Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce the Ignite Durham Young Entrepreneur Winner National ProStaff and the General Entrepreneur Winner Tiko 3D, who have taken the top prize of $25,000 each. The announcement was made on Thursday November 27th, 2014 at the Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards in Whitby, Ontario.
National ProStaff (“NPS”), the Young Entrepreneur winner, is a social commerce platform which connects consumers with brand experts. Over the past 3 years, NPS has grown to become the premier fishing website and app for anglers all across Canada. Brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all of their brand ambassadors in one place while consumers gain a great resource to make smarter buying decisions. For more information on NPS, visit www.nationalprostaff.com.
“Winning the ignite competition is an amazing honour when you consider how great our competition was this year,” says Dan Miguel, CEO of National Prostaff. “This award now offers our company a great opportunity to grow and scale that much faster. Not only will we use the money to expand our business into the US market and other industries, but this prestigious title alone will certainly give us the credibility we need to attract future investment. We’re so excited to begin working with the great people at Spark Centre, as their knowledge and resources are sure to help National ProStaff succeed.”
Tiko 3D is a cutting-edge startup that aims to bring new, affordable 3D printers to everyone. They are a passionate team of innovators who develop new technologies that make 3D printers more accessible and more capable. Together, they hope to bring this amazing technology into the hands of students and entrepreneurs, empowering them to develop the products and technologies of tomorrow.
“Winning Ignite is a huge door opener. There are so many amazing things we wanted to do before releasing the product, and the $25,000 will allow us to keep pushing the limits of what’s possible while refining what we’ve already made.” says Matt Gajkowski, CEO of Tiko3D. “Even more valuable is the support from the Spark Centre and their team of startup experts. With their guidance and eagerness to help, we know we’re on a path to success!”
Now in its second year, Spark Innovation Centre’s Ignite Competition saw an incredible amount of engagement in the local entrepreneur community. Focusing this year only on innovative technology or invention based ventures, the centre accepted over 65 applications – nearly double the number in that category last year.
“I was so impressed with the level of competition at Ignite this year. I applaud all those who participated for their courage and dedication,” said Dennis Croft, Executive Director of Spark Centre. “Congratulations to National ProStaff and Tiko3D, two innovative companies who truly personify the entrepreneurial spirit in Durham Region. Spark Centre is looking forward to working closely with both of these hardworking companies and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.”
The Ignite competition was an extensive journey for the finalists which included a 60 second pitch, a three minute pitch, and a 30 minute boardroom presentation in front of the Ignite Power Panel before the two winners were chosen. This year saw the inclusion of a new Student Entrepreneur Category where Turnkey Aquaponics, a startup founded by two University of Ontario Institute of Technology students was announced as the winner and presented with the $5,000 prize earlier on in the journey.
Along with the $25,000 prize, these two companies will now take part in Spark Centre’s upcoming Thrive Program. Thrive will offer a hybrid of incubation and acceleration services including co-location in Spark Centre’s The Loft offices in Durham Region with other local startups, and significant advisory and business support services to achieve a faster market entry.
Spark Centre’s Manager of Business Acceleration Services, Braden Kemp is leading the Thrive Incubator Program. “Thrive is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs in Durham Region to access critical support and resources that are rarely found outside well-known startup ecosystems like Toronto, Waterloo, Silicon Valley, or New York,” says Kemp. “It will allow Spark and our partners to focus significant efforts on up to ten rapidly scale-able businesses, bringing incredible technologies to market right here in Durham Region.”
Thrive will be accepting applications to be included in the program. A full assessment will be completed and entry will be based on various criteria. Applications to enter the Thrive program will be open soon at www.sparkcentre.org.