Reminder – North America’s largest innovation festival – Entrepreneur Week – will be staged November 7-11 in Waterloo Region, home to 800 tech companies employing 30,000 people and a hub for the entrepreneurial spirit. The tech sector in Waterloo Region has topped $25 billion in annual revenues and start-up seed capital totalling $300 million, so it’s fitting that Entrepreneur Week kicks off with an entrepreneur’s story that reads like a Wall Street movie script.
Ryan Blair, Entrepreneur Week’s lead keynote speaker, is a self-made millionaire who established his first company, 24-7 Tech, when he was only 21 years old. Blair actively invests in multiple start-ups and is known for taking huge risks that yield jaw-dropping returns. Blair once bet his last million dollars on the potential of his near-bankrupt business, ViSalus Sciences, and in 16 months the company went from the brink of failure to $150,000,000 a year in revenue. Adding author to his resume, Blair fittingly titled his new book, ‘Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain’.
“Entrepreneur Week is an opportunity to listen and to share remarkable stories,” said Iain Klugman, president and CEO of Communitech. “The more lessons shared, the more conversations sparked, the better equipped founders and aspiring entrepreneurs will be in their own ventures. This festival is a means to foster and nurture a community and a culture of self-starters in the Region – and even the rest of Canada.”
Venture partner Garry Tan of Y Combinator will be taking part in the Entrepreneurfest Session on November 8. Y Combinator is a U.S early-stage start-up funding firm that provides seed money, advice and connections to start-ups. Tan co-founded Posterous and was previously at Palantir in its early stages.
The week closes with a keynote by Lean Startup guru Eric Ries who has developed the lean startup methodology to redefine how products are initiated and launched. Ries, who in 2010 became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School, is author of popular entrepreneurship blog ‘Startup Lessons Learned’.
Most Entrepreneur Week events are free of charge to enable everyone, from students to CEOs, to participate. Here are a few highlights of the events taking place:
Eighth Annual Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Week, November 7-11
Meet-up Kick-off Nov. 7, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Kicking off Entrepreneur Week is keynote speaker Ryan Blair, entrepreneur millionaire and author. Event takes place at The Tannery Event Centre.
Entrepreneur’s Exchange Nov. 7, 7 p.m.
Presented by Laurier Innovation & Technology Club at The Communitech Hub.
Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Gala Nov. 8, 5:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The Gala is a formal dinner presented by the Prosperity Council of Waterloo Region honouring this year’s inductees into the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame along with the Intrepid Entrepreneur Award.
Entrepreneurfest Session Nov. 8, 8 a.m. – 10 a.m.
This session features Garry Tan, Venture Partner Y Combinator and will be held at The Tannery Event Centre. Includes a Q&A on the TechStars and Y Combinator program with Bart Ciak, Co-Founder of GoSpotCheck and Devon Galloway, COO of Vidyard. Moderator is Mark McArdle, entrepreneur advisor and former CEO of tinyHippos.
Business and Entrepreneurship ZOOM Career Day Nov. 9, 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Zoom Career Days are one-day ‘sector-specific’ career exploration days for Specialist High Skills Major students and other interested senior high school students in Waterloo Region. This event is for grade 11 and 12 students only, by pre-arrangement.
Entrepreneurfest Session Nov. 11, 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
This session at the Tannery Event Centre features Eric Ries, author of ‘The Lean Startup’. Ries cultivated the movement that is transforming how new products are built and launched.
Entrepreneur Week is engineered by Communitech.