Students from all faculties and programs at the University of New Brunswick had a chance to showcase their innovative ideas for entrepreneurial endeavors this spring.
The second annual Student Pitch Competition was held on March 29. The competition gives students the opportunity to pitch a product, service, or idea in under three minutes, or the duration of an elevator ride.
“This competition was a great chance to showcase ideas that they have been cultivating throughout the year and get the experience of pitching in front of a panel of judges,” said Dhirendra Shukla, Chair of the Dr. John Herbert Smith Centre in Technology Management and Entrepreneurship.
“The competition has really grown organically since we launched it and we’re very proud of the accomplishments our students have had.”
This year, more than 40 graduate and undergraduate students participated in the competition. There were 21 pitches in the competition, which was held at UNB’s Wu Centre.
The event had more than $7,000 in donated prizes, which were awarded for various categories. The Growth and Ideas categories each had three prizes, and awards were given out for communication, innovation, social innovation, impact, technical innovation, leadership in education, and student leadership.
Judges for the event were Michael Arbow of RSD Solutions; Michael Haan, a Canada Research Chair and UNB faculty member; Ian DeLong of RIM; Nancy Mathis, a UNB alumna and Executive Director of the Wallace McCain Institute; Erin Flanagan, a chemical engineering student; and, Aira MacCaull, a forest engineering student.
After the competition, students had the chance to network with the judges and business guests over dinner.
“It was a really humbling experience to see the event connecting the students with business executives and government officials,” said Shukla.
Kyle Kilbride, an undergraduate student in chemical engineering, said that the competition was a great opportunity that students should take advantage of.
“It’s beneficial not only to my public speaking skills, but for networking opportunities as well,” he said.
“The experience was so rewarding and something that I would highly recommend, and see myself being involved with in the future.”
Kilbride and his team members Kristen Wallace and Brent Lackey won the Communication Award for their idea Bookswap.com, an online trading post for students to buy and sell textbooks.
Julia Quartermain, a chemical engineering student, pitched a business called JMD Recycling with her partner David MacDonald.
The business calls for a reform to tire recycling, and proposes accepting old tires and recycling them into different products, such as landscaping materials, shingles for roofs, and flooring.
Quartermain, who took home third prize in the ideas category, said the idea started as part of a class project for a technology management and entrepreneurship (TME) class she was in.
She and MacDonald pitched in front of the class and then decided to enter the competition.
“I’m not one to speak publiclly, but it was a great opportunity to overcome that fear, andthe dinner after was a terrific chance to network with people,” Quartermain said.
“The most rewarding part for me was actually getting myself ready for it and putting myself in front of the judges. It was a just a good feeling to know that I did it.”
Students pitched businesses that they want to launch in the future, or have already launched. Winkler Aqua, which won first prize in the growth category, was a business that has already been founded by Joerg Winkler, who pitched the idea along with teammates Dave Kerry and John Morrison.
Winkler Aqua is an alternative septic system that cleans water for a comparable price as current septic systems, but reduces the ecological footprint by 90 per cent. Winkler said these septic systems are standard in Europe, and his family has been working on them for more than ten years.
Winkler said that the product has made two sales already, and is looking at making two potential sales in the next few weeks.
“It was great to know that we did it well; not just the product, but the pitching as well, as there are always two parts to it,” Winkler said.
“It was nice to receive validation that the product we’re working with has promise and market potential,” Morrison added.
Kerry said that the competition was a rewarding experience for the team.
“It was a terrific opportunity and was very well-run. It was a good chance for me, as an engineering student, to integrate with the business community that I might not get the chance to otherwise. I was grateful to be a part of the team and thankful for the opportunity,” he said.
The 2013 Student Pitch Competition has been scheduled for Thursday, March 28. Shukla said that the competition has really grown organically over the past few years and he’s looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.
“What we’ve done with the competition so far has been huge. We went from being really grassroots to having a huge amount of participation, from both students and industry professionals as well,” he said.
“This competition is a great way to show students that their ideas have value and to teach them about entrepreneurship.”
A complete list of 2012’s winners can be found at the J. Herbert Smith Centre website