The Application for Founders Circle is CURRENTLY closed

The semi-finalists will be advised mid January 2018 that they have been selected as a semi-finalist for stage 2. They will have until January 30, 2018 to confirm they can continue the process to attend Pitch Day and Awards Night.

Thank you to our applicants. Good luck!

Rules & Regulations (pdf)  •  Scoring Criteria (pdf)  •  Contest Timeline (pdf)




“FOUNDERS CIRCLE” is a project of the Rotary Club of Gravenhurst.

1. Agreement to be legally bound by rules:
When you submit a one-page proposal you are acknowledging that you and any organization your nominate agrees to be bound by the Contest Rules as provided on this website.

2. Eligibility:
In order to qualify for consideration for the $10,000 Founders Choice Award you will need to make sure your one-page proposal:

  • Is an idea for a start-up business or is a start-up business*;

  • Has the potential to make money;

  • Is from a Muskoka resident who has reached the age of 18;

  • Will benefit Muskoka; and

  • Requires early stage funds (usually referred to as family and friends' money)

*Please note the term "start-up business" is used to describe an organization that is designed to grow very quickly.

3. Entry Limit:
There is a limit of one (1) Entry (proposal) per person/ start-up business

4. Verification:
All applicants and entries are subject to verification at any time and for any reason by the FOUNDERS CIRCLE. Failure to provide verification to the complete satisfaction of FOUNDERS CIRCLE within the timeline specified by FOUNDERS CIRCLE may result in disqualification in the sole and absolute discretion of FOUNDERS CIRCLE.

5. Contest Timeline:
The deadline for 1-page proposals to be received by FOUNDERS CIRCLE is 11:59:59 p.m. EST on January 15, 2018.

The following dates and locations are provisional and subject to change:

  • Tuesday, February 27, 2018 – Pitch Day for Semi Finalists

  • Friday, March 9, 2018 – Finalist Nomination Announcement

  • Monday, February 19, 2018 – Early Bird Ticket Sales for IMPACT Awards

  • Thursday, March 22, 2018 – IMPACT Awards Night (6-10 p.m.) at the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa,1050 Paignton House Rd, Minett

6. Contest Process:
In mid January 2018, semi-finalists will be notified on the details of the Pitch Day (provisionally set as Tuesday, February 27, 2018). Semi-finalists are required to participate in the Pitch Day as described below:

Pitch Day (Tuesday, February 27, 2018) – This will be a busy day when the Selection Committee will be interviewing up to 10 semi-finalists to select up to five finalists (including a winner).

  • Session 1: Each semi-finalist will have 2 minutes to present their "elevator pitch" of their innovation and have the session videotaped.

  • Session 2: Involves a 10-minute interview with Selection Committee using a “Dragon’s Den type format”. This session will also be videotaped.

Finalist Nomination Announcement (March 9, 2018) – Up to 5 finalist will be announced by the FOUNDERS CIRCLE. At the same time video clips of the finalists will be displayed on the FOUNDERS CIRCLE website and on other approved sponsor websites. The finalists will receive copies of their video presentations for their own use. The finalists will also receive 2 complimentary tickets to attend the IMPACT Awards night.

Early Bird Ticket Sales for IMPACT Awards (February 19, 2018) – Finalists are encouraged to get family and friends to buy tickets and attend the event to provide moral support for the finalists. The Early Bird Ticket sales for the IMPACT Awards will be available from February 19, 2018 to March 14, 2018. Tickets at full price will be available starting March 15, 2018. (Details to follow.)

IMPACT Awards Night (March 22, 2018) – The Finalists will be honoured at the IMPACT Awards and the FOUNDERS CIRCLE winner will be announced, and presented with the $10,000 cheque. Other prizes in the form of donated services from sponsors may also be awarded. The identity of the winner will be kept confidential until the IMPACT Awards Night.

7.1. General Rules:
By participating in this contest, each entrant and winner agrees to: (a) be bound by these Contest Rules and the decisions of FOUNDERS CIRCLE; (b) agrees to submit only non-confidential information as the FOUNDERS CIRCLE cannot guarantee confidentiality (Therefore, if this is of concern, please wait until your invention is protected by a patent, trademark or other means before entering the contest) and; (c) release and hold harmless FOUNDERS CIRCLE, and its Board of Directors, officers, employees and agents from and against any and all liabilities, losses, claims, demands, costs and expenses (including lawyer’s fees and litigation expenses on a solicitor and own client basis) whatsoever to which any of them may become subject arising from any actions or omissions by the entrant.

7.2. The Founders Circle Selection Committee shall consider the one-page submission describing your idea / start-up business on condition that:

  • All diagrams submitted for this contest become the property of the FOUNDERS CIRCLE, whether selected as a winning entry or not. The FOUNDERS CIRCLE will not return such material or any portion thereof received from you as part of your application;

  • FOUNDERS CIRCLE may disclose your name, the name of your organization the nature of your idea / start-up business and other related materials as the FOUNDERS CIRCLE (together with sponsors and other organizers of the IMPACT Awards) considers appropriate. The materials may include photos, award videos and additional information deemed appropriate (e.g. for press releases, advertisements, website).

  • FOUNDERS CIRCLE reserves the right to cancel, terminate, or suspend this contest, at its discretion, at any time without prior notice.

7.3. All contest entries obtained through unauthorized sources or which are incomplete or in any way not in compliance with these Contest Rules are automatically void as are entries if the materials in the entry:

  • Contain any third-party trade-marks, name or logos without the consent of the respective owners;

  • Include any nudity, lewd or obscene behaviour; or

  • Infringe the intellectual property or privacy of a third party

7.4. FOUNDERS CIRCLE is not responsible for lost or late entries.

7.5. FOUNDERS CIRCLE is not responsible for any miscommunications, failed communications systems, software malfunctions, or for any human errors in connection with this contest.

7.6. The prizes must be accepted as awarded. No substitutions of the prizes are permitted except by FOUNDERS CIRCLE at its discretion. FOUNDERS CIRCLE reserves the right to substitute any of the prizes with other prizes of equal or greater value if any prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason. Prizes are non-transferable and are not redeemable for cash or credit, in whole or in part.

7.7. You warrant that the disclosure of material submitted with, or in support of, your idea or your start-up business does not breach the terms of any contract of employment or any other contract, and that you are entitled to make use of the material.

7.8. Questions about the collection of this information may be directed at Graham Porter at