LiONʼS LAIR is an annual competition that brings together the entrepreneurial community in Hamilton, giving 10 companies the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a panel of our city’s top business experts – the “Lions” – for a chance to win over $100,000 in cash and in-kind resources. The first LiON’S LAIR took place in 2011 and has grown significantly – in application volume, gala attendees, prizing and buzz – year after year.
Last years’ winners – Ranggo, The Greenlid, Sound Options, Hangry, and Special Appucations – each took home a portion of the over $160,000 in prizes, awarded by the “Lions”: Carmela Trombetta (RBC), Tonia Jahshan (Steeped Tea), Mario Paron (KPMG), Jeff Paikin (New Horizon Homes) and Blair McKeil (McKeil Marine).
Peter Basl of the 2014 grand prize winning team, Ranggo, says LiON’S LAIR was a transformative experience for his venture: “Every step of the competition helped shape the business and bring us to the stage we’re at now,” says Basl. “The training workshops helped tune our value proposition, pitch and strategy, and after winning, we received significant media exposure and credibility that helped open many doors. I definitely recommend any serious entrepreneur to apply for LiON’S LAIR.”
This year, another element has been added to the competition. Fifteen ventures will be selected from the pool of applicants. All fifteen companies will go through training over the summer months, but five will ultimately be eliminated during a round of preliminary pitching. The final 10 will then move on to face the “Lions”.
The 10 finalists’ pitches to the “Lions” are filmed at Cable 14, and clips from the taping will be shown at the competition’s gala event on Thursday, September 24, 2015 at Carmen’s Banquet Centre, where the winners will be announced live on stage. Last year’s sold-out gala attracted over 500 of Hamilton’s startup and small business supporters.
“By initially selecting fifteen companies we not only amp up the competition a little throughout the summer, but it also allows us to offer more entrepreneurs vital training,” says David Carter, Executive Director at Innovation Factory. “Even if they don’t make it to the top 10, the training they receive will help them advance their ventures.”
Training and exposure is what finalists who don’t win a portion of the prize package point to as a tremendous value add to the LiON’S LAIR experience. “Participating in LiON’S LAIR was probably one of the best decisions we made as a team in our early stages,” says Seyed Nourbakhsh, Founder of Formarum and LiON’S LAIR 2014 finalist. “Besides the great workshops, the competition provided tremendous exposure for us, validating our product, opening new doors and creating opportunities that we could otherwise have not encountered.”
Entrepreneurs and innovators interested in submitting a business plan for consideration this year are invited to a business plan workshop on April 14 from 6-9 p.m. Register for the workshop here.
The online application deadline is April 30, 2015. Full event terms and conditions, application form and directions can be found at the LiON’S LAIR website at lionslair.ca.