A select group of students on the University of New Brunswick’s Fredericton campus will lead their peers in executing market research, developing viable business plans, and securing funding for four local startup companies.

The Activator program, coordinated by UNB’s International Business & Entrepreneurship Centre within the faculty of business administration, is welcoming its new cohort, led by four promising student leaders.

Startups looking to launch can apply to the program, which is now in its 11th year. Those with viable and innovative business ideas are selected and paired with an Activator leader and student group. Over the course of the year, students learn first-hand how the startup process works, and have the opportunity to represent their matched startups at conferences, expos and pitch competitions.

Students who participate in the program earn a concentration in entrepreneurship while gaining valuable hands-on experience. Activator courses include Venture Creation and Entrepreneurship, Market Opportunity Analysis, Entrepreneurial Finance, Venture Assessment, and Venture Development.

To date, at least eight Activator startups have generated more than $2 million in sales.

This year’s leaders and the startups they will be guiding are:

Sydney McAdam (BSc ’17, MBA ‘19)

Sydney will lead her peers in working with Voyager, a startup working to combine real-life tourism experiences with augmented and virtual reality that will enhance the visitor experience. Sydney is a self-starter with an entrepreneurial mind. Though she didn’t study business during her undergraduate degree, she views her inexperience as a strength. “Taking up opportunities that aren’t familiar, or ones that I wouldn’t have necessarily foreseen for myself, are often the most rewarding.”

Holly Ayles (BBA ’19)

Holly grew up in Fredericton and is currently completing her undergraduate degree in human resources. She will lead her team in helping to launch Natural Capital Healing Gardens, a business that aims to design and create spaces that restore pollinator habitat, increase food security, provide outdoor classrooms, and offer horticultural therapy sanctuaries. Holly is looking forward to fostering positive relationships with her peers, startup partners, and through networking. “I’m a very passionate, very driven person, and I hope that shows in my work.”

Kate McPherson (BBA ’19)

Having recently returned home from a four-month exchange in Singapore where she studied marketing and innovative business techniques at Nanyang Technological University, Kate is ready to gain hands-on experience through the Activator program. Taking the lead on jumpstarting First Mobile Education, Kate and her team will guide the startup as it works to bring e-learning games and corporate training solutions to market. “I hope to inspire [students] to take risks and opportunities even though they may be a challenge.”

Romelle Maluto (BSc ’13, MBA ’19)

Romelle Maluto works hard. As a second-year MBA student, she also serves as secretary of the MBA Society Executive, and is currently working with the MBA Office as program and marketing assistant. She worked as a registered pharmacist for several years before realizing that her heart is in business. Romelle will guide her team in supporting Passiv, a program that syncs and manages individual brokerage accounts by performing tasks like portfolio balancing, trades and investment management. “The Activator program will help me discover new and better business strategies, expand my network, further improve my leadership skills, and be more creative.”

Media contact: Hilary Creamer Robinson

Photo: This year’s four Activator leaders, from left to right: Kate McPherson, Holly Ayles, Romelle Maluto and Sydney McAdam. Credit: Cameron Fitch/Photo UNB