John F. Wood Centre Presents the LaunchLab Expo: Showcasing Entrepreneurial Talent of Student Startups | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

John F. Wood Centre Presents the LaunchLab Expo: Showcasing Entrepreneurial Talent of Student Startups

Posted on Wednesday, March 27th, 2024

8 students standing in 2 rows posing for a picture
Hub Incubator Student Founders

On March 26th, the John F. Wood Centre hosted the inaugural LaunchLab Expo, a dynamic showcase of entrepreneurial talent and innovation.

Situated within the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics at the University of Guelph, the Wood Centre is a hub for entrepreneurship and innovative thinking. The Wood Centre’s Hub Incubator is for U of G students and recent alumni who aspire to become entrepreneurs and establish their own start-up ventures. The Hub empowers student founders to cultivate their early-stage business ideas through training, mentorship and funding. The last stage program, LaunchLab, delves into essential business practices that help to bring their business ideas to life. It culminates with the LaunchLab Expo and pitch competition, where the founders showcase their ventures to the public and pitch to esteemed entrepreneur judges to win cash prizes.

This term, eight dedicated founders completed the LaunchLab and demonstrated exceptional promise and dedication to their ventures in the food, agriculture and technology sectors. Among them are a cybersecurity team communication software tool, a protein and gluten free chickpea pancake mix, and a software that streamlines corporate sustainability adoption and reporting. These aspiring entrepreneurs all worked relentlessly to build the foundations of their business and prepare their exhibit and presentation for the Expo.

"The LaunchLab Expo is a testament to the dedication and innovation of our student entrepreneurs," says, Erin Young, Manager of the Hub Incubator. "It showcases all their hard work and passion to bring their ideas to life and make a meaningful impact in their respective industries. I'm confident they'll achieve remarkable success.”

-Erin Young, Business Incubator Services Manager

This event was made possible thanks to a grant from The John Dobson Foundation, a long-time champion of entrepreneurial education. The gift provided our students with the opportunity to tap into a ‘Boost Budget’ and they were matched with various experts in the field of marketing, graphic design, photography and more. The founders were able to meet 1-on-1 with these experts and utilize their services to help advance their business. Some students were able to have a brand guide created, while others chose to work with a photographer for product shoots. Additionally, students utilized equipment in the Wood Centre’s MakerSpace, to create branded materials such as poster boards, logos on company shirts and stickers.

The LaunchLab Expo took place at the University Centre and was a huge success. The event facilitated networking among industry professionals, mentors, faculty, and students. Attendees had an immersive experience, featuring a vibrant showcase where each participating company unveiled their products and services. From cutting-edge technologies to sustainable solutions, visitors had the opportunity to engage directly with the student founders, learning about their ventures firsthand.

In addition to the companies booths, the pitch event brought an element of excitement and friendly competition to the atmosphere.

"The Expo was a great and unique experience. It put our product front and centre in front of prospective customers and partners, and we had a constant loop of feedback for almost 5 hours which is transformative to any business. I had an absolute blast meeting everyone who passed by my booth, and was surprised by the reach the expo had, as I met several individuals who were not Guelph natives and ones that would allow us strategic partnerships to accelerate our business' growth."

-Abdullah Al-Hayali, Recipient of the Best Pitch Award

The Wood Centre looks forward to hosting this event yearly to celebrate some of these visionary student founders coming out of the University of Guelph.

Learn more about opportunities available at the Wood Centre.

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