Student entrepreneurs pitch business models to the community at annual rally

On Sept. 8, young entrepreneurs from across the city, including many University of Ottawa students and alumni, joined members of the community at city hall to pitch their business models as part of the seventh annual Startup Garage Rally.

The Startup Garage is a three-month summer program which provides Ottawa’s post-secondary student-entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 29, with the skills and opportunities they need to get their business ventures off the ground.

Services provided to the entrepreneurs through the program include space to develop their business platforms, funding to support them as they work full time, and mentorship to help them with marketing, accounting, and pitching, among other aspects of their operations.

With the culmination of this year’s Startup Garage program, 12 business owners were given the opportunity to network with potential investors and present a sales pitch. At the end of the night, the three businesses deemed most promising were awarded with prizes of $1,000 by the sponsors.

“We have to diversify our job market and economy—not just the government jobs, but also the private sector,” said mayor Jim Watson in a speech prior to the business pitches.

The group of winners at this year’s rally was comprised of students, former students, or researchers at U of O.

The first winner of the night was Spiderwort, a startup geared toward offering low-cost DIY kits with basic scientific technologies and materials to anyone with an interest in biological research.

The second winner was Kegshoe, a website and app that allows brewers to track the location of their kegs.

“A lot of (breweries) have slow rotation times in their kegs, or they’re wasting their resources,” said Torin Regier, Kegshoe co-founder and student at the Telfer School of Management. “They’re sending (their kegs) out to restaurants, they eventually have to make their way back to their brewery, so we built this software to essentially help them track that.”

The final winner of the night was a device known as Spivo, a camera stick which rotates at the push of a button.

“This creates a continuous movie clip that has built-in whip-hand transitions,” said co-founder Andre Bellerive, an engineering student at the U of O. “And it makes for interesting and fun videos to watch without any editing.”

Other U of O-based startups that presented at the rally include Balance, a locally sourced and manufactured clothing initiative, and Go Give-Back, an app allowing donors to give to their favourite causes with one tap.

“This program was designed to help companies grow,” said rally co-ordinator Nolan Beanlands at the event, noting that there have been many success stories to come out of Startup Garage.

One success story from past years is MicroMetrics, a software company that manages customer feedback for companies like Popeye’s Canada and Chapters.

The app Spoonity has been similarly successful, since it gives restaurants a platform to interact with customers and accept mobile orders, and has served clients such as Burger King and Bridgehead Coffee.

Watson said that he encourages the young entrepreneurs to be open to meeting new people and to share their ideas, as he believes this is the best way for them to grow their businesses.

For student-entrepreneurs looking to be part of next year’s summer program, visit Startup Garage’s official website.