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November 14, 2019 2:20 PM

Dragons' Den star shares insights with student entrepreneurs

Conestoga Students Inc. (CSI) welcomed business mogul Bruce Croxon to the college’s Doon campus on November 6 for an evening dedicated to students interested in entrepreneurship and business leadership.

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Bruce Croxon shared his experience as a young entrepreneur and investor with Conestoga students at an event held November 6.

The event was part of Career Readiness Week, hosted in collaboration by student services across the college to offer activities highlighting the various supports available as students prepare to graduate and launch professional careers.

Croxon shared his experience as a young entrepreneur and his time as an investor on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, offering the group practical advice and reflecting on the visions and values he feels are required to grow organizations in fast-moving business environments.

A digital pioneer, Croxon made his mark in 1988 as co-founder of dating website Lavalife and grew the tech startup into a marquee brand in online dating with over 2 million users. He led the sale of the company in 2004 which allowed him to helm Round13, a company dedicated to investing in growth-stage digital companies like Sprigg Software and Round Assist. He also pursues personal investments in health and wellness companies and, as an investor on Dragons’ Den from 2011-2013, added a broad range of businesses and products to his portfolio. 

“Who you decide to surround yourself with is very important,” said Croxon as he shared his thoughts on defining an organization’s vision and core values to build the right company culture. “If you walk into any company in Kitchener-Waterloo north of 20 employees, somebody has probably given some thought as to what they stand for as an organization.”

For Croxon, an unwavering commitment to company values has been key to his success. He advised students to trust their intuition and to put the work in to find the right people to collaborate with that reflect the same core values. “If anyone asks me what’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in my career as an entrepreneur, it’s that one,” said Croxon. “Every single mistake I’ve made can be traced back to when I’ve compromised.”

The event also featured three local entrepreneurs who shared their experiences of starting and growing a business in Waterloo Region: Jade Billo, owner and founder at Big Bliss yoga studio in downtown Kitchener; Thompson Tran, founder and executive chef at The Wooden Boat Food Company in Kitchener; and David Gardner, franchise owner of the Plato’s Closet Cambridge location.

Billo, Tran and Gardner offered insights as they spoke to students about their entrepreneurial interests during a peer networking session later in the evening.   

Other Career Readiness Week events across Conestoga campuses included expos showcasing resources like LinkedIn, InterviewStream and CSI’s free business cards program, as well as events that featured thrifted clothing and stylists offering tips on how to dress for professional interviews.

The college’s official student association, CSI, represents the interests of students across all Conestoga campuses. Support services focus on leadership and career development, academics, and health and wellness.

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