Emily Bland’s Sucseed, a self-sustaining social enterprise that employs at-risk youth in St. John’s to build environmentally friendly hydroponic systems to be used in northern communities in an effort to reduce or eliminate food insecurity, took home top honours in Pitch 201, while DroneNL, a professional indoor, outdoor and aerial photography and videography company owned and operated by Alex Robbins and Jon King, was the winner in Pitch 101.
“For the past year and a half that we’ve been running Sucseed, it’s very much been us hustling, getting out to as many people as we can, finding as many markets as we possibly can, and we haven’t really taken that deep dive into figuring out more about our general consumers and what our customers want and who exactly they are,” says Bland.
The win provides Sucseed with $2,000, but the more valuable prize is a MaRS market research report conducted by Memorial University business incubator Genesis Centre valued at $40,000.
“This is going to be all about target marketing and understanding our customers better and figuring out which one, out of the 15 customer segments that we have right now, are the ones that we need to focus on to grow this business even bigger,” Bland said.
For Robbins and Drone NL, Pitch 101’s top prize included $5,000 and a competitive intelligence workshop valued at $500. The money, Robbins says, may be used for a potential drone upgrade or to leverage added funds to continue the development of software that will help the company move into new markets.
“With the process right now to get your drone in the air, we think it could be streamlined, so with software we’re developing we’re hoping that we’ll be able to raise some funds to develop that fully so that we can eventually sell it, hopefully to the government,” he said.
As part of the event in St. John’s this week, 20 early stage companies from Atlantic Canada were invited to take part in a competition called Pitch Camp.
Day 1 consisted of a workshop on pitching a product or service to investors, followed by a pre-selection pitch session that sent 10 finalists on to the next round, which involved a pitch to a panel of seasoned investors.
Bland says the camps and subsequent competitions helped her understand the importance of being concise and to the point when making a business pitch.
“When you only have a minute or two minutes to catch someone’s attention and make them believe in you and the work that you’re doing, you really have to get to the point and make sure you’re telling people the key details that they need to know to get them involved.”