Peterborough startups Alexander Optical, Electric Juice Factory crowned Bears’ Lair winners
Two Peterborough startups from the Innovation Cluster bagged the grand prize in the ninth annual Bear’s Lair Entrepreneurial Competition on Tuesday.
Eye care company Alexander Optical and Electric Juice Factory, an organic juice and smoothie shop, both took home $8,350 in cash prizes after pitching their businesses to three judges in the final round of the competition.
The companies were two of the six contestants promoted to the finals — four of which were Innovation Cluster startups.
The annual Bear’s Lair Entrepreneurial Competition invites entrepreneurial startups in Peterborough and the Kawarthas to compete for cash prizes that help expand their businesses. The competition features two streams: the Goods and Services Stream (for businesses that create and sell services or products) and the Innovation Stream (for businesses focused on creating new and innovative programs or processes).
Alexander Optical was competing alongside two other businesses in the Innovation Stream. The company partnered up with Trent University, Fleming College and local eye-care professionals to organize pop-up clinics at schools, senior residences and local businesses.
The eye-care professionals were stationed on site at the pop-ups to conduct eye exams and recommend eyewear solutions.
Founder Dylan Trepanier pitched in front of judges Teresa Kruze, Steve Reble and Brenda M. Hogan. He says winning the grand prize will help promote the company to local eye-care professionals.
“I know Bears’ Lair is exactly what we needed to take our business to the next level and get the support we are looking for with the community,” said Trepanier. “The prize money is going to be poured into marketing to develop a direct marketing campaign to speak to employers and eye care professionals in the area and encourage them to try working with Alexander Optical and see the difference we can make for them.”
Electric Juice Factory was competing alongside two runner-ups in the Goods and Services Stream. Co-founder Cheryl Gould pitched her company’s Smoothie Pucks — ready-made frozen smoothie servings that can be purchased and blended easily.
Upon winning, Gould said she and co-founder Will Harvey wanted to hit the ground running immediately.
“It’s time to get to work,’” said Gould.
The four other runner-ups did not leave empty-handed, although their prize was not as hefty as the final winners’. Husayn Dharshi of Transit One, Jeremy Brooks of AVROD, Jen Wight of Emily Mae’s Cookies & Sweets, and Hillary Flood and Pete Rellinger of PedalBoro all went home with $1,000. The cash prizes were all donated by the sponsors.
“This year, we were very excited to be able to increase the cash prize,” stated Bears’ Lair chairwoman Catia Skinner. “The calibre of entrepreneurs entering this competition has been very impressive.
“We do encourage those with an entrepreneurial vision to continue to develop their businesses and reach out to the economic development partners in our community for support.”
WATCH: Ontario family turned hobby into million-dollar business on YouTube