Our Impact
Network Building

Alumni Summit 📖

Opportunity

Reigniting the post fellowship community

In 2022, VFC had a growing community of Fellowship Program Alumni who had been engaged with the organization as far back as 2015. These Alumni were becoming founders, leaders, hiring managers, influencers, investors, and more. 

  • The Alumni Council and VFC knew that there was untapped potential in this community, and a desire from the community to (re)connect, add value to one another, and contribute to the strategic vision of Venture for Canada and the organization’s programs.
  • Alumni add value back to the VFC ecosystem, including to each other. 
  • The belief is that VFC can be an organization largely funded by Alumni who have experienced the programming and community in the future. Alumni engagement supports the financial longevity of VFC. 

Group shot of all attendees on concrete and wood bleachers

The pool of Alumni who regularly engaged more than once a year with VFC initiatives represented less than 10% of the total Alumni base pre-Summit.

Subjectively, Council Directors felt that Alumni knew vaguely that VFC was doing things, and growing… but connection to that activity, and proof of the value of the extended network, was needed.

With Alumni spread across the country, the opportunity to come together and to see (and to feel) that “not only are the people in this community cool, but it’s a community of real value” (Sam Daviau), was needed to jumpstart activity with the Alumni Community.

“Coming together is essential for any community – it needs a place to thrive.” “The Summit didn’t start the community, it highlighted the power, the force, the engagement that is already present in the community but can be hard to see or find.”

Sam Daviau
Sam Daviau
Chair of the Alumni Council

“To some Fellowship years, it was very unclear what the value was that VFC provided after Training Camp. We knew that this program had the potential to create and foster  a community, but it didn’t feel like it until the Summit.”

Christoph Fischer
Christoph Fischer
Alumni Events Director for the Alumni Council

Approach

By Alumni for Alumni

The 2022 Alumni Summit brought together 60 Alumni over two days at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Alumni engaged in Alumni-led sessions that focused on entrepreneurial skill development, personal growth, and community connection. 

looking at a group of people socializing in a hallway from above

“The team faced a lot of challenges planning the event – it’s the first one, it’s truly from scratch, in the context of COVID, and the team was scrappy in the energy and resources put toward it. The event was entirely volunteer driven and it was a bet, a chance we took that turned out incredibly well, across the board.”

Sam Daviau
Sam Daviau
Chair of the Alumni Council
Christoph Fischer
Christoph Fischer
Alumni Events Director for the Alumni Council

The content of the Summit was surfaced from and delivered exclusively by members of the Alumni Community with great success.  Leveraging the long-standing partnership with Queen’s University Smith School of Business to host the event in the perfect location, and what we’ve learned from eight years of residential Training Camps as VFC.  The team realized that: “the challenges a lot of Alumni face is that, when you’re in your career, how do you grow? How do you find a mentor? How do you get people around you who are going to open doors for you, and help you get to the next level? VFC’s community solves that challenge for people, and the annual Alumni Summit becomes the moment of crystallizing that support and availability - proving it. Not with explicit professional networking, or booths, but organically.

Making this event happen required:

  • Commitment – lots of time, lots of giving. All hands on deck.
  • Self-determination – success was determined by the Alumni Council. There was no external benchmark for the event, rather, it was about making it a reality.

“We were passionate, and confident in our abilities as the Alumni Council. We knew we could lean on each other to make a great Summit within the constraints that we had.” “We were laser focused on what we could do in the time that we had. What’s actually important?”

Sam Daviau
Sam Daviau
Chair of the Alumni Council

Impact

many people animatedly interact on a stairway

In 2022, Alumni gave over 700 hours of volunteer time to VFC. This included the organization of the Summit and increased dramatically following the event. The breakdown:

  • 24 gave workshops or spoke on panels as relatable experts.
  • 24 gave workshops or spoke on panels as relatable experts.
  • 22 donated to support the Scholarships that make Fellowship accessible.
  • 22 donated to support the Scholarships that make Fellowship accessible.
  • And 16 gave time, energy, and commitment to shaping the the future of Alumni Programming at VFC as Directors on the Alumni Council.
0%
of attendees plan to attend the 2023 Summit
0%
of attendees were satisfied with the Summit; 95% were very satisfied

“Overall, I think every single person walked away from the Summit pumped – whether because of new connections made, or meeting people they hadn’t seen in ages, or just overall, reconnecting to VFC and recognizing the exciting community they are a part of.” “It was an event where everyone walked away with a positive overall impression of it. That, by itself, is quite remarkable.” “In the inaugural Alumni Summit event, Fellows from up to seven years prior “took the risk on coming to Kingston without knowing what to expect. The energy – the eagerness to meet one another – was undeniable.”

Christoph Fischer
Christoph Fischer
Alumni Events Director for the Alumni Council

“The perspective with the first-ever Summit was to create a starting point for the incoming Alumni Council to improve on moving forward – and it was a lot more than that. It was a catalyst, a true catalyst for Alumni engagement at VFC.” “In every way, it exceeded expectations in engaging the Alumni, and exceeded my expectations in what a first event could be.”

Sam Daviau
Sam Daviau
Chair of the Alumni Council

“It brought to light the value of the Alumni Community. Demonstrated it. It showed everyone how important these people are to the VFC ecosystem, and how important they are to each other.” “We answered so many questions about VFC’s strategic objectives – what we’re working toward, together. Allowed us to see the power of that community; to demonstrate the power of this community.”

Alex Baccelierri
Alex Baccelierri
Incoming Chair of the Alumni Council