April 30, 2015 1:29 pm

YELL program encourages young entrepreneurs to shine

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VANCOUVER – For the past three years, a number of senior students in the Lower Mainland have had the option to join the Young Entrepreneur Leadership Launchpad (YELL) and learn about business and leadership.

“[The program] brings mentor-based entrepreneurship and leadership to high school students,” said co-founder of YELL Amit Sandhu.

For the second year in a row, students will be taking part in the annual venture challenge this Friday, May 1, and Saturday, May 2.

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In the first year, the program was only run in West Vancouver and had more than 70 applicants. Now it is open to 23 schools in West Vancouver, Richmond and Coquitlam.

“There are 80 students in the program,” said Sandhu, “and they are supported by a mentor community of over 60 people.”

The students, in Grades 11 and 12, get four credits for the program and can win a small scholarship.

There are three stages to the program: Students take part in a business course with mentors and professionals, they develop a business model and then show that business model in venture challenge.

This year, 16 teams will be competing.

“The program is geared towards business students,” said Sandhu. “But it’s also educating youth to be tomorrow’s problem solvers.”

“We like to see students from a variety of backgrounds.”

One of the teams this year is made up of a group of four female students from Richmond. They all play musical instruments and wanted to come up with a way to avoid turning the sheet music manually. “So they came up with a tablet, larger than an iPad, that recognizes pieces of music and can track your performance,” said Sandhu. “It’s a great example of students applying creative problem solving.”

In partnership with entrepreneurship@UBC’s Accelerator Program, on Friday the teams will be showing their ideas to the judges and on Saturday the top team from each district will return for the final round. Students on the winning team will receive scholarships to assist in their pursuit of higher education.

“e@UBC is proud to be part of such an innovative, well-natured competition,” said Andy Talbot, executive director of entrepreneurship@UBC. “We hope to see some of these students become a part of our community when they go to university, but for now we’re happy to guide them down the entrepreneurial path.”

To learn more about YELL, or to obtain info about Friday and Saturday’s event at Robson Square, visit their website.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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