The Next 36 is a university-led incubator program based in Toronto.
It’s a combination of educational curriculum and startup creation, with students from across Canada attending. Students participate while at university, working remotely with their teams, and then spend the summer together in Toronto.
The goal is to find the next great Canadian entrepreneurs. The Next 36 is now running its second cohort, and there are a number of Quebec-based participants. We’ll be featuring them on NextMontreal over the next little while.
If you’re attending university (particularly 3rd or 4th year), you should definitely check out the program. It’s an innovative mix of education and entrepreneurship, with some great leaders and mentors participating.
Our first profile is on Omer Dor. He’s a 4th year Chemical Engineering student at McGill University (graduating in May.)
NextMontreal: Why did you decide to join The Next 36?
Omer: I joined The Next 36 because I wanted to be challenged. I wanted to compete against and learn from some of Canada’s most innovative and talented young men and women. I wanted to be put in very uncomfortable situations, and to see how I react. I wanted to have my own expectations of what I can achieve raised. The Next 36 is the best program out there in helping me do all of that.
NextMontreal: Has entrepreneurship always been something you’re interested in?
Omer: It has. Entrepreneurship to me is a way of thinking and living life. I grew up in Israel, which in itself is an extremely entrepreneurially oriented environment – and that definitely played a serious role in shaping the man that I am. I remember as a kid, I was always trying to figure out what other people wanted or needed – and how I can give that to them. I think that type of mindset and way of thinking stayed when I came to Canada.
NextMontreal: What project are you working at in The Next 36? How did you meet your teammates and figure out the project?
Omer: My team and I are working in the domain of mobile health. We are developing an application to help alleviate the stress that is associated with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. We provide tools to help families better coordinate the care of a patient and support the primary caregiver.
When we sat down as a team to try and figure out in which direction we wanted to go, we realized that our team had a lot of expertise in the health domain. So we wanted to leverage that with our passion to make a serious impact in peoples’ lives. Because of my personal relationship to Alzheimer’s as well, it only felt natural to go with it. I am very fortunate to be in a team of highly passionate and talented people who work so hard to ensure we are creating some real value for families who are dealing with the management of Alzheimer’s.
I recently wrote a blog about Alzheimer’s, how it affected my life and what I hope to do about it.
NextMontreal: And how many people on the EDO Mobile Health team?
Omer: There are four of us. Two are from Toronto (both originally from China) and the other member is from Saskatoon.
NextMontreal: How do you divvy up the work and communicate?
Omer: We currently have 2 meetings a week where we meet as a team to discuss short term goals. Each person takes a responsibility that is usually based on their skills, personality and interest. Some decisions are left to the discretion of the person responsible for the task at hand. Other more important decisions are made as a team. We also have great mentors, so we tend to ask for their advice and guidance throughout the decision making process.
NextMontreal: What’s the experience been like so far?
Omer: It really has been absolutely remarkable. I remember during National Selection Weekend, we had to give everyone a preliminary pitch of our idea and we had one night to work on it. About two or three minutes before we go on stage, I realized we didn’t address our expected market valuation. On my team, we are all engineers, so we never really had the opportunity to learn about valuations in school. I turn to my mentor and I whisper to him about this. He pulls out a pen and paper, and in three minutes gives me a crash course about EBITDA, gross margins and cash flow analysis. I hung those notes up on my board in my room – a reminder of the quality and speed at which you learn from being a part of The Next 36. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by that I don’t find myself reflecting on how fortunate and thankful I am to be surrounded by these amazing people and to be a part of this experience.
NextMontreal: What are your thoughts on the overall level of interest in entrepreneurship from young people today?
Omer: I think it’s great to see so much interest, especially in Canada – where people tend to be more risk-averse. Entrepreneurship, at least to me, means taking some risks along the way and being confident about the decisions you make – so I think it’s great to see people who are passionate about cultivating that type of mindset.
NextMontreal: What are your plans after? Do you envision sticking with EDO Mobile Health?
Omer: Yes, the plan is to forge forward with EDO Mobile Health. I will be able to invest all my time and energy into it, so I am very excited to be able to do that. I really believe in the value that we can create and build and I want to be a part of that!