Where can you find 800 people who are passionate about entrepreneurship on a Wednesday night? At MaRS’ Entrepreneurship 101!

Last week we launched our ninth year of Entrepreneurship 101 to our biggest audience yet: 575 people in the audience (spilling into the overflow area in the atrium) and 226 on the live webcast, including satellite groups watching from NORCAT in Sudbury and Innovation Factory in Hamilton. With both new and seasoned MaRS community members in the audience, the energy and excitement around the potential of entrepreneurship was palpable.

Lately there has been talk of an entrepreneurship bubble, with accelerators and entrepreneurship programs popping up in greater numbers at colleges, universities and other organizations across the world. Bubble or not, considering all of the added support and funding available for entrepreneurs, it seems that now, more than ever, is a good time to be an entrepreneur.

Here are some of the reasons why it’s a good time to pursue entrepreneurship.

1. Availability of information. Loads of information is available for entrepreneurs online, including at MaRS, where we have over 1,000 videos, 500 articles and 18 workbooks available in our Entrepreneur’s Toolkit and sector-specific curated content available in our Startup Library.

2. Entry barriers lowered by technology and globalization. With the availability of open-source software and other affordable digital tools, as well as the manufacturing opportunities available offshore, entry barriers have been lowered across a number of sectors. It is easier than ever to build the components of a business yourself.

3. Decentralization of funding. There are myriad funding options available for entrepreneurs, including new models (such as crowdsourcing and social impact investing), more traditional models (such as government grants and angel and venture capital investment) and entrepreneurship competitions and prizes. Access our Funding Portal Search Toolin the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit to find funding sources for your business.

4. Evolution of entrepreneurship education. The realization that startups are not just small versions of big companies (and that they therefore need different approaches from traditional business education) has turned traditional entrepreneurship education on its head in the past five years. Filling the gap are new tools and methodologies that have been developed specifically by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, such as Steve Blank’s customer development methodology, Eric Ries’ lean startup movement and Alexander Osterwalder’s business model canvas. These tools can help startups validate their assumptions early on by helping them to get out of the building and talking to customers about their problems and the proposed solution, thereby reducing startup risk and the time it takes to find product/market fit. To learn more about how these tools can help your startup, check out our Entrepreneur’s Toolkit Workshops.

5. The beginnings of a startup science. We are gaining a greater understanding of the needs and best practices of startups through different stages. Startup Genome is collecting, curating and analyzing data about startups and members of the entrepreneurial ecosystem to help us better understand the needs and challenges of startups at different stages in order to support them. It also provides entrepreneurs with a clearer roadmap of what can be a very messy process to growth.

6. Communities. Entrepreneurship is no longer a lone pursuit. Communities of support, both formal and grassroots, are sprouting up everywhere. It’s never been easier to meet entrepreneurs in your space and to build your network. Take advantage of all of the happenings by signing up for the MaRS e-newsletter, which lists events (both our own and those of other organizations). Will Lam also offers a great weekly list of entrepreneurship events as part of StartupDigest. Take advantage of access to mentorship at MaRS by applying for our business advisory services.

7. “Your dream job does not exist: You must create it.” As we are experiencing the tremendous evolutions (and sometimes revolutions) of different industries, as well as a high rate of youth unemployment, entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial principles are being recognized as increasingly important for staying ahead of the curve in all industries and for creating jobs in an uncertain world. Innovation has always been integral for entrepreneurs and its cousin, intrapreneurship, is becoming increasingly important for those working in not-for-profits and companies.

At MaRS we often meet seasoned entrepreneurs who come in to help our startups as volunteer advisors or to speak at our events and who remark: “Wow, I wish all of these resources and supports had been available when I was starting out.” The time has never been better—maybe that’s why the appetite for entrepreneurship is so strong today.

So take advantage of what’s out there. We hope to see you at an Entrepreneurship 101 lecture soon.


Want to connect? 

Keri Damen

Keri leads the strategic design, development, marketing and expansion of cutting edge business programs in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing, HR, management and leadership at U of T’s School of Continuing Studies. See more…