Velocity Start opens its doors to all students

The Velocity Start program recently opened its doors to students with a kickoff event Jan. 20. Located on the second floor of South Campus Hall, the program aims to provide opportunities for students to discover and learn about entrepreneurship. 

Velocity Start is a space that will support Velocity’s on-campus presence. The space contains a large seating area for presentations, a lounge, the Problem Lab, the Maker Space, and plenty of potential study space. The majority of the Velocity Start space is bookable by student groups and initiatives. 

Jude Fiorillo, the marketing and communications manager at Velocity, describes the program “as a funnel … we want this to be very accessible for people to learn about entrepreneurship at an early stage.” Unlike the other Velocity programs, Velocity Start has no barriers for entry. While Velocity Garage and Velocity Science are intended for students accepted to the program who are already pursuing a venture, Velocity Start targets students who want to explore entrepreneurship. 

“Maybe some people in the space just want a quiet place to study,” Fiorillo said. “But ultimately we’re hoping that this will be the place that a lot of the people interested in entrepreneurship will start to congregate, and they’ll start to find people who are interested in working on a business together or sharing ideas. Something that is hopefully high-energy where you can just come here and feel inspired.”

Velocity Start will increase space for workshops from 60 people per event to over 100, as well as host the Problem Lab and Maker Space.

The Problem Lab workshops, hosted by UW economics professor Larry Smith, discuss real and impactful problems in the industry. The Maker Space, housed under Velocity Start, offers students access to 3D printers and hand tools.

“[The space is for] people who want to experiment with the technology or really just kind of start to have some fun putting things together, whether it’s a prototype or something more advanced,” Fiorillo said. General workshops are held every Wednesday and focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and starting and managing your own business.

In addition, Velocity has partnered with UW Food Services, and in late March or early April, a food court will open beside the Velocity Start space. “I’m told it’s going to be the best food on campus bar none,” Fiorillo said. “We think that’s really exciting, because we know that food is in a lot of ways the key to peoples’ hearts.… So we are really excited with that partnership and [UW Food Services has] been really great.”

Fiorillo hopes students will benefit from the Velocity Start and that it will impact UW’s entrepreneurial culture.

 “I think it really can only accelerate what we’re doing in terms of our mission to help build the next generation of startups in Waterloo Region,” Fiorillo said. 

“So now that we have this additional capacity to serve more people and in better ways with different resources, we’re hoping that this is going to be something that a lot of people are going to want to take advantage of … I think it’s just another one of many great resources on campus that are all working together towards that end goal of helping stimulate innovation and tapping into the knowledge capabilities of students at the University of Waterloo and trying to maximize the potential for building solutions to problems.”