Monday proved to be a dream come true for Ethan Foy.
The fifth-year neuroscience student from Oakville won a $14,000 prize package at Monster Pitch, an entrepreneurial pitch competition hosted by the Brock Innovation Group in partnership with the Goodman School of Business and BioLinc and sponsored by Spark Power Corp.
More than a year ago, Foy began working on his business called LifePoints. He envisioned a mobile application that would offer monetary rewards to its users based on the time they spent at fitness facilities.
He first applied for Monster Pitch last year and although he was not selected to present at the competition, he had started on a journey toward his vision.
There was no turning back.
With his eye on his goal, he also applied for — and received — the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award, which provided him with funding, space and mentorship to help him launch his business. Since receiving the award at last year’s Monster Pitch event, he has worked tirelessly to build his business, including spending the summer working on the company full time thanks to the funding provided by the award.
This year, he returned to Monster Pitch armed with a year of experience and with his mind set on winning.
The $14,000 prize is comprised of cash, as well as in-kind legal, marketing and accounting services. Foy says he’s planning on using the prize to solidify the success he’s enjoyed so far and add credibility to his business.
“My success can be attributed to having the experience from the Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award and the success that I had today was because of practice, hard work and a vision,” he said, adding that he practiced his pitch around 15 times each day in the weeks leading up to the competition.
But Foy says he walked away from Monster Pitch with much more than the $14,000 prize package.
“The biggest thing I was looking to get out of Monster Pitch was being able to present in front of a world-class group of judges. I wanted to know where LifePoints stands in the eyes of the them and to get feedback from individuals who have seen a multitude of businesses,” he said.
The judging panel included David Chilton, author of The Wealthy Barber series, and returning judges 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.
Chilton, who attended the event for the first time, was impressed by the quality of the shortlisted presentations.
“Ethan was polished beyond belief and has done a good job with the software, coding and everything,” he said. “All the presenters were good. We had a lot of discussion to come to this decision and the students should all be very proud of themselves.”
Acknowledging that it’s not an easy feat to speak in front of a large crowd, Chilton said it’s also a valuable experience for students to move out of their comfort zone.
“I think it’s healthy for student entrepreneurs to see other student entrepreneurs so they can see the trials and travails they’re going through, think laterally and listen to the judges’ critiques. But there’s also an esprit de corps that develops when they see that they’re in this together,” he said. “Everyone struggles as an entrepreneur.”
Sparaga returned for the sixth year to judge the competition, where he noted the passion that each of the participants had for their idea.
“These business ideas are coming from a personal, passionate place, and that’s where some of the best businesses come from. The ideas you presented today are solving real problems,” he said.
“I give a lot of credit to people who stand up in front of these kinds of audiences and present their business ideas and subject themselves to criticism and really intelligent comments from people like David and Bruce — it’s risky.”
Goodman School of Business Dean Andrew Gaudes sees the value Monster Pitch offers the many student entrepreneurs across the University.
“You can’t underscore being put into a position where you have to promote something that is basically out of your own creation,” he said. “It takes an incredible amount of effective communication, a passion for your dream, and the ability to get other people excited about it and those aren’t easy things to do at the best of times.”