UPstart Venture Challenge 2019

UPstart Venture Challenge, a pitch 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.

Be Part of the Action

Register to join in an exciting evening of pitches as well as the opportunity to mix and mingle with entrepreneurs, investors, innovators, and talent.


  • Tuesday, December 3, 2019
  • 5:30pm – 9:30pm
  • LoyaltyOne, 351 King Street East, Second Floor Atrium, Toronto
  • Complimentary

Register to Attend


Moderator and Judges

Elspeth Murray

Elspeth Murray
Associate Professor & Associate Dean of MBA and Masters Programs; and Director - Centre for Business Venturing (CBV) and CIBC Faculty Fellow in Entrepreneurship

Elspeth Murray has served as the Associate Dean - MBA and Masters Programs since 2012, and has been a professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Smith School of Business since 1996. She also holds the CIBC Fellowship in Entrepreneurship, and founded the Smith Centre for Business Venturing. Prior to joining Smith, she worked in industry for 7 years for several firms including IBM, and Canadian Tire.

As an integral part of her work in the strategy and new venture fields, Dr. Murray specializes in the management of change. In 2002, she co-authored a best-selling book, Fast Forward: Organizational Change in 100 Days, Oxford University Press, with Dr. Peter Richardson. She has recently co-developed (with Dr. David Saunders) the Analytics Climate Assessment Tool (ACAT), which is used to assess organizations technological capacity, skill sets, and analytics culture. Current research is focused on best practices in leading and managing change to create an analytics culture.

John See

John See, BSc'79, MBA’81
Special Advisor, Strategy & Associate Coach - Teal & Co
Director - Recognia Inc
Smith Advisory Board

John has worked successfully in startup private companies, large-cap public entities, voluntary sector organizations, both regulated and non-regulated, at the CEO and Board Chair levels. During a career spanning more that 3 decades, living and operating on multiple continents and geographies, he demonstrated capabilities and competencies in traditional business environments and in-person interactions to those dominated by electronic digital channels and media.

He began his career with International Corporate and Investment Banking assignments for TD Bank in Houston, New York and London, England. In 1995, he became President of Green Line Investor Services / TD Waterhouse, and was a member of the TD Wealth Management Operating Committee. After his retirement in 2012, John Chaired TD’s Offshore direct investing businesses in London and Luxembourg and served as an independent director of privately held Recognia Inc.

John is a past Chair of Appleby College, former Vice Chair of the YMCA of GTA and has served as a RCAF Honorary Colonel for 437 Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton. He was honoured as a Top 40, Under 40 Award recipient and continues as a long standing member of the Smith School of Business Advisory Board. University degrees were awarded from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario.

Rachel Zimmer

Rachel Zimmer, BCom'10
VP, Global Customer Engagement, sgsco

Rachel Zimmer is a proud Canadian Entrepreneur that is passionate about enabling other Entrepreneurs to succeed!

Rachel Co-Founded the AdTech company, 5Crowd. Her company connects big brands like Labatt, Microsoft and McDonald’s with a vetted pool of freelance talent from over 150 cities around the world. Using the 5Crowd proprietary platform, the team completes every project (such as banner ads, radio spots, animated videos, scripts, in-store signage, etc) using a 100% crowdsourced model. The 5Crowd clients call the model the “Uber of Agencies.”

In 2016, her company was acquired by sgsco, a portfolio company of ONEX, the largest private equity firm in Canada. Today, Rachel leads the sgsco Customer Engagement team globally.

Zimmer has been named Top 30 Under 30 by Marketing Magazine, Young Entrepreneur of the Year by Desjardins Bank and Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by the Toronto Board of Trade. She is a proud Commerce graduate of Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

Lisa Orr

Lisa Orr, BCom'01, AMBA'16
Founder and Designer, LaBroga | Founder, Orr Etiquette

Lisa is an entrepreneur based in Toronto who is passionate about civility and creativity. She currently runs two businesses. Orr Etiquette is an etiquette and protocol consultancy founded in 2013. Lisa created the business after living abroad after she saw a need to bring civility back to the mainstream in Canada.

She currently delivers programs to business, universities, schools and individuals in corporate etiquette, dining etiquette, tech etiquette and international protocol and is also a frequent etiquette expert in Canadian media. LaBroga is startup fashion accessory business dedicated to creating premium vintage-inspired shoe bags for the modern woman. Product development began in January 2016 and the business officially launched in October 2016 on Kickstarter. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Commerce and an Accelerate MBA from Smith School of Business at Queen’s University.

Peter Willson

Peter Willson, BSc(Eng)'92
Chairman and CEO, Willson International

Peter joined Willson in 1997, and is the 4th generation of active Willson family management. Peter became the sole owner of Willson International in 2014 after a buyout of family members. Willson International specializes in Customs brokerage and international and trans-border logistics with a predominant focus on Canada-US Trade.

Peter is involved deeply in the community. He has served as a Director and Chair of the Upper Canada Chapter of Young Presidents Organization, has been a member of the Regional council for YPO and of the Regional Board of Directors. Peter served as a director of the Trillium Health Centre Foundation, from 2007 to 2013 and as Chair of the Foundation from 2010 to 2013. During this time he was also a Director of the Trillium Health Centre. Peter was a member of the Advisory Board for Heart & Stroke, Ontario, in 2017 & 2018. In recognition of his community service, Peter was awarded Volunteer of the Year from the Golden Horseshoe Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Peter holds a Metallurgical Engineering degree from Queens University and an MBA from the University of Toronto and is currently enrolled at Robert Kennedy College (Zurich) to obtain a Masters in International Commercial Law. He is a chartered accountant and a Certified Director with the Institute of Corporate Directors.


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