By Linda White, Special to Postmedia Network
Published February 1st
Read full story on 24 Hours Toronto e-edition

As a “serial entrepreneur” with three profitable startups under his belt, Brian Deck never imagined he could benefit from a business incubator. His experience with the top-ranked DMZ at Ryerson University proved him wrong.

“It has been a tremendous experience,” says the 39-year-old, whose resumĂ© includes developing a proprietary loyalty and sales platform associated with over $1B in sales for clients. In his latest venture, Deck co-founded SmoothPay, a free mobile app customers use to pay for purchases while automatically collecting and redeeming rewards at participating locations.

“We were self-funded for the most part in the early stages with the view of raising capital from investors. We were just enterting the stage when we entered the DMZ,” Deck says. “It’s a very collaborative environment wtih incredible opportunities for exposure.”

Entrepreneurship has moved from the margins to the mainstream of university education with universities prepping students to create jobs for themselves and others, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) reports.

“This is much more than an interesting campus trend. It is the key to success for many thousands of students. It is vital to the strength of the economy,” COU said in its 2013 report, Entrepreneurship at Ontario Universities Fuelling Success.

According to a 2013 Bank of Montreal survey, 46% of Canadian post-secondary students see themselves starting a business after graduation. “There has been a huge trend in people wanting to develop their own business ideas and taking their futures in their own hands,” says Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ, an incubator for emerging startups.