UPstart: Pitch - Passion - Purpose

Queen’s Venture Network: Accelerating Entrepreneurship Series brings Queen’s students, alumni, and extended family together in the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. It encourages knowledge sharing, collaboration, and idea generation.

UPstart Venture Challenge, a competition led by Queen’s Venture Network, has been created to accelerate success and give alumni and students the opportunity to present creative business plans to a panel of experienced judges. Event attendees, including potential investors, will also be given the opportunity to take an advance look at up-and-coming Queen’s/Smith entrepreneurial ventures.

2016 UPstart event


UpStart is an annual event that takes place in December. Please contact JP Shearer at if you have any questions.

2017 Speakers

Scott Affleck
Director of Product, RateHub

Scott started his career working in strategy roles at Bain & Company and Bell Canada. Scott’s entrepreneurial spirit and passion for technology then led him into the world of product management, where he has spent much of the past decade building products that delight consumers. As Director of Product at, Scott is now responsible for propelling into its next phase of growth, building new tools and solutions to make Canada's go-to website for financial comparisons and information. When he's not in the office, Scott spends much of his time playing or watching hockey, or traveling with his wife, Helen. If you need a trip planned, give Scott a call - he's been to over 70 countries and lived in five cities across three continents! Scott holds a Bachelor of Electrical and Computer Engineering from Queen’s University.

Jason Capello
Chief Investment Officer, Merchants’ Gate Asset Management LP

Jason is the Chief Investment Officer of Merchants’ Gate Asset Management LP, a global long-only fund investing in public equities. In addition, Jason manages his family office which primarily invests in real estate, small growth companies and various lending vehicles. Prior to founding Merchants’ Gate Asset Management LP in 2015, Jason was a Co-Founding Partner, Chief Executive Officer and Portfolio Manager of Merchants’ Gate Capital LP. Jason holds a Bachelor of Commerce (with Honors) in Finance and Accounting from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University and is currently a member of the Smith School of Business Global Council.

Bryan Pearson
President, LoyaltyOne

As President and Chief Executive Officer of LoyaltyOne Co., Bryan leads a global set of enterprises organized by Alliance Data under the LoyaltyOne umbrella: The AIR MILES Reward Program in Canada, BrandLoyalty, Precima, LoyaltyOne Global Solutions, and a working partnership with Latin American leading coalition program, dotz. Bryan has an MBA and a BScH (Microbiology and Biochemistry) from Queen’s University.

Yafa Sakkejha
General Manager, Beneplan Co-operative

Yafa Sakkejha is the General Manager at the Beneplan Co-operative, a mutual buying group for employee benefits. Beneplan pays its member-owners dividends, which represents profit when claims are less than premiums. Yafa has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, National Post, CBC, Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and Benefits Canada for her work in employee benefits. She was named a rising star in Toronto’s entrepreneurial scene by The Globe & Mail. Yafa has over a decade in managing employee benefit plans, having been involved with claims payment, HR, payroll, administration, client care, renewals, premium calculations, IT projects, and legal issues. She graduated with a B.Comm (Hons) from Queen’s University.

2016 Pitching for Success Webinar

2015 Pitching for Success Webinar


Ace Hill
Jackson Triggs
Loyality One