Entrepreneur fair to highlight budding STU businesses

Entrepreneurial spirit is probably higher than ever at St. Thomas University this year, with a number of students taking their business ideas public and new programs and services introduced by the school.

Next for the business-minded among STU students is the inaugural Entrepreneur Fair coming Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Sir James Dunn Hall.

Event organizer Michael Palotto got involved with an established startup in his home province of Ontario this summer that brokers essential services like telephone and internet. He hopes to gauge interest in both his product and business ventures in general at the fair.

(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)
(Andrea Bárcenas/AQ)

“My business has only been running a little while and I think that’s a reason to expand my network here in Fredericton,” the first-year STU student said. “I’m hoping all these business owners see the opportunity to talk to students and engage and grow whatever network they already have.”

Four current STU students and an alumnus will be at the event to talk about entrepreneurship and their budding businesses. They are Palotto, who will talk about his work selling services from All Communications Network; second-year Book Saprasid, who has her own jewelry company; STU alumnus Sawyer Hannay, who is the founder of the Country Liberty clothing brand; Kyle Stairs, who has his own snow plowing company; and STUSU President Santiago Chavez, who will present the event planning and promotion app he has been working on.

Chavez noted that this year, more students than ever have got involved with startup accelerators. Four students were selected this year to represent UNB’s Pond-Deshpande Centre, while a number of others have got involved with things like the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit Atlantic, which takes place at the Fredericton Convention Centre Friday and Saturday.

“There’s The Hive, there’s the Chamber of Commerce, there’s Startup Fredericton,” who will also be present at the fair, said Chavez. “There’s startup accelerators at University of New Brunswick and stuff like that, but at STU, we haven’t heard very much about it.”

Another notable first at STU this year has been the introduction of the interdisciplinary business minor.

Third-year communications student Catrina Ren, who helped create a social media app currently being shopped to tech giants back home in China, isn’t excited by STU’s business course selection so far, but wants to see it grow.

“I like the idea for the fair. I’m glad to see that STU is moving forward to business sections,” she said “We just started our business program this year. It seems like STU is getting better, but I’d like to see more professional courses at STU instead of going to UNB.”

She thanked the school for nominating her to become an ambassador at the Pond-Deshpande Centre last year, which led her to help organize YES Atlantic and the ongoing East Coast Startup Week this year.

“I think it’s a good idea to have student entrepreneurs on campus to show what they are doing because some students are kind of afraid of the word ‘entrepreneur,’” Ren said. “They say, ‘That’s too far away for me.’ Although my father is an entrepreneur and he has his own company for over ten years, it’s still challenging for me.”

Palotto, who has the most time left at STU out of all the entrepreneurs presenting Thursday, hopes to see the fair stay, and the entrepreneurial spirit at STU grow.

“I think seeing this event grow would be cool. I’m very much passionate about getting students to see entrepreneurship as a real option, something they can take on even when they’re in university and then beyond that.”

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