Shad Valley (website) recently began their four-week summer program here at UBC, for 50 or so high-school students or recent graduates. Over the course of the month of July, the Shad participants (“Shads”) will partake in lectures, workshops and other activities to engage them in the disciplines of science, engineering and entrepreneurship. As part of the curriculum for the month, the Shads will also be developing an entrepreneurship project around a particular theme.
entrepreneurship@UBC was invited last week to put on a workshop for the Shads, and it proved to be a great experience for everyone involved. The fast-paced, interactive workshop was challenging, exciting, and fun for all the participants, and resulted in some truly impressive ideas being generated from the group.
The workshop was structured around the work of Dan Buettner in investigating populations that exhibit extreme longevity. The participants first watched a TED talk by Buettner (link), where he describes the people and cultures of the “Blue Zones” (website) that he identified, and the common characteristics of those populations that attributed to their longer life-spans. Following the talk, the Shads were divided up into 9 groups, and each assigned one of these characteristics.
Over the following 45 minutes, the groups were tasked with generating as many ideas as possible for businesses, products, and services related to their characteristic, fleshing out the business or product, and designing a poster ad and two-minute presentation to “pitch” their idea. To keep the participants on their toes, they were only told about the task directly in front of them, and never told how much time they had to accomplish each stage. Organizing the workshop in this way meant that the participants weren’t limited in their creativity by what the end-goal of the project was, and allowed them to come up with some truly creative ideas.
At the end of the workshop, all the teams presented their ideas, and the quality and inventiveness of what was produced was really astounding. Below is a list of the businesses that were created and pitched to the group:
- “Misconstructed Dining Ware” – a set of novelty tableware that helps people eat less
- “Famtastic” – a family-management and activity app
- “BANSAI TOFU” – a line of flavoured Tofu products
- “Duo Switch” – a home lighting system that encourages exercise
- bucketlist.com – a website to give purpose to people of all ages
- “The Meeting Place” – a community centre for people to meet others with shared interests
- “Sloster” – a digital poster that reduces stress
- “Wine @ 5″ – a single serving wine to be marketed as a health supplement
- “Tribefinder” – a website for creating community groups
After all the presentations, the Shads took part in a discussion, and the overwhelming majority of the group felt that they had heard at least one idea presented that they would like to pursue. The Shads all agreed that they were surprised at the creativity of the ideas they could come up with in such a short amount of time, and the organizers were excited about how the workshop would prepare them for the projects they’ll be working on over the next month.
All in all, it was a wildly successful event! e@UBC would like to thank the Shad Valley organizers for arranging this opportunity, and wishes all the Shads the best of luck as they get to work on their projects!
Images from the event: