Business competition gives Rye students cash for ideas

Ryerson is giving hope to two students this Wednesday — turning fledgling business ideas into a reality.

The Slaight Communications Business Plan Competition is donating $25,000 to one male and one female student with the best startup idea on campus.

Hosted by StartMeUp Ryerson —  a student entrepreneurship group that helps students build their businesses — the competition is down to its final phase. Six projects remain from the original 45 entrants.

Finalists will battle it out for the prize in front of a live audience and a panel of judges — competing for the cash prize as well as a chance to work with industry professionals.

Ryerson is a fertile ground for innovative concepts, says Sneha Mata, vice-president of marketing for the competition, but the financial component isn’t always there.

“A lot of entrepreneurs have great ideas but just don’t have the money to start. $25,000 is a huge amount,” says Mata.

“This year we have a lot of faculties such as fashion, engineering and architecture entrepreneurs that have really shown interest.”

Contestants submitted a five-page business plan outlining their ideas. Mata says they reduced the business-plan requirements from 25 pages last year to level-out the playing field for those interested in the competition outside of business programs.

Students also submitted a three-minute online video , which Ryerson students could vote on to help determine winners in the final phase.

It’s a first for Slaight Communications to offer two cash prizes; specifically to be given to a female entrepreneur says Mata.

Representatives from companies like Microsoft, Deloitte and BlackBerry are invited to attend the competition.

Judges will be looking for that “million dollar idea,” says Corey Pollock, the business plan competition’s project manager.

The judges want to see “something with the ability to grow very large, not something that’s going to stay stagnant,” says Pollock.

Last year’s winner Majoura — a crowd sourcing platform for jewelry designers, which gives feedback from consumers before manufacturing — has gained some success, expanding the number of jewellery manufacturers that use the website within Canada.

This year Patrick Lum competed for a spot in the finale. He’s a co-founder of Aeon Attire, which is an apparel company that focuses on creating innovative articles of clothing.

“We want to be the Willy Wonka of clothing,” says Lum.

Aeon Attire’s leading product and the submission for the contest is the Aeon taper. It’s “a before seen fashion accessory,” says Lum. It’s “A pair of cuffs that goes around the bottom of your pant leg that not only improves the fit by making it tight against the leg, but also provides a design.”

Coming third in the online vote, Andrew Grella is another student who hopes to make it big in the competition.

Grella’s Man Up is an e-retailing business that specializes in male skincare, fragrances and cosmetics. So far the company has generated sales of just less than $1,000 says Grella. But his priority is to grow the business; so far it has been entirely self-funded.

And although neither Grella nor Lum made into the final six, they said they appreciated the exposure and experience the competition gave them.

This year’s winner is chosen tonight at 6:00 p.m. at the TRS building.

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