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Idea Mentoring bringing new entrepreneurs forward in Cape Breton

Adam Gillis, right, took home top prize at the Idea Mentoring session at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on July 23. He’s shown receiving his $500 prize from Bob Pelley, regional manager for Innovacorp. The next mentoring sessions will be Nov. 21 in St. Peter's.
Adam Gillis, right, took home top prize at the Idea Mentoring session at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre on July 23. He’s shown receiving his $500 prize from Bob Pelley, regional manager for Innovacorp. The next mentoring sessions will be Nov. 21 in St. Peter's. - Contributed

Participants get three minutes to pitch their startup idea

SYDNEY, N.S. —

Imagine a nicer version of the Dragon’s Den and you’re pretty close to understanding the notion of the Idea Mentoring that’s been underway across the province under the guidance of Innovocorp.

While the popular television program and the provincial initiative have the presentation of new ideas as their focus, the latter is a far less brutal in its pitch reception and much more forgiving to those making inaugural presentations.

“Less pressure, a lot friendlier — not as much money,” deadpanned Bob Pelley in his assessment of the Innovocorp initiative.

Essentially, Idea Mentoring participants get three minutes to stand up and tell the crowd their startup ideas.

It’s not a high pressured pitch session, so the actual initial delivery — sometimes done by those new to such concepts — is not rated.

Instead, those presenting get constructive advice on how to move forward with an idea and another chance to pitch after they’ve watched others do the same.


Idea Mentoring

  • Three minutes to present your startup idea to a crowd
  • Mentors rate the ideas throughout the evening
  • Highest-rated earns a prize
  • Presenters given constructive advice on how to move forward
  • Next one is Nov. 21 in St. Peters

In the end, ideas are judged based on barriers to market entry, sense of market size and knowledge of the problem before a $500 prize is awarded.

“You learn so much just by listening to other people talk about their ideas and hearing their feedback. Just that process alone is really worthwhile for people.”

Pelley said the judging panel, which includes himself and a collection of entrepreneurs, is coming across people with ideas who want to talk about them, figure out how to expand them and the next steps to be taken.

A mentoring session this past summer in Membertou saw an app from Howie Centre’s Adam Gillis take home top prize on a night when Pelley said an impressive array of ideas ranging from energy storage products to educational video content and other ‘cool’ ideas.

While he couldn’t recall the full details of the winning presentation, Pelley said Gillis, who has a background in building roof trusses, won judges over with his presentation on an app that makes the life of friends, who are real estate agents, easier.

“He saw how much time an agent is on a phone co-ordinating administrative stuff, he just thought there was a better way of doing things.”

Pelley said Innovocorp has been experimenting with Idea Mentoring for some time now and a recent session took place in Indian Brook in October and there’s another coming up on Nov. 21 from 6-8 p.m. at the Bras d’Or Lakes Inn in St. Peters.

“We’ve seen a pretty wide variety of things so sometimes it is ourselves that can offer some help. In a lot of cases we are sending them far and wide based on what it is.”

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