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Where are the winners of last year's Venture Challenge today?

MEET OUR 2017 VENTURE CHALLENGE WINNING TEAM

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“We have found success in the impact that we believe our organization will have on a local, national or even international stage.”, says Bee Buddies co-founder Muhammad-Mustafa Rashid.

Exactly a year ago, grades 11 and 12 students Muhammad-Mustafa Rashid, Sofia Chang and Charles Van, were nervously preparing to pitch their senior connectivity platform idea to a panel of expert judges during the 2017 Venture Challenge. During the 2017-2018 school year at Richmond High they teamed up to create Bee Buddies, a web-based platform that connects seniors who seek new connections but may lack the opportunities or circle of friends to maintain regular in person social interactions.

And succeed they did! The team not only placed first at the 2017 Venture Challenge competition but was also invited to engage in a dialogue around Canadian innovation and present their venture idea to the Right Honorable David Johnston, then Governor General of Canada, at SFU Venture Labs in July 2017. Now, while completing their high school (Muhammad & Charles) and first year at UBC (Sofia) studies, the team continues to work on developing Bee Buddies (beebuddieshive.com). Below are some of the insights they shared with us about their experience as young entrepreneurs:

1) WHAT NEW BELIEFS, BEHAVIORS, OR HABITS, ADOPTED WITHIN THE LAST YEAR SINCE YELL, HAVE MOST POSITIVELY IMPACTED YOUR LIFE?

YELL has sharpened our minds to constantly seek opportunities. Whether it be realizing a macroscopic issue such as senior loneliness or meeting a potential key business advisor, YELL prepared us to be active, seeking every available opportunity and being ready to capitalize on all of them. This mindset seeps beyond the business world, expanding to the classroom, the community, and our lives. We became more proactive in all our pursuits, knowing that even a brief conversation with a stranger could open our eyes and present new opportunities.

2) WHAT HAS BEEN THE NUMBER 1 LESSON YOU RECEIVED FROM YOUR MENTOR?

Most importantly, the essential lesson we've learned from our Mentor, Brenda Irwin, has been the importance of networking. Not only did our mentor emphasize the value of establishing business connections, she also deepened our understanding of this concept by providing numerous opportunities like fundraisers and conferences for us to apply our newly-learnt skill as active entrepreneurs. Our ability to effectively develop valuable business and personal connections has been the most impactful lesson, as we have been able to apply it within our day to day lives be it at school, work, or even in the local community.

3) HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF CREATIVE AND ENGAGED IN THE WORLD?

We remain engaged in all our pursuits by constantly being open to new opportunities and challenges, the grounding belief of an entrepreneur. Whether it be in-school clubs or internships, we collectively adopted the belief that in order to best utilize our potential as active entrepreneurs, we must be ready to embrace every new challenge that comes our way with the aim of deepening our understanding of the world around us. This belief arms us with the ability to not only think critically and creatively as entrepreneurs, but also to enrich our respective lives as well-rounded individuals.

4) HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?

To us, success is defined through the process of learning and its consequential results. Although we are the 2017 Venture Challenge champions which is a success to an extent, it would not have had been nearly as valuable without the challenges that we had to overcome. As we had cycled through multiple other business ideas before finalizing Bee Buddies, we had finished the process of market validation for each of our previous ideas. Although this was a rigorous and often frustrating process, we were able to capture the spirit of entrepreneurship which in itself was a success due to the learning process that came out of it. Furthermore, creating a valid business idea along with completing the process of market validation, finalizing our product and most importantly, developing a product that is needed within our society today has been our biggest success.