The Venture Acceleration Program was designed for entrepreneurs with game-changing ideas that are passionate about building a business. There are already many barriers to entering the world of entrepreneurship. This mentorship and training program not only helps to support budding entrepreneurs but to connect them with a community of peers.
The Venture Acceleration Student Scholarship was inspired by KPMG and their dedication to the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in the Okanagan. “The Venture Acceleration program gives these entrepreneurs the kind of guidance and coaching that will support them throughout the rest of their careers and I have had the privilege of seeing this first hand," says Debbie de Silva, Partner at KPMG.
“This scholarship is a way for KPMG to support the growth and development of students and graduates with strong entrepreneurial spirit”
Cailin Libby,Founder of Happipad, was the winner of one of these scholarships in 2016 and has since built and launched a successful tech company that is changing the Okanagan for the better. Here is a look at the five things this hard-working Founder can teach us about being a successful entrepreneur:
1.Solving a common problem almost guarantees demand.
We all need shelter - that’s a fact. This is a need our rapidly growing community and increasingly saturated rental market has been struggling to meet. This is a problem that inspired local entrepreneurs, Cailan Libby and Dr. Kenneth Chauwere into action. Their all-in-one platform, Happipad is an innovative and user-friendly online service that allows landlords and renters to search, advertise, screen potential matches, form rental contracts, and post reviews.
2. Teachers make great business partners.
Cailan Libby, was a fourth year engineering student at UBC Okanagan when he connected with his professor Dr. Kenneth Chau for the first time. They quickly realized they shared the same perspective - they both viewed life as the bigger picture. Instead of viewing life as merely a set of problems, both Libby and Chau saw countless opportunities.
As their friendship evolved - Libby spent a summer working in Dr.Kenneth Cahus research lab. It was that summer that they two got together to discuss business - and solve the world's problems. The two generated a lengthy list of significant problems and analyzed it - until one prominent problem spoke to them. The Okanagan's renting issue - a significant problem indeed.
3. There is tremendous value in mentorship.
In 2016 Libby was the winner of the Venture Acceleration Student Scholarship powered by KPMG. This scholarship gave him six-months of mentorship and training with Executive-in-Residence, Lance Schafer and access to a peer group of entrepreneurs that were in the same stage of startup. Schafer and Libby worked together to define goals, set objectives, and build a set of skills to launch Happipad in the right direction. This was not the classroom style learning environment Libby was used to, this was tailored learning specific to the needs of his company and development.
“Cailin is hard working,” says Jenna Stasuk, Program Coordinator with Accelerate Okanagan. “His incredible give-back mentality and love of community drive him to make the Okanagan a better place.”
4. Never stop innovating.
Happipad successfully launched this past summer and is now adding a new component to their business plan - iGen by Happipad. iGen takes pre-screened, enthusiastic university students and pairs them with like-minded independent seniors [Editor’s note: this is genius]. Participating students receive low-cost housing, and the seniors benefit from frequent socializing, assistance with technology as well as relief from household chores.
iGen is set to launch in May 2018 and applications currently being accepted. Happipad is looking for 20 seniors and 20 students in Kelowna, as well as 20 seniors and 20 students in Kamloops, who want to be part of a groundbreaking new pilot project that will test the viability of intergenerational living in Canada.
5. Don’t be afraid to take the chance.
Libby always knew he wanted to apply his education, hardworking attitude, and willingness to take a chance and build something big and something disruptive.
“I want to change the way renting is done,” Cailin Libby says. “Renting should be simple and stress-free and people should be able to find a ‘happy’ home quickly and easily.
If you are looking to connect with Happipad they will be hosting a live event and discussion on March 6 at the Kelowna Public Library.