Ideas Fest 2008

Ideas Fest 2008

November 04, 2008

Ideas Fest (n) - A festival of ideas; business party; a celebration of creativity; a brainstorming session set to music; inventors party; entrepreneurial networking; brainer convention; wonder land; big break; discovery summit' gadget bash; marketing conference; career development; brainchild forum; the start of something new.

Toronto Community Housing, as part of its commitment to create healthy communities and help tenants reach their full potential, supports Ideas Fest -- a business plan competition that promotes business skills, entrepreneurship and critical thinking. Those skills will help young people develop skills that will help them in the workplace and in everyday life.

This competition is a partnership between Toronto Community Housing, Enterprise Toronto and K.E.Y.S. (Knowledge Equals Youth Success).

The Pilot
Ideas Fest was piloted in October 2008. Eight teams of young entrepreneurs (ages 15-24) received business coaching from Enterprise Toronto. The project culminated on October 30th at the North York Civic Centre where the eight teams presented their business plans in competition for cash prizes of $500, $300 and $200; money they could put towards growing their business ideas.

Coaching sessions were held from 6 - 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays in October. Each session provided youth with useful information that they could incorporate into the planning and delivery of their ideas. Topics included Building Great Ideas, Knowing Your Market, What's Your Competitive Advantage and It's all in the Pitch.

This year's participants were:

  • Bombdiggity - Kimberly Benyarko & Tatiana Smith-St. Kitts
  • Honour Roll - Jessica Amponsah
  • Fun with the Sun - Theresa Amponsah
  • Girls Corner - Shaquel Miller & Latisha Lattimore
  • School of Dance - Lakeisha Beard
  • Magic Basketball - Rahiem Nesbeth
  • Decompose to Compose - Devante Beard
  • More Love Essentials Healing Spa - Karen Palmer

On competition night, each team was given 5-10 minutes to pitch its idea to the audience and a panel of judges. Participants presented a range of innovative business ideas, from solar-powered toys to school uniforms. The judges' were charged with selecting the first, second and third place winners, but the audience was also given a chance to participate by selecting its favourite business idea, which received an honorable mention.

Devante Beard captured first place with Decompose to Compose. Beard's presentation had a decidedly green twist to it and included a demonstration of how his machine would turn garbage into boxes.

Second place went to Jessica Amponsah for Honour Roll; a stylish take on school uniforms that included a fashion show. And third place went to Kimberly Benyarko and Tatiana Smith-St. Kitts for their urban magazine, Bombdiggity. Rahiem Nesbeth was the audience's pick with his proposal for a community basketball program, Magic Basketball.

Next Steps
With the goal of cultivating a new generation of "thinkers" by nurturing the development of new ideas, Ideas Fest will continue on an annual basis. The next edition will take place in the Spring, to give participants a chance to make use of the event as a springboard for business-related initiatives over the Summer.

The coaches from Enterprise Toronto have also agreed to continue to work with this year's winners to further their business plans.

Toronto Community Housing thanks its partners and looks forward to continuing these relationships as Ideas Fest grows.

About Our Partners
K.E.Y.S. is a youth-owned business, catering specifically to the young entrepreneur market. Their mission is to enable young entrepreneurs to network efficiently, promote and advertise their business in a competitive and professional manner, by providing services such as: a youth business directory, fashion brochures, trade shows and conferences.

Enterprise Toronto is a public and private sector alliance created to provide one-stop sourcing of services and programs tailored to meet the needs of Toronto's entrepreneurs and small businesses, regardless of age. The goal of Enterprise Toronto is to help entrepreneurs make good decisions during the start-up phase and to develop management capabilities as their business venture grows.