Program targets aspiring young entrepreneurs
Aug. 17, 2011

Students will compete in global business plan competition
High school student Ravi Chalhotra hopes to learn about business from entrepreneurs.   Photograph By Kevin Hill

Sixteen-year-old Ravi Chalhotra wants to spend five hours each Saturday this fall in a Burnaby office.

The Grade 12 student isn’t a masochist. He wants to learn business skills that will help him realize his dream of opening a medical clinic.

“It’s a good environment to learn from other successful entrepreneurs because then you gain the knowledge that they’ve already gained and apply it in your own ventures,” said Chalhotra, whose father owns a plumbing business.

“All entrepreneurs have a really high level of confidence and I’d also like to gain that so I could apply it in my everyday life, and they’re also very good at leading people, which is something I’d like to be better at,” added Chalhotra, who attends a Catholic private school in the HastingsSunrise neighbourhood.

Chalhotra learned about the TiE Young Entrepreneurs, or TYE, program from his cousin, who’s also applying.

In its third year, TYE is new to Canada. Vancouver will join 16 other cities in the United States, India, Australia and England in sending high school students to compete next spring in a global business plan competition.

Local businessman Vik Khanna started the chapter and convinced Amit Sandhu to get involved.

Sandhu said Khanna is trying to shift TiE, which stands for Talent, Ideas and Enterprise, from a South Asian to a more mainstream non-profit organization that advances entrepreneurship through education and mentorship.

Sandhu, a 26-year-old real estate developer from Richmond who sits on a couple of hospital foundations and tries to interest youth in business and entrepreneurship, was compelled to coordinate the program because he would have liked a similar program when he was a teen.

“Even though I come from a business family, when I was in high school and university, the business world felt very foreign to me,” Sandhu said. “So, really, what this allows is for us to break down those walls between corporate Canada and [the] high school education system so these children don’t have to be so intimidated by these big business people. They’re actually here helping you, being mentors, sharing their knowledge, their stories, their inspirational journey with the students.”

He believes it’s important to encourage youth to dream of starting global businesses for the economic health of Metro Vancouver, the economy of which he said depends too much on small, family-owned businesses that don’t always continue with successive generations.

The local TYE program starts Sept. 17 with eight weeks of curriculum at KPMG’s offices in Burnaby. Instructors include a partner with KPMG, the chief risk officer of HSBC Canada and the founder of Brady Dahmer Design. The program is open to students in Grades 9 to 12 and costs $50. The application deadline is Aug. 21.

Up to 40 enrollees will form teams with a mentor who works in their area of interest. The teams will compete in a local business competition that will be judged by bankers and venture capitalists. The winners will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Atlanta, Ga. next April to present their ideas to a global judging panel for a chance to win$25,000.

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