The Next 36, a leadership program fast-tracking Canada’s next best entrepreneurs, visited Sauder last week, featuring a talk by Tagg Jefferson, whose start-up, GridCure, was chosen as the Next 36’s Outstanding Venture this summer.

Jefferson, a UBC engineering graduate who honed his entrepreneurial skills in the Sauder course New Venture Design and entrepreneurship@ubc, co-founded GridCure as his Next 36 venture. His technology combines the data-mining capabilities of smart meters with a wealth of other data, to help utility companies make sense of the massive influx of data they’re getting from smart meters.

“Basically, we can tell them, hey, this transformer right here will explode soon if you don’t replace it, or that guy over there is stealing power from you,” Jefferson explained to the audience of Sauder students, many of whom are making entrepreneurship the focus of their career aspirations.

While Jefferson didn’t develop GridCure until after he graduated, he credits New Venture Design as laying the foundations for his skills as an entrepreneur, as he says it was the safest place to work on a new business while learning from an “incredible” team of mentors. He says the biggest thing he learned there was to speed up his decision-making.

“In my first venture, we liked coming up with a massive group consensus to be really sure about every idea – and end up two weeks too slow every time. Now I’m much more comfortable saying, I understand 10 per cent of this so I’ll make a decision, because to get that extra understanding takes time – and time is a cost,” he says.

Jefferson was recently featured in the Financial Post for his success with GridCure, and he was also voted valedictorian by his peers in this year’s Next 36 cohort, which included three other UBC students. Three years ago, Sauder BCom alum Cathy Han went through the program and founded 42, which also helps take advantage of big data, but for fashion retailers, and was also featured in the Financial Post earlier this year.

The Next 36 is currently accepting applications for its 2015 cohort of young entrepreneurs.