Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/11/2016 (1025 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The two top winners of Innovate Manitoba’s Pitch Day this year are not working to cure cancer or end global poverty, but if their businesses succeed, it could free up time for the rest of us to get to work on that other stuff.
Catherine Metrycki’s online floral business Callia (calliaflowers.com) was the clear winner of the event in which 16 startups or wanna-be startups gave two-minute pitches to a panel of four judges.
Callia won both the top prize of $7,500 as determined by the team of four judges who collectively run (or sold) businesses worth several hundred million dollars.
Metrycki’s polished pitch won over the crowd of more than 200, winning the $1,000 People’s Choice award.
Dan East, and his partner Jeremy Major, took the $2,500 second-place prize for their company, Autotextdriver, as well as best technology pitch.
Callia — "I’m really excited," said Metrycki. "We really appreciate the support."
Metrycki’s take on the floral business is that we’re all too frantic and caught up in digital social connections that we need to make time for more genuine moments — such as sending someone flowers. So she has made it easier to do it — six clicks of a computer mouse is all it takes.
In addition to cutting out the bricks-and-mortar middle man and deploying a unique supply-chain strategy, Callia — which is Polish (Metrycki’s family heritage) for lily — limits the selection to four seasonal bouquets at any time.
That cuts out a lot of overhead and expensive waste, and makes it easier for a consumer by limiting selection.
She’s been up and running for three months and received enough business just from word of mouth and social media to roll out the service across Western Canada in the next six months.
The $49 bouquets are 40 per cent cheaper than the average bouquet of flowers, and the packaged presentation becomes what Metrycki believes is the only luxury service of its kind.
Autotextdriver — Dan East was likely the most experienced of the 16 people who presented at Pitch Day. Not only is he a partner and general manager in a Brandon auto dealer — Kelleher Ford — but his niche software product, Autotextdriver, has been operating for close to a year.
Most of us are familiar with the "click-and-call" button on websites. Autotextdriver creates a "click-to-text" function.
Its research suggests consumers prefer to text rather than call, and by integrating the software into a company’s customer relationship management software, companies can respond to a customer on text and manage the information in their confidential internal systems.
The company may be on the cusp of a breakthrough because Google recently beta-tested click-to-text function in its AdWords platform.
While that might mean a new source of revenue for Google, it could open a huge door for East and Major because Autotextdriver has already built the back-end software to manage customer texts coming in.
The company launched the service in the car dealership business, and it’s already in every province with just about all makes of cars.
East said they have started to get traction in the dentistry business, and they expect to roll out across other vertical markets over time. The service will charge varying rates depending on the level of back office support needed by customers.
With a track record of success and growing business — there are already 11 employees — East said participating in the Pitch Day event was an important sounding board.
"As you go through the evolution of the product and a company, there is always a moment in time when you’re trying to gauge whether what you’re doing has merit," he said.
"When you are involved in something intimately, sometimes you can lose perspective."
Other winners were:
Best Student Pitch: Teku — Dylan Asmundson and Kyle Jagassar. Teku is the Uber of phone repair. It’s quick and affordable certified on-demand smart device support — that will be at your door to repair, automate and install smart technology such as a cracked phone screen, 24/7.
Best Research Pitch: Genuwave Imaging Technologies — Mohammad Asefi and Cameron Kaye. Developing an inexpensive, portable knee joint imaging device for sideline assessment of injured athletes. It uses safe, low-power microwave imaging to collect data about ligament tears; and cloud-based diagnostic software for fast evaluation to localize and detect the severity of an injury.
Best New Product Pitch: Genuwave Imaging Technologies.
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.