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Velocity Venture Fund: You Listening McMaster?

May 10, 2011 by · 8 Comments
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Some background first on this non-SEO oriented post would be apropos, eh! I’ve been a staunch supporter of the University of Waterloo’s Velocity experiment started back in 2009, and it’s a successful attempt to bring a new environmental approach to startups via an on campus dorm incubator. Go here or here to read more on same…and as an upfront notice, I do know Sean Van Koughnett who is one of the founders of Velocity and remains onboard as a director of same – he and I worked together almost a decade ago for another Waterloo marketing/communications firm – so KUDOS Sean!

But that’s not the real story here – yes, it’s important to know the background of Velocity and that their success has been a growing nurtured thing for a couple of years….the real story is the new Velocity Venture Fund! Now this is cool and listen up, eh!

Ted Livingston was a Velocity resident at Waterloo for his university life and he is the same fellow who founded Kik Interactive, and studied mechatronics at Waterloo from 2005 to 2009, and recently sold some of his own personal shares after a round of VC financing…and he’s donated $1,000,000 to Velocity just a few weeks back as reported here too!

So, what’s been done with all that cash? Well, the Velocity folks have just announced a brand new funding model, based on the contest that any Waterloo students can enter, to win up to $25,000 to help their startups! Now, that’s a great idea…and you can read more here or here…yes, there’s some rules and guidelines and yes it’s a competition…..but is that not exactly what is needed to spur new business development? Yup, I think so too!

So, why’m I blogging about this…simple really, the thought struck me that McMaster could do exactly the same type of model too…well, within some limits I’d guess…but why not?

McMaster has a leading business school, the DeGroote School of Business. McMaster has lot’s of folks who are involved in both startups, in hi-tech ventures, in leading edge commercialization of academic pursuits. McMaster is in Hamilton, and that’s one of the newest cities to look at when it comes to revitialization, to new investment and to the growing startups in everything from transportation to bio-sciences, from hi-tech innovation to quality of life communites. Hamilton’s Chamber of Commerce via it’s Science, Technology and Innovation Committee supports all of same via our involvement with all issues and items that we can find to push/promote and yes, help nuture our growing business startupst too. And Hamilton has a growing software development grassroots organization in softwarehamilton.com -  led I might add by a PhD candidate at McMaster too, Kevin Browne who also runs our DemoCampHamilton series of events too! There’s lots of rising tide under our Hamilton based Innovation Factory too, led by Ron Neumann and his capable staff that operate much of our startup infrastructure as well….the whole dang city is gaining momentum and that’s a big plus!

So…McMaster is ready, in my mind, to “borrow” this idea in some form or some model in some manner and use same to help our growing business community.

So, who’d I know at McMaster? Well, one fellow I know a little is Paul Bates who recently headed the DeGroote school and is now involved in further areas for the university and I emailed him a short notice of this Velocity Venture Fund and his reply was to the point and said plainly –

“Jim,

 I love it.

The key person here is Dr. Benson Honig, who holds the Teresa Cascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership, copied for interest on this note.

Best
Paul”

As you can see, I’ve started to stir things up on this idea, have contacted Dr. Honig too and will continue to do so too….my emails will continue, and yes, I’m also trying to find a McMaster Venture Fund mentor too….a la Ted Livingston….that search will continue.

But if you can help in any way, please add your own advice or counsel or even a list of names here below (or email them to me too) and I’ll try to get some momentum built under this great idea!

Hello? McMaster? Are you listening?

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8 Responses to “Velocity Venture Fund: You Listening McMaster?”
  1. Hi Jim,

    Thanks for the post. Things are going very well with VeloCity. We have all the pieces in place…talent, ideas, $, sr. admin buy-in, a supportive local tech/entrepreneur community and space (in addition to the residence, we have a great office space in Communitech’s new “Hub” incubator in downtown Kitchener).

    One suggestion re: getting it going at Mac…an initiative like this can certainly benefit from a driver/champion who is from the “student affairs” side of the house…not to say that it can’t be driven by the “academic affairs” side (ie a Dean), but what makes an initiative like VeloCity go is an emphasis on building partnerships with the external community and on developing opportunities that are outside the bounds of traditional curriculum/academic programming…in my view one of the main things that has enabled VeloCity to succeed is that it was developed outside the academic silos, which enabled us to act more quickly and take more risks.

    The challenge of course would be to find someone at Mac on the student affairs side who would drive this…if their VP Student Affairs believes in creative ways of driving outside the classroom transformational learning for his/her students then maybe there’s a chance.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  2. Jim says:

    Hello Sean…
    Aptly put! And now that I know one of the best ways to move this to the next level, I’ll take your advice and try to find just such a champion!
    :-)

    Jim

  3. Kevin Browne says:

    Excellent idea, I’d love to see it happen.

  4. Benson Honig says:

    I think it’s a great idea!!

    Benson

    Benson Honig Ph.D.
    Teresa Cascioli Chair in Entrepreneurial Leadership; Editor, ET&P.
    DeGroote School of Business
    McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario Canada L8S4M4
    Tel: 905-525-9140 ext. 23943
    fax: 905-521-8995
    Cell: 905-518-1716
    email: bhonig@McMaster.ca
    bhonig@me.com

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