Budding entrepreneurs make their big pitch
August 17, 2021
The Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition has been an opportunity for student and community entrepreneurs to pitch innovative start-ups for the last 10 years. Attracting a diverse group of students and members of the Kingston community across a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, the competition provides over 510 participants with the chance to take their ideas to the next level, with prizes and grants totaling $100,000.
Smart Biomedical - $30,000
Neuractas - $20,000
Remote Optometry - $20,000
Hya Bioplastics - $10,000
HemPad South Africa - $10,000
Altery - $5,000
Afiya Beauty - $5,000
BmDodo Branding Package Prize
Smart Biomedical - $10,000 in-kind branding strategy services
Remote Optometry - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)
Afiya Beauty - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)
Kawallet - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)
The final competition, which will be held virtually on Thursday, Aug. 19 and is hosted by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), brings together 15 teams. Participants have seven minutes to pitch their business to judges, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session. The finalists have already been through multiple rounds of competition, beginning with the application process, through to the qualifying pitches. Successful competitors have received professional coaching and feedback through practice pitches with DDQIC’s Global Network.
“DDQIC builds change-makers by catalyzing their potential for creative problem-solving, and equipping them with translational skills that allow them to solve problems in the real world,” says Jim McLellan, Academic Director of DDQIC and professor of Chemical Engineering. “DDQIC’s mission is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset of participants through experiential learning opportunities like the pitch competition. The early stage start-ups in the competition may go on to be successful, but the real investment is being made in the competitors who will walk away with increased confidence and skills from pitching their own innovative solutions to problems, answering difficult questions, and building relationships with experienced professionals who can help them on their journey.”
The Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative provides emerging entrepreneurs with a space to develop their ideas and skills. Experienced professionals from a range of commercial and social sectors, many of whom are Queen’s alumni, volunteer to mentor students in the program.
The 15 teams competing this year come from DDQIC’s year-round programming (QyourVenture), the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative for early stage entrepreneurs, as well as recent regional and global initiatives. Six teams pitching health-focused start-ups are part of the Build2Scale Health program launched by DDQIC as part of the regional Health Innovation Kingston (HI YGK) project, anchored by the City of Kingston with regional partners. One team is supported by the Queen’s WE-CAN project empowering female entrepreneurs in the Kingston region.
Several teams competing are from the Jim Leech Mastercard Fellowship Foundation Program on Entrepreneurship for African students and recent graduates, launched this year by DDQIC. This program brings together entrepreneurs from many countries in Africa with regional entrepreneurs from Queen’s and the Kingston region.
“The Summer Pitch Competition, like all of DDQIC’s programs, supports start-ups that are based in or affiliated with the Kingston community,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director and Special Advisor to the Provost, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “It is important to DDQIC to support the Kingston regional entrepreneurship community because of the positive impacts that entrepreneurs have on their communities, whether it be economic through local startup growth and job creation, or social and environmental, through the various problems and needs that entrepreneurs tend to address. Our programs provide important opportunities for Queen’s students, staff, and faculty, to interact and collaborate with citizens in the region. We are excited this year to have expanded our programming to add a focus on health innovation, and to be supporting the growth of young African entrepreneurs in their respective communities, while bringing together shared entrepreneurial experiences, anchored from Queen’s and Kingston.”
Bavington adds that the 2021 competition was a particularly special year, not only because it is the 10th anniversary, but also due to the recent recognition of Queen’s as an Entrepreneurial University by the Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education.
The competition is a closed event, but the ceremony announcing the winners will be hosted online from 4-6 pm. During this time, guests will have the chance to visit the teams booths to learn more about the start-ups. Tickets are free, and to RSVP guests must go to the Hop In event and click ‘join event’.
DDQIC Summer Pitch Competition Finalists:
Founded by: Qinxi Yan, Romeesa Bogati and Henry Lee
Vireine is an accurate digital fitting solution meant to help users understand their breasts, with a goal to find a bra that fits comfortably.
Founded by: Fakid Hossain, Flora Lin, Riley Doyle and Tyler Healey
Actionable Nuggets is a one-stop-shop for low prevalence, high demanding primary care, providing credible, concise and actionable information.
Founded by: Ryan Protheroe, Aleks Jugovic, Alex Nainer, and Michael Taciuk
Coastr lets restaurant customers pay their bill through their phones so they won’t have to wait for a server.
Founded by: Ryan Jobe and Alexander Jobe
Remote Optometry provides patients across the country with consistent, synchronous access to an eye doctor.
Founded by: Brandon Gusain and Aidan Gurung
SELF is an online training program that teaches sex trafficking prevention in schools and intervention in businesses through interactive modules.
Founded by: Sahana Nayaka, Dipti Rapte, Utkarsh Mall and Anuja Kure
S.H.E provides self-care provisions and income generating opportunities to underprivileged women from rural Indian villages to tackle mental health disorders.
Founded by: Akshay Rajaram, Michael Judd and Aaron Waldt
Using AI-powered software, Caddie Health reduces administrative burdens on phsyicians.
Founded by: Kaltum Hassan and Shamsa Hassan
Balancing scientific innovation with nature’s ability to heal, nourish and repair the skin, Afiya Beauty creates and formulates non-toxic and effective skincare products.
Founded by: Andrew Lingard
Neuractas is a company dedicated to developing high-impact therapeutics by collaborating with world experts for neurological indications of unmet needs.
Founded by: Wiley Chung, Alex Chee and Sumesh Thomas
Smart Biomedical has developed a treatment for lung collapse, a potentially fatal condition that can occur either spontaneously or due to trauma, that will save lives and healthcare resources.
Founded by: Dennis Ssekimpi
Hya Bioplastics has developed an innovative and patent-pending process that re-engineers plant fibres to produce bioplastics, creating biodegradable packaging.
Founded by: Solomon Bwire
Kawallet enables children in boarding schools to store their money safely, and access more money from parents when in need with the aid of key holders.
HemPad South Africa
Founded by: Victor Xaba
HemPad South Africa is a for-profit social enterprise that tackles the problem of inequitable access to safe, high quality, sustainable and affordable sanitary products, especially for the low income and marginalized class.
Founded by: Titose Chembezi
Altery is a digital platform that offers alternative credit scoring to assist financial institutions to extend credit to the unbanked in Africa.
Founded by: Christine Kamala
Christie’s Crisps offers quality, affordable potato crisps to consumers directly through local retail shops while being home-based, with one full time employee.