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Custom Eyeglass Frames Startup Takes Home Top Prize During U of W's Pitch Day

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MIRIAM KATAWAZI, WINDSOR STAR

Published on: August 10, 2016 | Last Updated: August 10, 2016 9:17 PM EDT

Nine young entrepreneurs eagerly pitched their flourishing startups to a panel of judges Wednesday to compete for a final prize of $3,500 at the University of Windsor.

The winner of the day — a company creating custom eyeglass frames using 3-D printing — stole the hearts of the panel.

“I couldn’t be happier with the result,” said Print Eyewear founder, Scott Sanger. “Our company is redefining designer eyewear.”

Sanger’s businesses create custom eyeglass frames based off a 3-D scan of a client’s face, to ensure a perfect fit. It then allows people to customize the design to their liking.

The fourth-year business student said that after watching all the pitches, he knew the race was tight, but that he was overjoyed with getting more funds to support the development of his business.

The competition wrapped up a 12-week program by the Entrepreneurship Practice and Innovation Centre — the EPICentre at the University of Windsor.

Over the 12 weeks, with a funding of $6,000, eleven students and young alumni developed and launched their own business ideas, with mentor and program support.

“They all have very different ideas, everything from a theatre group to an organic beef farm, it’s such a diverse group, it’s quite amazing,” said Francine Schlosser, executive director at the EPICentre.

All of the businesses are in a sense winners, she said, as many of them are already making revenue and every company has received indication or letters of interest from buyers.

The EPIC Founders Program gives youth the opportunity to develop their own business ventures and eventually provide employment for others too, said Schlosser. 

Program participant Cierra Bray has already hired two employees at her recently launched PR firm.

The 22-year-old founded CGal Media in May to provide public relations assistance to small businesses, non-profits and registered charities. She already has eight clients, many of them in the Windsor area.

A local community theatre company, one of the 11 startups, is also supporting local actors, writers and artists. The Paper-Knife Theatre has already put on three productions in the Windsor area, providing monetary stipends to over 20 actors.

“We have a shared system,” said founder Brittni Carey. “We provide a momentary honorarium, so we split our profit between the actors and director and the theatre company, so everyone gets an equal share, and that’s pretty unique in the Windsor area.”

“These are not just concepts, all of them are running their own businesses,” said Schlosser. “It’s all about developing a real business and that’s what they are doing here in Windsor.”

mkatawazi@postmedia.com