Take two ambitious but coachable founders, an innovative product and a heavy dollop of hard work and you get, Oneiric, one of Canada’s up and coming hockey tech success stories.
The brainchild of Wilfrid Laurier grad Emily Rudow, the inspiration for Oneiric’s innovative base layer pant grew out of her own hockey-playing experiences.
“I’ve been playing hockey for 20+ years and when I was a kid, I hated the long process of getting dressed and leaving games with bruises at the back of my leg from areas left exposed,” says Emily. “Shin pads were always sliding around all over the place, and there was definitely a need for more safety in equipment to protect players from harm — for instance blade lacerations.
“The idea for our base layer pant came to fruition in my fourth year New Venture creation class at Laurier while completing my Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Drawing on my playing experiences, I developed an enhanced base layer with features to address both dressing and safety challenges. For instance, our pant includes shin pad pockets that allow player dress quickly and more easily, while keeping shin pads more secure. We also added back of leg padding and a cut-resistant ankle to protect those vulnerable areas currently left unprotected by today’s hockey equipment.”
After hearing from her classmates, past coaches, and old hockey friends that the base layer pant was indeed a good idea, Emily decided to pursue the business opportunity post graduation.
While working at a marketing firm in downtown Toronto, she met Kayla Nezon, who eventually became her business partner and co-founder.
Since launching Oneiric’s base layer pant for youth in the Spring of 2016, Rudow and Nezon have been hustling big time to create exposure and open sales channels for their product. The two have competed in multiple pitch competitions, winning RIC Centre’s “Unlock Your Big Pitch,” GTAN|Start, and the Ignite Capital Award, and coming in as a runner up in the Fierce Founder’s Pitch Competition. They also were awarded $30,000 in JumpStart funding through the Accelerator Centre (AC), offering them access to the AC’s team of expert mentors. They have landed 17 retail store partnerships across Canada, and signed a vendor agreement with Source for Sports to distribute their product. They’ve been featured in the Waterloo Record, Canadian Business, the Globe and Mail, and the Financial Post. And, the year culminated with an appearance on CBC’s The Dragon’s Den, where the co-founders were offered deals from several Dragons.
In the face of all this success, the mentorship provided through the AC JumpStart program remains a stand-out for the Toronto-based Oneiric founders.
“The JumpStart program has helped our business tremendously,” says Emily Rudow. The funding helped to bring us to the next level by allowing us to assemble our first order of inventory and fuel marketing and awareness efforts. However, the coaching from the AC’s incredible mentors has provided us with the most benefit. The Accelerator Centre community is warm, supportive, and full of entrepreneurial spirit and it is fair to say that we wouldn’t be where we are today without the program and the mentors’ amazing support.
“We’ve achieved incredible traction with the help of our amazing mentors. If we could stay in the program forever, we would.” – Emily Rudow