Behind The Scenes With The Next 36′s Student Entrepreneurs: Week 4


Join us every week for an inside look into the experiences of four students at The Next 36, the founders of DineWithMe, giving you a glimpse of what it’s like to be a student entrepreneur. Applications for The Next 36 open today, Monday, July 11, 2011. Visit to apply now.

This past Friday, we had an opportunity to pitch to a room full of Angel Investors, who came to visit us at the MaRS Centre at 7 a.m. to see what type of progress we have made.

“After speaking with many of the [Angel Investors], we have confidence that we are on track and are ready to hit the ground running this week as we begin our launch of DineWithMe on the iTunes store.” —Daniel Rodic, fourth year finance and economics student, University of Toronto

We only had five minutes to pitch, but after many practices, our team was able to sneak in within the time limit to deliver our message.

The questions varied from team to team, and ours was focused on competition and potential for user growth.

After speaking with many of the Angels afterwards, we have confidence that we are on track and are ready to hit the ground running this week as we begin our launch of DineWithMe on the iTunes store.

The following are a few questions that our closest followers have been asking since last week. If you have a question that you would like answered, tweet us @DineWithMeApp and we’ll answer them!


What qualities do you think the judges were looking for in the application process?

Amy BerardAmy Berard (Kamloops, BC)

Fourth year marketing and public relations student – Thompson Rivers University

While I can’t answer on behalf of the judges or The Next 36, here is what I think they might be after:

Confidence – You have to show that you believe in yourself. Don’t cross the line over to arrogance, but you have to know that you deserve a spot in the program and are able to prove why.

Teamwork ability – While the program is building individual leaders, we operate in teams of four. You will be placed with strangers for a period of nine months who have completely different backgrounds than you. You need to show that you’re willing and able to work in this environment.

Strong work ethic – Anyone can have an idea, but you need to have the work ethic to execute your vision. Show that you have the talent and the focus to act on your plans.

Entrepreneurial mindset – Do you look at situations differently or take risks that everyone else avoids? What have you done in your past that proves it?


What was selection weekend like?

Daniel RodicDaniel Rodic (Toronto, ON)

Fourth year finance and economics student – Rotman Commerce, University of Toronto

Before arriving, we had a chance to network and get to know our fellow finalists through a forum and bios distributed by The Next 36 staff. From reading everyone’s bios, you could tell this was an impressive group. Each student brought with them an impressive list of humbling accomplishments. However, nothing compared to the experience when you arrived in person. The program flew in over 70 students from across Canada to Toronto, along with an amazing group of guest speakers and lecturers.

My weekend started off with a series of back-to-back interviews with top Canadian business leaders like Ilse Treurnicht (CEO of MaRS) and Tim Hodgson (former CEO of Goldman Sachs, currently Special Advisor at the Bank of Canada), which was the most intense set of interviews I have had thus far in my career.

I later had the opportunity to hear Francis Shen (CEO of Aastra Technologies), Dan Debow (Founder of Rypple) and Nadr Mohammed (CEO of Rogers Communications) each speak to us throughout the weekend, all of whom were inspiring to say the least. That weekend was definitely one of the most memorable moments in my life.


What was it like working in a virtual team?

Salima HirjiSalima Hirji (Calgary, AB)

Third year sociology student – University of British Columbia

Initially working as a virtual team seemed like a daunting task. We only spent time together over one weekend and were then sent back home to work together from across the country. DineWithMe spent the first weeks getting to know each other as we felt this was a key aspect of creating a cohesive team. While most of our communication was through email and conference calls, we found that innovative tools like online white boarding and flowcharts increased our productivity during calls.

Finding ideal times to chat was also difficult, but by March and April we were meeting daily. Overall, the virtual team experience helped build a strong foundation and allowed us to start working even more effectively when we all met in May.


What piece of advice have you been given this summer that has stuck with you? Why?

Pilwon HuhPilwon Huh (Toronto, ON)

Fourth year computer science student – University of Waterloo

The most valuable advice I was given this summer is that we must aggressively push ourselves and seek a position of incredible discomfort.

The program taught me to keep pushing my own boundaries.

This piece of advice has stuck with me the most because I feel like I am not pushing myself hard enough into position of discomfort which results in missed opportunities to grow.


About the author

Daniel Rodic is a third year finance student in the Rotman Commerce program at the University of Toronto, a member of The Next 36, and co-founder of DineWithMe, a mobile venture founded out of The Next 36 that makes it easier for you to eat out with your friends. Daniel has experience in project management and team leadership in the non-profit, public and private sectors. While his expertise is steeped in strategy consulting through his role as President of the Rotman Commerce Consulting Association, Daniel has gotten exposure to the technology side of business as an Analyst in Deloitte’s Enterprise Risk Services practice. He has since been recognized as a promising entrepreneurial mind, advancing past 700 students in Canada to earn the title of “Impact Apprentice”.