MaRS Future Leaders Entrepreneurship Summer Camp is an intense weeklong program that teaches youth ages 13 to 18 the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and innovation with the ultimate goal of making its attendees into better problem-solvers and critical thinkers.

That’s a value proposition for the MaRS Future Leaders camp. The teens who are part of this summer’s program wrote similar descriptions of their own ventures on Day 3 of the camp. Having to summarize their ventures in a clear and concise way forced them to think carefully about exactly what they wanted to communicate.

According to future leader Siena Kunanec: “We were trying to make it not very complicated and we were trying to figure out what was necessary and what was not. I was happy we were in a group of three because it allowed majority to rule and forced us to compromise.”

Future leaders working
Future leaders work on value propositions on Day 3

The future leaders then had a working lunch with the mentors who they’d emailed looking for feedback at the end of Day 2. These mentors included several MaRS employees, a representative from the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and a retail expert from SAP. The mentors listened to the teens’ pitches and provided feedback that allowed them to iterate further.

These activities brought out the future leaders’ passion for their ideas, a passion that D.J. Cunningham, the CEO of LEARNstyle and the day’s guest speaker, fully endorsed.

“This is what I know: If you have passion and if you can get the skills that you need to create something unique and different, and if you can get some real-world experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be successful,” said D.J., whose company identifies the ways that individual students learn and caters lessons specifically to them.

D.J. Cunningham
D.J. Cunningham, CEO of LEARNstyle (right), challenges the future leaders to follow their passions

The future leaders applied this passion to making sure they were personally well branded, creating business cards for their companies. The business cards, which were generously provided by The Printed House, will be handed out to judges on Day 5 when the teens pitch their ideas.

The last part of the day was spent tackling the Business Model Canvas (BMC), a tool that has become a standard of startup creation. The BMC is essentially a value proposition exercise for each component of a business, with quadrants for summarizing everything from the resources you have available to the strategic relationships you need to establish.

MaRS employee Lucas Armstrong with future leader
MaRS employee Lucas Armstrong with a future leader during a working session

Stay tuned for another update on the progress of our future leaders tomorrow.

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…