How eHUB Can Help Any Student Become an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurship can be very scary, especially as a student. It is extremely difficult to figure out where to start and very easy to think, “I’m not qualified enough” or “I’m still in school. There’s no way I can build a business.” I used to lack the confidence for public speaking, let alone the confidence to launch my own business. But now I can do both. In grade 7 I joined the debate team at my school and within a few years I went from being afraid of communicating to peers to speaking at provincial and national Debate Championships. Public speaking pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me build a wide array of skills. Understanding the impact that debate can have, over the past four years I have continued as a volunteer coach at the school and helped hundreds of younger students build public speaking skills. Last year, I decided to combine my love for public speaking with my passion for entrepreneurship by launching TalkMaze.
TalkMaze is an interactive virtual platform for high quality public speaking and debate training across the globe. I lead a team of experienced coaches from 13 different countries who connect with learners of all ages across the globe to help them build public speaking skills. We offer a variety of on-demand resources as well as live classes to make them accessible for everyone. We’re currently in the process of connecting with organizations that share a similar vision to deliver high quality training for their members.
Running a company with a remote team from all over the world, in the middle of a pandemic, and while trying to focus on full time courses is overwhelming to say the least. From conducting a thorough recruitment process to staying on track with all the requirements of a corporation to managing social media, it really is like being thrown into the deep end, not knowing how to swim. It’s also the most fulfilling experience and I would do it all over again in an instant.
What makes this journey less stressful is knowing that I have a support network that I can reach out to when I need, and that is exactly what the University of Alberta’s eHUB has been for me over the past several months. I had prior experience with entrepreneurship through my first company, Toon Tutors, and my involvement with Junior Achievement, but I had not yet been able to find an established foundation for support at a school. When I graduated high school and began working on TalkMaze, I hoped that I would be able to find a community of support in university. I first learned about eHUB through eClub during Welcome Week in my first year. I quickly got busy with my classes and didn’t end up reaching out to eHUB until well into my second semester at the University of Alberta. The only thing I would change is that I wish I would have reached out sooner.
Leanne from eHUB welcomed me immediately and helped me feel supported despite all our communication being virtual due to the pandemic. She connected me with Luke, a mentor with experience working on a startup with a similar business model. I regularly meet with Luke to get feedback on various aspects of TalkMaze and it is always enlightening speaking with him.
My vision is for TalkMaze to be the go-to platform for anyone looking to build effective communication skills, whether it be for an interview, public speaking, or competitive debate. It is reassuring to know that I have the eHUB community rooting for me as I work toward this vision with TalkMaze. eHUB has helped me immensely over the past few months and I can only imagine how valuable it will be in the years to come. A couple months ago, TalkMaze received a $4,000 grant through Rural eHUB to support our efforts to make public speaking skills more accessible including in rural areas. This grant lessened the financial burden and allowed me to focus on growing my startup.
eHUB also connected me with Enactus UAlberta, a student group that is part of a global non-profit dedicated to student entrepreneurship. I’ve been able to connect with older peers who are also working on startups and are wonderful mentors. I also applied to several grants available through Enactus to help build TalkMaze.
I encourage anyone who is looking into entrepreneurship to simply get started. It’s never too early and never too late. If you’re worried about what to do, reach out to eHUB or any of the other student innovation spaces and supports on campus. There are tons of resources available for students from all faculties to help you either get started on your own business or get involved with an existing startup. All it takes is scheduling your first call with eHUB and you’ll have taken a significant step in your entrepreneurial journey.
I am beyond excited for the future of TalkMaze and extremely grateful for all the support I have received thus far.
Great ideas change the world, but ideas need a push forward. At the University of Alberta, we know that push has never been more important as we do our part to rebuild Alberta and keep doors of opportunity open to all. We’re making research discoveries. We’re cultivating entrepreneurs. And we’re giving our students the knowledge and skills they need to turn today’s ideas into tomorrow’s innovations.
Ghalia Aamer is 19 years old and in her second year of business at the University of Alberta. Ghalia realized her passion for entrepreneurship when she set out to become a tutor at the age of 13. In 2019, Ghalia decided to merge her passion for business with her love for public speaking and debate by launching TalkMaze, a virtual coaching platform. Beyond business, Ghalia is passionate about advocating for important causes in her community. She serves as the Co-Chair of Outrun the Stigma Edmonton, a non-profit dedicated to reducing stigma around mental health.