UTM’s third annual Countdown to Success event hosted business mogul Bruce Croxon last Thursday evening in the newly opened Innovation Complex.

Hosted by the Institute for Management and Innovation and sponsored by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, the event drew over 275 students to hear Croxon speak on entrepreneurship, the state of Canadian business, and his advice on how to make it in business.

An entrepreneur and cofounder of Lavalife—a dating website he sold for $176 million in 2004—Croxon is the owner of several Canadian spas and has recently cofounded an investment company called Round13. Perhaps most recognizably, however, Croxon is a former Dragon on the hit CBC show Dragons’ Den as a start-up company investor.

Hugh Gunz, the institute’s director, invited Croxon to speak about his entrepreneurial origins, his advice on how to spark innovation within institutions, and his time as a Dragon.

“I had to think about it long and hard,” said Croxon of his experience on Dragons’ Den, in spite of the great opportunities he said the show gave him over his three-season run.

According to Croxon, fellow den member Arlene Dickinson warned him of the celebrity that came with signing onto the gig. “You can’t walk through an airport or go for a coffee without someone saying, ‘Hey, I got a great idea!’ ” said Croxon. “I never got comfortable with that part.”

Croxon also offered advice to budding entrepreneurs looking to kick-start their own venture.

“There are a lot of ups and downs and there [are] a lot of painful lessons,” he said. “Being attached to what you are doing and being passionate about doing it is going to get you through a lot of tough times.”

Before the keynote, UTM alumnus Dario Di Censo (1988) was awarded the UTM Alumni Award. Di Censo is a CMA as well as the former president and current treasurer of the Alumni Association.

The annual Countdown to Success has previously hosted CBC’s Amanda Lang as well as current Dragons’ Den investor David Chilton.

“We generally choose the speakers based on their business background and also their celebrity status,” said organizer Donna Heslin of the IMI. “We want to educate and engage and also provide a great opportunity for student networking with our alumni and community partners.”

The event also featured several business- and career-related vendors and was followed by a networking session.

CPA Ontario has sponsored the event all three years so far and has made a commitment for five.