State of the Ecosystem
Leadership Insights

Leadership Insights:

Strategic Vision: Then vs Now

Since our early days, VFC has evolved from focusing solely on creating founders to embracing the entrepreneurial spirit in all areas. We've expanded beyond business school grads to include a diverse mix of participants from STEM, humanities, and more.

VFC has always valued being a space for under-represented young people in entrepreneurship, but today, having our mission to support them disproportionately feels really special.

From a single program, we've grown to offer multiple pathways into entrepreneurship, reflecting our broader support base. We've also introduced consulting services and are exploring fee-for-service models to explore new ways of creating impact and systems of support for young Canadians.

Key Learnings for Future Leaders

  • Embrace Risk: Try something new. Trust that you can pivot if needed and continue to iterate.
  • Stay Proactive: Continuously seek and fill market gaps. A great way to do this is to talk to people outside of your specific industry and keep pace with what similar organizations are doing to solve the problems you are both tackling.
  • Guidelines > Rigid Policies: Scaling an org requires formalizing internal systems that can either boost or hinder an innovation culture. Over the years, we’ve learned to question whether our systems align with our culture and client needs. We found that favouring adaptable guidelines > fixed policies promotes consistency while allowing for the flexibility needed for a productive culture of innovation.
  • Prioritise Well-Being: Productive and innovative workplaces require healthy people. Over the past decade, we’ve worked hard to create a “life-friendly” workplace that allows for trust-based flexibility, celebrates the diversity of experience and thought, prioritizes staff learning, growth, and development, and invests in wraparound supports that enable our teams to access the mental and physical support they need to be well.
  • Listen + Adapt: Listen to and be open to reacting to your target audience's experiences. We have established new systems to ensure we listen and hear what our participants and staff want and need from VFC to continue meeting their evolving needs.
Hear from changemakers, movement drivers and young Canadian entrepreneurs.
A New Wave Podcast
  • Beyond Tech Startups: As the idealism of tech and SaaS startups wane, we’re excited to see what type of startups fill the void and excite the next generation of investors, entrepreneurs, and leaders.
  • Educational Evolution: With student needs and accessibility driving changes, we expect to see a surge in online, hybrid, AI, VR, and personalized learning. The quickening pace of tech also amplifies the value of micro-credentialing and lifelong learning.
  • Customised Learning Pathways: The move to in-house training among startups and small businesses signals the mismatch of broader educational programs with startup/small business needs due to a lack of flexibility and customization. To ensure our initiatives provide immediate value and seamlessly integrate with these tailored efforts, it's crucial to grasp the unique gaps and values these programs fulfil. This understanding will enable us to offer complementary support rather than competing.
  • Harnessing Global Talent: The surge in international students is reshaping our approach to education, integration, and employment, presenting a chance to engage a vast, diverse talent pool poised to make a significant impact. Canadian post-secondary institutions are currently overwhelmed, struggling to support these students fully. Soon, this uniquely skilled yet underprepared group will enter the job market. Addressing their specific needs not only aids their transition but also enriches Canada’s workforce with their diverse perspectives and skills.

Looking ahead

VFC is well-positioned to respond to these trends in education and entrepreneurship, steering the charge alongside our ecosystem partners. By embracing competency-based education, championing diversity in program participants, and enhancing flexibility to adapt to market dynamics, we aim to remain at the vanguard of innovation.

Together, we're paving the way for a generation of bold thinkers and doers, ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow with confidence and impact.