January 8 will mark the 7th annual Monster Pitch at Brock University. Based off of the TV show, Dragon’s Den, Monster Pitch is a chance for Brock students to pitch their business ideas to celebrity judges in the business field. The event is hosted by Brock Innovation Group student club along with BioLinc (Brock’s business incubator) and the Goodman School of Business.
“Monster Pitch is a chance for our students to put their ideas to the test,” said Andrew Gaudes, Dean of the Goodman School of Business. “Monster Pitch gives our students the opportunity to go beyond what they learn in class. They may start by using the skills they have learned in class to build a business plan, but the fact that they have to get up and present their plans in front of celebrity judges and 200 spectators adds so much to the learning experience. They have to be sharp, they have to know their details, they have to think on their feet and communicate extremely well.”
This year’s judging panel consists of three returning judges — Bruce Croxon, Jason Sparaga and Deborah Rosati — and one new judge — David Chilton.
Bruce Croxon is invested in digital companies, and among several other achievements, he is the owner of Vida, a salon chain on Canada’s west coast. He spent three years as a judge on Dragon’s Den, and has over 20 years of experience investing in entrepreneurial companies.
Jason Sparaga is a Goodman School of Business graduate and co-founder of Spark Power Corp. He was named the 2016 distinguished graduate of the Goodman School of Business for his outstanding achievements in the field.
Deborah Rosati has more than 30 years of experience in technology, consumer and retail, private equity and venture capital. She is knowledgeable about finances and experienced in financial advice. She is a Goodman School of Business graduate, the winner of three Brock awards and the launcher of the Goodman School of Business Deborah E. Rosati Entrepreneurship Award.
David Chilton, the newest addition to the Monster Pitch judging panel, is the author the successful book The Wealthy Barber. He was an investor on Dragon’s Den for three seasons.
“I think the fact that most of these judges return year after year, and reach out to their colleagues on our behalf to invite them to join the panel, speaks volumes about the quality of this event,” says Gaudes. “These judges have heard pitches on every imaginable business idea from all over the country, yet they continue to come back to the Goodman School of Business.”
Judges of this calibre are a priceless resource for students as well. Gaudes explained why: “Their feedback to our students is invaluable. They have heard it all and they don’t sugarcoat their responses to our students. That kind of feedback is priceless.”
In fact, the whole experience of forming a business plan and pitching it to investors is an incredibly opportunity for students. The experience functions as a sort of “practice round” for things they will do after graduation. “Students have to first identify a good business opportunity and build their pitch from there. They have to do due diligence and market research to find out if it’s a viable product or service with true potential, and then sell the idea so that a potential investor can clearly see an opportunity for financial return . . . These students will have to develop a significant plan around their idea before they are ready for the Monster Pitch stage. It takes a lot of number crunching, testing and practice to be ready for a good investment pitch . . . The stage, lights, audience and panel of judges might not be the real world, but knowing your stuff and being able to communicate it while thinking on your feet is. In many ways, the experience mirrors any presentation they would have to make in any daily business situation.”
The experience is more real than that though. Monster Pitch does have a winner, and that individual or team receives a cash-prize, as well as in-kind support for their business plan.
Monster Pitch is not only beneficial to those who participate, but also those who organize the event. BIG puts huge effort into planning the event; it is not something done half-heartedly. “Their dedication to producing a professional experience for our judges and the competitors is incredible. No detail is left undone. It is a showcase of their ability to plan a large event, and for those who compete, it is an opportunity to put themselves out there and test their skills. It isn’t easy to put yourself and your ideas on the line, especially in such a public forum. But that is what helps build strong business leaders.”