Scholarship turns students into full-time entrepreneurs

It’s going to be a busy summer for two Brock University students who have won business scholarships.

Each year, the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award provides two Brock students with $10,000 in funding that allows them to spend a full semester working on their business ideas in partnership with BioLinc, Brock’s business incubator run by the Goodman School of Business.

The scholarship is generously provided by Brock graduate Deborah Rosati (BAdmin ’84) who has shown incredible dedication to supporting entrepreneurship at the Goodman School.

Ethan Foy and Olivia Poulin, the 2017 award recipients, are now one week into their four-month terms as full-time entrepreneurs.

Foy, a fifth year neuroscience student from Oakville, is working on his idea called Lifepoints. The mobile application will reward users for time spent at a fitness facility with points they can later cash in at local businesses.

Foy says receiving the award is a dream come true for him.

“A lot of times as an entrepreneur, especially in the early stages, it can seem impossible and you think, ‘how can I ever pull this off?’ But having the monetary support so you can work on your idea full-time really gives you a sense of confidence,” he said.

Poulin, a third year business student from Niagara Falls, is working on her business, Olivia’s Pupadise, a pet and home care business that won her a finalist spot in Brock Innovation Group’s Monster Pitch competition earlier this year.

Poulin is looking forward to the rest of the summer where she’ll have more time to fine-tune her company.

“Since I started this business I’ve been spending a lot of time working with clients. Now it’s time to focus on the operations and instituting things that will set us up for long-term growth,” she said. “I think it’s amazing that our school is so driven by programs like this.

“It’s a testament to how much people care about the students here. Money is usually a big stress point and knowing you can go all chips in because you have the backing of someone like Deborah is invaluable.”

Foy and Poulin will benefit from regular meetings with an expert panel comprised of Goodman faculty and staff and Innovate Niagara members. They’ll also be able to set up shop in the BioLinc space at Brock, where they can collaborate with other student entrepreneurs on a daily basis.

Foy is no stranger to BioLinc, having spent countless hours in the business incubator since hearing a presentation in his class about the new facility in his second year.

“From that moment in the presentation, my life changed forever,” he said. “I love the time I spend at BioLinc. Ever since I walked through the doors, everything has become this entrepreneurial mindset. You see a problem and try to figure out how to fix it,” he said.

“I think one of the great things about this award is that it actually provides you with collaborative space to work out of, which I think is one of the most important things you can offer an entrepreneur,” he said.

After spending some time in BioLinc, entrepreneurship took on a life of its own for Foy, who believes entrepreneurship is not a career path or a job — it becomes a lifestyle.

“Entrepreneurship is really just seeing a problem in the world and having the courage to stand up and say, ‘I’m going to fix that problem or I’m going to fill that void,’ with something I come up with,” he said.

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