Back to list

Assumption student's business idea to help Earth wins entrepreneur award

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Mary Caton | Windsor Star

Joshua Varkey wants to change the way we carry our groceries home and how we get takeout food on the table.

A Grade 11 student at Assumption College High School, Varkey is the winner of an Ontario student entrepreneur award for his business pitch to supply restaurants and grocery stores with biodegradable bags and food containers.

The Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch competition has been held across the province for the past seven years.

Student entrepreneurs submit business ideas online with a two-minute video pitch. From 168 entries this year, 20 finalists were chosen to present at the Ontario Centres of Excellence Discovery Trade Show, held in Toronto May 13-14.

Judges selected six winners, including Varkey and his Geogen business.

Business students at Assumption have made the finalist cut for five consecutive years. Varkey is the first Assumption student to win.

Business teacher Jeremy Bracken knew Varkey had a powerful idea.

“He hit it on a lot of different levels,” Bracken said. “We had just done a couple of (study) units on sustainability and Josh built a business that could make money but also be right for the planet.”

Varkey “brainstormed through a lot of ideas when I started to look at sustainability and I thought the world has a lot of pollution from plastic.” His company name is a combination of the prefix for earth — geo — and gen is a short form for his generation.

Varkey has been working to establish contacts with manufacturers of biodegradable bags in Vietnam, the Philippines and India.

He’s also looking for local restaurants and grocery stores interested in the bags and food containers.

“I need someone to take a chance on them here,” he said.

The biodegradable bags cost approximately seven cents apiece compared to plastic at four to five cents each.

“It’s a bit higher than plastic but we’re selling sustainability here, we’re looking at the planet and people,” the 17-year-old said.

“Every year, we continue to be amazed by the talent, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit of Ontario’s high school students,” Tom Corr, OCE’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Their imaginative and practical pitches have shown us that the future of this innovative province is in good hands.”

Other winning pitches included a service to help teens select and buy their first automobile and LED light-up lip gloss.

Finalists’ videos for the 2019 competition can be viewed at www.makeyourpitch.ca.

Past local winners of the Make Your Pitch competition include Raymond Tran, Kennedy, (2017), Andrew Williams, Sandwich (2014) and Riley Tsang, Sandwich (2013).

https://windsorstar.com/news/local-news/assumption-students-business-idea-to-help-earth-wins-entrepreneur-award