ESTEVAN — Do you have an innovative idea in mind, but don't have the budget to get it going? That might change soon.
The Southeast Techhub is bringing its first pitch competition to Estevan.
The competition is slated to take place in November. The winner will be provided with $10,000-$20,000 in seed money and free use of Techhub space to start a new, technology-based business in Estevan.
The idea is that the participants will need to come up with their tech or innovation start-up, which they plan to develop in Estevan, and they will need to pitch their business idea to judges.
"It's similar to what you see on Dragon's Den … but it will be a more humane version," explained Southeast Techhub executive director Gord More.
"We're not here to make drama for TV. We're here to help people start their business. When we ask questions, it will be hopefully questions that will make the person think about how they can improve their business; they won't be a drill. But standing up in front of a group of people with your presentation for 15 minutes is what it will look like physically."
He noted that "innovation has no boundaries", and they hope to see any ideas pitched from apps, to some know-how that may help local businesses or industries, to video games, to anything else tech-based.
"It is for anything in the world, anything that we can do better. It's totally open. So, it can be someone in the oilfield, trying to find a better way to do something there. A farmer trying to do something better on the farm, it can be someone in the city wanting to do a tourism app. It could be a youth wanting to create a new video game. It's open to all," More said.
More will become one of the judges. Joining him, tentatively, will be Southeast College CEO Dr. Vicky Roy, several people with Innovation Saskatchewan and a couple of other people. Once all participants are done their pitch, the judges will break and decide who the winner is.
"We will judge the potential base of the idea, how much of a market there is for their idea, and how strong and deep their business plan is," More explained.
The competition is open to all Saskatchewan residents over the age of 18. But they will have to be physically present for the competition itself in November. And if they were to win, they will need to move to Estevan at least for some time to start their company here. They would need to acquire their business license with the city, and they will have to be based in Estevan to get the seed money, which will be trickle-funded to them over time.
"The goal here is to have real technology innovation start-ups in Estevan," More explained.
"We also expect that because of the size of the seed pot, we'll get other businesses, who will see what we've created for both physical and cultural space for technology and innovation in Saskatchewan and will want to set up here."
Starting in September, Southeast Techhub will be providing free workshops to competition participants to help them develop and strengthen their ideas. Workshops will be open to anyone willing to participate.
"Workshops will focus on how to program in English. And what that means is, if you don't know how to code, totally fine … If you've never done much on a computer, you've never programmed much, we'll train you how you can take your innovative idea, your technology-based idea, and write a technical scope document, that's programming in English, such that you can take that document and give it to another person who can program and they understand what you're trying to do. And they will also understand what they need to do. That's the bridging document," More explained.
"And then we'll also teach them how to do a proper business plan with a technology, innovation bent to it."
The Techhub currently has one tentative sponsor, and they are seeking more people and businesses to join them as sponsors for the project.
"We're looking for local people and local businesses who want to support creating a physical space and a cultural space for technology and innovation businesses in Estevan and to become a sponsor of the pitch competition," More said.
For more information, people can call More at 306-634-2724.