Brock University students connected with entrepreneurs to learn from past successes — and failures — at the Monster Pitch Winners’ Panel on Wednesday, Feb. 5.
The panel allowed fifth-year student Aadi Mundil to meet established entrepreneur Johnathan Holland. Mundil attended a presentation by Holland in 2015 as a first-year student and has been following his entrepreneurial journey ever since.
“Hearing him speak got me hooked,” said Mundil. “I was coming in as an Accounting student, but I knew there was a way to become an entrepreneur through this [Monster Pitch] program. He’s been a big inspiration to me, so it’s nice to be able to wrap-up my university experience with him sitting there again.”
The inaugural Winners’ Panel was designed to connect aspiring entrepreneurs like Mundil with previous Monster Pitch winners to showcase how business ideas can become promising ventures. Discussions ranged from securing early investors and picking a strong founding team to developing presentation skills and resilience, all fueled by abundant student questions.
The event was created by Brock Innovation Group (BIG) President Tyler Bergey, a fourth-year Business Administration student with a concentration in Marketing. While coordinating speakers for a different event, Bergey noted the extensive entrepreneurial network Monster Pitch had created.
“I felt like we needed to have a separate event for these previous winners,” said Bergey, “and that we could really use that to showcase Monster Pitch and allow the students to see what this event does for entrepreneurs.”
The panelists included Evan Sitler and Drew MacNeil (BBA ’19) of XpertVR, Ethan Foy of LifePoints and Holland, whose venture based on student currency conversion was an early winner. These pitches won in 2019, 2018 and 2014 respectively.
Sitler and MacNeil had already begun meeting with semi-finalists before the panel to discuss their ventures and provide guidance.
“When we got offered this opportunity, we really wanted to be able to talk to the students but also to reconnect with the other panelists,” said MacNeil. “It was really great to see us all come back to the roots where we started and give back to the future students of entrepreneurship.”
The panelists stayed late, offering advice to attendees one-on-one and networking with the students.
“I think the whole start-up ecosystem is about giving back to help the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Foy. “We all understand how difficult it was to be in that earlier scene and we want nothing more than to just be able to help them avoid some of the pitfalls and mistakes that we made.”
Monster Pitch, a competition inspired by CBS’ Dragon’s Den, allows student entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas to a panel of celebrity judges. The event is run by BIG in collaboration with Goodman Group — Venture Development and the Goodman School of Business.
“Between this and the Kick-Starting Entrepreneurship program that Venture Development offers, there are great ways for students to take their ideas and put them into reality,” said Bergey. “Hopefully seeing what happens when someone actually does that will inspire them.”
Monster Pitch will take place March 27 in the Goodman atrium, with ticket sales beginning in early March.
“Apply to Monster Pitch, check out the Brock LINC and see where your idea can go,” MacNeil said. “Unless you start, you’re never going to get there.”