Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, you can receive the support to grow or begin your startup. The Hub offers U of G students and alumni funding, dedicated office space and access to experienced entrepreneurs so that you can develop a strong business model that can be rigorously tested and intelligently scaled.
U of G student uses entrepreneurship to bring people closer in touch with nature
U of G plant agriculture student and entrepreneur Dennis Zhu loves to pick out the perfect gift for his family and friends, specifically house plants. As a young teenager, he discovered his love for carnivorous plants and his skills grew over time to cultivate and grow unique, exotic plants. Since only 1% of plants are suitable for the house, Dennis started experimenting, tinkering, with different versions and strains typically grown outdoors. Zhu was inspired to take the next step in his entrepreneurial journey while helping raise money for the U of G’s United Way campaign by growing plant tissues inside of a Christmas ornament.
Partnering with U of G professor Dr. Max Jones, Zhu launched his business “Living Glass” along with the support and guidance of the John F. Wood Centre community.
The company’s mission is to bring about a greater appreciation for plants, especially for those who don’t have time to take care of traditional household plants. Zhu’s unique plants are hassle-free and are contained inside a hand-blown glass orb. Also inside the glass orb is a special nutrient-rich gel that sustains all the biological needs of the plant.
Zhu’s goal with Living Glass is to “bring people closer in touch with nature.”
Launching his business while still an undergraduate student at U of G, Zhu found it important to develop good habits while juggling 6 courses and growing his business. Good habits like going to the gym and waking up early in the morning allowed him to work towards his life goals while also staying healthy.
Combining a degree in biomedical science with entrepreneurial skills
With a background in biomedical science, the John F. Wood Centre’s Hub Program was exactly the support Zhu needed to get Living Grass from an idea to reality. The Hub’s community of experts and entrepreneurs was integral to helping him ideate and test out different ideas.
One of his favourite pieces of advice he received was from Tyler Zemlak, the Centre’s Business Incubation Services Manager.
“Sometimes we spend too much time thinking rather than doing. To be successful it’s important to be biased towards action.”
Zhu hopes to offer more plant varieties that the house plant industry has never seen before.