The 2nd Just Own It! conference (#JOI2016) by Brescia University College was another wonderful experience for high school girls and women entrepreneurs from London and surrounding area!  Like last year’s conference, this free one-day program was designed to help high school girls in grades 9 to 12 to understand what entrepreneurship is, educate them about supportive organizations in London, and present a future career opportunity.

According to Brescia University College, the Just Own It! conferences are part of an initiative to address three reasons that women are unlikely to become entrepreneurs:

  1. They don’t believe that they have the right personality.
  2. They don’t think they are capable of being successful.
  3. They lack mentors to assist and support them.

Women who addressed those barriers while running their business are an inspiration for girls harboring a dream of making big in the world though lack vision. Brescia University College asked all of the women entrepreneurs involved as conference mentors to help:

  1. Showcase different personalities of successful entrepreneurs,
  2. Share stories of failures and successes,
  3. Elaborate on the benefits of starting a business,
  4. Offer support and advice, and
  5. Network and learn about the post-secondary school talent in London and surrounding areas.
Just Own It Breakout Session

Colleen McCauley discussing the Just Own It conference experience with high school girls during a breakout session. Photo credit to Brescia University College via Flickr.

During this year’s conference, high school girls were motivated to build their confidence to consider entrepreneurship through four sessions: Product Concept, Prototype Development, an entrepreneur panel for questions and answers, and a closing keynote speaker, Nicole Verkindt, a Next Gen Den dragon of CBC Dragons’ Den. Colleen G McCauley, owner of Earth to Business Marketing facilitated and supported three breakout sessions with Meghan Kraft, Co-owner of Illbury and Goose, and Peggy O’Neil, part time Faculty of the University of Western Ontario. Adrija Biswas, Public Relations and Communications Intern for Earth to Business Marketing, was behind the scenes taking notes and photographs to document the proceedings.

Entreprenuer Panel Quotes

JOI2016 Colleen, Meghan & Peggy

Colleen McCauley of Earth to Business Marketing, Meghan Kraft of Illbury and Goose, and Peggy O’Neil of the University of Western Ontario. Photo Credit to Adrija Biswas.

When in doubt, always ask for help because many people can give a good perspective of your ideas. But then don’t let too many opinions divert or distract you.” ~ Meghan Kraft

A key trait to being an entrepreneur is the willingness to learn so you can overcome obstacles. It’s always helpful to understand your market before you start too.” ~ Colleen G McCauley

Some people may try and put you down, but concentrate on what you are doing and do it confidently. You must always follow your heart and believe yourself.” ~ Peggy O’Neil


Takeaways from a Keynote “Dragon” Speaker

JOI2016 Nicole and Adrija

Nicole Verkindt, ‘Next Gen Den’ Dragon, and Adrija Biswas, Public Relations and Communications Intern, Earth to Business Marketing.

Nicole Verkindt, Next Gen Den of CBC Dragons’ Den closed the conference with key takeaways for the attendees and aspiring entrepreneurs as follows:

  1. Start small, start now

It doesn’t matter how small your business idea is; what matters is that you start it immediately.

  1. Act as if

Believe you know more than your client. It’s all about confidence, so exaggerate your strengths.

  1. Just own it!

Be 100% who you are, leverage who you are and what you love. If you don’t believe in yourself then your clients cannot believe in you.

  1. Wear the failure badge.

Whether you face success or failure take responsibility for it, talk about it, and be proud to handle the situation.

  1. “Optimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy”

We have no proof or data that the future will be better. Being optimistic and thus, open to opportunities allows for a better chance of achieving success. The wave of technology changing is job types, which is creating new sets of titles and skills. We can make our future better by creating new tools for ourselves.

What’s Next?

The Just Own It! conferences demonstrate how girls with ideas and women entrepreneurs with vision can come together to discuss how dreams can come true if we believe in ourselves and help each other out. If you are a female entrepreneur (or aspiring to be one) in London, Ontario and surrounding area, Brescia University College would like to add you to their database of potential mentors for future initiatives. Please email your interest to Nikita Miller.

“#JOI2016 was an amazing experience to watch girls of such tender age putting forward brand new entrepreneurial ideas. I was inspired to consider starting my own business.” ~ Adrija Biswas

What entrepreneurial idea(s) do you have?

Add a comment below telling us how you were inspired to become an entrepreneur. If you need further inspiration, email or call us to discuss a presentation or workshop opportunity to learn more about business marketing.


UPDATE April 10, 2016

In follow-up to this year’s conference, Brescia University College is once again hosting one of three Entrepreneurship Boot Camps in May and June for 150 high school girls from across Ontario to attend FREE OF CHARGE.  The boot camps include overnight stay in residence, meals, and materials. Dates are May 25-29, June 1-5 and June 8-12.

Applications open April 1st, 2016 and close on April 29th, 2016 at midnight. If you know high school aged girls and want to learn more, click here to visit the Just Own It! Boot Camp website.

2016 Boot Camp Highlights

From videos, mentors and hands-on experience, the girls learned about branding, the value proposition (a hypothesis “I believe there is a problem with X which can be solved by Y for these people”), empathy map, and the Business Model Canvas.

The Business Model Canvas by Strategyzer

Did you use The Business Model Canvas for your business? If so, tell us in the comments how it made a difference.