What makes an entrepreneur?
It’s a question economists, thinktanks, and political figures have spent much of their time mulling over. The risk-taking attitude that decides to abandon comfort in order to build great things is something governments have sought to encourage, especially in recent years.
The Origo Project is a brand new initiative in Montreal that believes in embracing that attitude to foster it. Origo—Latin for “founder”—focuses on educating high school and college students about entrepreneurship by bringing established entrepreneurs to classrooms so that they can talk about their experience to an audience that has not been much exposed to what goes on outside the confines of school.
Sponsored by Fulbright Canada through the Killam Community Action Intiative Fund—a Canada-wide grant-making body that supports innovative new projects making significant impact—the Origo Project aims to make a difference fostering student entrepreneurship in Montreal before potentially scaling out across Canada. This reflects a bottom-up approach driven by young innovators that differs from the traditional top-down perspective.
The innovators in question are a diverse group of individuals who are either well versed in the entrepreneur lifestyle, or seeking to use their interesting life experiences to get involved. One of the founders, Brian Luong, is a Killam and Next 36 Alumnus who has previously founded two online businesses: Glimpse, a real estate discovery platform, and SchedulingDirect, an employee scheduling software as a service provider for retail chains and restaurants.
Another founder is Steven Chung, who created a student association, and worked several formal roles in consulting and investment banking, but decided that entrepreneurship was where his passion lies.
A third founder is a NSERC scholar who completed a solo trek to Mount Everest basecamp. This is but a small sample of a large and diverse team, united by the belief that they are plugging the holes they have seen with their own education.
They are all of the view that they lacked any exposure to the startup world or the possibilities afforded to them if they stepped outside the limitations of a conventional career path while they were going through high school and college. They aim to solve this by creating the initiative they think should have been there for them, educating about how they could create their own businesses, and their own path.
The Origo Project envisions a system where they will be patched into the conventional educational system in order to supplement with it with the perspective of seasoned entrepreneurs. They have already secured a partnership with the McGill Entrepreneurship Society, and they are looking to partner with different educational institutions in Quebec in order to achieve their goal of educating about why entrepreneurship matters, and how one can go about becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The team seeks to give workshops in the schools they partner with to develop the skills needed to foster future entrepreneurs. They aim to create and host events that will spread the virtues of entrepreneurship throughout Montreal. Most of all, the Origo Project seeks to create a lasting imprint on the students they reach.
They want to connect young high school students with people creating enterprises so that the entrepreneurial message will resonate with them early on, and allow them to create a solid base for their own future initiatives. By bringing entrepreneurs as speakers into a high school and college context, they want to shake up the safe box of career choices traditionally brought to the fore in Quebec, and change the Montreal startup scene by infusing it with bright young minds ready to act on their ideas.
The Origo Project wants to test their hypothesis that what makes an entrepreneur is early exposure to the entrepreneur experience, and the support and insights of those who have been through the trip already.
Future generations will face many challenges. Society will always need creative problem-solvers who are able to turn their new ideas into lasting impact. The Origo Project represents some of those current problem-solvers reaching out with the skills they have acquired to ensure there will always be future problem-solvers to join them.