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We’re passionate about our cause & we’re driven by the results
How It All Started
Some kids got bit by the entrepreneurship bug…
Kevin and Maggie were in Grade 10 when they first decided to start their own businesses – a tutoring company and a cake pop shop respectively. After learning about the incredible world (and incredibly long word) known as entrepreneurship, they set out to share their discovery with their friends, peers and the world.
In September of their Grade 11 year, they heard about the Entrepreneurship Promotion Project category of the DECA Business Competition. The two, along with their friend Brandon, saw this as a calling and began the path of entrepreneurship education and empowerment. The three started the Light Up the Future Campaign, including hosting the 1st Annual Light Up the Future: Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium that December for 150 high school students in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario.
“Wow! People really need and want this!”
After hosting their first successful symposium event, the trio went on to host classroom and community workshops and coordinated a social media campaign reaching over 60,000+ individuals. With their efforts, they were awarded 2nd Place at the Provincial DECA Business Competition and eventually brought home 1st Place from Internationals in Anaheim, California. On that stage, they realized that they weren’t done – this was something the world needed, and their campaign was one that had to continue.
The Birth of enLIGHT
Gone was the campaign, and born was enLIGHT!
Recognizing that the campaign’s continuation called for structural reform (and that the name “Light Up the Future” was too much of a mouthful), Kevin and Maggie transformed the campaign and established enLIGHT. Continuing their flagship symposium, the second enLIGHT Light Up the Future Symposium was hosted in May 2014 and saw the development of the beloved enLIGHT Challenge, the predecessor of the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp.
From high-school to university.
With enLIGHT transferring into the Queen’s University community following the founders’ movement to Queen’s Commerce, there, the organization began to sprout and grow. After finding the perfect team of 22 passionate entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders across different faculties, enLIGHT became whole. A unit. A Family. #TEAMenLIGHT began its undergraduate journey of upholding the same values and mission that enLIGHT embodied in high school – connecting, developing, and supporting students entrepreneurship education and empowerment.
The Inception of HACKference
Kingston -> Toronto!
For its third edition, enLIGHT’s flagship symposium finally moved out of Kingston and into the heart of Toronto. In February, #TEAMenLIGHT organized and rebranded the event as enLIGHT2016, a one-day conference at the Toronto Region Board of Trade for over 50 passionate student entrepreneurs and innovators. With speakers and guests including Michael Hyatt (BlueCat), Andy Yang (500px), and Andrew Black (BrandProject), aspiring entrepreneurs had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the startup scene.
But that wasn’t everything that the team had in store for the year. To really turn students’ ideas to startups, enLIGHT hosted HACKference 2016 in November at BrainStation Toronto, presented by PayPal – a half-conference, half-hackathon headlined by Kevin O’Leary as a keynote speaker. By connecting 120 students together with three keynote presentations, four workshops, and $2,500 in prize money, the team began turning their dream of connecting, developing, and supporting student entrepreneurs into a reality.
Building the Brand
More successful events!
After many successful events, enLIGHT began to build a vast network of student founders, industry experts, and investors. To bring this network together, the team had their first Summer Meetup event hosted by Brainstation in July. Over 100 aspiring entrepreneurs and mentors gathered for a night of food, drinks, student pitches, a startup/tech tradeshow, and networking.
Building off of the momentum of 2016, enLIGHT brought back HACKference 2017, bigger and better than ever! This year the event was presented by the Scotiabank Digital Factory hosted at CSI Annex and MaRS. The half-conference, half-hackathon featured four keynote speakers including Michele Romanow and more. The weekend also had 6 workshops and over $3,000 in prizes available. Over 120 student innovators developed skills, made new connections, and gathered fresh insight from the event.
Finding the best ways to support student founders…
Kicking off 2018, enLIGHT introduced a new event called DEMOday. Kickstarting the growth of Canada’s top existing student startups, the inaugural event featured an afternoon of curated pitches and invite-only networking between high-potential student founders and angel, VC, and corporate investors. Hosted by Smith’s MMIE in downtown Toronto, 13 hand-picked student startups presented their pitches and had the opportunity to network with individuals from iNovia Capital, OMERS Ventures, Whitecap Venture Partners, iGan Partners, and more.
The year’s not over yet, we’ve still got more coming your way!