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North Forge Met Students Develop Businesses During Pandemic

The last few months have seen countless examples of how entrepreneurs refuse to be daunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and are quickly learning how to pivot and adapt in this new reality. This year’s cohort of Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship students were just as quick to change their learning style, while learning how to pitch in this new world.

On June 18, 13 students from Maples Met and Seven Oaks Met high school programs will be giving their final business pitches in a way that nobody expected at the program’s September launch. North Forge instructor Scott Angus pivoted his learning plan in March, as soon as it became clear schools would be closed for the remainder of the academic year.

“We had to quickly adapt to how we were providing new experiences and opportunities for the students,” said Angus. “There was an adjustment period for sure, but the students are committed to learning and connecting with others. The students continue to be engaged and have been awesome throughout this time.”

Like so many other workplaces and classrooms, the Met program’s regular weekly in-person sessions were moved online to Zoom. This allowed the students to continue learning entrepreneurship fundamentals, while discovering other ways to acquire their hands-on experience and grow real-world businesses.

One of this year’s projects is Serendipity Nails, an e-retail beauty and cosmetics business with a wide range of press-on nail selections. Serendipity founder Teo, who was accepted into Ryerson University in Toronto next year, has chosen to continue growing his entrepreneurial business. Working from home has given him an opportunity to learn how to hire external help, and experienced what it’s like to scale an online business.

Other businesses have had to change their business plans quickly. Decent’s Cafe, (operating a pop up café) founder Izzy was planning on being active at farmers’ markets across Winnipeg this summer. With those events now at risk of cancellation, she has been able to focus more on branding and researching health and safety regulations around food sales.

Some of the other projects include CoachX, an e-learning content hub for coaches where videos can be uploaded and sold, and The StoryTeller, an app which archives Indigenous stories from across Canada to be used for teaching in schools.

“The students are very resilient and adaptable to change,” added Marney Stapley, Vice President North Forge Technology Exchange. “This experience will be valuable learning they will take with them in other aspects of their lives”.

The award-winning Met Innovation Centre for Entrepreneurship was launched in 2018, and expanded this current school year. The program joins together high school students and entrepreneurial mentors, developing essential skills and confidence to launch their own business. A hands-on learning environment offers real-world expertise and feedback from North Forge’s world-class group of instructors and mentors.

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