HelpWear is designed to correlate blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygen levels. The watch can automatically contact Emergency Medical Services or a caregiver when the individual is about to have a heart attack. The idea initiated from concerns Nguyen has over his mom’s health. “My mom is hard of hearing, sight and she’s starting to have a heart problem,” said Nguyen. “Everyday when I leave for school, I worry she may not be able to get the help she needs, so having a system like ours would be ideal.”

Bertram explained that having an organization like SAGE has helped them in many aspects of their business, but most importantly, networking. “By networking, we are able to build off other people’s experiences,” said Bertram. “Often, that’s 90 per cent of the battle.”

Ultimately, their goal is to win the national competition and move on to the global SAGE competition taking place in the Philippines this year.

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