Propelling start-ups towards success

Annual JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition lifts off again

Mount Royal’s premier match-up of dueling entrepreneurs was held virtually on April 12, when viewers were able to watch the annual JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition via the Mount Royal YouTube page. Top students pitched their ventures to a panel of experienced judges and a supportive audience for their share of more than $70,000 in cash and services.

Hosted by Mount Royal’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE), the JMH LaunchPad Pitch Competition is the IIE’s most prominent event of the year. With a Dragons’ Den-type format, the competition brings together eager students, faculty, community members and investors interested in hearing about the next great idea. Teams were given five minutes to pitch, followed by questions from the judges, which included several successful entrepreneurs with ties to MRU.

The panel of esteemed judges included Paul Shumlich, founder of Deepwater Farms and a LaunchPad alumnus; Chris Kneeland, co-founder of Cult Collective, The Gathering and; and Kim Orlesky, founder and CEO of KO Advantage Group and Sales Unicorn.

This year's event was especially important to the students competing during uncertain times.

“We've all faced challenges this year, but students have been hit particularly hard with online learning and high unemployment. I am so impressed by those who decided to take matters into their own hands and start a company,” says Ray DePaul, director of the IIE.

Before becoming finalists and earning their way into the competition, the five participants worked hand-in-hand with a collection of seasoned entrepreneurs to develop their value proposition. They discovered how to effectively pitch their idea and learned from some of the brightest business-making minds in Calgary.

“Along with celebrating and supporting the student founders pitching, LaunchPad is a celebration of this robust community and an opportunity for dear friends and mentors to come together. In 2020, due to the proximity of the event to the initial lockdown, we did not hold a public LaunchPad event, so it has been two years since we all came together in this way," says Emily Knight, entrepreneur development officer and former LaunchPad contestant.

JMH LaunchPad is generously supported by JMH & Co, LaBarge Weinstein LLP and Grant Designs.

The fabulous 2021 LaunchPad finalists 

Emily Robitaille and Connor Pupp.

Connor Pupp, left, and Emily Robitaille of Swim by Em.

Swim by Em is an ethical swimwear line that fosters comfort without sacrificing style. Founded by Emily Robitaille and Connor Pupp, Swim by Em diverts unused commercial fabric from landfills to create limited-edition garments that cater to increasing body confidence.

Received: $10,000 JMH Award, $15,000 Grant Design


Jake McLellan

Jake McLellan of Bug Broz.

Jake McLellan is the founder of Bug Broz, a licensed pest control company aimed at making your backyard more safe. Bug Broz eliminates pests that damage property and that carry various diseases using safe and eco-friendly methods.

Received: $10,000 JMH Award


Aarondeep Maan

Aarondeep Maan of Evergreen Lights.

Aarondeep Maan is the founder of Evergreen Lights, a custom outdoor LED Lighting company. Evergreen Lights offers permanent, cloud-enabled lighting solutions that provide homeowners control of millions of colours and animations year-round.

Received: $10,000 JMH Award


Ben Pearman

Ben Pearman of Chinook Aerosports.

Chinook Aerosports is bringing innovation to the rapidly growing world of disc golf. Founded by Ben Pearman, Chinook Aerosports builds technology that lets you track your athletic progress and helps you find your disk when it gets lost (which it inevitably will).

Received: $10,000 JMH Award, $15,000 LaBarge Weinstein, $4,000 LaunchPad Alumni Award


Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee of Moov.

Moov is out to change the way the junk removal industry operates. By utilizing contract drivers with their own vehicles, founder Kevin Lee is finally making junk removal a painless process.


Participants of LaunchPad have joined Calgary's fastest growing companies and also built non-profits that make our city a better place. One sold their company for $35 million, another got into a bidding war on Dragons’ Den. LaunchPad culminates each year with one of the largest and respected entrepreneur showcases in the city.

Read about how a community of LaunchPad alumni have come together to support the competition this year.

April 8, 2021 — Jonathan Anderson

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