Two graduates of the University of Waterloo, Rita Huang and Natalie Yang, have created a link between the technology sector in the Kitchener-Waterloo region in Ontario, Canada and technology enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, and students back home in China.
After completing their undergraduate studies in China, both Huang and Yang decided to pursue a Master’s degree in ‘Digital Media Experience Innovation’ at the University of Waterloo, where 37 percent of graduate students come from abroad.
After graduating, they started a blog called W.I.T. Insider. Within the W.I.T acronym are three embedded ideas: Waterloo region Innovative Technology, Women In Tech, and Well-informed, Inspired and Trustworthy entrepreneurs.
In an exclusive interview with Canada Study News, Huang and Yang shared insights on their experience of being international students, the opportunities available in Canada to international entrepreneurs, and the importance of collaboration for growth of the Canadian and Chinese technology sectors.
Canada Study News: Can you describe your experience of moving to Canada?
Rita Huang: The whole thing was great because we [Rita and Natalie] knew each other before moving to Canada. We were excited about the program because it’s made of project-based classes and a lot of teamwork in the classrooms. We also learned how the industry works regarding project work.
Canada Study News: What advice would you give an international student starting school this fall?
Rita Huang: Don’t come in the winter! It was snowing when I came and for a month I did not go out. Come before you start your program, and try to get to know your neighbourhood and meet new friends. It would be a bit overwhelming if you come here and start your studies right away.
Be prepared and don’t worry so much about the “new adventure”. Put yourself out there. We know often Chinese students worry too much about things like the immigration procedure. There are always professionals that can help you with that.
Canada Study News: How would you describe your experience of doing business in Canada as an international graduate?
Natalie Yang: During our graduate studies at the University of Waterloo, we learned the Canadian process of doing business. For tech companies, there is lots of funding from the federal government, and provincial as well. In Waterloo and Kitchener alone there are many accelerators and incubators. As a student in Waterloo you can get free access to the incubator and get help to launch your idea.
Incubator and accelerators in the context of business are places that help startup businesses to grow by providing services such as management training, office space, and guidance. Since 2010, the Kitchener-Waterloo area in Ontario has been growing as a technology hub for international investment. Between 2010 and 2015, 1,845 new technology startups have developed in the region; in turn, the region witnessed a $650 million rise in investment.
Canada Study News: What is W.I.T. Insider story, and why is it important?
Natalie Yang: We started this blog a year ago in July, 2016, and we write about Canadian tech startups that would interest Chinese readers. There are many Chinese investors looking for opportunities to invest in Canada. On the other hand, for new startups in Canada it is very difficult as a small business to raise money.
We saw that one solution to bridge that gap is to have a Chinese media outlet that will educate readers and make them aware that there are plenty of great projects developing in Canada, especially in the area of Kitchener and Waterloo. Our goal is to become a very professional Chinese media platform. We also want to help local startups by showing them ways to get funding and find sources. We also want to maintain and connect with the young Chinese entrepreneur community and help them through the process that we experienced as Chinese entrepreneurs setting up in Canada.
The University of Waterloo’s school system favours co-op placements and hands-on experience. The institution boasts a 98 percent employment rate for its graduates within two years of graduation. With services catering to startups, University of Waterloo graduates seamlessly grow their entrepreneurial and technical skills in spaces offered by the university or organizations interested in growing the technology talent in the region. University of Waterloo is home to Velocity, the largest free business incubator in the world.
In addition, this summer construction of Catalyst137, a 475,000 square feet warehouse, was completed, giving another option for startups and new business to grow. The building is designed to be the concentration point for hardware engineering services and venture capital support for new technology innovation companies.
Canada Study News: How do you expect W.I.T Insider Story will benefit Chinese audiences?
Rita Huang: Our blog platform is WeChat, because we know that is where 800 million Chinese users go at least 10 times a day to get their news. There is no better place for us to start this blog. Chinese people are changing the way they get their news. Also, there is another company doing this out of Silicon Valley in California. So, we are inspired by their business model.
Personally, we are heavy WeChat users, so we expect the same from other Chinese users. Currently we have approximately 1,000 subscribers to our blog.
A typical W.I.T. Insider blog article usually falls under four categories: interviews of tech startups (like O2 Canada, Medella Health), Canadian startup weekly (summary of big news in the tech industry), entrepreneur events forecasting, and Tech Leadership & Waterloo Innovation Summit events’ reports (tech leadership conference in KW region).
We also hold offline meetups for the Chinese entrepreneur community. We are trying to help others better understand Canadian entrepreneur regulations. It is also a process of study for us to get to know what resources and funding are available out there for international students. We want to help other people overcome the cultural barriers.
In the future, we hope to have more people in our team to generate more articles in both Chinese and English.
If you want to discover your options for studying in Canada, complete the free CanadaVisa Study Pathway Assessment Form today.
With The CanadaVisa Study Hub, international students and graduates have a chance to win a $500 scholarship. Members also get access to exclusive notifications, tools and resources to help maximize their time in Canada and pursue a pathway to permanent residence.
© 2017 CanadaStudyNews All Rights Reserved