Created by the producers of Dragons’ Den, NEXT GEN DEN is all about wowing judges with with a smart pitch for an innovative startup. Joining the panel this year as a Dragon is Nicole Verkindt, a hugely successful entrepreneur in the aerospace and defence industry who founded OMX (Offset Market Exchange) and invented a software solution that matches up the biggest aerospace players with Canadian technology partners. Her customer list includes industry heavyweights such as Lockheed Martin and British Aerospace. Wow. 

From tips on how recent grads can distinguish themselves in the marketplace to how to give a winning pitch, Verklempt gives us solid advice that can be applied to any field.

What do you credit your success to?

A single focus of high energy, sustained over many “boring” tasks. It’s a “marathon” not a sprint. Oh – and a lot of help from everyone around me.

What distinguishes a good pitch from a GREAT one?

GREAT pitches are so much more than just a great idea. I find they are usually a good idea, with the right timing and the right team to execute. I like to bet on jockeys over horses.

What are three things you need to be a successful entrepreneur?

1-Disruptive thinking
3-Ability to be told “no” way more than the average person, but continue to ignore it

What’s the best career move you ever made?

Moving to the Dominican Republic to start a factory when the window of opportunity cracked open. And I didn’t do a lot of sun tanning down there.

What are you looking for on NextGenDen? What will captivate you?

Untested, unvarnished, disruptive ideas. Ideas that haven’t been told “no way” to them a million times, right before they work. Enthusiasm, unleashed optimism with a healthy does of naivety. And the look in an entrepreneurs eyes – you know that look a horse gets right as its about to leave the gate. Sometimes you meet people and you just know they can’t be stopped.

What’s your best advice for the recent grad who is just about to enter the workforce for the first time, and wants to make their mark?

Find your passion….and just work harder then everyone else. There are no silver bullets.

What companies do you admire? Why?

Both Bombardier and SpaceX are two of the companies I admire most right now. They are both technological and business model game changers which took extraordinary business risk and investment to get to where they are today. I am confident we will see a lot more from both of them in the future.

Geared at young guns with big ideas, the CBC web series premieres online Wednesday, Oct. 7, coinciding with broadcast premiere of season 10 of Dragons’ Den. Tune in and learn from Canadian up-and-coming entrepreneurs who dare to put themselves out there. More info here.