Geeky business, great pitch

Dal student wins national business plan competition

- February 27, 2013

Michael Groenendyk with a 3D model of the TARDIS – The Doctor's vehicle of choice in Doctor Who. (Bruce Bottomley photo)
Michael Groenendyk with a 3D model of the TARDIS – The Doctor's vehicle of choice in Doctor Who. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

Winning a national business competition is an accomplishment for anyone, but for a self-proclaimed “IT guy,” it’s rather special.

“I don’t know how many library students win national business competitions,” Michael Groenendyk says with a laugh.

Groenendyk, a second-year student in Dalhousie’s Masters of Library and Information Studies, competed in the BMO Apex Business Plan Competition last month at the University of New Brunswick.

The competition looks for the best business pitches from university students. It included a one-minute elevator pitch and a judged presentation with an allotted question and answer period. On the last day, the finalists were announced and then expected to give an on-the-spot final presentation.

Groenendyk was the last finalist announced and walked away with the $5,000 grand prize at the graduate student level.

“I think I won because I was really involved with my business, working for Dalhousie Libraries for a year,” he said. “They told me I was very credible, and had really solid, accurate information.”

Boldly going

Groenendyk, who helped launch the 3D printing service in the Killam Library last year, used his expertise of the service to cater to a particularly passionate customer base in his presentation: namely, science fiction and fantasy fans.

His proposal was for a 3D design service targeting called "Final Frontiers 3-D Design," creating designs for science fiction and fantasy products like custom-made rings, jewelry and detailed home decorations. He explains how this fanbase is “detail-obsessed,” which allows for individualized projects to be sold at premium prices, yielding a high profit margin.

“There are people who argue about how many grates are in Darth Vader’s helmet,” he says. “Now they can get the right number on the prototype.”

The 3D printing service at Dal has been funded by Dalhousie Libraries, with a contribution from CBCL Limited, an engineering and environmental design firm. Groenendyk’s technical experience from working with the libraries gave him an upper hand among other business students at the competition.
Interestingly, he entered the competition solo, competing against teams with members from engineering and business faculties that allowed them to merge dynamic ideas with business sense. While he was by himself, he credits the structure of his master's program for his success, which allows him to take electives in business.

If the opportunity and funds come together, Groenendyk plans to start up his design business (student loan payments permitting). Here’s hoping it’s in time for the next Hal-Con convention.


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