Student-run 'Barter Brothers' Wins Grand Prize in VIU Business Plan Competition

VIU student Jeff Gilmore (centre) celebrates winning the grand prize in the VIU Business Plan Competition with (l-r) William Litchfield, VIU; Trish Smith, VIU; Kelsey Wolff, SquareOne; Pieter de Reuver, Pieter de Reuver Foundation; Bret Torok-Both, Vancouver Island Economic Alliance; Shawna McPhillips, Coastal Community Credit Union; Peter McGee, Nanaimo Economic Development; and Nicole Gallop, College Pro.

December 9, 2015 - 2:00pm

If you’ve got a garage, attic or basement full of stuff to sell, and no time to sell it, Jeff Gilmore can help you out.

The 18-year-old Vancouver Island University (VIU) student took the grand prize and first place in the student category in the VIU Business Plan Competition for “Barter Brothers”, a service he started back at home in Chilliwack while he was still in high school.

“The old saying that one’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure is incredibly true,” Gilmore said in his pitch to judges at the ‘Dragon’s Den-style’ competition finale Dec. 4 at VIU.

Gilmore’s successful pitch earned him $2,500 cash and a package of donated business services valued at $7,000.

A first year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student, Gilmore was first tasked with starting a small business in a high school entrepreneurship class, and got the idea to help sell used items that range from sports equipment and electronics to furniture and vehicles for friends and family.

All entrants in the VIU Business Plan Competition benefited from coaching by volunteer business mentors – just the help that Gilmore said he needed to take his plan and his pitch to the next level. He met with his mentor, Emeka Udeagha, to work through details in his plan and work on a pitch presentation. Udeagha, a financial consultant with Investors Group and a VIU Master of Business Administration alumnus, also coached Gilmore in making cold calls door-to-door.

Gilmore plans to launch Barter Brothers in Nanaimo, and hopes to invest in a truck or van with his prize money. He also plans to develop a website, and hopes the donation of graphic design services from Gio Creative will help with that.

Gilmore competed with the winner in the alumni category, Max Conrad, who pitched a real estate video production video company, thatHOME. Conrad, a Digital Media Studies alumnus, took the $2,500 cash prize in that category, and said he and his partners will invest in a high end camera and other investments to help launch the business on Vancouver Island.

John Predyk, professor in VIU’s Faculty of Management and chair of the 2015 competition, said judges were faced with a difficult decision in determining winners, due to the high quality of presentations.

“We were so impressed with the great ideas, entrepreneurial vision and passion for their businesses that student and alumni competitors demonstrated,” he said. “We are confident that ideas that made it to the pitchfest can all become great successes with support, hard work and good decisions along the way.”

Second place winners who took home $1,000 each were Katie Hunter with her business, CURE Soaps in the student category; and Bachelor of Arts Psychology alumna Melissa Bracken, for Vertical Organic Garden.

Third place winners of a $500 prize were BBA students Catherine Lindberg, Zoey Weaver, Jessie Clark and Rachelle Landry, for an online personal finance video company, Define Your Rich; and MBA program alumnus Ilber Demir, for his search engine optimization tool company, SetPhrase.

VIU partnered in the competition with lead sponsor the Pieter de Reuver Foundation, the Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation, Coastal Community Credit Union, MNP, Johnson Franklin Bishop, Young Professionals of Nanaimo, Gio Creative, StartUp Nanaimo, SquareOne and College Pro, along with regional business partners who contributed business services as part of the prize package.


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