This is the first 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.
What started out as a favour to a family friend has morphed into a viable business for Olivia Poulin.
The third-year Goodman School of Business student started Olivia’s Pupadise in June 2015 after house and pet sitting for a family friend whose job took her out of the country.
Shortly after taking care of her friend’s pets for a two-month stint, Poulin founded Olivia’s Pupadise.
“I realized people need a service like this. A lot of people have special pets that require special treatment and accommodation and they don’t have a reliable care service to turn to when they need to be away from their homes,” Poulin says.
In June 2015, Poulin took advantage of startup funding and mentorship that came with the Summer Company grant.
“The Summer Company opportunity was a good, risk-free environment for me to try my hand at running this business full-time,” she says.
After returning to her studies at Goodman in the fall of 2015, business didn’t slow down. The Niagara Falls native now has six people working for her and more than 65 loyal customers across the Region.
When clients are away from their homes, Poulin’s team steps in and takes care of their pets and monitors the house.
From 45-minute check-in visits to live-in care, Olivia’s Pupadise offers clients peace of mind by feeding, walking and giving attention to their pets and monitoring the house, bringing in mail and watering plants.
The service caters to those away for a long day who need a quick check-in for their pets, and to those away from their homes for lengthy vacations.
Poulin’s passion for animals is shared by her team members.
“We all love the pets as if they are our own,” she says.
The team has mostly worked with dogs and cats, but has also worked with chickens and pigs.
With her eye now trained to the future, Poulin is looking ahead to expanding the business and will be returning to the business full time this summer. She will have a chance to compete for more funding next week at Monster Pitch where she will go head to head with three other Brock student entrepreneurs.
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.
“I think it’s amazing that Goodman has access to those people to bring them here for an event,” says Poulin. “I’m most excited for the exposure and the connections I think I can make at Monster Pitch and to compete against people who I believe are great competition.”