The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Innovation Factory are excited to announce the five Lions for the 2016 LiONâ€™S LAIR Pitch Competition. For the first time, the panel features three women â€“ including two well-known Hamilton entrepreneurs. Four Lions from the 2015 contest are returning:Â Mario ParonÂ (KPMG),Â Michael MacalusoÂ (CARSTAR),Â Cheri ChevalierÂ (Microsoft) andÂ Tonia JahshanÂ (Steeped Tea).Â Julie EllisÂ (co-founder Mabelâ€™s Labels) is new to the Lair this year.
â€śWith the recent naming of Tonia Jahshan as Canadian Businessâ€™ Top Female Entrepreneur, and Julie Ellis coming from Mabelâ€™s Labels who were just acquired for $12M, we have Hamiltonâ€™s female entrepreneurs incredibly well represented. Women entrepreneurs are a fast-growing segment in Canadaâ€™s economy and weâ€™re thrilled to be representing that with this yearâ€™s panel,â€ť says David Carter, Executive Director at Innovation Factory.
Dr. Nick Bontis, award-winning business professor at McMaster University, will also return as the event emcee. â€śIt says a lot about this event and what if offers the entrepreneur ecosystem that we have so many of Hamiltonâ€™s key business figures coming back to participate, year after year, â€ś adds Carter.
Applications for the competition closed April 29. The 35 companies who applied are waiting to hear whether or not they made it through two tough rounds of business plan judging to be part of the top 15 start-ups who will go through summer training. The first 15 finalists will be announced during the first week of June. In August, five more companies will be eliminated and 10 finalists will win the opportunity to pitch to the Lions for the chance to take home over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizing.
Winners will be revealed at the September 29 gala event at Carmenâ€™s Banquet Centre. Tickets go on sale in mid-July â€“ check backÂ for details!