The 10 finalists of the Mouvement contest are currently competing for the $10,000 Loto-Québec prize to help them maximize the impact of their social innovation project. Here’s a recap from the two days of mentoring they recently took part in.

Next month, on February 13, the candidates will present their final pitch to the general public and jury during the contest’s big event that is sure to inspire and engage. Following this, the jury will announce the winners of the various prizes: the Loto-Québec grand prize, as well as the Cascades, Keurig, SAQ and Novae Coups de coeur awards. (Click here if you would like to attend the event.)

Last Thursday and Friday, the finalists participated in two days of coaching and mentoring with experts from each of the partners (see some pictures here). We’ve summed up what happened in 12 tips.

Simon Robert, director of social responsibility with Loto-Québec, on how to get big businesses to support a project:

“When you’re asking for money, you’re looking to fill a need that your company doesn’t have the resources to fill. The larger organization likely does.  So instead of asking for money, ask them for access to what you need. Be creative in your approach.”

“Just because you’re project has a social impact doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go straight to the person in charge of sustainable development. Sustainable development departments don’t typically have a lot of money. Try contacting HR or marketing instead.”

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Last Thursday and Friday, the finalists participated in two days of coaching and mentoring with experts from each of the partners

Mickaël Carlier, president, and Matthieu Salou, marketing & business development director with Novae, on communications strategies:

“Communication will be key throughout the process of developing your project: not only to attract and win over your clients, but also to convey your values to your first employees, get your banker on your side, hold a successful interview with a journalist or identify business partners you’ll need.”

“Adapt your message to your audience; using clear and plain language will help you get your message across and ensure your business model is understood. Try this: present your project to a 7-year-old. This exercise will force you to take a step back and see the big picture, get rid of any technical jargon and simplify your argument.”

Suzanne Blanchet, senior vice-president, corporate development with Cascades, on innovation and business development:

“Talk about your project to those around you, particularly your network – these are the people who won’t be afraid to tell you what’s wrong with your project, and will help you improve as a result.”

“Surround yourself with innovators who believe in your project and listen to what they have to say: they’ll help you capture greater public support.”

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Next month, on February 13, the candidates will present their final pitch to the general public and jury during the contest’s big event that is sure to inspire and engage

Maxime Desjardins, founder of Atelier, on sustainable business models:

“Now more than ever, companies have a real socio-environmental responsibility to their customers, and also their partners. It’s absolutely essential to come up with an innovative business model that is financially viable, beneficial to society and respectful of the environment.”

“No business model lasts forever. An innovative business model can give your business added value and a competitive edge, to the same degree as research and development.”

Jenyfer Maisonneuve, co-president of eCOM MTL, on optimizing online marketing:

“Human beings are curious, so get their attention with a strong social media presence. This will help solidify your project’s positioning, and build your value proposition and also your brand. Social media is rooted in emotions, so your communication style needs to be visual: images and videos generate strong emotions.”  

“To gain greater visibility and spread your message, form partnerships with the media, and find ambassadors who are fans of your products. They will be your first consumers and the first to tell others about you.”  

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Among the highlights of these two days of coaching, the finalists were able to learn more about the entrepreneurial experience of Jean-Daniel Petit, founder of Abitibi & co.

Marie-Josée Amyot, director of finance and Eric Brassard, senior director, business strategy with Keurig, on pitches:

“Your pitch should tell a story: this will help you keep the audience’s attention so they understand your offer better.”  

“Include numbers to illustrate and sell your project: your future business partners need quantitative data to convince them to take a chance on you.”  

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