A LaunchPad for success

Mount Royal University student Ian Drake isn’t just working towards his Bachelor of Business Administration — he’s launching his own company at the same time.

“When I started my minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Mount Royal, I knew I liked being part of growing things — especially businesses,” Drake says. “Then I took a course called The Entrepreneurial Experience. It introduced us to pitching business venture ideas and, right away, I was hooked.

Second-year Health Science student Aislinn Grant received $7,500 towards Aisycakes.

“I knew this is what I want to do — I want to start my own company.”

And Drake has just received a $7,500 award that will help move his business forward, thanks to Mount Royal’s JMH Venture LaunchPad program.

Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit

The program was created through a donation of $250,000 over five years from JMH&Co., one of Alberta's largest independent chartered accounting firms.

Offered through the University’sInstitute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the LaunchPad program is open to students in every Mount Royal faculty.

The program has two components. The first is a $2,500 readiness grant that enables students with a solid idea for a business venture to work towards launching their own company while continuing their studies at Mount Royal.

According to Ray DePaul, director of the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the program provides mentorship and support from entrepreneurs both inside and outside university walls.

“Our goal is to nurture the entrepreneurial spirit,” DePaul says.

The second component in the LaunchPad program is the pitch competition, where students can win up to $10,000 in cash to move their business idea forward.

Making the pitch

On April 4, 2013, five of the mentors involved in the LaunchPad program served as judges at the first LaunchPad Pitch Competition. By the end of the competition, the judges had awarded $7,500 to Ian Drake’s fledging business, The Lube Dude Inc., which offers car owners convenient oil changes while they shop at a local mall.

Dan Gyorffy's Cage Recreation received a $10,000 award.
The mentors also awarded cash to help business ventures pitched by three other students including Aislinn Grant, a second-year Health Science student.

She received $7,500 towards Aisycakes, her line of all-natural therapeutic bath products.

“The money is helpful, but what’s just as important is for the judges to validate me and say my business is worth the investment,” Grant says.

Dan Gyorffy, a student working towards his Bachelor of Applied Business and Entrepreneurship in Sport and Recreation, received a $10,000 award to help his company, Cage Recreation, build a prototype of an enclosed turf field for soccer and other sports.

“This competition was important because of the exposure it gives to Cage Recreation and to me,” Gyorffy says.

And Stephen Guppy received $10,000 towards GNS3, an open-source training software company.

“My business partner, Jeremy Grossmann, and I have worked on this company over the past seven years, so to know that these entrepreneurs see value in our software and want to help us succeed means so much,” says Guppy, who is in his final year of the Mount Royal BBA.

“I feel a real connection to Mount Royal and, now that I’m finishing my degree, part of me wants Mount Royal to come with me on my next step,” Guppy says.

“So many professors have been helping me and mentoring me through this process. I really feel Mount Royal is not just a school any more — it’s a community.”

The application process for Fall 2013 LaunchPad Readiness grants of $2,500 begins in September and details will be posted as they are finalized at

— Nancy Cope, April 25, 2013