Wow me in a minute: Quick-pitch competition promotes young entrepreneur

At the Pitch 101 competition on Friday, young entrepreneurs had 60 seconds to pitch their business idea to a panel of professionals.
Michelle Simms, vice president with the Genesis Centre and Jan Mertlik, a student entrepreneur who has created a new company called DashAll. (Laura Howells/CBC)

Think you could convince someone to invest in your business in a minute or less?

That was the aim of  Pitch 101 on Friday, a competition where young entrepreneurs had 60 seconds to pitch their new business idea to a panel of professionals.

The competition is much like the CBC television show Dragon's Den — but with a much bigger time crunch.

In 60 seconds the students discuss all the essentials, including their business model, market, opportunity, competition, value and what they're asking for.

And it's not just a game—the pitches were judged by a panel of business heavyweights who'd jump on a pitch they liked.

Judges from the business community determined the winners of the Pitch 101 competition. (Submitted by Michelle Simms)

Jan Mertlik is one of the students who competed on Friday. His pitch began like this:

"Imagine living in St. John's without a car. You can't get groceries, your essential hygienic goods or a meal from your favourite fast food restaurant. Current competition only delivers from some restaurants or some grocers."

Intrigued? Mertlik has created a company called DashAll, which provides on-demand deliveries from almost anywhere to anybody in St. John's.

New company delivers almost anything

The company was only launched six days ago, but he says they've already done more than 60 deliveries. Mertlik hopes to expand his company to liquor services if they can get the proper licensing.​

Pitch 101 takes place at 10 institutions across Atlantic Canada and winners go on to the Canada Pitch Competition on March 5.

The program is designed to help students learn how to make clear, quick and effective pitches. All the competitors got to spend time with a professional pitch coach to help them prepare.

Emily Bland won this year's competition in St. John's with her pitch for Sucseed, a program that helps schools grow their own food inside using new soil-free technology.

The winner of this year's Pitch 101 competition, Emily Bland, presenting her pitch for a project called Sucseed. (Submitted by Michelle Simms)

"We're trying to create a buzz in the entrepreneurial post-secondary ecosystem with post-secondary students in particular," said Michelle Simms, a vice president at MUN's Genesis Centre, who helped organize the competition in St. John's.

"We're trying to help diversify the economy, we're trying to help create technology companies, create jobs and just grow the economy in general through investment from the outside."