Move over Jim Treliving and Arlene Dickinson. There’s a new crop of entrepreneurial stars shooting up. Four of them are from Ottawa’s Ashbury College.
These four creative thinkers wowed the judges and earned spots in the finals of the provincial Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch contest. And they’re the only teens from this area to have made the cut.
Make Your Pitch is a high school entrepreneurship competition organized by the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The contest challenges students in Grades 9 to 12 to pitch their business ideas in a two-minute video.
Jonathan Chow, a Grade 11 Ashbury student, pitched an idea for a charitable wish list that would allow charities to post their needs in one consolidated area to make accessibility easier for organizations and volunteers. Grade 11 student Monica Taing and Grade 10 students Lauren Wang and Laura Alb pitched Caniversity. This innovation would provide graduating students with the opportunity to compare university offerings and analyze their choices more efficiently. Students would also be linked to alumni who could give them answers to questions about their chosen universities.
All the Make Your Pitch videos were evaluated this spring based on a combination of online public votes (40 per cent) and expert judges’ scores (60 per cent). Twenty finalists were selected, including the local Grade 10 and 11 students. They earned a three-day trip to Toronto at the end of April to attend a prestigious OCE conference and to present their ideas in front of a judging panel. Chow, Taing, Wang and Alb were accompanied by Ashbury faculty members Dwayne Smith and Geri-Lee Godkin. Both business teachers had worked hard with and for these teens, organizing trips and guest speakers to help their students better understand entrepreneurism.
In Toronto, the teens were able to attend a one-day entrepreneurship boot camp to prepare for the live pitch; they were also able to attend Discovery, the country’s top innovation-to-commercialization event.