Waterloo has a lot of amazing programs – from being the premier co-op school in the entire world to creating evolutionary new programs such as Knowledge Integration, a bridge between thinkers and doers.
The one I recently had the pleasure of completing is the CBET ‘s (Center of Business Entrepreneurship and Technology) E-Coop program. CBET is popularly known for its MBET program, a master’s program in entrepreneurship and technology.
The E-Coop program offers consultation/advice for aspiring entrepreneurs to get traction for their venture. When I say traction, I mean “is this idea even plausible?”. There is no point in having a great idea if people don’t even want to try it. This is a very important part of the entrepreneurship cycle, to build a product people want.
To start the E-Coop process, ideally you need to contact CBET 6 months in advance before the actual term you plan on starting your venture. Some exceptions can be made but, the sooner the better. When you contact CBET about starting your venture they send you a form to fill .Think of this as your very first business plan if you don’t have any prior. You do not have to fill all of the details but to the best of your ability. Then, you get to meet with a business advisor to discuss about your venture.
Some people might have been thinking about their idea for a very long time and some might not, this is the part where meeting with someone who has several years of experience helps. They tell potential pitfalls and dangers in your idea and implementation of the business. In my case, if I had proceeded with my initial plans, I definitely would have ended up getting sued. This is why it is important to also meet with a lawyer and an accountant. CBET can help you get in touch with the right people. For ex. meeting with a tort lawyer is not very beneficial to you as meeting with an Intellectual property (IP) lawyer if you are in the business of creating an intangible(designs, revolutionary idea) related product.
After the initial few meetings are concluded, where in you discuss about your ideas, CBET gives you an opportunity to come in front of a panel of practicing entrepreneurs and present the refined ideas. I personally found this very frightening in the beginning as I would have to talk about my venture for an hour to people and would have to take all the criticisms but this ended up being the single most useful thing I gained from the CBET E-coop experiences.
In the entrepreneur world, we seldom implement the ideas we initially thought of. They are very different at least this was the case in my situation. I went in with one and the knowledge and experience these panel of entrepreneurs taught me was multifold. I realized that my project had much more far fetching appeal if I played my cards right. Another thing I got from this meeting is that confidence boost you need to get going with your project. Let me tell you the road taken n your entrepreneurship journey is very lonesome and sometimes downright frustrating so learn to enjoy all these small victories and boost in confidence and save it as much as you can.
Also, this meeting with the panel of practicing entrepreneurs is mandatory if you are planning on getting a coop credit for the work term. The panel gives the final green signal for the start of the project. After your meeting is completed with the panel you are all set to start your new venture the following term. It’s time to finally put everything in action.
Then the clock starts ticking.