Emma Kirwin and Asad Jalib (BBA ’20) have proven they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.
With hard work under their belts, the young entrepreneurs impressed the judges at this year’s Monster Pitch competition, showing that while it might not be glamorous, dirt removal is big business.
The pair earned the coveted Monster Pitch title for DirtMarket, their unique solution to divert loads from landfills and illegal dumping sites.
Co-founded by Kirwin, a fourth-year Brock History student and President of The Brock Press, and Jalib, the Brock University Students’ Union President, DirtMarket is an online marketplace where users can instantly connect to exchange topsoil, clean fill, pea gravel and other dirt.
In the two months the site has been operational, more than 200 businesses have registered and posted listings offering or requesting more than a million yards of dirt.
Inspired by the hit TV show Dragons’ Den, the Monster Pitch competition was hosted virtually Sunday, March 21 by student club Brock Innovation Group in partnership with Goodman Group Venture Development and the Goodman School of Business. As the winners, DirtMarket’s creators took home a prize pack of cash and startup support valued at $11,000.
“The greatest aspect was hearing feedback and getting the assurance that the solution we have been working on, that we think will make an impact on people’s lives and the environment, makes sense to others too,” Kirwin said. “It means we can help a lot of businesses, and that’s what we are excited about.”
The idea for the company started when Jalib’s father had dirt dumped illegally on one of his properties. The cost to remove the 10 loads of soil came with a hefty price tag and Jalib thought there had to be a better solution for this problem. He started doing research with the help of Kirwin and found there’s more soil being excavated each year than there was landfill space for it and that landfill diversion was a key priority.
DirtMarket has been popular among construction companies looking to find local sources for their soil while avoiding costly trucking and landfill fees. The website allows users to view site alteration plans, chemical analysis of the soil and anything else they need to know for each posting to help them make informed decisions.
The team has also launched DirtMarket’s companion service DirtTrack, a digital app and tracking system that will help users easily meet new provincial government compliance legislation that comes into effect Jan. 1, 2022. The application allows users to create regulation compliant reports easily from their phone where source sites, drivers and receiving sites can easily collect and show documentation and data on their loads.
The Monster Pitch judging panel included: Emilie Cushman, Founder and CEO at Kira Talent; Crystal D’Cunha, Chief Experience Officer at The Inside View Inc.; and Ryan Seravalle, Founder, CEO and Broker at Revel Realty Inc.
The other Monster Pitch finalists were:
- Capteurio: Upinder Singh, a Master of Science in Materials Physics student, and Parminder Singh designed sensors that provide companies real-time condition-based monitoring and predictive analysis of machines to prevent unexpected failure and sudden breakdown of machinery that can halt production lines, resulting in high maintenance costs and failure in achieving production targets.
- Creator: Eduardo Chavez, a Bachelor of Business Communications student, heads Creator a novel multisided platform that gives everyday people the ability to make authentic ads for companies they love and are interested in.
- Creekside Garlic: Nicolas Vacca, a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration co-op student, and Daniel Tombolini are Niagara garlic growers actively looking to expand their operations to supply larger stores and grocers.
Creekside Garlic took home the $500 Fan Favourite prize, which was awarded based on an audience vote.
New to this year’s Monster Pitch event was a high school- and university-level case competition held Saturday, March 20. For the high school competition, students from Erindale Secondary School in Mississauga, St. Theresa of Lisieux Catholic High School in Richmond Hill, Harold M. Brathwaite Secondary School in Brampton and Branksome Hall in Toronto participated.
The event was added to give more students the opportunity to experience Monster Pitch, said Brock Innovation Group President Ashley Harold.
“Students that have appreciation and interest in the entrepreneurial spirit that might not have their own business, or a business idea, can now be a part of this conference,” Harold said. “We wanted to leverage one of the positives the virtual world has brought us and connect with students on a larger scale, regardless of school and geographic location.”
Monster Pitch was sponsored by Spark Power, DDL and Co., Start Smart, Lancaster Brooks and Welch, Innovate Niagara and Brand Blvd.