The Unlock Your Big Idea live pitch finale unfolded on Thursday, March 23, 2017 at the Centre for Entrepreneurship at Humber College. The Unlock Your Big Idea competition was designed to provide entrepreneurs in the GTA with the opportunity to pitch their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges and win funding and support.
The competition was delivered in partnership with the Peel members of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, including the Brampton Entrepreneur Centre, ICUBE (University of Toronto Mississauga), Mississauga Enterprise Centre, Sheridan College, RIC Centre, Town of Caledon and the Humber College Centre for Entrepreneurship.
Nine finalists in three categories pitched for a chance to win up to $10,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. Categories included Best Young Entrepreneur, Best Non-Tech Business and Best Technology Business, with a bonus category for the Best Peel Region Business.
Four winners were announced by the judging panel, which included Stephen Beney from Bereskin & Parr LLP, Andrew Patricio from Bizlaunch, Pauleanna Reid from pauleannareid.com, and Vern Vartour from Bizcoach.
“Congratulations to the winners of the Unlock Your Big Idea Pitch Competition. We are proud to be helping the winning startups with the expertise and guidance to build and grow innovative businesses through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs Partners in Peel,” remarked Pam Banks, Executive Director at the RIC Centre. “It’s great to see that three category winners are RIC Centre clients and have been commercializing their innovative ideas using our strategic resources.”
The UYBI winners are:
Best Young Entrepreneur – RIC Centre client EMAGIN Inc.
Best Technology Business – RIC Centre client Aposys Technologies Inc.
Best Peel Region Business – RIC Centre client Hybrid Power Solutions
Best Non-Tech Business – Exclusive Dry Cleaners Inc.
For Aposys Technologies Inc., the support from the Unlock Your Big Idea came at the perfect timing. “Right now we are at key moment to close a major deal which need a working prototype model,” revealed Oliver Wang, Co-Founder of Aposys Technologies. “This money will support us when we purchase materials to build the advanced model and calibration and testing.”
Along with Unlock Your Big Idea, the RIC Centre also provided Aposys with mentoring and professional business advice. “James Sbrolla and the RIC Centre provide vital support to our business from networking, pitch, legal advice, marketing strategy, contract negotiation, patent, company structure and finance strategy,” Oliver explains.
For Best Young Entrepreneur EMAGIN Inc, the support from the competition will allow them to continue innovating and marketing their company. “The exposure in and of itself has been incredible and has opened opportunities across the board. We’re excited and looking forward to more competitions like this in the future!” says Mohamad Vedut, COO and Co-Founder of EMAGIN. “The RIC Centre has been like family. They have been a crucial part of our success in the past year. They have given us the mentorship and support as well as opened opportunities for us to continue progressing and growing our company.”
Hybrid Power Solutions, Best Peel Region Business, knows that one of the biggest challenges is building a strong brand reputation. “The awarded title helps us approach both customers and suppliers with a positive reputation. The prize money will also be used to leverage hiring grants, which will in turn help us grow,” says Francois Byrne, Founder of Hybrid Power Solutions. “RIC Centre’s support can be best described as a place to find building blocks for your business. It helps connect entrepreneurs with the resources they need to be successful and grow. Many of the essential services that I have used for my business were initial sourced through the RIC Centre.”