After six innovative pitches were made during the annual Cubs’ Lair competition Thursday night (November 30th) at the Gordon Best Theatre hosted by FastStart Peterborough, the Innovation Cluster and the Trent Youth Entrepreneurship Society, Rich Cochrane of Status Exempt was announced as the winner. His final prize package includes more than $14,000 to help push his startup.
Member of Curve Lake First Nation, Rich Cochrane started Status Exempt as a mission to make it easy for First Nations shoppers to buy online, tax exempt. Currently, First Nations online shoppers need to submit their receipts to the government for a tax refund, a process that can take up to 90 days—Cochrane’s innovative solution will reduce this to mere minutes.
Left to right: Runner-up Sultan Moni of Zatiq; Winner Rich Cochrane of Status Exempt, Runner-up Victoria Naish of The Cake Engineer.
Currently working in the Cluster’s incubator building his business, Cochrane has been busy creating a platform for businesses and First Nations consumers to provide tax exemption in an easy way.
“Reconciliation is a hot topic in Canada right now,” says Cochrane. “A big component of reconciliation is building a stronger relationship between Indigenous Canadians and the rest of Canada and businesses will play a critical role in building that relationship.”
First Nations represent over three percent of Canada’s population and are also the fastest growing segment of the population with many living in remote or rural areas having no other option but to shop online. With this solution, Cochrane predicts that businesses will gain a large group of consumers.
Cochrane’s background includes being a banker in downtown Toronto, an analyst in the Aboriginal Banking unit at the Bank of Montreal, and graduating from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Commerce, specializing in Finance, Accounting and Entrepreneurship.
Cubs' Lair finalists and judges (Photograph by Sofie Andreou)
Judges listened to pitches that included tech innovations for archaeology, real estate, energy saving and mobile apps, as well as a pitch for a cupcake bar service.
The two runners up of the competition are Sultan Moni of Zatiq and Victoria Naish of The Cake Engineer.
Rich Cochrane will now be able to push his startup with the grand prize package, which includes $3,000 cash from Ontario 150, extended incubator space at the Cluster, coaching and mentoring from established startups and more.