- Posted by Randy Hendriks
- On October 12, 2017
- 0 Comments
Hosted by The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Factory, the Hamilton business community celebrated local startups recently with 600 people in attendance at this year’s Lion’s Lair banquet. VA Partners participated as a sponsor of the event, which offered participants the chance to pitch for over $180 000 in cash and business services. Each of the ten finalists had the opportunity to pitch in front of five lions, in a Dragon’s Den style pitch, which was pre-recorded.
This year’s Lions were:
- Dilys D’Cruz, Vice President of Community Banking at Meridian Credit Union
- Julie Ellis, Co-founder of Mabels Labels
- Michael Macaluso, President of CARSTAR North America
- Ruth Todd, Director of KPMG St. Catharines and Hamilton offices
- Stuart Wheldon, former Vice President at Toronto based firm Eloqua
The pitches were presented throughout the evening, which culminated in the announcement of the prize winners.
This year’s grand prize winner was current VA Partners client Aiva Labs, who collected $79 000 in cash and business services. Aiva helps online businesses increase their revenue using intelligent marketing campaigns & landing pages that auto-magically improve themselves, with no coding required (stay tuned for an upcoming podcast featuring Aiva Labs later this month). Second place went to Oneiric Hockey, a base layer apparel for hockey players that allows them to get dressed faster, holds shin pads in place and provides additional safety in areas of the body left exposed. Oneirc was also featured on Dragon’s Den earlier this year. Lumago, a startup supported through the Forge Campus Linked Accelerator claimed third prize for their work creating customizable and fully automated aquaponics system that allows farmers to expand as their needs change. Dolled Up Desserts won the Hamilton Award for their cake mixes sensitive to those with special dietary needs, and BridesMade won the people’s choice award for their bridesmaid dress rental business.
Lion’s Lair isn’t simply a one day event, but a five-month process which included pitch training, networking and business plan development. For Lumago’s Melissa Houghton, Lion’s Lair “provided Lumago the opportunity to work with industry experts to hone our pitching skills, as well as develop much needed industry relations and experiences that will continue to benefit the company for years to come.” In-kind prizes will also come in handy for them. Melissa notes that “they will allow us to formalize many of our legal processes like contract development and patent applications as well as our accounting processes for filing our taxes and our SR&ED claims”.
A couple of finalists that were favorites of mine included Nanophyll and Hint Nuero. Nanophyll develops and manufactures smart nano-coating technology improving the physical properties and resiliency of glass, metal, aluminum, concrete and ceramic materials. Hint Nuero is developing a wearable point-of-care monitoring device that detects patients at high-risk of having a stroke by using a comfortable, wearable headband that will alert patients, caregivers, and emergency services in the case of a stroke.
Former winners and finalists of Lion’s Lair from years past that are continuing to grow sales and impact include:
Nix Color Sensor: Last year’s winner, they have increased their staff and released a new micro version of their handheld device that can measure the color of any surface.
Sniper Skin: a hockey tape replacement tool, now with sells across North America and Europe.
Nuts for Cheese: a cashew-based vegan cheese, with distribution and sales in over 100 retail outlets across Ontario.
The Green Lid: A compostable compost bin, which is also helping battle insect-borne viruses throughout the world. Read more about their work fighting Zika Virus here.
Weever Apps: Winner of the first Lion’s Lair, they have continued to grow their app development business working with clients such as 3M, GE, and Xerox.
If you’d like to know more about the Lion’s Lair, check out their website.