Winners take prizes after an intense Demo Day event for a women-only accelerator program

Three months, countless hours of preparation, and one pitch: it all came down to the wire for 8 women entrepreneurs pitching for over $20,000 in prizes at the ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator 2023 Demo Day. The event took place on Thursday, September 29 at Desjardins – Montréal Centre-ville to a packed house of attendees from the Montreal business sector.

The ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator program is an intensive accelerator program that aims to arm a cohort of jury-selected women with the tools and experience they need to scale their businesses.

The event’s judges, Mary Anne Carignan (Purkinje), Anne-Marie Henson (BDO), Tina Serrao (BeaverTails), and Ziad Slim (SAP), had their work cut out for them in choosing the evening’s winners from the 8 dynamic business pitches presented.

$21,000 awarded to women entrepreneurs

Congratulations to our 8 talented entrepreneurs who presented their businesses and achievements before a live audience and panel of judges at our Demo Day! We were absolutely blown away by these remarkable women and are so proud of each and every one of them.

Going home with a total of $11,000, Emilie PlanteExcellent Speakers Academy was crowned the big ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator 2023 Demo Day winner is taking home, not only the First Place award of $10,000 chosen by our panel of judges, but also the Cohort Award of $1,000 selected by her peers.

Emilie Plante, Founder of Excellent Speakers Academy, an online academy that harnesses language learning techniques along with acting and storytelling to help ESL (English as a second language) speakers communicate with confidence, took home the evening’s jury-selected top prize of $10,000, as well as the $1,000 cohort award.

An ESL speaker herself, Emilie founded Excellent Speakers Academy to help others find their voice. “I understand what it’s like to go about your day-to-day life in a language where you can’t express yourself as well. I help people shift their mindset so they can communicate effectively, even when they may not have the language skillset yet.” After participating in the cohort program, Emilie realized she loved being around entrepreneurs and had an intimate understanding of the challenges they face, so she created a program specifically tailored to ESL entrepreneurs.

The Pre-Accelerator program, the fourth for YES, provides participants with the education, tools, resources, network, and hands-on experience needed to enter the accelerator system in Quebec with their best foot forward, is part of a wider range of support and services offered under the ELLEvate banner.

The ELLEvate program aims to increase the participation of women in Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem, where they currently represent only 17% of small and medium business owners. Funded by the Government of Canada, in partnership with York University, the program has supported thousands of women in starting and growing their business(es) in Quebec.

Here are the winners for the 2023 ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator Demo Day >>>

$10,000 prize: Emilie Plante, Excellent Speakers Academy
$7,500 prize: Fang Wang, iLoveDanceShoes
$2,500 prize: Teresa D’Agostino, Pawsome Concierge
$1,000 cohort prize, chosen by the cohort participants themselves: Emilie Plante, Excellent Speakers Academy

Successfully completing our intensive 12-week ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs program is no small feat. To each of our 2023 cohort members: we are in awe of your passion, commitment, and tenacity, and we can’t wait to watch you and your businesses continue to flourish beyond this program. You are outstanding role models to our community of women entrepreneurs and truly embody the confidence it takes to seize opportunities that are rightfully yours.

Let’s all take a moment to congratulate each of the winners and members of the cohort!!

Special thanks to Desjardins – Montréal Centre-ville for hosting this event and to all our staff, volunteers, and our funder YSpace/York University for helping to make this event a memorable one!

For more information about the ELLEvate program, please click here.