New Foundation Aims to Help Young Entrepreneurs

Ryan Holmes, Meredith Powell | BCBusiness
Meredith Powell, Executive Director of “The Next Big Thing” with CEO Ryan Holmes

HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes and entrepreneur Meredith Powell launch “The Next Big Thing”

Canadian entrepreneurs aged 17-22 have a new way resource for accelerating their careers, complete with funding, mentorship and experiential learning, thanks to HootSuite founder and CEO Ryan Holmes and entrepreneur Meredith Powell.

“Meredith and I have talked to a lot of different entrepreneurs, and it’s a very common thing that often it takes them a number of years to stumble upon what is the next big thing for them. It really got us thinking about how we could help accelerate this,” says Holmes.

The two initially started talking about creating the foundation while at a conference in Las Vegas last year. “The Next Big Thing,” which was borne from that offhand chat, will offer 10 young people the chance to accelerate their business idea. The six-month experience will involve working at HootSuite’s offices, no-strings-attached grant funding, hands-on learning and an exclusive network of mentors and investors—things that Powell and Holmes sought out when starting their own businesses.

The ideal candidate is someone who dreams big and is courageous, says Powell.

“We are really looking for the next generation of innovators who are looking to take on the world,” she says.

Speaking about his own challenges as a young entrepreneur, Holmes says that it ultimately took him 32 years to come up with his own “next big thing.” He hopes to help young entrepreneurs quickly identify and troubleshoot their big business ideas. The foundation also seeks to keep young entrepreneurs in Canada so they don’t have to go across the boarder to get funding or mentorship.

“Ultimately entrepreneurs just add so much value to the economy,” says Holmes. “We see a lot of our smart, young, bright entrepreneurs heading across the border to look for other opportunities there, and so we want to think about how we can help them here.”

The application deadline is December 15. Applicants must provide a 90-second video clip about themselves and complete an application package.