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Entrepreneurship course helps turn idea into reality

Jeremy Butterworth

​University courses are designed to challenge students to help them achieve success and reach their goals. For business student Jeremy Butterworth, the Introduction to Entrepreneurship course he took in 2017 instantly helped him realize his dreams. The third-year student turned his course-work into a full-fledged business opportunity, with external funding allowing him to make a reality out of his idea for a fitness-based app, named Flex.

Butterworth, who also plays hockey for Nipissing’s varsity men’s hockey team, was percolating the idea for his app for a few years but wasn’t sure how to take the first steps to go from ideation to product launch.  When he began the second-year Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, he discovered that he’d need to create a business plan as his final project. He realized he could marry his course work to his idea. Assistant professor Dianne Davis, who led the course, helped him organize his thoughts and critiqued and improved his business plan.

“When I began the course, I had an idea and had done some market research, enough to convince me the idea was viable,” said Butterworth. “Professor Davis and professor David Plouffe were incredibly helpful in pushing me to flesh out all aspects of the business plan, including financial forecasting and competitor analysis. They really helped me synthesize the plan to become a professional product, and also helped me to find grants that were available for young entrepreneurs. I highly recommend this course to any students interested in entrepreneurship.”

"We strive to incorporate experiential learning into all aspects of the Entrepreneurship course. Learning by doing is essential for young entrepreneurs,” said Davis. “Jeremy was very driven in the pursuit of his goals. It’s very rewarding for us as educators to see a student like Jeremy learning how to build a business while effectively launching a product and building a business.”

Another aspect of the course that helped Butterworth pursue his goal were the guest speakers, all successful entrepreneurs, that Davis brought in to engage the class.

“Hearing first-hand from people who had an idea, and the courage and work ethic to see it become a reality, was inspiring and gave me the confidence to believe in myself and realize my idea,” said Butterworth.

After working all semester on the business plan, Butterworth was able to secure $5,000 in development money from IION, Innovation Initiatives Ontario North, a non-profit organization working to increase knowledge, education and practice of business innovation and entrepreneurial activity. The IION team also provided essential guidance and support to help Butterworth realize his idea.

The IION money is being used to physically develop Flex, Butterworth’s fitness app. He’s now working with Fact Media, a digital marketing and advertising company, to develop the app and is planning to launch Flex in June.

“I hope that my product will provide motivation for users to achieve their workout goals, and help young athletes get noticed and further their careers,” said Butterworth.

“The Introduction to Entrepreneurship course challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and take some necessary risks. Without this course, I wouldn’t have been able to build the app; I wouldn’t have had the courage, the support and the knowledge to see my idea through to implementation. With the experience I’ve gleaned, I definitely want to continue building my ideas as an entrepreneur.”

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