AMS might start a new service to help students with their start-ups

The AMS is preparing a new service to support UBC students in their entrepreneurial efforts, which will slowly roll out its main components beginning next term, pending AMS Council approval. The service will be called the “Entrepreneurship Hub” (eHub) and it will connect student initiatives with the resources they need to succeed in creating their own start-ups and businesses.

For the past few years, the AMS has been conducting a feasibility study on UBC’s entrepreneurial climate. 

“There is not one central entrepreneurial club to go to for help.” said Hussam Zbeeb, the AMS’s student services manager. There are already existing clubs which students can go to if they have a more developed business plan. However, Zbeeb said, “they are limited in terms of capacity and often have to turn students away.”

A key aspect of eHub is connecting existing campus initiatives, like e@UBC, the Hatch Incubator and the Social Enterprise Club. 

“We want to support each other instead of compete with each other,” said Zbeeb of the different services offered for this purpose. “Let us spotlight your conference, tell everyone to attend your events.”

The eHub is envisioned to bring organizational resources to all student initiatives, both young and old. 

“Any student from any faculty can come to us and say, ‘I have an idea and I don’t know what to do next.’”

The AMS aims to make the service more than a business resource — ideally, it would help any student initiative get off the ground. 

“I didn’t even know that I could be an entrepreneur. I thought that I needed a business background. It turned out that was not the case at all,” said Zbeeb of being a student in the land and food system faculty (LFS). “It doesn’t matter if you are in arts, engineering or LFS. [Everyone] can turn [their] professional aspirations into real life start-ups.”

The service can be divided into three components — “consulting,” “curriculum cohort” and “community networking.” 

The consulting component will provide students with an opportunity to meet one-on-one with an AMS eHub advisor. The curriculum cohort component will have student entrepreneurs compete in a Dragon’s Den style audition, where a panel of judges will select only a handful of participants for a year-long mentorship program. The community networking component will host workshops and events, connecting the many existing student clubs and initiatives that are already on campus.

As of now, only the community aspect of the service is active — this currently takes the form of biweekly open meetings at the Gallery 2.0 to discuss fostering entrepreneurship on campus.

The service will go back to Council in the new school year for final approval, according to Zbeeb. If it is approved, certain aspects of the service will be active beginning next term, while the main curriculum of the service will begin in September 2017.

For students interested in starting a non-profit organization or even a small club, eHub aims to be built on peer-to-peer support and wants to see all students succeed. Students that are not looking to start something new can contact eHub and find out if there are any startup initiatives that suit them.