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The Dragon lands at Mount Royal for The Pitch

The “grand finale” of the Bissett School of Business’ Innovation and Entrepreneurial Experience class is “The Pitch,” a competition that calls on the expertise of 72 panelists from the Calgary community to judge the pitches and grade the students. This year’s final event included a very special guest panelist — local celebrity, philanthropist and entrepreneur W. Brett Wilson.

Wilson joined a panel of illustrious judges to help grade Mount Royal’s ENTR 2301 class’ final assignment in their very own version of Dragon’s Den, as the top seven student teams made their presentations to a panel that mirrored one of CBC’s most popular television shows.

“I believe in encouraging entrepreneurial thought and activity in our society,” says Wilson. “That is the essence of changing the future of Canada. Engaging with students of all disciplines at this level is where it begins. It’s my way of sharing with them the things I have learned to be at the heart of empowerment and success.”

An inspiring competition

Wilson’s fellow panelists included recent Bissett grad Stephen Guppy, whose GNS3 Graphical Network Simulator software is generating tremendous buzz in the Western Canada startup community, entrepreneur Brian Reimer and Lori Stewart, creator of eBay Canada, eBay International and founder of Awesome Calgary.

Student teams were tasked with designing, developing and marketing a new venture, which ultimately counts for 50 per cent of their final grade.

The judges had the pleasure of witnessing seven fantastic presentations, each with a different product that filled a diverse collection of market niches:

  • BowTeye — A GPS collar that allows you to monitor your pets via a web or smartphone app
  • Finetunez — An online store with customized headphones for individual users
  • Table Tap — A touch-based application that allows restaurant patrons to order and request service via provided iPads
  • Goon Gummies — Colourful, edible alcoholic gummy candies
  • GolfTac — A lightweight Bluetooth watch that syncs to an iOS-based app to measure distance on golf courses
  • AppSolution — Dress Up – an online app that allows users to upload their measurements and visualize how clothes bought online would actually fit, allowing for improved online store experience.
  • The Ski-P-S — Smartphone app that uses RFID tags to track skiers to aid patrols in search and rescue

After a long deliberation period, the judges awarded GolfTac the first place prize, with BowTeye and Table Tap taking second and third, respectively.

“Instead of textbooks and exams, student teams are given the tools and entrepreneurial mindset to generate ideas, validate their concepts with potential customers and concisely pitch their venture to a panel of judges from the community,” says Ray DePaul, director of the Bissett’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Often referred to as one as the best courses at Mount Royal, students have gone on to win pitch competitions in the broader Calgary community and have cemented Mount Royal University's Innovation and Entrepreneurship program as truly unique in Alberta.

W. Brett Wilson poses with The Pitch's winning team, GolfTac.

An impactful keynote

Following the presentations and awards, Wilson delivered a keynote detailing his latest book, Redefining Success. The three fundamental elements of success, according to Mr. Wilson, involve marketing, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. He believes all students should be taught these three subjects, not just those studying business.

“I’ve never met an entrepreneur who suffered from entitlement,” says Wilson. “Instead, they tend to suffer from empowerment.

“Taking that energy and creating something special is what success — and tonight — is all about.”

Colin Brandt — Oct. 3, 2013