This Wednesday, 20 students each had 60 seconds to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges. At the stake was $250. Taking place in Goodes Hall, the Queen’s Entrepreneur’s Competition (QEC) held their taster event before a keynote speaker for participants and observers.
The winner, Marnus Coetsee, Sci ’17, presented a ventilation system for change rooms that keeps lockers, and the clothes in them, clean and dry.
Other pitches included a bracelet that monitors anxiety and an app that allows you to share all your social media platforms with another person simply by touching phones.
According to their website, QEC receives many business plan submissions from around the globe each year. They then select the top 15 teams to pitch their business plans to a panel of Canadian business leaders in Toronto.
In an interview with The Journal, QEC co-chair Ganesha Thirumurthi, Comm ’17, said the competition was started almost 30 years ago with the goal of providing loan and equity-free capital to students with entrepreneurial ventures.
In addition to providing no-strings-attached capital, the competition also aims to provide young entrepreneurs with valuable connections and mentors to help grow their businesses.
When the competition began, it had about $500 in capital to work with. This year, QEC has over $75,000 in cash and non-cash prizes to offer teams, the grand prize being $50,000 in cash.
Thirumurthi noted that in previous years, QEC has hosted business leaders such as Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, the social media management dashboard, and John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, the venture arm of one of Canada’s leading pension funds.
Co-chair Aayush Goel, Comm ’17, told The Journal that QEC doesn’t just operate within Queen’s, Ontario, Canada, or even North America — the competition has a global scope.
According to Goel, QEC has had start-ups come
to the competition from Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as students from American schools like Cornell and Harvard University.
Goel says he first became involved with QEC in his second year at Queen’s.
“I come from a really entrepreneurial family, so entrepreneurship was something that was always on my mind,” he said. “The question wasn’t if I was going to start my own business, the question was always when I am going to start my own business.”
He believes that QEC is valuable because it gives students the opportunity to test out their business ideas to determine whether or not it’s feasible to pursue.
As for the future of QEC, Thirumurthi looks forward to continued growth.
“It’s about seeing [QEC] grow not just in terms of capital reach, but also in terms of creating a community of entrepreneurs that can work together and bounce ideas off of each other,” Thirumurthi said.
“When people are starting businesses, they kind of overcome a hurdle, where it’s should I do it or should I not? And I think if you come to that point where you want to give it a shot, at that point it’s a good idea to apply to QEC.”
— With files from Morgan Dodson
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