Start up the buses!

The only field trip followed by wine and cheese

Harjinder Sidhu is the president of CEO Manitoba.


CEO Manitoba’s goal is “to help more students start more businesses” and encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone, Harjinder Sidhu, the nonprofit’s president, says.

The organization’s latest event to encourage this is Startup Crawl, an opportunity to network and learn about the resources available to entrepreneurs.

“CEO Manitoba has been the best thing that’s happened to me, and I’ve been able to really grow as a person by going to these kinds of events and stepping out of my comfort zone,” Sidhu says.

The Startup Crawl is CEO Manitoba’s last event of the year. It starts at the University of Manitoba, though anyone is allowed to attend, and CEO Manitoba has been doing more outreach on other campuses in Winnipeg.

Participants get on a bus and take a tour of a few startups in the city, bigger businesses that collaborate with small and medium businesses and resources for entrepreneurs.

The stops include local clothing brands, Furturepreneur, Trans Canada Brewing, North Forge, and North Forge’s fabrication lab.

Marney Stapley, the vice-president of North Forge Technology Exchange, has been involved with the Startup Crawl since before Eureka Project, Assent Works Fabrication Lab and Rampup Manitoba merged to make North Forge three years ago.

She says Startup Crawl is a great way for students to learn just how much support there is for them in Winnipeg’s business community.

“Students may not realize the tools and resources that are available to them in Winnipeg,” she says.

“Showing students at an early (point in their careers) the kind of support available to them through mentors or different labs or advanced manufacturing equipment and programs available at North Forge, it’s a great opportunity for us to create awareness for students and for them to see firsthand what we have to offer and what Winnipeg has to offer for starting up a business.

“We are part of a strong innovation hub for the growing startup culture in Winnipeg.”

Askja Tech, for example, Stapley says, is using North Forge for their manufacturing, and “they don’t want to leave Winnipeg. They don’t want to go anywhere else, because they have all the equipment they need to be successful. I don’t think a lot of students realize that.”

“Winnipeg has the most fertile startup community, in my opinion. Winnipeg is one of those places where this community knows each other, so everyone’s here to help each other,” Sidhu says.

“People are ready to help you out, and a lot of these resources are free,” he says. “You have to put in a lot of work, of course. You’ve got to hustle, but the resources are here to help you.”

Stapely says the learning at this event also goes both ways.

“It’s a day to inspire a new group of entrepreneurs to start their own business(es) and join us. It gives them the experience and opportunity to see the people who have gone through it before them and hear about their failures and successes.”

She says it also gives businesses a chance to hear new perspectives and approaches to problem solving.

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Published in Volume 73, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 28, 2019)

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