Conestoga news

June 10, 2024 12:14 AM

Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective celebrates five-year anniversary

The ground-breaking Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective (CEC) celebrated its fifth anniversary, as well as the many Conestoga community members empowered to pursue their entrepreneurship potential.

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The Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective (CEC) celebrated its fifth anniversary recently at an event hosted by director Rose Mastnak.

The collective has much to celebrate from its first five years, sharing successes in the newly released Five-Year Impact Report including hundreds of students going on to launch businesses and careers.

The CEC includes Canada’s first business incubator for freelancers and the country’s only incubator for sales talent.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we have accomplished,” director Rose Mastnak told the gathering held at the Catalyst Commons in Kitchener on May 30. “We focused on building pathways for Conestoga students and alumni to build skills and realize their individual potential in the innovation ecosystem.”

The CEC has three core labs: the Venture Lab supports founders of early-stage ventures across all sectors for up to one year; the Gig Lab supports the monetization of industry-level skills by launching a freelance business; and the Sales Lab helps leverage an aptitude for sales to upskill and gain access to the lucrative tech sales industry.

Customized experiences were also created within those labs to support specific opportunities and gaps through donor funding, grant partnerships and academic integration.

“Launching people” is at the core of the collective’s approach “that is about people, that is inclusive, and diverse and fundamentally human,” Mastnak said.

The collective has received more than 1,000 applications and more than 4,500 students have been engaged through workshops and bootcamps. It has supported 130 ventures and launched 157 freelancers and 82 sales careers.

Founded in May 2019, the CEC grew steadily from one person to a team of 14 including coaches who work one-on-one with the students in honing their skills and vision.

“I really want to thank all the founders, and the freelancers and the sales professionals who trusted us to be a part of your journey. This is one of the most personal things that you have. It is your dream for yourself, and you allowed us to be a part of that journey and that’s very special,” Mastnak said.

The Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective was created to support the specific needs of Conestoga students, deliver unique offerings to the entrepreneurship community and provide programming that would create room for collaboration in the broader ecosystem. Multiple pathways have been created to allow students to choose an experience that matches their skills, aspirations and definitions of success.