Students & alumni ready to launch businesses after Start Up Pitch Competition

With the JMH&CO. Start Up Pitch Competition behind them, Medicine Hat College (MHC) student and alumni entrepreneurs received their funding today and prepared to move on to the next phase of launching their small businesses.

The competition, held last month at MHC, saw eight students and alumni present their ideas to a panel of judges in a public, Dragons’ Den-style event. Each individual or group had 10 minutes to share their idea, make the ask, and respond to questions from the judges. At the end of the competition, seven participants received funding for their business ventures.

The cheque presentation and breakfast, traditionally held at the college, took place at JMH&CO. Chartered Professional Accountants, giving students an opportunity to become familiar with the office and connect with their new mentors.

“Coming here makes the process easier, more personable,” says business student Colton Eremenko of 41 North Salsa Co. “We can meet our mentors face-to-face and feel comfortable when we come for our monthly progress meetings.”

He received a $4,100 investment from JMH&CO., a $1,000 prize for Best Pitch and the opportunity to attend the Innovation Rodeo at the Calgary Stampede and compete against other entrepreneurs for the grand prize of $50,000.

“I left school thinking I knew a lot, but I know now there’s still so much to learn,” says Eremenko, who just finished his first weekend of sales at the Medicine Hat Farmers’ Market. “It’s going to be a really good experience.”

Valley Zipline Adventures was another big winner with MHC alumni duo Patrick Tolchard and Krista Berg taking home $10,000. Their zipline recreational facility is currently under construction near Radium, British Columbia and will offer fun for adventurers of all abilities.

Agriculture was also front and centre, with two start ups focused on the livestock industry. Students Nicole Hamilton of NicAl Livestock and Chelsea Gill with Reverse GC Angus both received a $6,500 investment to enhance their efforts in launching cattle breeding operations.

Melanie Bradford will have the opportunity to support single mothers through life coaching, budget training and active living with her social enterprise, 50 Shades of Mom. Bradford received a $3,000 investment to sponsor two participants through her program.

Visual communications student, Kristy Pomrenke, will launch Kristy Photo Video thanks to an investment of $1,000 to support the purchase of computer software. Pomrenke’s primary product – cinemagraphs – combines photography with live video to create a high quality and engaging form of storytelling. Her presentation also earned her an extra $500 for the Most Innovative Pitch.

In addition to the funding received by select pitch competitors, all participants are entitled to a year of mentorship and accounting services, including their first tax return, courtesy of JMH&CO.

Visual communications student Jennifer Edwards did not secure funding but received advanced orders for the production of a coffee table book that will showcase her passion for macro-photography. She will also have the benefit of working with MHC’s Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) and the professionals at JMH&CO. in the coming year in order to be pitch ready for 2018.

Christie Dick, the EDC’s project officer, worked with all Start Up program participants and has seen their growth first hand.

“It’s about more than just starting a business. The process is truly about learning,” says Dick. “Wherever life takes these individuals, they will always have this very valuable experience to learn from. I’m extremely proud of all our competitors.”

To learn more about the Start Up program or ways to invest in local business, please contact Christie Dick, EDC project officer, at 403.504.3585 or cdick@mhc.ab.ca.

About Medicine Hat College

Known for their focus on students – and their innovative and collaborative nature – Medicine Hat College proudly serves over 8,000 learners each year. Committed to the communities of southeastern Alberta, yet mindful of global opportunities, they invite you to develop your full potential through our broad array of programs, courses and services. MHC is a proud member of Campus Alberta and welcomes partnership to benefit their students and communities. To learn how they’re here for you, visit www.mhc.ab.ca.