If Day 1 of the MaRS Future Leaders camp was about exploring problems and coming up with ideas about how to solve them, Day 2 of the summer boot camp for teens was about getting out there and testing those ideas out. The future leaders conducted interviews at MaRS with the goal of discovering what people thought about their ideas and how they could be improved.

In search of potential customers to interview, some of the teens ended up in the MaRS Commons on the second floor of the MaRS complex. While there, an impromptu Dragons’ Den session was conducted with MaRS’ incredible advisors serving as the dragons.

Senior advisor Ryan Poissant was impressed with the future leaders and their ideas. “What a fascinating group of young entrepreneurs honing their chops,” he said.

Henry Chong
Henry Chong, founder and CEO of Revelo, talks to the future leaders about customers.

Most people have a psychological bias toward making sure that their questions are answered positively. However, entrepreneurs gain greater benefits when potential customers respond negatively to their ideas. Negative or critical responses give entrepreneurs much more to build on when they are iterating on their ideas.

“To be honest, most of the time that I was developing my product, people didn’t like it,” explained Henry Chong, the founder and CEO of electric bike company Revelo.

The feedback he received led Henry to make his product sleeker and collapsible, a feature that would be perfect for city living. The result was the Revelo Flex, a product that has received rave reviews.

The hands-on approach to gathering information and creating prototypes was not lost on former school superintendent Cathy Mills.

“It’s a really good way to give students a practical challenge, as opposed to traditional classes where everything is divided,” she said. “Future Leaders takes the division of classes and puts it together in a more authentic and practical manner.”

Future Leaders take a group selfie with entrepreneur Ilana Ben-Ari, founder of Twenty One Toys, on Day 1 of the program.

The future leaders spent the afternoon learning how to build a brand and developing a logo and mission statement for their companies. Their homework was to write what is likely to be their first email asking a mentor for feedback, which will happen during lunch today.

Check back tomorrow to see how our future leaders are progressing!

Read the full dispatch series:

Jeremy De Mello

Jeremy is an intern with the Venture Services and Entrepreneurship Programs teams at MaRS. He is studying towards a dual-degree in business and political science at Western University and the Richard Ivey School of Business. See more…