By Justine Lang
Starting your own company has always been your dream. You know that you love the idea of being your own boss and making something from the ground up that you can call your own. There are lots of obstacles when you first get going, the largest one being the financial burden that comes with being a startup. That’s where Humber’s annual LaunchPad competition comes in – encouraging and supporting Humber student entrepreneurs through a competition where budding business owners pitch their ideas to a panel of judges.
“Entrepreneurialism is key to the economy in Ontario,” says one of this year’s judges, Brenda M. Hogan, a senior investment manager with Ontario Capital Growth Corporation. “It’s so inspiring to see so many students now striking out on their own with great innovative ideas and competitions like the HumberLaunch allow these students to get on the radar screen of the local investment community and in this case, the opportunity to attract some capital that could drive their business to the next level.”
This year, HumberLaunch received more than 30 applications. The applicants all compete for a chance to win a share of $40,000 to launch their commercial and/or community idea. Two rounds of cuts are made to select the semi-finalists and then the finalists.
All semi-finalists and finalists have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to more than 15 industry professionals and receive valuable feedback. Since the majority of these startups are comprised of upper year students and/or recent alumni, this opportunity is invaluable, because they likely have not had previous experience launching businesses.
This year’s six finalists are: Alien’s Guide to Earth, De-Clutter with Coco, Medici, SaraHeathfield.com, The Vault and the Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival. Each finalist competes in the last event where they pitch their idea to a panel of expert judges, much like on Shark Tank, and the judges make recommendations on how to the grand prize is split.
For the successful finalists, support extends into the HumberLaunch program. Each startup will be paired up with a mentor who will work with them hands-on for the next year.
Alien’s Guide to Earth creators Layla Tosifi and Jonathan Pereira were the first to present their final pitch at this year’s Final Live Pitch.
“Alien’s Guide to Earth is a multi-platform educational web series about stem related fields,” explains Tosifi
“We wanted an opportunity to really showcase what we’ve learned throughout school and focus on a project that’s going to make a difference,” says Pereira.
HumberLaunch held their Awards Night at the end of last month to celebrate all the nominees, runners-up and winners of this year’s LaunchPad awards. Each of the six finalists left with a share of the $40,000 and a lifelong mentorship.