Game designers excel in business pitch competition at CNA

4/5/2017 1:34:18 PM

From left, VGAD students Brady Rideout of Lewisporte; Brennock Keiley of St. John’s; Kyle Keats of Churchill Falls; Sharon Collins, CNA’s Dean of Business and IT; Bob Williamson, Founder of the Jameson Group and Pitch101; Michelle Simms of the Genesis Centre; VGAD students Jordon Walters of Clarenville and Charli Taite of Conception Bay South; Geoffrey Best, business student; Kim Kennedy, Comprehensive Arts and Sciences student; and Angelo Casanas, Manager of Startup Development & Partnerships at Genesis Group.

College of the North Atlantic (CNA) students participated in the 2017 Pitch101 training and competition at the college’s Prince Philip Drive (PPD) campus recently.
Pitch101, founded by Bob Williamson, is a training and competition program that provides participants with the opportunity to develop a clear and concise business concept and then pitch the concept in 60 seconds to a panel of seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and mentors. The 60-second pitches are designed to be the first step in helping entrepreneurs prepare longer pitches for when they meet real-life investors and potential partners.
“I was thrilled with the efforts of all the students at the Prince Philip Drive Pitch101 event,” said Bob Williamson, “and particularly impressed with the Video Game Art & Design students… I haven’t had game designers in my sessions before but I’ve had developers and programmers, and typically they are resistant to understanding the benefits of pitching their idea or product. They often feel it isn’t their job to sell themselves or their product, but to concentrate on the development. Obviously Janice Hertel is doing something different in her classroom, as with just three hours with her students, what we saw was absolutely fantastic!”  
When Hertel, Coordinating Instructor for the three-year Video Game Art & Design (VGAD) program at PPD campus, learned of the workshop and event, she saw the opportunity as a great fit for the business of game development course she is teaching her students this semester.
“I knew Pitch 101 would provide valuable experiential learning for the VGAD students. The revised three-year program has more courses and initiatives focusing on the business aspect of the game industry and promoting entrepreneurship,” explained Hertel.
“I talked with them about the workshop, about how they have a good chance of winning due to their passion for game development, deep knowledge of the industry, talent, problem solving skills, and their creativity.”
Brady Rideout, second-year VGAD student and first place winner, says he has never entered a competition like this before.
“If it weren’t for the encouragement from my core instructors Janice Hertel and Gregory Wells, along with Bob Williamson from Pitch 101, and Angelo Casanas and the Genesis Centre for their guidance and the opportunity for us all, I never would have pitched in the competition. Seeing how it turned out in the end, and just the overall experience for me and my classmates, was definitely worth it and I’m grateful for the amazing opportunity!”
Jordan Walters won second place with team mates Ashley Brown and Kevin Field; Kyle Keats placed third; and Charli Taite won an honourable mention. All are second-year students in the VGAD program.
The training was part of an initiative by the Genesis Centre, an award-winning business incubator for technology start-ups that spurs innovation in the province.
“Our whole mission is to have a vibrant and self-sustaining technology sector here in Newfoundland and Labrador. That includes fostering a culture of entrepreneurship especially for students,” says Angelo Casanas, Manager of Startup Development & Partnerships for the Genesis Group.
“This is just part of the partnership that the Genesis Centre has established with CNA this year. Apart from Pitch101, the centre’s Evolution program – an eight-week accelerator program that takes budding entrepreneurs from the “Ideation Stage” to “Validation” – has also been integrated into the college’s business curriculum. This enables us to bring best international practices from Silicon Valley to CNA students here in St. John’s.”
And though the VGAD program isn’t part of the business studies programming at CNA, it does have business components, as does any program at the college where graduates are expected to represent themselves and their craft.
According to the business of game development course description, “The game industry has grown to be a major economic force in the global market. It is an exciting time for start-up game companies and large studios alike.”
The course explores elements of business for game developers with examples pertaining to the game industry, items such as trends, game pitches, intellectual property, and marketing.
“When I went into the class, my stereotyped views were changed… they were so in tune with understanding that if they wanted to succeed, they needed to pitch their ideas precisely,” said Williamson.
“One individual wasn’t sure whether or not they really had an idea they wanted to pitch… it was more of a personal thing that they wanted to express but didn’t know how. When they finally did, it was one of the best pitches I’ve ever heard. Emotionally it sent me over the edge… I had tears in my eyes. This is the reason I do this, because I know the importance of being able to express yourself clearly and concisely. It’s about the confidence.”
The college’s Dean of Academics, Applied Arts & Tourism, Brenda Tobin, was delighted to hear how the students conducted themselves and was especially proud of their achievements.
“Congratulations to all students who chose to participate in Pitch 101! I was so excited and proud to hear that our Video Game Art & Design students excelled, even beyond their own expectations,” said Tobin. “To participate in such a competition takes courage and to walk away with all four prizes is something to cherish and celebrate. Congratulations on your outstanding success! As with your pitching experiences, keep in mind what it takes to succeed, then believe in yourselves to do it exceptionally well. Great work by all!”
Hertel is also thrilled at the outcomes of the training for any industry. For her students in particular, she saw great value in the activity, as they pushed themselves beyond even their own expectations.
“I was particularly proud of how well-spoken they all were. They all had impeccable timing, captivating the audience with their exciting pitches that fit within the 60 seconds, without missing any points or going over.
“These students are the future of the game industry, helping to grow the indie game start up community in Newfoundland and Labrador with their design experience and determination.”
Founded by Bill Williamson, Pitch 101 is all about learning the fundamentals of a 1-minute pitch. Pitchers may be entrepreneurs seeking advisers or funding, or simply someone looking to learn how to deliver a clear and concise message with confidence. This training is given in a multi-hour, interactive workshop and has been proven very beneficial for entrepreneurs learning to pitch their business to potential investors or partners, professionals of any age trying to develop their communication and public speaking ability, and young professionals learning to pitch themselves for networking and recruitment events. To learn more visit,

Media Contact:

Roger Hulan
Communications Specialist
College of the North Atlantic
(709) 643-7938