Pitch With a Twist 2024 – The Recap

On March 6, 2024, ICUBE celebrated International Women’s Month through our sixth annual Pitch With a Twist competition, featuring Catherine Addai as keynote speaker! Pitch With a Twist promoted women-led startups and their stories by featuring a panel of women-identifying judges and showcasing six startups run by women-identifying entrepreneurs. The event showcased both innovative business ideas and early-stage startups, with $10,000 in cash prizes up for grabs!

Catherine Addai,  a renowned entrepreneur and founder of Kaela Kay, started the evening strong with a talk about the importance of authenticity, confidence, and big dreams in any entrepreneur’s journey – highlighting her younger self’s goals of becoming the biggest fashion designer in the world.

“Empowered women empower women,” remarked Ms. Addai, highlighting the importance of supporting one another along the entrepreneurial journey. Indeed, Ms. Addai shared many of the downsides of the entrepreneurial lifestyle that she experienced, ranging from impostor syndrome to banks rejecting her. However, she also emphasized the importance of positive connections and maintaining closeness with family and friends, citing her husband as a huge source of support.

Throughout her presentation, Ms. Addai showcased many of her fashion designs in a wide variety of bright colors. She also highlighted how to connect with her, through Instagram (@thecatherineaddai) and on LinkedIn, inviting attendees to engage with her journey and learn from her experiences.

Building on the momentum of Ms. Addai’s talk, the event transitioned into its pitching events, reflecting the entrepreneurial spirit she had just exemplified! ICUBE organized the evening into two segments, each catering to different stages of entrepreneurial growth: early-stage and late-stage.

The first presenter in the early-stage bracket was Mariam Oyinloye, showcasing the startup Abimbola. Abimbola is an environmentally-conscious menstrual health company, creating reusable pads. Their startup provides pads to girls impacted by poverty with the goal of destigmatizing menstruation, and the reusable nature of their products means they have a smaller impact on the environment!

Next up was Katrina Shrum’s Equity Pulse, who created a software solution to help employers submit equity reports under the Federal Pay Equity Act. Equity Pulse will help over five hundred public and private sector employers make these submissions, while also allowing employers to determine how inclusive their workplaces are.

The final startup in the early stage bracket was Diana Virgovicova’s Xatoms, presented by Shirley Zhong. Xatoms uses an AI- and quantum chemistry-powered approach to discover photocatalytic molecules for water purification. They plan to prototype and commercialize these new molecules for the fight against water pollution!

The later-stage pitches began with UofT alumni Vishar Yaghoubian’s UCorp, highlighting Toothpod, their latest innovation. Toothpod is a chewable product that serves as a substitute for toothpaste that can be used anywhere, anytime. Toothpod has seen the support of several dental companies to launch the product.

The second pitch showcased Sahar Mashid’s BeetaBiomed, and their main product QolorEx. QolorEx is a fully automated RT-qPCR machine that can test for infectious diseases. Their machine utilizes spitting instead of swabbing, takes thirteen minutes to generate a result, and costs less than 20$ per test.

The final pitch of the later-stage bracket and the night highlighted Ankita Sharma’s Philer, presented by Namrata Kadam. Philer is an SaaS platform that streamlines Canada’s home buying processes by using AI to confirm client identities and personal information before transactions are made. Their services include support in buying home insurance, utility updates, mortgage comparisons, and more.

After the conclusion of the pitches, it was time to award the winners! The first award was Pitch With a Twist’s People’s Choice award, with the winner chosen by the attending guests. Xatoms cinched the PC award for the early-stage bracket, with UCorp winning for the later-stage bracket.

Finally, the panel of judges honoured the winners or Pitch with a Twist! Second place awards for the early-stage and later-stage brackets went to Equity Pulse and Philer, respectively. The two startups that took home the grand first-place prize were Xatoms and UCorp – the second win of the night for both.

A huge congratulations to all the competitors and winners, and special thanks to Catherine Addai for her keynote speech.

We’re very excited for next year’s Pitch with a Twist, and we sure you are too! In the meantime, keep an eye on our Events page at https://icubeutm.ca/events/ for other opportunities to nurture your ideas with ICUBE. Happy International Women’s Month!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Indigenous business training program created by RedBird Circle Inc. in partnership with UofT Libraries, ICUBE UTM and The Bridge at UTSC

An experiential learning program that follows the school 3 semesters schedule, for anyone with a great idea who wants to make it happen.

A boutique-style remote program to support your business development and help you grow through one-on-one support. This program is open all year.

A student-led creative studio with intends to serve the prototyping and design needs of our ventures and small businesses in our community.

This 2-day retreat is designed to help you reflect on your journey, what drives you, all the hats you wear and what is next for you and your social enterprise.