Grigoriy Kozyrev and Andriy Strebkov won $2,500 at Conestoga’s third annual Pitch Day competition held March 30 at the Cambridge campus. The pair was among eight young entrepreneurs who pitched an innovative business idea to a panel of judges in a competition for cash prizes.
Pitch Day is open to participants in Conestoga’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (C4E) and provides an important platform to showcase the success of student entrepreneurs. C4E provides expert resources to help individuals start and grow their businesses and offers four service areas: the BMO Small Business Centre, the Great-West Life Enterprise Hotel, the RBC Ventures Lab and the Scotiabank International Business Office.
Entrepreneurs selected to compete in Pitch Day had just three minutes to present their business idea to the judges; Kozyrev and Strebkov pitched Oko, a social app that lets users meet new people and make new friends and connections by participating in events together. Oko users can create their own small event -- like a ski trip or a day in the park -- and look for individuals to attend, or use the app to find friends to go to a movie or concert with. Strebkov explained that “Oko” is a word taken from an Eastern European language that means circle and said the app is helping to create a circle of friends and connections for users.
“About a year ago, Grigoriy and I and some of our friends of were comparing people and social life in different countries as both of us love travelling and have been to many countries before -- we are from Ukraine and Russia. We came to the conclusion that people in Canada are less socially active and more isolated,” said Strebkov. “We started doing research on loneliness and were surprised with the numbers in Canada and the U.S. Our own research showed us the same results; we decided to solve this problem.”
Kozyrev and Strebkov expect to launch Oko this June and also have plans to participate in other pitch competitions. They have already submitted their work for consideration to the William G. Davis Innovation Fund which launched in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ontario's colleges. The Fund is open to graduates and full-time students from Ontario’s 24 colleges who have an idea that will transform their community.
Other winners at Pitch Day were Quinn Moyer, a participant in C4E’s Small Business Venture program, who pitched Wholehearted Rehabiliation and received $1,500 in prize money. The rehab service provides in-home service for pets. Jacoba Sparling, a participant in E@C workshops, received $1,000 for the Essential Scrub, a shower scrub that releases customs blends of essential oils.
Other Pitch Day competitors were:
- Stephen Paylor
- Meg Thomson
- Juan Lopez
- Sean Davidson and Stephen McCabe
- Tarek Rahim and Robert Ings
Bardish Chaggar, federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism, recorded a video address for the event in which she thanked Conestoga for supporting Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurs. She said small businesses are key to the country’s economic growth.
For more information, visit the C4E website