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One of the City’s leading entrepreneur competitions is back! The Digital Media and Gaming Incubator is proud to launch the fifth IT’S A START Pitch Competition at Digifest 2017. Is your business ready to soar? Are you the entrepreneur who will rise to the top? You have 5 minutes to convince us … ready, set, go!


Thank you for your submissions! Applications are now closed. The IT’S A START Pitch Competition finalists will present at Digifest 2017 on Friday, April 28th.



We’re pleased to announce the 2017 IT’S A START winners:

1st place winner is Flashfood
2nd place winner is Genecis
3rd place winner is Jauntin
People’s choice winner Helpwear

This year’s participants were selected from a hundred applicants across the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Asia.  Thirty start-ups were selected to attend a one-day Creative Camp event on March 4, where they met with advisors to help improve their business ideas and practice their pitches.  On March 31, the ten finalists advancing to the final pitch competition were announced!


New this year—the top two Canadian start-ups who win the IT’S A START Pitch Competition will have the opportunity to attend the international Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference 2017(OTEC) in Beijing, China. This will be the first time that Canadian start-ups will be represented at the event!

OTEC will be bringing together over 1,000 start-ups from 10 countries. The top 2 start-ups from the IT’S A START Pitch Competition will be invited to attend OTEC in Beijing for 4 days, join a start-up tour in China, get wide media coverage, meet with VC or local partners and more. The first place IT’S A START winner will be given the opportunity to pitch for the $1M RMB (approx. CDN $200K) prize.

Key Dates

Final IT’S A START Pitch Competition:

Friday, April 28, 2017 (3 pm – 6 pm) at Corus Quay, 25 Dockside Drive, Toronto, Canada

A representative from each start-up will have 5 minutes to pitch their business idea + 2 minutes for Q&A.  Start-ups will be assessed by the IT’S A START judges on originality, clarity of presentation, creativity and design, feasibility, market readiness, user friendliness and probability of success.

Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC):

August 18-19, 2017, Beijing, China

Global Final competition of 5th OTEC will be held on August 19th (flight and accommodation covered for top two IT’S A START winners).



Besify’s goal is to cover cities with free and accessible Wi-Fi networks using purpose-built outdoor wireless access points.
The goal of Flashfood is to connect conscious shoppers with heavily discounted surplus food across vendors, in an effort to reduce food waste, hunger and Greenhouse Gas Emissions.
Genecis recovers the tremendous value lost from food waste by up-cycling it into products of value, like biodegradable plastics.

GoWrench Auto brings auto repairs and more right to your door.
HeartWatch is a device that allows for 24/7 at-home heart monitoring embedded with an emergency contact systems for the preventative of heart related illness.
HRX is the public market for race horse ownership – it connects fractional share sellers of racehorses with buyers.

Jauntin is an on-demand insurance platform that makes obtaining travel insurance quick and easy.
StoryStylus is a simplified publishing platform aimed at helping authors enter the video game market.
Tricolops has created state-of-the-art 3D measurement scanners that can cut costs and save money for businesses, mail couriers, and their clients.

Views is a mobile platform that allows viewers to discover and experience house searches though video.

Final Presentation Pitch Competition Rules


Only one individual from the team can deliver the pitch at Digifest 2017. They will have five minutes to present their business proposal. Each contestant will have two minutes to respond to judges’ Q & A, directly following their pitch. PowerPoint/PDF presentations are recommended for this presentation.

What are the prizes?


Prizes include up to $10,000 total in cash, working space in the Digital Media and Gaming Incubator at George Brown College, mentorship, Digifest 2017 festival passes and more.

Competition criteria

We’re looking for creative, cutting-edge projects driven by conscientious and dedicated individuals. Do you have an original idea that can improve the way we live, work and play? Have you developed an application or technology that will address everyday problems or social needs? Does your project connect people and networks, ultimately enabling us to live better lives?

Categories include mobile apps, wearables, social innovation, gaming, interactive or other digital design initiatives.

Eligibility requirements
Project entries or ideas must be the original work of the applicant(s) and the business must be registered 3 years or less.

Applicant(s) who have submitted to IT’S A START pitch competition in the past and have not qualified as a finalist can re-submit a proposal, however, you must be able to demonstrate how the project or idea has changed.

What projects are NOT eligible?
Submissions that have won in previous IT’S A START pitch competitions.

No freelance or self contracted businesses

Who can enter?
Start-up companies
Students or recent graduates

NB: George Brown College students/graduates/faculty are eligible to participate in the competition, however, you must disclose this information in your application.

Who is on the IT'S A START panel of judges?

Eaton Donald, Tri-D Technologies

Luigi Ferrara, George Brown College

Ajay Gopal, Business Development Bank of Canada IT Venture Fund

Vikas Jain, Enterprise Toronto

Daniel Kube, Angel One

Tanya Lahiri, Royal Bank of Canada

Grant Larsen, Digital ECP Inc.

What are the selection criteria?
The jurors will be looking for candidates to showcase their great business ideas, their business expertise as well as their passion to succeed.

The jurors will use the following criteria to determine the finalists for the competition:


Has this idea been presented this way before? How does your idea compare to existing projects/ideas that address similar issues?


Is there a demand for your idea? Why would someone buy it?

Market Readiness

How much more development is needed?

User Friendly

How easy is it to use?

Creativity & Design

How is the project executed? Is the overall design clear and effective?


How realistic is your plan to execute this project? Does your budget take into consideration the logistics, production, technical requirements and other expenditures?

Probability of Success

With the right investment and support, could this idea become a successful business?

Clarity of Presentation

Is your presentation clear and concise? Does your use of audio/visual support material add to your story?



IT’S A START is an exciting and interactive pitch competition taking place at Digifest 2017. Pitch your business, convince the judges of its value, and wow the crowd in 5 minutes, and you will have the chance to meet with investors, win thousands in cash, incubation space, and mentorship.


We provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the opportunity to:

Compete against innovative entrepreneurs from across the GTA

Refine your business plan and receive coaching during Creative Camp weekend

Pitch your business proposal to a panel of esteemed judges

Earn prizes including cash, office space at George Brown College’s Digital Media and Gaming Incubator, mentorship and more!

We are looking for the most innovative ideas from creative professionals, budding entrepreneurs, new startups, students or recent graduates who have special projects that they want to take to the next level. There is no fee to apply for this competition.

The IT’S A START 2016 Winner, Arylla

Success Stories


Arylla has the ability to individually tag every item in a batch with its own unique optical fingerprint.  This allows for an incredible level of security throughout the supply chain, making batch replication virtually impossible.


Ride sharing application changing the way people meet and move worldwide by providing reliable, affordable mobility access for all.


Tranqool connects patients and therapists through a safe, secure and reliable online platform making it easier and more convienient.


A network of robotic kiosks that allow customers to create their own loose-leaf tea blend, which they can tweak to perfection with the touch of a button.


The social drone that is interactive and made safe for large event settings.


Suncayr is making sun safety simplified with a color changing marker that tells you when to re-apply sunscreen.

exVivo Labs

A non-invasive allergy testing skin patch, which will make allergy testing safe, simple, and clean.


Peekapak took the grand prize at Digifest 2014. Peekapak is a monthly subscription pack for kids ages 3 to 7, delivered to a family’s home each month.  Each pack contains an illustrated storybook that features the Peekapak Pals, a cast of recurring characters who guide children through interactive adventures, engaging crafts with all the required materials and educational tidbits.

Think Dirty

Think Dirty took home the grand prize at Digifest 2012. Think Dirty is a mobile-first, social commerce platform that connects ingredient-conscious beauty shoppers to natural beauty brands. Our platform will engage both consumers and brands to make healthier and socially responsible choices when it comes to ingredient safety, health and the environment.



The first IT’S A START Pitch Competition was held in Monza, Italy organized by Regione Lombardia, Provincia Monza Brianza and Camera di Commercio di Monza in June 2012. The first Canadian IT’S A START pitch competition premiered at Digifest 2012 on October 20, and the most recent competition took place at Digifest 2016 on April 29.