During the last week of July, twenty carefully selected 13-15 year old entrepreneurs went through a bootcamp at MaRS to turn an idea into a pitch presentation in only five days. Ideas ranged from GPS-tagged house keys to a vacation rental service for iPads. In today’s blog, we hear from the winners of the 60-second pitch competition, Alexander Chan and Natalie Ngo from Garden Solutions.

The first cohort of the MaRS Future Leaders bootcamp held this summer.


The MaRS Future Leaders Summer Session was one of the most rewarding weeks we have ever had.  We had a busy schedule every day. An ordinary day consisted of having successful entrepreneurs come in to talk with us and give us guidance, and individual mentors working with us one-on-one to help us improve our business idea.

We started the week by brainstorming crazy ideas and interviewing potential customers, then worked on identifying our target markets and our value propositions. Entrepreneurs from different industries such as graphic and industrial designing came to give us feedback and suggestions to develop our products. It was a fully packed week of new experiences.

All of us were extremely grateful for the opportunities that we were given while at MaRS. With the market intelligence team coming down to give us advice, to filming our own infomercials in the MaRS Studio, it was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Garden Solutions has created The Herb Box, a simple, convenient and cost-effective way for amateur gardeners to grow their own herbs.


At the end of the week, after a long process of continuously developing and changing our product idea, all the teams presented a 60 second pitch in front of a panel of judges and an audience. Although we only had one minute, the result was ten amazing pitches.

With nine other teams pitching remarkable ideas, winning the pitch competition was surprising and felt great.  After the announcement, many people came to speak with us about our idea and how to further develop and turn this idea into a business.  From there on, we realized that our idea was actually a feasible business venture.

We are looking towards first marketing our product to the local market, especially condominium dwellers and later, to a global scale. We are planning to introduce this product to the community to encourage sustainability and natural products. It is especially great for those who have limited space but want to eat something fresh and enjoy the sense of gardening.

Over the course of the program, we have learned so much about entrepreneurship from the instructors and the guest speakers.  The MaRS Future Leaders program was a fun and amazing experience.




Joseph Wilson

Joseph was an education advisor at MaRS Discovery District. He writes on topics of science, culture and city issues for NOW Magazine, the Globe and Mail, Spacing and Yonge Street. He is the Executive Director of the Treehouse Group, dedicated to fostering innovation by hosting cross-disciplinary events. See more…