On March 31, the first annual Spectrum Student Startup Competition was held inside the McMaster University Student Centre, and Innovation Factory is proud to have been a partner and supporter of the successful inaugural event!
Applications for the competition opened back in January with a flood of business plan submissions from McMaster-affiliated startup companies, and culminated in a top 10 being chosen.
At the final showcase event on March 31, the top 10 delivered live two-minute pitches to an audience of over 200 students, faculty and community members. Pitches were reviewed live by the expert panel, which included Julie Cole of Mabel’s Labels, accomplished entrepreneur Ashley Beattie, and technology executive/entrepreneur Devin Tuinstra. Judging was based on each startups overall progress to date along with scalability and long-term potential to grow into a thriving venture.
Online comic platform, Comikka, took home the grand prize of $25,000; second place at $15,000 went to RotaNovus, a design firm with the goal to biomechanically redesign current rollator mobility solutions to better meet customer needs; and the third place $10,000 prize went to Sound Options, a sound therapy treatment for tinnitus sufferers. A $5,000 People’s Choice prize was also awarded to UWallet, which is a mobile app allowing students to load meal cards, check balances and view information for nearby restaurants.
Spectrum’s Manager of Student Entrepreneurship, Justin Policarpio, sees the competition as a tangible investment in student entrepreneurship at McMaster: “With the completion of our inaugural Spectrum Student Startup Competition, we’ve taken the first step in not just investing time, but substantial resources into our McMaster student entrepreneurs,” he says. “We look forward to seeing the progress of our winners in their entrepreneurial journeys and are proud to be part of their initial success.”
Grand prize winner Henry Beckett of Comikka is one such startup founder that found the competition incredibly worthwhile: “The Spectrum competition was a fantastic experience; Justin and his team put in a substantial amount of time with all the founders to make sure we’d all be well-prepared and pitch-ready,” he says. “The prize means a lot to Comikka because we’re in a growth phase and this will allow us to scale up our growth process much more quickly. Needless to say, I’m extremely grateful!”
If you missed the event, Spectrum has uploaded some videos of the 10 finalists’ live pitches – check them out here!
McMaster University’s Spectrum is an extracurricular program encouraging, developing, and supporting all McMaster entrepreneurs, including students at all levels of learning.