LiON’S LAIR seeking new ventures

It’s been a year since I met with Ron Neumann and his energetic team at Innovation Factory to discuss their plans to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship to the city in a new competition called LiON’S LAIR. I knew there would be enormous potential to help Hamilton businesses grow, given the right combination of training, exposure, and resources, and I was excited to get involved in the process.

In 2011, I sat on a panel of five “Lions,” which included Ron Foxcroft, Ed Minich, P.J. Mercanti and Connie Smith.

We participated in a long process of reviews, evaluation, filming and selection.

We were tasked with deciding which entrepreneurs were the most deserving of the $100,000 prize. Eventually, we awarded Weever Apps, Anivac Corp., and Gorilla Cheese each with a portion of the winnings.

Once again, inventors, entrepreneurs, innovators, and startup businesses in Hamilton are being given a chance to solicit up to $100,000 in cash and services to get their companies off the ground. This is one sequel you won’t want to miss.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Factory have created more than just a competition. The purpose of LiON’S LAIR is to celebrate entrepreneurship in Hamilton and inject local startups with much-needed investment and exposure. It is the perfect spark for the city and the results have been outstanding.

We are calling on all Hamiltonians to participate by submitting an original business plan for consideration. Ten finalists will be selected to attend workshops designed to strengthen their business planning, media relations and presentation skills before pitching their idea to a panel of experts in a television studio. The video shorts will be presented at the LiON’S LAIR gala held at Carmen’s Banquet Centre on Oct. 4, 2012.

LiON’S LAIR also provides a unique opportunity for Hamiltonians to vicariously experience the thrill of startup investment, as they follow the aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators on the LiON’S LAIR microsite over the course of their training, leading up to the gala where the winner — or winners — will be announced.

Last year, the decision was very tough, but this year I hope there’s an even greater number of Hamilton businesses making a pitch and hat the decision is even harder.

There is a deep pool of talent here in the city that it is just waiting to be tapped — someone in Hamilton has that next big idea waiting to be unleashed.

Through this competition, the Lions will help guide your journey and provide the encouragement you need to hit the ground running.

There’s no end of support in this city, and I expect to see an even greater number of Hamilton businesses vying for their chance to pitch to the Lions.

Be sure to check out the website at for information on this year’s event. The deadline to apply for LiON’S LAIR 2012 is April 30, so if you’re serious about getting your venture off the ground, write a five- to 10-page business plan and submit your application. LiON’S LAIR can be hard work but many of the 2011 finalists agreed that the workshops and public exposure for their companies were well worth the time.

Just watch the video of last year’s finalists on if you don’t believe me.