Hockey and Steel: Blade makers win top Lion's Lair prize

RZR Skate Blades, a trio of Hamiltonians making state-of-the-art hockey blades, walk away from Thursday's Gala with $63,000 in prizes.

The simple idea of making a well-used product better proved to be what the Lions were looking for.

RZR Skate Blades, a trio of Hamiltonians who designed and manufacture a hockey blade that's stronger than the typical blade, won the top prize at the Lion's Lair gala Thursday night. Brothers Mike and Chris Verticchio and Nick Montecchia won a total of $63,000 in services to advance their budding business.

The five lions picked a total of four winners (that's more than ever before) to split the $100,000 prize money. Tom Schopf, maker of the Wedgie, a triangle-shaped aerodynamic way to store tools and other items on your bike frame, won $43,000 of that. Trend Trunk, an online marketplace for fashion-lovers to buy and sell underused clothing, came in third and Walkbug, an app equipped with walking trails around the city, is the fourth place winner.

With their new-found cash, here's what each company plans to do next.

RZR Skate Blades

"With the technology these days, I just didn't think [the Lions] would pick something that was perfected, that's been on the market for years," said Mike Verticchio.

"We need to sit down and breathe for a moment, but our main focus is going to be to give back to the kids in Hamilton, in hockey as much as we can," he said. "We want our product to be a world-class product."

"We'll put it into growing our company, perhaps some new, leading edge technologies we can further incorporate into our existing skate blades," said Chris. "We've got ideas, we'll just build on that."


"With 42K, right off the bat, I have three projects I have to deliver within the next 60 days. So I'm actually looking at setting up my factory – this will make it happen very quickly – this weekend or tomorrow. It's going to allow me to purchase a machine that will allow me to develop a product that takes and hour down to five minutes, so significantly less time to do that," Schopf said.

"Some of the marketing services I won will really ramp up the profile and I've got to hire three people," he said.

Trend Trunk

Trend Trunk won a total of $27,000 in services.

"There's SEO services to help us with search engine optimization, so that will be big. The app from the People's Choice Award will be something we will start working on immediately because that's something people have been asking about, so we're excited about that. We've got team development that will help, and cash. Cash is always good," said Trend Trunk founder and CEO Sean Snyder.


Walkbug won $7,000 in team and leadership development. The team of eight co-founders met and developed their product in April.

"It's an app now, you can actually download it," said Al Mithani, one of the co-founders. "It's a low-featured app so we're trying to figure out what are the features that people actually care about. We already have a big hint because tons of people have downloaded it and told us what they want to see next."


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