On April 8, hearts were pounding as Haskayne second-year students were given three minutes to pitch their concepts at the third annual RBC Fast Pitch Competition for a chance to win up to $100,000 in cash and in-kind services to pursue their new venture idea.
The student teams pitched ideas ranging from improving aspects of the agriculture industry, to helping combat freezing office temperatures, to simplifying medication doses for seniors to a panel of 15 esteemed judges. Unique to this year, the students had to pitch to a panel of high school students for a chance to win the Students Choice Award.
All the students presented incredible ideas, however, CareFind — an online platform to connect busy parents with unpredictable schedules to real-time vacancies posted by child-care facilities — had the winning pitch and took home the top prize.
CareFind team members Erica Hughes, Kathy Bui, Lily Ma and Eric Edwards felt like their hard work has paid off with this win.
“It was absolutely an incredible journey and experience. Our CareFind team bonded so well even from the first day, we put a lot of time and effort into this project,” says Ma.
As a team, they were all incredibly thankful for this opportunity and for Houston Peschl as their professor. “We definitely would pursue and further develop CareFind and see where it takes us!"
CropCure, the first natural-based soil treatment to manage clubroot, took second place. Eco-Net, a biodegradable hemp fiber wrapping solution for straw bales, took third place and the Student Choice Award.
This intensive, experiential course saw 500 students from the fall and winter semesters collectively put in 1,500 hours of rigorous problem-solving. The students received support from 106 business advisers and presented to 42 judges. Approximately 100 student teams competed to be one of the 12 finalists.
“The largest competition of its kind in Canada, the RBC Fast Pitch Competition sets the Haskayne School of Business apart by providing startup cash, advisory support and mentorship, and it has led to the creation of new opportunities for students from all disciplines across our great campus,” says Kim Neutens, director of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
President Elizabeth Cannon was present and addressed the crowd on the university’s commitment to fostering innovation and discovery through enriched learning experiences, such as ENTI 317. “One of the great benefits of a competition like this one is the reminder of the multi-faceted nature of entrepreneurial thinking.
“And the skills that this year’s ENTI 317 students have developed — such as staying curious, thinking creatively and solving problems — will serve them well in whatever path they choose.”
“Thanks to the generous support of the RBC Foundation and our in-kind service providers — McCarthy Tétrault, MNP LLP, and Market Grade — we have created a unique forum to celebrate and reward our budding entrepreneurs,” continues Neutens.
“In this course, we inspire and guide them to launch new ventures by teaching them to identify real opportunities for product, process or social change.”