David Cronier, the third-place finalist, presenting his pitch, Slide Wizard, to the judging panel. Photo credit: Photo supplied by Marcelo Jaramillo

Twenty-five Algonquin College students began their summer break by participating in a week-long Shark Tank-like competition, with the opportunity to pitch their start-up concept to a panel of judges.

The SUMMIT Entrepreneurship Boot Camp was born eight years ago in the applied research department and has run every summer since, including seminars over Zoom during the height of the pandemic. It has since migrated to the business department. Despite generally attracting business students, SUMMIT is open to anyone who is currently studying at or has recently graduated from Algonquin College. It attracts about 50 applicants.

Much of the week consisted of sessions and lectures led by guest speakers, touring Invest Ottawa and, most importantly, networking with fellow students and other entrepreneurs. By the end of the week, all participants were given the opportunity to compete against one another by pitching their start-up concept in front of judges.

This year’s winner, Aric Morrow, a level two web development and internet applications student, pitched a multiplayer terraforming simulator video game.

Morrow said nearly a decade has passed since the last major terraforming video game had been released, offering a gap in the market.

“We got introduced to a ton of resources that I am looking forward to using in the future,” says Morrow. “Just the exposure to everything outside of my program, really just opened your eyes to everything that’s available through the college.”

The top three winners were given varying cash prizes, between $2,000 and $750, and all finalists were given access to additional coaching, mentorship, and legal services.

“This boot camp has lit a fire within me, like nothing else,” says David Cronier, a level four computer programming student. “As bad as it sounds, seeing the imperfectness in other people kind of reassures you about your own and it’s really great to see in which area people shine.”

Cronier landed himself in third place after pitching Slide Wizard, a web-based presentation software.

Tristan Morris-Desmarais, a competition finalist and business management and entrepreneurship student, agrees there was something magnetic about this year’s group.

“Meeting all these people, they’re so much more motivated than some of the students in our own program,” says Morris-Desmarais. “I mean, our program is designed around entrepreneurship. But these people, they’ve all got a fire lit to them; they all have this inspirational kind of energy.”

Nyasha Shameer and Emilie Tunn, business administration and marketing students, won second place with their start-up pitch, Bleumwell, a mind, body, and soul fitness centre.

“We have done marketing competitions through the school as well,” says Shameer. “ So, we’ve been exposed to the opportunity to network and get trained with other individuals to build on our skill set, because we do have marketing backgrounds, but this is a very different environment as we do get to be exposed to other competitors and individuals from all different backgrounds, which was very interesting.”

Even without walking home with a cash prize, SUMMIT students and volunteers recognized the advice given to them and the networking they were able to do was invaluable.

“When you have good people around you, things just go an easier instead of starting . . . alone, and throughout the week, you just saw the participants take that feedback in mind,” says SUMMIT volunteer and recent business marketing graduate, Sabrina Drouin.