On Thursday, February 18, 2021, the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Alumni Association, hosted its third Archangel’s Den Alumni Entrepreneur Contest - virtually. SMCS community members, including alumni, parents, students, prospective families, and friends watched the event streamed through the school’s YouTube channel.
“The Archangel's Den provides an opportunity for alumni mentorship to flourish,” says Kimberley Bailey, SMCS Director of Advancement. “Whether it’s a young alumnus with an entrepreneurial spirit, an experienced entrepreneur willing to teach younger alumni, or an industry expert, the event provides a backdrop for alumni to give back by supporting the next generation with advice, new skill sets, polishing presentation skills, or funding."
"Our goal through Advancement and Alumni Affairs is to coordinate alumni relations and build lifelong relationships,” she says. “The Archangel's Den not only strengthens a bond with the school, but with fellow alumni beyond their graduation class."
This year, young alumni entrepreneurs were challenged to submit proposals that will have a positive impact on the world. A diverse and experienced panel of judges had their work cut out right from the start in choosing only five business proposals to continue to the mentorship stage of the contest.
New to the Archangel’s Den was Riley Stefan, Grade 12 SMCS student, who was the event’s host. Stefan worked with Brandon Sousa ’07, current Archangel’s Den pitch mentor, on the creation and delivery of his script, along with valuable pointers for filming his segment all on his own.
The finalists were invited to present individually to the judges over Zoom. Following each presentation, the judges asked challenging questions as part of the evaluation process. Following the judges’ deliberation, the following three winners were announced:
First place and the cash prize of $10,000 was awarded to Hanson Wong ’12 and Mohesan Sreekuladevan, co-founders of Plastic Flux. Their presentation focused on producing elegant furniture from recycled plastic while providing full transparency on how much plastic will be diverted away from landfills.
“The next step for the company is to purchase the commercial equipment we had mentioned in the pitch. Once we have the machines, we can proceed with optimizing the building process with the new commercial equipment and exploring methods to further customize products for our consumers. All of this will occur as we simultaneously build our plastic collection network” Wong reflects after the event. “Overall, the contest was a phenomenal experience. The guidance and questions posed by the mentors and judges had really accelerated our growth as a company. The contest had pushed our boundaries and presented new insights we would not have had otherwise. The advice we would offer to other young alumni entrepreneurs is don't be afraid to try. If you fail, learn from it and iterate quickly. If you realize you need help, ask."
Erik Babinski ’13 and Mandy Chan, co-founders of Andi Bamby took second place and won $3,500 with their idea to offer advertising and web-based content creation for small businesses and artists.
“The overall experience was positive. Obviously, it was our goal to win the top prize, but despite missing that goal we've gained valuable experiences and connections as a result of the competition,” says Babinski.
He shares the following advice to his fellow alumni entrepreneurs, “Work on creating a business you are passionate about and seek the opinions of others to ensure you are headed in the right direction.”
Third place and the winners of $1,500 are Luca Bernardini ’20 and Tyson Lowe ’20, co-founders of Lucidity, a mental health programme designed to evaluate, monitor, and improve the mental health of student-athletes.
“We will be using the funds to develop the SMS service, improve the website, and database. We are hoping to have a trial run in September of 2021 and bring Lucidity to market in September of 2022,” Lowe says once hearing of their success. “The Archangel's Den was a fantastic opportunity for both ourselves and Lucidity. In addition to the startup funds we received, the progress we made on the project was instrumental to Lucidity, and we could not be happier. We are grateful for the learning opportunity and look forward to working with the mentors. A valuable lesson we learned was to take criticism positively. It is normal to be protective of your business; however, it is essential to take advice from others. Once we were able to implement recommendations, we instantly saw improvements.”
Congratulations to all of the finalists. SMCS looks forward to following their promising young careers as entrepreneurs.
The Alumni Association is grateful for the many members of the SMCS community who stepped forward during difficult times to make this event a success. Special recognition and appreciation go out to event sponsors, Crunch Media Branding & Communications Inc. and Lyn Group.
Watch the recorded presentation: