GoVenture Going to School
Young Cape Bretoners with dreams of running their own business will soon get a virtual taste of what it's like to be an entrepreneur.
GoVenture, an award-winning CD-ROM developed by MediaSpark IT Solutions Inc., will be installed in every school in the Cape Breton-Victoria regional school district by January 2000. More than 22,000 students will have access to the software that realistically simulates what life is like for an entrepreneur.
GoVenture presents the entire decision-making process of starting and running a business in the virtual world to give future entrepreneurs an accurate idea of what they can expect in the real world. The software goes beyond teaching users how to prepare business plans, develop products and obtain permits and licences. It incorporates factors such as balancing family and work, minimizing stress and maximizing employee morale into the simulation.
"We believe there's not a single product like it in the world," said MediaSpark president Mathew Georghiou. "GoVenture addresses the softer skills entrepreneurs need, like maintaining their quality of life, to help users develop a balanced approach to starting a new business."
MediaSpark spent about two years perfecting the software with $108,283 in support from Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. The Canada/Nova Scotia COOPERATION Agreement on Economic Diversification provided the Cape Breton-Victoria regional school board with $53,506 for the teaching guides, software licences and seminars needed to put GoVenture in Cape Breton schools. The Agreement is managed federally by Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and provincially by Nova Scotia Economic Development.
"Small business is responsible for about 95 per cent of all new jobs in Nova Scotia and is key to our economic growth," said Economic Development Minister Gordon Balser. "Our investment in this GoVenture project will foster an entrepreneurial spirit in young Cape Bretoners and prepare them for growing more small business on the Island. It will also encourage our youth to embrace technology, which is driving the new economy."
"The young entrepreneurs who developed this software on Cape Breton Island will share their experience and success with some of the Island's future business people through this project," said Bernie Boudreau, Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister responsible for Nova Scotia, on behalf of George Baker, Secretary of State for Enterprise Cape Breton Corp. "What better way to demonstrate to them the varied career opportunities that exist through entrepreneurship than with a program developed here by successful young Cape Breton business people. The government of Canada is pleased to play a role in this community's ongoing commitment to the development of programs for youth."
Students will use the GoVenture CD-ROM on computers provided through the Information Economy Initiative of the Economic Diversification Agreement. This $73.2-million initiative is putting computers, Internet access and technological links at the fingertips of students, teachers, businesses and community members across Nova Scotia.
Realistic graphics, 3D-modeled environments, and interactive video make GoVenture the closest simulation possible to real life. Using the software, a potential entrepreneur can start a virtual business and run it for days, weeks or years before launching a real business.
MediaSpark will receive feedback on GoVenture's performance in the classroom. This input will help the company fine-tune the software in future versions and market it to educational institutions around the world.
"We realize that our students need to be exposed to and learn about creative, real-life situations in a risk-free environment," said Hayes MacNeil, superintendent of the Cape Breton-Victoria regional school board. "Our children must be equipped with the entrepreneurial spirit of adventure and this locally developed software will help us enhance our curriculum in this area."
The school board and the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority contributed $5,000 each to help put GoVenture in the hands of young, potential entrepreneurs.
Based at Silicon Island in Sydney and also operating from a new Halifax office, MediaSpark is a software development and multimedia production company. The company, around since 1994, exports its products to more than 160 countries around the world.
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bbp November 29, 1999 2:50 p.m.