On Thursday, January 27, 2022, 12 JA Companies pitched their businesses to a panel of judges for a chance to win best-pitch and other prizes. After much deliberation, the judges selected the following top three companies:  
1st place: Floraa 
2nd place: Günk Co
3rd place: Stick to It  

We’d like to thank all who attended and contributed to the event. It was a great experience watching budding leaders in the Ottawa community present their amazing businesses.

Congratulations to all participating student companies for their terrific pitches!

A special thank you to Telfer School of ManagementThe Counselling Foundation of CanadaThe Ottawa Community Foundation, and all our wonderful judges!

Pitch It to Win It was delivered virtually through eSAX Virtual Events


The companies

Click on the logos to visit the companies’ websites!

Athena Essentials

Athena Essentials logo

Athena Essentials is an ethical, student-run aromatherapy company based in Ottawa, Ontario. Athena Essentials offers an assorted variety of aromatherapy room and linen sprays.  

Facebook: @athenaessential 
Twitter: @athenaessential  
Instagram: @athena_essentials 
TikTok: @athenaessentials  
Pinterest: @aessential2582

Basic Solutions

Basic Solutions logo

We’re a soap company that empowers everyone by assisting in raising self-confidence and personal growth. 

Instagram: @basicsolutions.ja

Cosmic Candles Canada

Cosmic Candles Canada logo

We at Cosmic Candles Canada want to produce candles with reduced plastic waste by using biodegradable wrapping. Our goal is to protect our water systems so that everyone can have access to clean drinking water. 

Instagram: @cosmiccandlesja


Custo Case logo

To customize your reading experience 

Our company revolves primarily around personalizing your phone cases and giving you customized bookmarks. 

Instagram: @custocase_ja


daBALMM logo

Smell Your Way to Calm 

Premium Handcrafted Soy Wax Essential Oil sachets, balms and giftware.

Expawdition Totes

Expawdition Totes logo

Explore you own animal story with student made tote bags. 

We strive to support and bring awareness to endangered animals while offering high-quality, animal-themed tote bags to students, made by students. 

Instagram: @expawdition_totebags


Floraa logo

Floraa for the environment! 

Floraa offers natural beauty products while minimizing plastic waste. From creation to consumption of the product, Floraa relies on sustainable development, the well-being of its customers and ‘eco-responsibility. 

Facebook: @FloraaCare 
Twitter: @FloraaCare  
Instagram: @floraacare 

Günk Co

Günk Co logo

Ooze for all occasions! 

The mission of Günk Co is to improve the quality of life of those around us through products that create feelings of nostalgia and comfort 

Instagram: @gunkco.ja

Savon D’hiver

Savon_Dhiver logo

Our goal as a company is to provide our customers with an alternative soap that is entirely homemade, 100% vegan and animal-cruelty-free at a reasonable price. 

Instagram: @savondhiver

SprayGo ShoeCo

SprayGo ShoeCo logo

Ready, Spray, GO! 

Our brand, Spray Go Shoe Company is a student-run business that provides our customers with a more eco-friendly, high-value, fast and effective shoe cleaning kit at a fair and competitive price. 

Instagram: @spraygo_shoeco

Stick to It

Stick To It logo

Stay Safe 

Stick To It is a student-run company that focuses on promoting health and safety in the local community by creating safety reminders through stylish and colourful stickers. 

Instagram: @staysafestickers

The Perfect Fit

The Perfect Fit logo

Find the PERFECT shirt for YOU! 

Instagram: @ThePerfectFit_EOM

The judges

A special thanks to all our judges for this year’s competition! 

Judge -Maxine Fournier

Maxine Fournier 

Marketing & Communications Officer, 
The Entrepreneurship Hub (University of Ottawa)

Maxine Fournier is the Marketing and Communications Officer at the University of Ottawa’s Entrepreneurship Hub (eHub). She plays an important role in creating awareness around the eHub and its offerings, highlighting interesting stories, and contributing to the overall entrepreneurial mindset on campus. A uOttawa alum, Maxine graduated in 2014 with an Honours BA in Communications and a minor in Business Administration. In 2016, she launched her very own stationery brand and was featured in a number of local stores. As a former student and employee of the Faculty of Arts, Maxine strives to combine her passion for entrepreneurship and all things creative. 

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“It may sound really cliché, but my key piece of advice is to start. I mulled over the idea of starting my own business for months, but as soon as I convinced myself I had nothing to lose and was willing to invest time and effort, it all clicked.”

Judge Ben Liadsky

Ben Liadsky 

Program Manager, 
The Counselling Foundation of Canada

Ben is the Program Manager at The Counselling Foundation of Canada, a charitable foundation that supports career counselling and career development in young people across Canada. There, he supports the Foundation’s granting activities, acts as Treasurer for the Toronto Workforce Funder Collaborative, and is a Steering Committee member for the Program and Grantmaking Staff Affinity Group of Philanthropic Foundations Canada. In addition, Ben is also a research consultant at Taylor Newberry Consulting where he helps public benefit organizations to ask and answer important questions that enable them to do their work better. Ben holds a master’s degree in Global Environmental Policy from the University of Northern British Columbia. 

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“You don’t have to have all the answers, but thinking through a few good questions that matter to you and spark your curiosity can help guide you in your journey.”

Judge - Isabelle Decarie

Isabelle Décarie 

Manager, Student Experience
Telfer School of Management

Isabelle Décarie is the Student Experience Manager at the Telfer School of Management. She’s been working at the University of Ottawa since 2006 in different roles. Isabelle has an Arts degree in Marketing, Communication and Leisure. She is currently finishing her Master in Organizational Communication at the University of Ottawa. She loves to work with students and give them all the opportunities to excel in their careers. 

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Go for it! You never know…”

Judge- Ian Bingeman

Ian Bingeman 

Manager, Social Enterprise Platform
Ottawa Community Foundation

Ian Bingeman brings the broad perspective, deep experience, and acute insight of a successful Social Entrepreneur to the Ottawa Community Foundation.   
Recognized as one of Ottawa’s “Forty Under 40” for his intentional application of the OCF’s vision of Social Enterprise, he applied business design principles to replace precarious grant funding for core activities with more reliable earned revenues when he was Executive Director at Youth Ottawa.  
Under Ian’s leadership, Youth Ottawa’s sustainability and capacity significantly improved. By refining its business model, the organization was able to clarify more effective ways of generating social impact.   
Ian is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada with cross-sectoral experience. He possesses a well-developed leadership mindset, skillset and toolset which further inform his support of other sectoral leaders.   
However, Ian’s most important professional attributes – empathy, patience, integrity, and care – come from time spent as a D.A.D. (“the Domestic Administrative Dude”) and learning how to be a good person through raising his children.   

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Good business ideas are validated by other people. Preferably, those “other people” include folks who need your idea to solve their problem. Don’t over-invest (time, energy, resources) until you know that you have a solution (good or service) that meets an actual ‘job to be done’ for other people.”

Judge Louis Beland

Louis Béland

Director and Entrepreneur
Eastern Ontario Training Board

Louis Béland is an entrepreneur focused on helping others follow their dreams. Raised in an entrepreneurial family and immersed in the community from a young age, Louis’s passion naturally rests in igniting the same enthusiasm for business in others and creating opportunities for budding entrepreneurs. Louis has ventured into many different business sectors, including media production, an integrations startup in New Zealand, and an artisanal roastery and coffee shop for which he earned himself Young Entrepreneur awards two years in a row.

From start-ups to succession planning, from public speaking to mentoring and coaching, Louis loves sharing his experience and passion with anyone who will listen. His most recent successes came as a regional director for the Société économique de l’Ontario where he led youth initiatives and entrepreneurial support initiatives for the francophone communities of Ontario, as well as building the largest GrowthWheel certified business advisors team in Canada, a team specialised helping business owners make the best possible decisions.  

You will now find him spearheading workforce development projects and youth entrepreneurial initiatives with the Eastern Ontario Training Board and Junior Achievement Northern and Eastern Ontario, combining his expertise and passion to help communities throughout Eastern Ontario.  

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Try new experiences, it’s the best way to learn about yourself and become who you want to be.”

Judge Maria Artuso

Maria Artuso 

Community Manager, 
RBC Royal Bank

Maria was raised in Beeton ON, lived there for 19 years, attended Georgian College in Barrie, ON, where she completed a Business Administration – General Diploma, and obtained a complementary Human Resources Management Certification. After college, she was accepted into a training program with RBC Royal Bank. She has since completed her Personal Financial Planning designation, Branch Compliance Officer course, Investment Funds In Canada, Fellowship of CSI, and MBA from Dalhousie University. Her roles have included Commercial Banking, Leadership, National Office, Regional Office, Financial Planning, and Insurance. In 2018, she moved to Southwestern Ontario be closer to family, and is now working in Milton as a Community Manager. Maria continues to find her passion with Junior Achievement, and the ability to empower students through various programs to reach their highest potential, leveraging personal experiences to share in the classroom with students of different ages, and having a positive impact on a youth’s life is invaluable and most rewarding. As a result of the impact that JA has had on her, she has embraced the opportunity to give back by sitting on the Finance Program Advisory Board with Algonquin College, the Alumni Board with Georgian College, and is a Board Member with Milton Chamber of Commerce. During their spare time, Maria and her husband enjoy exploring Southwestern Ontario where they now reside, especially hiking, and motorcycling. 

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Believe in yourself even if the challenge seems too big or daunting at first. When you do work you care about and that has tremendous meaning to you, have a vision, and a solid plan, go for it. You will learn so much by taking on this risk, and the experience of ups and downs will be invaluable. Take action and go for it!”

Judge Shan Gu

Shan Gu 

Foci Solutions Inc.

Shan is an advocate for ethical business and technology practices. He is the founder and CEO of Foci Solutions, an Ottawa firm focused on helping clients improve their software development practices and build better software teams. He has been involved with JA Ottawa for over 25 years as an achiever, advisor, volunteer, and sponsor. Shan was also named one of Ottawa’s Forty Under 40 business leaders in 2020.  

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Keep and open mind, try things, talk to people, just explore as much as you can. Opportunities come from the most unexpected places. The more you experience, the more you’ll be prepared to recognize and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves to you.”

Judge Mathieu Saumure

Mathieu Saumure  

Marketing and Liaison Coordinator
Telfer School of Management

Mathieu Saumure is a Marketing and Liaison Coordinator at the Telfer School of Management where he is responsible in creating awareness on the Telfer School of Management program to prospective student. Mathieu has a Honors Bachelor of Art with a major in Psychology and a minor in Communications. Before joining the Telfer School of Management, Mathieu was working in public relations at the City of Ottawa. 

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Don’t be afraid to take on new experiences and challenge yourself. There’s no better way to prepare yourself for bigger roles in your career.”

Joel O’Reilly

Advertiser Account Manager
MaxBounty ULC 

Joel is an Advertiser Account Manager with MaxBounty Affiliate Network, where he helps clients build and grow affiliate marketing programs.  Joel builds marketing plans and relationships, negotiates contracts, and ensures the success of his partners.  Joel has taken a passion to Affiliate Marketing and attends conferences regularly to build relationships with stakeholders in the industry.  
Joel has developed his sales and marketing expertise while working with companies such as the Royal Canadian Mint, Otis Elevators, and Enterprise Car Rentals; while eventually finding a wonderful mix of marketing and sales in Affiliate Marketing.  
Joel is a dog dad to a 1 year old puppy named Lady.  He spends his spare time playing music and sports, and frequenting the local Ottawa events scene.  

If you had one piece of advice for a high school level entrepreneur, what would it be? 

“Open as many doors as you can in the coming years.  You’re going to learn so many new things about your interests and passions.  It’s good to have the doors open to chase them down when you find something you love!  Get a degree, join clubs, meet people, volunteer, get involved! “

Special thanks to our sponsors, funders, and supporters!

ONFE, ROPE, Ottawa Network for Education, charity, not for profit, fundraising, The Counselling Foundation of Canada
Telfer logo
Ottawa Community Foundation logo