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Dreaming big

Entrepreneurship Training Program doubles intake, pairs with Genesis


By Susan Flanagan

This fall, for the first time, the School of Graduate Studies will offer two concurrent Entrepreneurship Training Program sessions for full-time graduate students working to turn their business ideas into reality.

“This doubles our capacity from 25 to 50 students,” said Nicole Evans, program co-ordinator for ETP, which is a joint project between the School of Graduate Studies, the Internationalization Office and Student Life, in partnership with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency.

“Participants will meet successful entrepreneurs, funding agencies and business experts who will offer advice on what is needed to start a company from problem solving to financial planning.”

ABA Access

Marc Gauci is a graduate of the ETP who incorporated a company called ABA Access in 2016 to ensure families living with autism have continuous therapy.

Mark Gauci at the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism.
Photo: Mike Ritter

“The company wouldn’t be here today if not for the Entrepreneurship Training Program,” said Mr. Gauci, CEO and president. “From ETP we met with [business advisory firm] BDO Canada, completed a business plan, incorporated with the province and got more direct connections with funding agencies than we could have ever gotten on our own. I got so much out of ETP, I almost feel guilty.”

With help from the ETP and Memorial’s Genesis Centre, ABA Access will offer parents of autistic children a suite of tools to continue with therapy under the supervision of a senior therapist when their child’s regular therapist is unavailable.

Mr. Gauci, who has twice participated in the Genesis Centre’s Evolution Program, credits Dana Parsons, venture lead at Genesis, for helping with the business side of things.

Complementary programs

“The two programs — ETP and Evolution — complement each other really well,” said Mr. Gauci, who has just been accepted into the Genesis Enterprise Program. “The ETP is more about meeting other entrepreneurs and hearing about their mistakes, while Genesis is more about validating your idea.”

ABA Access is not ready to market quite yet. Mr. Gauci, with chief technology officer Andrew Bishop and marketing director Roberta Hewitt, are now at stage one alpha testing.

“That’s what ETP taught me: to dream big.” — Mark Gauci

“Autism is something that affects people regardless of geographic location. We hope to take this product all over the world. This province not only needs new businesses, it needs businesses to draw money from outside. For this province to move forward, we need to start expanding markets to North America and beyond. That’s what ETP taught me: to dream big.”

If other graduate students want to dream big like Mr. Gauci, they can fill out an ETP application form here. Applications are due Sept. 18.

Startup Visa Program

This year the School of Graduate Studies is partnering with the Genesis Centre’s Startup Visa Program to help new Canadian graduate students become entrepreneurs.

“We know that new Canadians have a natural propensity towards entrepreneurship, so this partnership is a huge step in ensuring they get the help they need to take their businesses to the next level and start their life in Canada,” said Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean, School of Graduate Studies.

“Our international students have already proven their drive and ambition by taking the initiative to leave their countries and study abroad. The ETP aims to channel and refine that entrepreneurial spirit and give the students the specific skills and fundamental principles needed to become tomorrow’s global entrepreneurs.”

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