Let’s take risks, generate some big ideas

SONY DSCThe importance of small business to our country, province and community cannot be overstated.

Small business drives innovation, leads job creation and builds wealth like no other economic engine in our nation.

This space, every other month, will be used to provide you with the resources you need to start a business, grow an existing business, and help drive an entrepreneurial culture in our community.

Did you know that 98 percent of businesses in Canada have less than 100 employees, and almost 70 percent of the private workforce is employed by small businesses?

Small businesses created over 75 percent of all private jobs in Canada over the last decade.

Sault Ste. Marie has done a good job of diversifying its economy since the 1990’s.

Through Destiny Sault Ste. Marie, the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre and other initiatives, the city has been able to grow various sectors including Information Technology, green energy, education, and more – lessening its reliance upon the steel and forest sectors.

Along the way the small business sector has developed and changed, and Sault Ste. Marie has been recognized nationally as a top 100 Entrepreneurial City in Canada (ranking as high as 23rd in 2012).

There are numerous resources available to entrepreneurs and small business in our area, including Business Sault Ste. Marie – a division of the Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie & Area (CDC), Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (SSMCOC), and more.

These organizations provide business startup assistance and other resources to new and established businesses in the community.

They provide an essential role in our small business community.

But there is more we can do as a community to ensure we build an entrepreneurial community within Sault Ste. Marie that is strong, supportive, vibrant and inclusive.

An entrepreneurial community led by entrepreneurs.

Startup Sault is doing just that.

Startup Sault is a volunteer–led movement to bring together entrepreneurs, investors, mentors and small business service providers in Sault Ste. Marie to create a supportive and knowledgeable environment where business startups can flourish.

We are part of the Startup Canada network – a pan-Canadian network to provide entrepreneurs with a single doorway to enter their local entrepreneur community to access mentors, space, funding and support to start and grow their businesses and to connect with other startup founders online and on the ground.

Startup_CanadaStartup Canada is a national entrepreneur-led undertaking to enhance the nation’s competitiveness and prosperity through uniting and strengthening Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and promoting a vibrant entrepreneurial culture to create a unified brand as a rallying point for Canadians.

Startup Canada has the support of more than 85,000 Canadians, 400 partners and 300 volunteers across the country and in its network of over 20 thriving startup communities. To learn more about Startup Canada, watch this video.

With the support of this national movement, and our amazing team of local entrepreneurs and volunteers, Startup Sault will help build a strong and spirited entrepreneurial community in Sault Ste. Marie.

Since our launch in March 2014, Startup Sault has held a number of unique networking events including Startup Drinks, a casual, fun networking opportunity to meet and hangout with other entrepreneurs.

In May, Startup Sault offered a 5-day training session from the Canadian Entrepreneurship Institute via live streaming.

The training featured keynote lectures by world-leading innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and policy makers; attendees gained the knowledge, tools and network necessary to make a meaningful impact in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in their community, as well as their own business or organization.

On October 9th we held a Startup Drinks event at the Water Tower Pub, and our fall line-up of events includes the next Startup Drinks, November 20th, as well as our newest program – Startup Book Club, October 29th (kick-off ) and December 3rd.

Startup Book Club participants will read and discuss the latest business-related books (as well as classics) to glean tips, models and strategies to take their business to the next level.

Startup Book Club will create an opportunity for local entrepreneurs, students, small business owners and others to discuss not only the content of each book, but their own strategies and experiences as well.

I hope you will join us in our movement.

Together, let’s take risks, generate big ideas, and push the economy forward.

About Startup Sault:

Startup Sault connects new entrepreneurs with the small business resources available in the community, and provides the support of existing entrepreneurs who are building successful companies.

Our community enterprise partners include the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre (SSMIC), Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation (SSMEDC), Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie (CDC), and Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce.

For more information about Startup Sault, visit www.startupsault.ca. Follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/startupsault) or Twitter (www.twitter.com/startupsault) to keep up to date on Startup Sault events, startup tips and other useful information.

About the Author: Nevin Buconjic is an entrepreneur, author, consultant and Strategic Business Advisor with the Ontario government. Nevin is the founder and community lead for Startup Sault.

Ready to be a Game Designer?

By Nevin Buconjic
For Fresh Magazine
(Original Print Date – June 2007)

Video games, they are tremendously popular and hugely profitable. World-wide they represented a market of $25.4 billion in 2004 and according to a recent forecast by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the industry will continue to grow at an average compound annual rate of 11.4% reaching $46.5 billion by 2010.

With games representing such big business, and average game development budgets growing from about $40,000 in the early 1990’s to over $10 million today, game design is hotter than ever, and lucrative too.

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), there were 144,000 full-time employees working in video game development in the U.S. in 2005, up from 50,000 in 1998. The ESA estimates this number will grow to over a quarter of a million workers by 2009.

With entry-level game developers earning about $67,000 per year, I’ll bet you gamers out there must be thinking – a high-paying job making video games, what could be better!

So where can you get started? Well it just so happens that you have some options in Sault Ste. Marie. If you are between the ages of 11-16, Adventures in Computing Camps at Algoma University offer one week summer day camps in video game design, 3D/First-Person Shooter game design, and new this season, Role-Playing Game (RPG) design.

These one week camps take students through the game design process, learning the principles of game design, level design and 3D character design, while creating your own original 2D, 3D, FPS, and RPG games. Adventures in Computing Camps are in their 7th season in Sault Ste. Marie, and host about 100 students each summer. Visit www.computercamps.ca for more information.

Did you know that Algoma University will be offering a Masters Degree in Computer Games Technology beginning in September 2007? The program is the only one of its kind in North America, and is offered in cooperation with the University of Abertay Dundee in Scotland.
The program is 12 months long, and Students will study Game Design and Development, Programming for the Xbox and PC, Console Games Programming, The Games Marketplace, and Artificial Intelligence for Games, among other courses.

Potential applicants require a computer science degree and should be skilled C++ programmers to be accepted. The program is offered via video-conferencing with University of Abertay curriculum and instructors. Students will work on cutting-edge equipment and complete their own gaming projects during their one-year of study, and graduate with a Masters degree recognized for its excellence world-wide. For more information visit www.algomau.ca/gaming/index.php .

The future of gaming is bright. Video games are pushing the envelope on technology, leading the development of faster PCs and consoles with ultra-realistic graphics capabilities. And this is only the beginning.

With all of these exciting opportunities to learn about video game design locally, perhaps in the next several years we may actually see a game development industry spring up right here in Sault Ste. Marie.

Wouldn’t that be cool…