Last November Cilex held the Inno-V event in partnership with the City of Gatineau. The goal was to bring together people of various backgrounds and group them into teams tasked with developing innovative solutions for various challenges brought on by the pandemic.
The teams had seven hours to prepare a first draft proposal of their project in either healthcare or education. The winning teams in each category then received three months of incubation at Cilex, benefitting from individualized guidance from one of our experts.
Chloé Balesh’s was the winner in the education category. According to Ms. Balesh, a student at Cégep de l’Outaouais, the pandemic was preventing students from developing the usual sense of community – first within their program, but also within the school as a whole. As a first-year student, she herself hadn’t yet had the opportunity to have in-person classes with her colleagues and was thus trying to fulfill this need.
The idea was to set up a virtual café where students could create these relationships that were missing in their daily lives. The team settled on the online platform Discord to host this meeting space during the incubation period. Many people took part in the project, such as Antoine Lafrance; Xavier Arthur; Madeleine Carrier; Karyl Sihomnoue; Abygaelle Patient; Xavier Bédard; France Garnier, coordinator of the Pôle en enseignement supérieur de l'Outaouais (PESO); Renaud Lévesque, Loml Inc. consultant; Marcel Riou, Productivisme Inc. consultant; and Sylvia Andriamaharosoa, SR&ED expert at Cilex.
The Cilex touch
The team of the Virtual Student Café was coached by Farid Dagher during their three-month incubation phase at Cilex. Ms. Balesh recounts, “He helped us structure our ideas and focus on what was really important to push the project forward. Sometimes you have so many ideas floating around in your head. While they might all be good, they don’t necessarily bring added value to the project.”
When asked if she would like to be coached by Cilex again, Ms. Balesh answered yes without any hesitation and even recommended that fellow young entrepreneurs inquire about the services offered.
The next step
The idea is solid. The concept is proven. Why not go further and try your hand at another contest? Without skipping a beat, the team signed up for the Outaouais OSEntreprendre Challenge in the student category and won, which allowed them to represent the Outaouais region at the provincial contest.
Sandly, the overall win went to a different team at the June 9th gala. Did this negatively affect Ms. Balesh? “In my fourth year of secondary school, I fell into the world of entrepreneurship,” she explains. “I have a lot of project and business ideas, and making it this far in the OSEntreprendre Challenge only strengthened my resolve. I don’t really see it as a loss. I’m a winner in every way!”
Ms. Balesh’s story and that of the Cégep de l'Outaouais students with the Virtual Student Café reminds us that there’s no age requirement to get into the world of entrepreneurship. You can cheer on their efforts on their website.
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