A trio of young entrepreneurs from Kingston took home the $10,000 grand prize Saturday in the inaugural RBC EPIC Business Model Canvas competition at the University of Windsor.
The high-stakes contest saw 15 teams of university students and recent graduates from across Ontario, including four teams from Windsor, battle it out over who developed and utilized the best business model for their product or service.
RockMass Technologies partners Matas Sriubiskis, Shelby Yee and Matt Gubasta, from Queen’s University, won the event for their plan to enhance the process of geotechnical surveying and data acquisition by improving safety, efficiency and accuracy.
“What we’re trying to do is make the process more streamlined to save mining companies time and money,” Sriubiskis said. “We came all this way to Windsor … and we like to practice pitching.
“We work this every day … so we know our company really well and we know exactly what we want to talk about so it’s exciting to share it with other people and it really helps us build our company and build our brand.”
Yee said the team has a fully functioning prototype that they are ready to test in underground mines.
“We’ll use the (prize) money to develop the next three units of the development phase of the prototype plus use it for networking and doing on-site tests at mines that are far away,” Gubasta said.
Wen Teoh, Venture Start director for the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre at the University of Windsor, said the RockMass team had some steep competition.
The first 15 teams were whittled down to six finalists who had to pitch their business model Saturday afternoon before a second panel of judges.
“This is all about business models,” Teoh said. “They have to use the business model canvas to show us how they test the hypothesis and how they go and do customer discovery to arrive at the final business model.”
And although innovation was an important aspect, Teoh said the judges were more interested in how the participants got to the business model – their hypothesis, how they pinpoint the need, do their discovery work, come up with a solution for the problem, test the market and then use customer feedback to make any changes.
Connor Holowachuk’s Eigen Advertisement was the only Windsor entry to make it to the finals.
Holowachuk developed custom car advertisements and a phone app after speaking to local business owners who wanted an economical way to promote themselves.
“We want a way to promote local business, stimulate local economy and also pay people and maybe turn that depreciating asset of your car into one that’s profitable,” Holowachuk said.
Drivers would be paid to have the advertisement on their car.
The RockMass Technologies team also won six months of free incubation desk space at the EPI Centre, consulting services from KPMG, Postmedia advertising and qualified for next year’s national business model competition at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.
Teoh said the university will host the competition for the next four years thanks to RBC’s $800,000 sponsorship.