By Stacey Escott, Hamilton Spectator
Instead of being in a dragon’s den or lion’s lair, Halton high school students found themselves in a Python’s Pit, pitching business ideas to a panel of revered business moguls.
It was the second time the rookie entrepreneurs of all ages shared new product and business ideas with the Pythons, in search of cash money and investment capitol — $125,000 was up for grabs in the Open division, and students could snag up to $5,000.
Corpus Christi Catholic Secondary School student Mark Suan took the top prize of $2,500 at Saturday’s event at the Ron Joyce Centre in Burlington. He was the first student in two years of the competition to be offered additional support from the Pythons for his Cyclo-charger, a portable, affordable cellphone charger.
“It was an extremely surreal feeling, I was speechless,” said the 17-year-old. “I’m going to try and grind this out to make this business a reality.”
Suan designed the charger, which harnesses and converts the kinetic energy produced from cycling into electrical energy to charge a cellphone.
Python Randy Pilon, founder of Virox Technologies and David Woolford, a business lawyer, offered to pay for a patent search on the technology to see if it already exists.
Suan plans on putting his winnings into his education, but will also allocate some toward trademarking the name.
Nita Stranaghan and Katie Henderson, both Grade 10 students at Georgetown District High School, took home $1,000 for third place and showed no fear when they pitched a mobile shopping idea that seemed to impress investors.
The students were tired of making the trek to the Eaton Centre in Toronto or Square One in Mississauga to find brand name clothing, so they pitched Fashion on Wheels, a mobile bus/truck filled with over stock from actual stores, similar to Winners.
“I think it went well, it wasn’t meant to come this far,” Stranaghan said.
Fashion on Wheels was originally a business project at school. After their teacher submitted it to the contest and made it to the finals, there was no turning back.
Jessy Kang from Abbey Park Secondary School in Oakville finished second, earning $1,500 for her mobile app that allows you to store and organize receipts from retailers.
Finalists in the Open category presented two weeks ago. The Pythons didn’t commit funding to any of the ideas in this category, but panel members were interested in learning more about some of the pitches.
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