Ten local companies. A summer of training. $100,000 worth of prizes to kick start a business.

It ends Thursday night.

Ahead of the Lion's Lair gala, CBC Hamilton asked the lions — five local business leaders — what criteria they used to select the winning company (or companies).

Lion's Lair, the Dragon's Den-style competition for local, emerging businesses, is run by the regional innovation centre, Innovation Factory.

Here's what the lions had to say:

Mike Morealle, president, CFL Players' Association

"Choosing a winner or winners from that great of a list is never easy.

For me, the most important aspect was not only the idea but the feasibility of it, and how far along they were with rolling out their business plans.

All the groups had great ideas but certain ones were further along in their business planning and already making impacts within the Hamilton community and just need a little push along the way.

Knowledge, passion and excitement were the keys. Experience will come along the way because someone can't gain valuable experience until you give them a real chance."

Paul Lee-Chin, investment adviser, Manulife Securities

"The main criteria was the business model, and management’s track record."

Tim Richard, co-founder, Weever Apps and first Lion's Lair winner

"For me, it was important to know that the business in question was scalable and either had strong leadership or had the capability to recognize their weaknesses even if one of them was leadership.  Job creation in Hamilton and knowing that winnings could help accelerate their efforts was critical as well."  

Blair McKeil, CEO, McKeil Marine Limited

"In selecting a winner, it would be difficult to use just one criterion.  Instead, I used the following interconnected criteria:

Is there a market for the proposed service/product?  How big is that market?

How much margin is in it?

Do the would-be entrepreneurs have the ability to execute their plan?

To me, there are the basic but critical fundamentals.

CBC Hamilton will be at the Lion's Lair gala Thursday. Follow our overage on the site or reporter Julia Chapman on Twitter, @JkChapsCBC.