Dr. Sean Wise, BA, LLB, MBA, PhD
Entrepreneurship and Strategy
Ted Rogers School of Business Management
Sean Wise’s entrepreneurial career began at age 13, performing magic tricks at birthday parties in his Sean the Clown costume. Decades later, as the Oprah Winfrey Network prepares to broadcast his brainchild, the Naked Entrepreneur, there’s no doubt that his entrepreneurial spirit is stronger than ever.
After earning a BA in economics, Wise simultaneously earned a law degree and an MBA, despite batting learning disabilities.
“I convinced myself to overcome adversity,” the loquacious Wise said, noting that “to go to law school, you have to have a big mouth.”
After graduation, he managed early stage entrepreneurial ventures for Ernst & Young’s law firm before moving to Spencer-Trask, the respected venture capital firm, where he decided which budding businesses to fund. His experience, along with his energy, enthusiasm and sense of humour, made him the perfect candidate to advise the team of CBC-TV’s entrepreneurial showcase, Dragons’ Den, where he spent five seasons assisting behind the scenes.
Wise joined the faculty at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management at Ryerson University in 2008 to teach entrepreneurship.
“I like the impact you can have in the real world,” Wise said. “You can help students do things better and realize their dreams."
“I like working with students from diverse backgrounds who want to change the world.”
Wise, in turn, has helped change TRSM’s world through his work with start-ups. He is on the steering committee for the Digital Media Zone, an incubator for students with ideas for startup companies, and is a mentor for Ryerson Futures, a campus lead accelerator where startups are funded and begin to blossom.
His most notable TRSM endeavours are the Naked Entrepreneur and Startup School. The Naked Entrepreneur is a TV show created in partnership with Ryerson’s radio and television program. The show aims to showcase the issues facing entrepreneurs, such as funding and work-life balance. Wise, as the host, interviews Canadian entrepreneurs about these challenges. The show is produced by students for students, with all the jobs done by students who receive resume credit, in addition to wages, for their contributions.
“When I started teaching entrepreneurship in Canada, I was dismayed by the lack of Canadian content available,” Wise said. “It’s the job of the entrepreneur to find unmet market needs, so I approached the dean of the radio and TV program and our show was born. We have 18 episodes so far, and all of a sudden, broadcasters are coming out of the woodwork.”
Startup School is an evening program for budding entrepreneurs who don’t have a business background. It features 13-week modules focusing on introductory knowledge, including financing, creating a business plan and using social media for marketing. It is available to anyone who registers. For full time Ryerson students, the program is free.
Adding to an already-busy schedule, Wise spent time over the past six years earning his PhD at the University of Glasgow via distance education and doing his own research. Wise’s research explores issues including: what makes accelerators successful, how management improves the performance of start-ups and the value mentorship has on startup success.
Although each of these projects is its own reward, Wise was recently named National Mentor of the Year by Startup Canada.
“It’s hard being an entrepreneur,” he said. “At Ryerson we need to take every opportunity to make it easier for people.”
Read Sean Wise's bio.
The entrepreneurship major at the Ted Rogers School of Business Management benefits from the largest entrepreneurship faculty in the province, including many professors who have personally succeeded as entrepreneurs. The program works hand-in-hand with Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, an incubator for students who have ideas for startup companies.