Are you sitting on a business idea you believe has serious potential? Or are you perhaps tired of watching Dragons’ Den from your couch and are thirsting for some real-life entrepreneurial entertainment? If you nodded yes to any of these questions, then you might consider jotting down your business proposal. Created with the motivation of providing startups at UTM the support they require, the ICUBE team speaks to The Medium about their plans for the year.

Described as “a great way to showcase teams to investors and organizations that can propel start-ups forward,” on Thursday, January 18th, ICUBE will be hosting their second annual pitch competition for start-up businesses. PITCH18 will feature five different groups competing for a total of $13,000 that will be divided among the top three contestants. These groups will have the opportunity to present their business ideas before a panel of four judges comprised of entrepreneurs, investors, and experts in the field of business. Each group will have four minutes to make their pitch in front of the judges and an open audience. The event will be hosted in the Blind Duck Pub from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event also hopes to be a networking opportunity for those interested in business and for those who are unfamiliar with the industry alike.

Since its launch in February of 2015, ICUBE UTM has offered mentorship programs, workshops, and financial opportunities for students and community members hoping to turn an idea into a business. As a division of the Institute of Management and Innovation, ICUBE functions as an “acceleration incubator,” which, as described to The Medium by its operations coordinator, Taylor Walker, is “just a complicated way of saying we support startups.” At the beginning of every school year, applications open, but as noted by program lead Sam Dumcum, only five of these teams are chosen to compete in the competition. This year 68 teams applied, which is significantly greater than previous years. Dumcum explained the process of support given to these applicants through a six-part program that includes determining a market for the potential product, as well as establishing a specific business plan. ICUBE offers these startups working space, expert speaker sessions, and connections to external support and resources.

ICUBE has seen much progress over the years in supporting students and faculty at U of T, including teams like Just Vertical, whose founders have recently installed a wall-mounted hydroponic farm system in OPH, which grows vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Although these founders are U of T students, opportunities are open to all community members.

While sitting in with Dumcum and Walker, The Medium had the opportunity to speak with Dorian Wilson of Nise Tech. Nise Tech, a start-up that came in third place at last year’s pitch competition, focuses on smart cooking devices and since launching in July, their revenue has reached an astonishing $420,000, greatly surpassing their original goal of $35,000. Wilson insisted that “if we didn’t have Sam [Dumcum’s] help, it would’ve taken us much longer.”

ICUBE continues to expand and has recently launched research opportunity programs in connection with professors at UTM, as well as workshops associated with various CCIT, management, computer science, and chemistry classes. The ICUBE team looks forward to the PITCH18 competition.