fwe gala
Credit: FWE Twitter

Sonia Strobel (centre), co-founder of Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery, took home the big prize at the 2019 Pitch for the Purse gala

Three companies went head-to-head for the $25,000 award

After the third-annual showdown, a new winner of the Odlum Brown Forum for Women Entrepreneurs’ (FWE) Pitch for the Purse Gala was crowned, with Sonia Strobel, co-founder of Vancouver-based Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery, taking the $25,000 prize.  

The FWE, a charity whose goal is to educate and mentor women entrepreneurs while setting them up for success, raised an impressive $870,000 at the gala that will go toward doubling its mentorship program.

“We’re thrilled to see the company growth and opportunities that this year’s finalists have experienced since starting the Pitch for the Purse program,” CEO Paulina Cameron said in a statement.

The finalists were previously selected by a three-judge panel who mentored them through to the final round. At the gala, hosted by the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Port Coquitlam’s Satya Organics and Toronto-based Copper Medical took to the stage along with Skipper Otto to pitch their businesses to celebrity judges Kate Ross LeBlanc of Saje Natural Wellness and Amar Doman of Futura Corp.

The twist: an audience of more than 650 determined the winner via a live vote.

Skipper
Credit: Pooya Nabei

Pitch for the Purse winner Strobel with Skipper Otto co-founder Shaun Strobel and their children

Pitch for the Purse winner Strobel’s company, a community-funded approach to fishing, sees members pay a predetermined amount, based on their estimated seafood consumption, before the season starts. When the catch comes in, they can choose what they want and collect it at locations across Canada. As BCBusiness contributor Andrew Findlay shows in this 2017 story, Skipper Otto is helping family fishing operations deal with rising costs and other pressures.

The concept sees a fresh take on one of the world’s oldest industries, not to mention a female entrepreneur making waves in a male-dominated business. Skipper Otto ensures that its suppliers are well paid and able to sustain their families, while providing the community with fresh, Ocean Wise–recommended seafood.