ONset of Entrepreneurialism

Every year, Centennial College Journalism and Book and Magazine Publishing students split into groups and compete with one another to create unique magazines. The resulting publications are judged by a panel that includes teachers and members of the Independent Publishers Association of Ontario (IPAO) and winners are invited to present their product to IPAO members at one of the monthly association meetings/dinners.

One of this year's two winners (the other was a hardcopy auto mag called Drive) was a publication called ONset, and it marked the first time that a completely digital/virtual publication has ever won the competition. But what truly marked it as exceptional was the level of business acumen displayed by the ONset team members. The magazine about young tech entrepreneurs was conceived and created by a group of young tech entrepreneurs. So they certainly had the advantage of having their finger on the pulse.

Their presentation to the Independent Publisher's Association showed the influence of what they had been learning about launching a business. Rather than being strictly “about” the look and content of the magazine, their presentation to the IPAO began with their business plan. After analyzing the market, they had concluded that there really was a market for their publication. They had defined realistic goals for advertising revenue. They had looked at distribution bottlenecks and had factored the costs of printing and distribution into their business plan. In this manner, they had figured out their optimal print run for a hardcopy version and combined it with their web publication across a number of different platforms – to come up with actual and potential reach that enabled them to set advertising rates.

For this group of very dynamic young people, the competition wasn’t simply an exercise or a school assignment, it was an opportunity for their first foray into the business world – backed by all the resources that the Centennial College program had to offer.

The team was comprised of three women and one man – most of the team members were first or second generation Asian-Canadians and one is an international student from China. But where they come from is far less important than where they are going. And the way this group embraced the challenges and learned by doing was inspirational. If you're of an older generation and just doing your job until you retire, then you'd better start watching your back, because the next generation is coming up fast – they're coming from around the world, with the internet as their common medium. And if you don't stay on your game, they'll leave you in the dust. Their magazine was the ONset of something very good indeed.

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