KRIC event features one-minute business pitches

Promising local technology start-ups put forward their best pitches at the Royal Alexandra Hall.

Promising local technology start-ups put forward their best pitches in front of the province’s Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Wednesday at the Royal Alexandra Hall.

The start-ups had only one minute to pitch their company or business idea to Minister Andrew Wilkinson and other judges, as part of a Kootenay Rockies Innovation Council (KRIC) event.

KRIC is a non-profit which provides programs and events targeted at the science, technology and innovation business community.

With a dinner for two on the line, the tech-related businesses ranged from land map searches to an English-as-second-language program for babies in places like China.

Paul von Wittgenstein presented his company Baby World Language which is registered in B.C. and Alberta. He said he’s spent a good part of the past 15 years in China.

“We have a business that helps new mothers in non-English speaking countries to become their baby’s first English language teacher in the home,” he said.

He said they have the world’s first in-womb English language learning system.

Michael Keefer said his company, Keefer Ecological Services, brings land back to a green state following industrial disturbances.

“There’s a great need with rampant development all around the world, growing human population, to bring back the land to a pre-disturbed condition that offers the values that we need in the land,” Keefer said.

James Swansburg’s company Landmax creates visual searches of land maps.

“We are doing what Google did with text based search,” he said, adding that this was for mapping.

Chris Gallagher, from Terralogic Exploration who talked about the standardized methodology they created that reduces the sampling errors when using a portable material analyzer.

Bonnie Castle-Dixon talked about Tipi Mountain Native Plants Ltd’s innovative technology for organizing seed information, germination rates and application protocols for all their species.

Jana Skerlak talked about her company Bullet Point Marketing and her use of up-to-date forms of online marketing and design.

The winner was Steve Fisher, from Golden Environmental Matting services, who introduced himself to the minister’s table with a bottle resembling scotch that had been rebranded with his company’s logos.

However any charges of bribery were quickly allayed with the reason for the three judges’ decision.

Wilkinson said that Fisher was indeed the only presenter that had brought a prop – a piece of wooden mat from his company, which has developed an accurate system for matting.

Wilkinson said the other important parts of the pitch were having a good description of the product or service, as well as showing a need, a market and talking about your unique advantage compared to the competition.

The event was a part of the BC Venture Acceleration program. In the East Kootenay that program is delivered through the Kootenay Rockies Innovation Council. The program is designed to guide, coach and grow ambitious early-stage technology entrepreneurs and help their technology ventures.

Wilkinson said the tech sector has a sizeable impact on the economy.

He said there is a tendency in this province to think that exports come in large ships or on the railroad. “But that’s actually not that accurate anymore because what we do goes out by wire or invisibly and is still a huge driver and huge employer,” said Wilkinson.

He noted that 96 per cent of the businesses in the province fall into the small business category.