The average Canadian has $4,000 worth of ‘stuff’ sitting idle in their home, 80% of which gets used less than once per month. Keith Hammermeister presented these staggering stats during a convincing pitch for his venture Gear Share Hub during the Social Venture Challenge 2017 Pitch Event last month. Gear Share Hub is an online platform where people can either rent gear to use, or rent out their own gear to make a bit of cash. Keith was one of six entrepreneurs pitching their ventures that evening.
The Pitch Event was the culmination of the third year of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge: an initiative that encourages, supports and helps to grow new social ventures in the Sea to Sky Corridor through mentorship, capacity building and spreading awareness. Throughout May and June, six participating social entrepreneurs, some already operating a business and others with only a twinkle in their eye, completed four three-hour workshops. The sessions featured a wide range of business topics from customer segmentation to cash flow. The participants were also paired with like-minded mentors; savvy business people in the community with business experience in similar fields as these new entrepreneurs.
On the evening of June 28th, in the beautiful LEED certified Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, the six participants had a nerve-racking three minutes each to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges and an audience of over sixty people. All participants did an excellent job, but the judges could choose only one winner to receive $3,000 in funding to put towards their venture. In the end, they decided on Keith’s Gear Share Hub. Keith’s vision for his venture is to create “an online community of people with a passion for outdoor adventure that want to save money, meet like-minded people and consume less”. The judges decided that Whistler is the perfect market for this business, and all three admitted that they are itching to be Keith’s first customers and make a few bucks off of the gear gathering dust in their garages and sheds.
Keith also won the audience favourite vote and was awarded a gift certificate to Hunter Gather, Whistler’s newest restaurant. The Pitch Event also featured many fun audience prizes donated by local Whistler businesses, some of which are past Social Venture Challenge alumni!
Even though the judges had to decide on only one winner, all participants are encouraged to continue to pursue their inspiring ventures. You can read about them here.