Partnering with Western University's Western Environmental Business (WEB), Pitch for the Planet is a business pitch competition aimed at combating climate change and promoting innovative solutions that bridge the gap between the business world and conservation.
Western Environmental Business (WEB) is Western University’s primary business club that focuses on environmental sustainability in the social and private sector. WEB’s first event of the year was funded by Ocean Bridge. It was called PITCH FOR THE PLANET, and pitch competition for venture funding. Student either registered alone of it teams of 2-5 students who attend Western or another university. The event had four judges who are industry experts. The competition had students coming up with a business idea that had an Environmental component to it, or they were able to take an already existing business and add a way to make it more environmentally sustainable. On pitch day, student were given 5 minutes to pitch their idea, followed by a 5 minute Q&A period. Open ceremonies for the event were on November 15th, followed by a workshop on November 18th, and finally the pitch took place on November 20th, 11:30 to 2:30.
The event had eight teams register, 21 people total. For the opening ceremonies we went over the competition prompt that the teams were required to answer. We announced the teams, and answered any questions the participants had. For the second workshop two days before pitch day, we had the Western Entrepreneurship Centre present to the participants on how to do an effective pitch. Following the workshops we did a brief Q&A with the participants with any last minute questions that had before the big day. Pitch day went smoothly with all of our teams pitching to our judges. The judges were given a rubric to grade all of the teams and provide feedback. The winning team members all received $100 each as a prize. The runner up received $75 each. We also provided our judges with a $50 honorarium to that them for their time. WEB is now planning an in-person event during winter of 2021.
Teams learned about how the worlds of Business and Environmental sustainability intersect through out Pitch Competition and workshops. We presented with Ocean Bridge program to our participants, so hopefully some of them apply in future years. Participants were also allowed to include solutions to ocean conservation in their pitch. Some teams chose to focus on companies/ alternatives that would help the ocean through reducing plastic etc.
What was your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge I faced was marketing the event. Initially, registration was slow. However, to get more people to register, WEB teamed up with some of the other student clubs on campus. We also teamed up with the entrepreneurship centre at Western to help promote the competition. Using our network and building up our network to promote the event was an effective method to increase the number of students who entered the competition.
What was your most valuable takeaway?
The most valuable takeaway was seeing how interested student are in learning about how the private sector can become most sustainable. Business has predominantly been viewed as a discipline that focuses primarily on profit over the planet. This project demonstrated how business students, who are the countries future business leaders are taking a people and environment first approach, and that they are not willing to compromise their values for profit. The event shows where the future of Canada’s business sector is headed.