Up-and-coming entrepreneurs in South Georgian Bay who wanted expert feedback on their business ideas were rewarded for their creative endeavours at the third exC!te Business Pitch Competition held recently in Collingwood.
exC!te, spearheaded by Georgian College’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) with support from local community partners, invited anyone with a business idea to share their vision with a panel of judges. The participants received expert input – and a chance to compete for part of $8,000 in cash prizes.
Partners included the South Georgian Bay Small Business Enterprise Centre (SBEC), AdBank, Bayshore Broadcasting, the Town of Collingwood, the Centre for Business and Economic Development, Deacon Global Capital Corporation and The Creative Space.
Laura Paige-Hamelin’s company Artopus received first place honours and $3,000 from HBEC. She also took home an additional $1,000, winning the technology prize sponsored by AdBank.
“The exC!te pitch allowed me to take an idea and turn it into reality,” said Paige-Hamelin. “The team behind me on this competition allowed me to create Artopus and bring it to reality, instead of it just remaining a vision.”
Rose and John Forgues from Bad Vegan took home $2,500 from HBEC for winning second place and Lauren O’Neil White from Tiger Lily Movement received $1,500 as the top female entrepreneur in the competition. That award was sponsored by Deacon Global Capital Corporation.
“Tiger Lily Movement is about family, friendships and enjoying one another through fitness and dance,” explained O’Neil White. “It's a place where anyone from toddlers to seniors can learn in a safe environment, achieve goals and build confidence while accomplishing their dreams. I’m so grateful to have had a successful first year in business, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of SBEC’s Starter Company Plus Program and HBEC’s mentorship programs that help budding companies.”
O’Neil White added that thanks to HBEC, the exC!te pitch competition and Deacon Global Capital Corporation, her company will be offering a scholarship program in their 2019-20 season for dancers who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to have an enriched lifetime experience.
An expert panel of judges – entrepreneurs, mentors and industry professionals from a variety of fields – reviewed the pitches and provided helpful feedback on how to take business ideas further, faster. Judges were also willing to share connections and support. They were blown away by the calibre of this year’s pitch competitors and the support being offered regionally to assist start-ups and local companies.
“I'm very impressed with the work Georgian’s Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre and Collingwood’s Business Development Centre are doing for the community by encouraging and supporting new entrepreneurs,” said panelist Peter Deacon, President and CEO of Deacon Global Capital Corporation and River Birch Global Water Inc. “Collingwood and the Blue Mountains is one of the fastest growing regions in North America. I can't imagine a more beautiful and prosperous environment to build a business while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”
In-kind prizes were also awarded to:
- Christy Deere of Collingwood Kombucha ($500 in-kind food mentorship)
- Meg O’Hara ($300 in-kind sales mentorship)
- Josh Burella ($300 in-kind social impact mentorship development)
The competition also included two valuable workshops for selected pitch participants as well as members of the community.