This is the second in a series of four stories featuring the finalists of Monster Pitch the annual student business competition hosted by the Goodman School of Business student club Brock Innovation Group. This year’s competition will be held at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre Monday, April 3.
Don’t let the name fool you — Ryder Damen’s business, Hundred Dollar Burger, has little to do with an expensive food craving.
Instead, the concept has evolved from the third-year Biological Sciences student’s passion for aviation and innovation.
The recreational pilot, who is working on a second degree after completing his bachelor of medical science degree at Brock, has combined his love for flying with his talents as a web and graphic designer to bring to life an idea that will connect private pilots in general aviation.
Damen hopes Hundred Dollar Burger, a ridesharing company for pilots and passengers, will encourage more Canadians to learn to fly and take to the skies.
The business aims to make aviation — described by Damen as an “incredibly expensive” hobby — more affordable.
“The cheapest plane rental you will likely find is around $90 an hour. It’s definitely something I can’t afford with the student lifestyle, which is why I came up with this idea to cost share,” Damen said.
The business has nothing to do with burgers but “everything to do with ridesharing,” he said.
“What a hundred dollar burger means to the aviation world is flying for the sake of flying. You get in your plane, you fly to another city, you get out, get a hamburger and you fly back.”
Currently in the early development phase, Hundred Dollar Burger is a web-based and mobile app that connects pilots so they can rideshare. The app also connects pilots with passengers looking to ride along and share costs.
“It’s very niche,” Damen said. “Even within the niche, it’s niche, but it’s definitely a communication tool that doesn’t exist in the industry right now.”
Redirecting time once spent watching movies to coding instead, Damen took the knowledge he learned from being part of BioLinc’s Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program this year and put it to good use.
The young entrepreneur development program offers workshops, seminars and networking opportunities for local entrepreneurs aged 18 to 29.
Damen will be pitching his business idea for the chance to win startup funding and services next week at Monster Pitch.
While Damen has done some public speaking in his life, the thought of pitching his ideas to a large group of people has been nerve-racking.
“I always like to do things that scare me,” he said, while expressing his excitement.
“The opportunity to grow my business at Monster Pitch is huge, but the opportunity to learn to improve my pitch and develop new skills is even greater. I’m taking it as a learning opportunity first and foremost.”
Already a sold out event, Monster Pitch is taking place Monday, April 3 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. Four shortlisted student entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas before a panel of judges for a chance to win a funding and startup services package worth $15,000.
Monster Pitch is hosted by the Brock Innovation Group in partnership with the Goodman School of Business and BioLinc and is sponsored by Spark Power Corp.
Last year’s judging panel is returning and includes: Jim Treliving, one of five judges on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International Inc.; Bruce Croxon, co-host of BNN’s The Disruptors and CEO of Round 13; Deborah Rosati, corporate director and co-founder of Women Get On Board; and Jason Sparaga, co-founder and co-CEO of Spark Power Corp. and founder of Spara Capital Partners.