Major League Thinking
RBC Foundation gives $1M to support Haskayne’s popular Fast Pitch Competition
You’ve got four minutes to pitch your idea to change the world (no pressure).
Since it began five years ago, nearly 300 students have participated in the high-intensity RBC Fast Pitch Competition, run through UCalgary’s Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. The competition is tied to Entrepreneurial Thinking 317 (ENTI 317), an undergraduate course at the Haskayne School of Business.
Standing in front of a panel of experienced judges, small groups of Bachelor of Commerce students get precisely four minutes to outline real-world problems and pitch their new-venture solutions (plus present competitive advantage, market research and next steps). In-kind services and mentor support are up for grabs.
It was nerve-racking and we were the last team up, so we had no idea how we compared to the other groups — and we couldn’t believe we won.
A new $1-million gift from RBC, which centres around entrepreneurial thinking in business education, builds from an initial gift of $750,000 it made in 2014 to support the pitch competition, as well as three related initiatives. Over the next five years, it will fund the existing RBC Teaching Professorship in Entrepreneurial Thinking, enrich ENTI 317, and fuel entrepreneurial adventure education experiences and one of Haskayne’s newest graduate programs, Master of Management.
The 2019 winner of the RBC Fast Pitch was FloraGreen — an all-natural, biodegradable, reusable and safe alternative to floral foam that could potentially replace the single-use plastic product traditionally used by florists.
The winning team of four was a last-minute addition to the competition — held on April 29, 2019 — after another team had to pull out. Some of team members even had to change their after-semester plans to attend. “We felt like underdogs, but knew we had to take advantage of the opportunity,” says student Joshua Kahn. “It was nerve-racking and we were the last team up, so we had no idea how we compared to the other groups — and we couldn’t believe we won.”
RBC’s gift is part of the university’s ongoing $1.3-billion Energize campaign. Thanks to the generosity of RBC Foundation and other philanthropic leaders, friends and supporters, the campaign has crossed the $1.2-billion milestone and is helping the university invest in new student experiences, innovation in teaching and learning, and fostering deeper connections with the community.