Laifa Baby and Tron-Club win cash prizes at ELEV8 Pitch Night!

Guests networking before ELEV8 pitches begin

Our second ELEV8 Pitch Night took place on June 29, and we were pleased to feature a roster of eight thriving startups that pitched to our live audience here at McMaster Innovation Park!

ELEV8 is a pitch competition we hold three times per year, where companies who have a product in-market (or close to launch) present their business in an investment-style pitch presentation. It’s designed to help connect our partners, volunteer mentors and the broader Hamilton community with up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Startup clients pitching have the chance to take home a $250 or $750 prize.

Jake Nicolle of 180 Drums pitching

However, Doug Rixmann of Owl Ops, a presenting company, says that the true value of ELEV8 lies in the deep dive that presenters must take in evaluating their own business: “ELEV8 challenged me to think through my business model and get back to basics again,” says Doug. “It’s easy to get caught up in your latest feature or most recent success and forget why you started in the first place. ELEV8 and the iF team push you (and help you) to reassess what really matters from the outside looking in.”

A full room of guests joined us June 29 to watch the following companies deliver their 5-minute pitches:

  • Doug Rixmann of Owl Ops – Cloud-based operations and maintenance software, helping business improve their operations by streamlining communication and accountability.
  • Melissa Houghton of Lumago – A commercially-viable aquaponics system to replace current greenhouse practices, increasing customer profitability.
  • Greg DeLaunay of Tron-Club – Low-cost, subscription based circuit building kits, with practical uses in robotics, home automation and more.
  • Nicole Mortimer of Laifa Baby – Patent-pending baby sleepers that make diaper changing quick and convenient for parents while keeping babies warm.
  • Shaun Iles of Flyte Studios – Quality software for educators that’s accessible, reliable and fun while also being innovative and disruptive within the ed-tech space.
  • Doug Murphy of BuckitLife – An online hub for local bucket list adventures, giving consumers a fast, fun way to discover activities, compare options and purchase adventures with friends.
  • Jake Nicolle of 180 Drums – An online education platform for drummers worldwide, providing unlimited access to video lessons feat. some of the world’s most recognized drummers.
  • Vince Cifani of Joyride Technologies – A bicycle location tracker and management platform with a technology that leverages public Wi-Fi to monitor, track and protect customer assets.


Vince Cifani pitching Joyride Technologies

Following each pitch, an expert panel of judges asked questions and based their evaluations on each company’s business model, value proposition, go-to-market strategy, commercial viability, and more. The judges included: Daniel Kube of Angel One Investor Network, Stephanie McLarty of REfficient, and Alex Ross of Gowling WLG.

Once votes were tallied, Nicole Mortimer of Laifa Baby scored highest winning $750 and Greg DeLaunay of Tron-Club won $250 scoring second highest!

“ELEV8 Pitch Night is a great platform to connect entrepreneurs with business and community leaders,” says Nicole. “The experience of pitching, coupled with the Q&A in front of a live audience helped me refine my value proposition and get comfortable telling a compelling and relatable story. The product awareness and networking opportunities this event provides are fantastic for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.”

For Greg, the prizing will make an immediate impact on his business: “The prize money we’ve won will go directly towards securing packaging machinery for scaling Tron-Club – we’re very thankful for the help!”

The event was filled with great networking opportunities for presenters and attendees alike – you can view photos from the event here (taken by Jin Lee of Visual Ex Company).

Winners Greg DeLaunay and Nicole Mortimer

Though Pitch Night is open to the public to attend, the opportunity to pitch is by invite-only for clients of Innovation Factory. If you have an innovative business idea, you can sign up to become a client by filling out an intake form and coming in for an intake meeting. As a client of iF, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in exclusive programs and events like ELEV8.

*If you’re interested in contacting any of the above companies or want to learn more, check out our ELEV8 handout!

The next ELEV8 Pitch Night will be held on November 9, so be sure to mark your calendar.



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