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Laurier Startup Fund Created

In the fall of 2013 Wilfrid Laurier University announced a $1-million gift from Michael and Hennie Stork in support of a new Laurier Startup Fund. The announcement took place at an event showcasing the ideas and projects of Laurier’s undergraduate Innovation + Entrepreneurship program.

“This extraordinary generosity will help us build a $5-million startup fund that will be managed by our business students,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University. “The Laurier Startup Fund will provide a superb educational experience for our students as they learn to assess early-stage entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Supported by a professional advisory board, the student-run fund will invest in entrepreneurial activity within Canada’s technology triangle. The fund will operate through a practicum course, under the supervision of Laurier professor Brian Smith, who holds the newly announced BMO Professorship in Entrepreneurial Finance.

“The Laurier Startup Fund will have an important impact on our ability to create a new generation of business leaders with a track record of successful investments in early startups, even before they graduate,” said Micheál Kelly, dean of Laurier’s School of Business & Economics.

Michael Stork said the decision to invest in the Laurier Startup Fund was based on the belief that the surge in innovative technology breakthroughs within Waterloo Region must be partnered with highly skilled business management.

“The purpose of this investment is to provide a living-lab environment at Laurier where qualified business students will learn to make investment recommendations on real, early-stage companies in Waterloo Region,” said Stork. “The students will learn to perform due diligence and other related business analysis as they make their recommendations.

“We are excited to be partnering in the education of these leading-edge business students,” he added. “We believe in Laurier’s ability to train outstanding business leaders, capable of managing new companies and the new entrepreneurial economy.”

Timeline:

  • Summer 2014 – Due to student demand, a second installment of the investment course is offered
  • March 2014 – Students in the Laurier Start up Fund sign on for their first investment, providing $75K to a local business
  • January 2014 – SBE launches Laurier Startup Fund and introduces course on early stage investing
  • October 2013 – Laurier announces $1-million gift from Michael and Hennie Stork in support of a new Laurier Startup Fund

The course:

  • Course runs in partnership with the Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN), one of Canada’s leading angel investment groups. GTAN is based in Kitchener-Waterloo but draws members from across Ontario.
  • Course is led by BMO Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance, Dr. Brian Smith, and Executive Director of the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship, Steve Farlow
  • First pilot class of nine students attended monthly GTAN meetings, benefitting from GTAN’s established processes, the valuable mentorship, community leadership and experience of its members. The students worked with GTAN members on due diligence of four potential investee companies.
  • In early March, the Laurier Start up Fund signed its first term sheet to work with a company, making its first investment.

Giving:

  • $1M from Mike (BBA ’77) and Hennie Stork (BA ’77)
  • $500K from Marsland Family’s $1M gift to SBE
  • Golden Triangle Angel Network course resource