VentureQuest students pitch fantastic innovative business ideas around social enterprise

Nine finalists presented their ideas on Wednesday, April 13, 2023.

The 10th annual VentureQuest Business Idea Competition Finals took place on Wednesday, April 13, 2023. Back in-person for the first time since 2019, attendees buzzed with excitement and anticipation of the exciting ideas that they were going to learn about that evening. Thanks to our generous partners including presenting pponsor TD Bank Group, this year’s program had the nine finalists present their ideas to more than 90 guests including aspiring entrepreneurs, representatives from the different sectors of the Alberta entrepreneurship ecosystem, and four pitching judges. The stakes were high with more than $20,000 in cash and prizes awarded to the top three ideas.

“VentureQuest allows our students to validate and test their ideas, so they are more likely to be successful the first time around,” notes Craig Elias, Bow Valley College’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

"We're proud to sponsor the VentureQuest competition at Bow Valley College," said Curtis Sands, Calgary Central District Vice President, for TD. "Through the TD Ready Commitment, our corporate citizenship platform, we're supporting entrepreneurship initiatives that help people and communities prepare for the jobs of tomorrow."

The aspiring entrepreneurs taking home coveted cash and prizes at this year’s event include:

  • First place winner, Paulo Reyes. Paulo’s idea, Study Buddy, is an innovative app that empowers students to achieve academic success by connecting them with the perfect study partner. The platform recognizes that every student has unique strengths and weaknesses and believes that no student should struggle alone. With Study Buddy, students can easily find a compatible partner who excels in the subject they need help with. Their mission is to provide students with the support they need to unlock their full potential and achieve their academic goals.
  • Second place winner, Johanser Diroche. Johanser’s pitch, NIO Soup, is the first instant nutritious soup. The soup is made with nutritious ingredients such as chickpeas, rice, dehydrated chicken, and carrots, where each serving provides almost nine grams of protein. It has 70 per cent less sodium than traditional instant soups, so it has way less calories. This soup was born out of Johanser’s observation that regular instant soups have high sodium content, high-calorie counts, and a Styrofoam container that takes more than a thousand years to degrade.
  • Third place winner Eartha Daliugg, and her company, My Textbook Buddy. My Textbook Buddy is a one-stop shop for renting, buying, and selling pre-owned college and university textbooks. The business aims to help students gain better grades and alleviate financial stress related to the increasing textbook fee by making textbooks more accessible and affordable. Furthermore, the business opens a platform for post-secondary students to earn extra income by renting out and selling their pre-owned textbooks.
  • Crowd Favorite winner was Paulo Reyes. Paulo’s second business idea, Stitch, is a purpose-driven company that creates one-of-a-kind upcycled bags from discarded clothes and offcut fabrics. Having worked in the fashion industry for a couple of years, Paulo witnessed firsthand the negative impact of overproduction on our planet. That's why Paulo is committed to reducing waste and supporting the community by providing free training and job opportunities for those facing barriers to employment. At Stitch, they believe in using business as a force for good and making a positive impact on the world, one stitch at a time.

“As someone who enjoys building and growing ideas, I thought VentureQuest was a great place to learn and challenge myself,” says 2023 VentureQuest winner Paulo Reyes. “I wanted to learn from Craig, Vivian [Escorsin], and the rest of the cohort. I joined VentureQuest to learn about the journey entrepreneurs go through to bring an idea to fruition, but I left learning more about myself and what I was capable of accomplishing.

While a great learning opportunity, Paulo also noted that the competition was a validating experience and affirmed his knowledge and strengths as a social entrepreneur. I have a tendency to feel imposter syndrome or feel like I’m not good enough. This win reminded me that I could accomplish things if I worked hard and set my mind to it.”

Paulo is excited for the next steps of his journey and to take his idea, Study Buddy, to the next stage.” Through VentureQuest, I met many people in the industry eager to help or connect me to people who can help. I look forward to continuing these conversations with them and seeing how to move the business idea forward after finals exams are over!”

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