Aspiring ICUBE Entrepreneurs Gather for Second Annual Pitch Off

Friday, May 6, 2016 - 11:09am
Sarah Jane Silva

ICUBE’s 2016 Final Pitch Competition, announced its winners at UTM held April 28th.
ICUBE’s 2016 Final Pitch Competition, announced its winners at UTM held April 28th. Photo by Ryan Cerrudo.


Entrepreneurial teams descended upon the University of Toronto Mississauga Innovation Complex last Thursday for ICUBE’s 2016 Final Pitch Competition, the mentor-run, early-stage accelerator.

In the allotted five minutes, teams presented their business ideas which ranged from mobile investment apps to portable air filtration devices. Although most of the services the startups offered varied, they all came up with their ideas through a similar process - by identifying a need and finding a way to fix it.

For instance, GolfPlz addressed an issue with novice golfers who aren’t familiar with the existing networks to connect with a golf pro.

“I really like the company leadership with a founder with experience in the golf industry and a founder with business experience,” said Pam Banks, executive director at the RIC Centre and competition judge. “I think if they use their existing networks and social media now at the beginning of the golf season they will quickly be able to validate interest from users.”

Each pitch was judged on its clarity and effectiveness at communicating the viability of the business, and evidence that sufficient research and analysis to demonstrate the viability of the business has been conducted.

“I guide our entrepreneurs to identify hidden ‘points of failures’ in their ventures and help them develop a sustainable business model that can generate revenue quickly,” said Vigen Nazarian, ICUBE’s entrepreneur-in-residence and mentor.

The competition was sponsored by IMI and the Ontario Centres of Excellence and included eight teams, who pitched to a panel of four judges for almost $12,000 in total cash prizes. Both GolfPlz and MICHARITY came out on top, earning $3,500 apiece for their ideas.

While the prize pot isn’t huge, the big idea is to “promote entrepreneurship and innovation within IMI and the members of the Mississauga community,” according to event organizer and ICUBE program coordinator, Sam Dumcum.

This year, to even the playing field, two Pitch Categories were introduced: Ideation and Development.

“I was very impressed and pleased with ICUBE’s decision to identify the companies at the Ideation stage and companies at the Development stage, said Karen Grant, executive director of Angel One Investor Network.  “As a judge, I now know which lens to apply to the company presenting.”

Teams under the Ideation Category were defined as embodying entrepreneurial ambition and had identified a potential scalable product or service idea for a significant target market. These teams had an initial idea on how products can create value, and a defined mission and vision with an initial strategy and key milestones for the next few years.

The Development Category is where value proposition is established and tested. Teams in this category were able to develop the initial product or service version with committed resources, or already had an initial product or service in place.

“It was important for us to distinguish between the truly early stage ventures and our slightly more developed teams who are ready for a different level of support from ICUBE, and our external supporters,” said Donna Heslin, assistant director of external relations at IMI.  “This is an exciting step for ICUBE as we are beginning to support more established ventures.”

The other ICUBE pitch judges included Brenda Hogan, senior investment manager with the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation, and Hugh Gunz, director of the Institute for Management & Innovation.

The winners in both categories are as follows:

  1. Best Ideation Category
    • Winner: Golf Plz
    • Runner up: U-Dimensions
  2. Best Development Stage
    • Winner: MICHARITY
    • Runner up: Alto Inc.