When Dhillon School of Business, general business major Ankit Mukherjee received the email announcing his nomination for the 2024 Startup Boot Camp, hosted by 150 Startups at Bow Valley College, he couldn't contain his excitement.

The Alberta-wide initiative brings together 150 students from 26 colleges and universities to ideate and take steps to becoming first-time entrepreneurs.

"I’ve always wanted to pursue some of the business ideas I’ve had," he shared. "But being busy with school and other extracurricular activities, I’ve never really found the time to actually work on my ideas until now."

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With nomination in hand, and SPD funding to help with the travel costs and attendance fee, Ankit made his way to the first phase of the Startup 150 weekend.

There, participants were immersed in a dynamic learning environment and delved into the intricacies of validating business ideas, competed in a Crowd Favourite Pitch Competition and learned crucial startup lessons.

Reflecting on his experience, Ankit said, "The bootcamp was incredible as it gave me a lot of tools and resources to successfully launch and grow a start-up. I learned a lot of skills, especially around validating your start-up idea, pitching your business to investors, making financial forecasts, building a strong team and creating your first MVP (Minimum Viable Product)."

One of the most memorable challenges he faced was venturing into the streets of downtown Calgary to interview 25 random people about the problems his business idea could solve. "At first, it was quite intimidating," he admitted, "but as I got into the flow of approaching people and asking them questions, it made me realize that people are always willing to engage in conversation about things that interest them."

When reflecting on his experience, Ankit emphasizes the importance of collaboration and networking. "As a founder, you will always need to surround yourself with people with different skillsets because it’s impossible to do everything right on your own," he says. "Participate in pitch competitions, attend conferences, take part in bootcamps and just network extensively since the best way to learn isn’t just reading about it or watching a video, it’s by actually going out and building the things you want to."

However, Ankit won’t be pitching his business idea during the final event on May 29-31. Instead, he plans to attend for the invaluable experience and networking opportunities. With a determined mindset and a wealth of newfound knowledge, he is ready to take the next steps on his entrepreneurial journey.