Conestoga news

April 11, 2016 7:56 AM

Entrepreneurs pitch innovative business ideas

Renish Kamal, a participant in Conestoga’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) Catalyst program, received $3,000 to support her startup business venture at Conestoga’s Pitch Day, held April 7 at the Cambridge campus.

Kamal was among nine young entrepreneurs who pitched an innovative business idea to a panel of five judges and an audience of friends, family and business leaders. Pitch Day was open to participants in Conestoga’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (C4E).

Kamal is the CEO of Fidget Toys Ltd. and will use the funding to support the development of a product called the Footsie - a toy that alleviates stress and increases concentration for children with autism. In her three-minute pitch to the judges, Kamal explained that similar toys are hand-held while the Footsie is a portable foot roller that autistic children can use without becoming distracted. She has tested the product in a number of children’s centres and has already secured hundreds of pre-orders.

In December 2015, Kamal was also selected to participate in The Accelerator Centre’s AC JumpStart program, which provides funding and mentorship for startups. The program is delivered in partnership with Conestoga and provides access to $30,000 in seed funding and expert mentorship.

Other winning pitches were Danielle Benzaquen’s Merriment Bridal and Matt Gazzola’s Swift Ship. Benzaquen is a participant in Conestoga’s Small Business Venture Program and received $2,000 in funding. Gazzola has completed a series of student startup workshops through C4E and was awarded $1,500.

“It’s obvious there’s a lot of change happening at the college,” said Conestoga graduate and guest speaker Collin McKinnon. “There are the physical changes on campus that we can see with new facilities, but right now we’re able to stand toe-to-toe with local universities when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship.”

McKinnon was a previous Pitch Day winner and participant in C4E’s Small Business Venture Program. When reflecting on his time in the program he said there was something very special about taking an idea and turning it in to a living, breathing thing. His parting words to Pitch Day participants included a simple reminder: never be afraid to ask for something.

Conestoga’s C4E provides expert resources to help individuals start and grow their business. Its four service areas include the BMO Small Business Centre, the Great-West Life Enterprise Hotel, the RBC Ventures lab and the Scotiabank International Business Office.

For more information, visit the C4E website