Not many entrepreneurs can rack up a $10,000 credit card bill without the least bit of concern, but Gayle Hinkley has earned that prize after winning Visa Canada’s $10,000 elevator pitch competition yesterday.
Hinkley’s Vancouver-based Uniform Central beat out eight other finalists in a competition that had them give their best pitch during a 60-second elevator ride. The elevator trip from the first floor to the 49th floor at Toronto’s One King West skyscraper provided an ideal venue for the final round of the pitch competition that Visa solicited entries for on Facebook and Youtube. Uniform Central sells uniforms to medical and hospital workers in Vancouver, and is looking to expand its retail business.
“My goal with the $10,000 is to build a kiosk that will go into one of the major hospitals on Vancouver Island,” Hinkley said in her winning pitch. “I’ve been invited by the hospital, they want our product sold to the employees.”
That pitch beat out the other tech-focused firms also in the contest. One finalist, Calgary-based Solar Tap, creates products to harness solar thermal energy. Another, Toronto-based StorkePAD, has developed a healthcare-focused tablet app that provides education and self-care tools for in-home health care delivery. And StudentJobsEverywhere.com is looking to create a single online location connecting students looking for work with organizations looking for talent.
The contest opened for entries on May 7 and closed one June 17, says Lesley Broadhurst, senior business leader at Visa Canada. Judges selected the eight final startups to compete in Toronto, and Visa’s Facebook audience voted on the videos. That voting counted as 25 per cent of the final score, and judging of the final in-person pitch made up the rest.
Having the ability to quickly pitch your business is an important skill for any entrepreneur, Broadhurst says.
“It’s the culmination of your business idea. If you’ve met anyone for a brief period of time, how do you make an impression?” she says. “It’s having that value proposition down in your mind.”
Uniform Central receives a $10,000 credit on its Visa business credit card for winning the competition. The video was posted to Visa’s Facebook page.