Are you The Next Big Thing?
That’s the question Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes is asking, as a part of his incubator-non profit, which aims to speed up the path to success for young Entrepreneurs.
LISTEN: Ryan Holmes explains The Next Big Thing
Holmes launched The Next Big Thing in 2012 with co-founder Meredith Powell as a means to take some of his success and pay it forward to youth trying to make it in business.
To do so, they’ve cooked up a four-month program that he describes as an entrepreneur bootcamp: “we get them an ‘MBA’ in short order.”
Holmes says a big part of that is through mentorship, by connecting participants with successful local business people.
“One common trait I see in so many of these entrepreneurs is that they started at a young age. And so when I talk to them about this program and get them to think back about when they were getting going, so many of their eyes light up and they get really excited about the opportunity to be able to help another aspiring young entrepreneur to get fast tracked.”
He says the other half of the equation is education – which the program offers in the form of speakers on a variety of areas of business from legal, to marketing, to PR.
He says TNBT caps with another program on fundraising, how to capitalize a young start up and get it off the ground.
Holmes says the drive to get the next generation off the ground comes from his experience as a youth in business.
“I was a high-school entrepreneur, there are so many out there. I started my first business in ’92, the summer between grade 10 and 11, I started a paintball company.”
In the years since then he’s started several businesses, the most successful of which has become a global social media powerhouse.
But he says it took him 20 years to do, a long path, and one he thinks could be cut in half – with a big benefit to Vancouver.
“If I think about the path from 16 years old as a young entrepreneur to 35 years old as hitting success, I really look at the impact of what I’ve been able to do – I think, if we could create 10 more Hootsuites in this city there would be a massive raising of the tide. And I would be so excited to see that.”
Holmes says they’re currently trying to pick the crop for next year’s program which starts in September.
They’re looking for 15 17-25 year olds with a strong business idea – and it doesn’t have to be tech.
“They could be creating the next Starbucks, the next Lululemon, whatever it is we’re happy to see their pitches.”
He says since they started they’ve launched 23 businesses, like local ride share company Spare Rides, and helped raise $2.8 million in seed capital.
If you think you fit the bill – you can sign up here.
Applications run from today until June 30th… But bring your A-game: Holmes warns it’s a competitive process.