Our Thriving Ecosystems

Inspiring Venture Success

Supporting innovators and entrepreneurs

During her time in Commerce, Ushpreet Mehta, BCom’19, became interested in startups. She recalls a particular class during third year, “Launching New Ventures”, taught by Professor Jim Hamilton. “I started to realize there is a career path you can have in entrepreneurship.”

At Smith, Ushpreet worked with fellow students on business ideas, took part in startup competitions and attended lectures on entrepreneurship. “There are so many resources available for budding entrepreneurs at Smith,” she says.


Every spring, university students from across Canada come to Smith to learn about entrepreneurship through Venture for Canada.

Venture for Canada

In June, Ushpreet took part in a unique program at Smith through Venture for Canada. Venture for Canada, a non-profit, recruits high-potential university graduates to work at startups. Smith has been the organization’s national education partner for five years. Each spring, 90 entrepreneurially-minded university students from across Canada come to Smith to take part in a four-week training camp to develop skills before a two-year work placement with a startup.

Smith faculty teach at the camp, and Scott Stirrett, Venture for Canada’s CEO, says the school is an important partner in developing the next generation of entrepreneurs. “We provide that pathway for what can be a transformative career experience,” he says.

Ushpreet says she appreciated the experience of meeting students during the camp who share her passion for entrepreneurship. Afterwards she joined Toronto-based OneLocal (co-founded by Edward Yao, BCom’09). Her ultimate aim? To start her own business. “Right now, I’m enjoying helping a small business grow.”

A place for startups

The Venture for Canada partnership is just one part of Smith’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem. The Centre for Business Venturing encourages, enables and educates the entrepreneurial aspirations of students and graduates. It also supports research to gain a better understanding of entrepreneurial success.

Financial backing is a critical part of a company’s early stages and Smith helps through competitions and strategic initiatives. These include the annual UPstart Venture Challenge and Dare to Dream, an innovative program supported by alumni and corporations that gives new launches a chance to grow.

“There are so many resources available for budding entrepreneurs at Smith.”

There’s also the TriColour Venture Fund, which teaches students to think like venture capitalists, investing in real businesses with real money. Smith also provides alumni, students and entrepreneurs the chance to learn through Queen’s Venture Network. Smith has QVN chapters in Toronto and Calgary, with a combined total of over 1,200 members. In the last year, QVN delivered 15 entrepreneurial education and networking events.

“The foundation of the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Smith is not only to educate, but to engage and connect students and alumni in immersive, experiential learning opportunities,” says JP Shearer, associate director of the Centre for Business Venturing. “It ignites the critical juncture between learning to know and learning to do.”