Our Inaugural Event: Sustainability Pitch Competition

After half a year of planning and preparing for Pitch It Green's inaugural event, it's finally over. Despite wrapping up an event that took so much of my blood, sweat, and tears, I learned a lot, and I'm so excited to share my take-aways with you all!

Our event first started with a keynote from Bob Willard, the author of six books and an award winner of countless Clean50 and "Best for the World" B Corp awards for his work on sustainability. Bob's talk was titled 'The Business Case for a Green Business' where he championed the benefits of green buildings, and how there are numerous advantages most notably and increase in worker's productivity. The biggest highlight from his talk, was that in order to make a business case, we need to convince a company's CFO to make changes. In order to do so, we must speak the CFO's language - numbers. We oftentimes come up with many reasons as to why we should shift to going green, but if it doesn't financially make sense, changes won't happen.

Next, there was a pitching workshop led by Vito Giovannetti, a tech entrepreneur with an MBA and several start ups under his belt. The workshop was interactive, with Giovannetti helping each group address their new-product development process. One of the key take-aways from his workshop was that entrepreneurs need to be true to who they are. They need to have their own style, and not fake their way to the top. This really stood out to me, since his workshop was showcased with his own style. Giovannetti didn't use technical language, and it had a laid back with a hot mug of coffee vibe.

Before our presentations, we got to hear from some inspiring ecopreneurs who served as our judges and mentors:

Brittany Charlton, founder of Ohh Foods!, a snack company that creates munchies free from the top 8 allergens in Canada and made with local ingredients. Pitch It Green actually featured Brittany and her chewy coconut brownie munchies in our Ecopreneur Boxes. I was addicted to them!

Vasiliki Belegrinis, founder of Reheart, a fashion marketplace for women to list, discover, and rent clothing from stylish closets across Canada. What's also super awesome with Vasiliki is that she co-founded Empower a social enterprise that provides internet access to remote and underserved communities. The company was selected as a top 6 global finalist in the Hult Prize $1 Million Challenge. Through this experience, she has been acknowledged by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen. How cool!

Maria Velve is a makeup artist, green beauty expert and educator on a mission to connect women with green, effective beauty products that are made right here in Canada. Velve achieves this through consultations, makeup lessons and make-up applications. She’s also created a carefully-curated online shop where her clients can find the Canadian products that she has tested, researched and recommends. I had the pleasure of meeting Velve over coffee in Downtown Toronto. We discussed my former skincare line, Naturally Be-Youthiful. Fun fact - she has a dictionary of skincare ingredients at home - she is truly an expert in green beauty!

Simon Guan is the Sustainability Programs Manager at General Motors. He is passionate about the decarbonization of the automotive industry, the pursuit of sustainability in the workplace, community, and home, the emergence of renewable energy, the fostering of greentech, and the disruption of centralized fossil fuel intensive energy infrastructure.

Marcia Ross is a B2B content creator and marketing strategist with Sharpe & Blunt and author of Why Your Writing Sucks: Business Writing for the Digital Age.

Drasko Saban is the founder of Espirita Tea Company and former co-owner of the Bampot Bohemian House of Tea & Board Games in Toronto.

After our judges and mentors introduced themselves, the pitching began!

We heard from 4 teams including The Oddity Co., Project Vital, Strawbo and Bloom Aid.

Our first place winners were from The Oddity Co. and second place went to Bloom Aid. You can watch the pitches on our Youtube Channel. The first place winners won 10 hours of pro bono business coaching from Christopher Grafos, Chief Academic Transition Strategist at Bridges EDU.

Pitch It Green's first event was an absolute success, and we couldn't have done it without the help of our judges, mentors and sponsors. Special thanks to TakingITGlobal, Chantiers jeunesse, Connecting the Dots, YSpace Markham, and Bridges EDU for their gold sponsorship.

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