Boardball Wins Big at 12th Annual LiONS LAIR Awards Gala

September 29, 2022

ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE, Innovation Factory, September 29, 2022

Boardball Inc. was named the grand prize winner yesterday at Innovation Factory’s LiONS LAIR Gala, claiming top prize of $25,000. Celebrating its twelfth anniversary, the annual pitch competition drew over 300 attendees from the Hamilton region’s business and innovation community. The highly anticipated evening saw the return of in-person celebrations after two years of being held virtually.

The evening’s big winner, Boardball is a new sport that lowers the barriers to playing volleyball so that you can play anytime and anywhere.

Amanda Nguyen pitches to the audience at Lions Lair.

Amanda Nguyen, Co-Founder shared, “Participating in LiONS LAIR has been an incredible experience. The guidance and mentorship provided has been invaluable as we continue to grow our sport. Over the past few years, we have not had much opportunity for in-person networking and collaboration, so to work with this panel of experts and mentors and be able to pitch in front of a live audience was exciting. Of course, winning is a huge bonus, and we are very grateful to share this experience with such an amazing group. Huge thanks to everyone who has been along the journey to taking Boardball globally!”

Innovation Factory’s LiONS LAIR event showcases the region’s innovative start-up community and gives up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of Hamilton’s top business experts and potential investors.

The People’s Choice award, voted on by gala attendees at the live event also went to Boardball Inc. In addition to landing first place, they received $2,500 for their crowd-favourite pitch.

The top eight finalists made their pitch to the ‘Investor LiONS’, and winners were chosen based on their presentations and responses to questions.

Wednesday’s gala at Carmen’s Banquet Centre was highly anticipated, due to a return to in-person events after three pandemic years. In addition to the sport-style ‘pitch-madness’ tournament with head-to-head matchups between finalists and a half-time show-themed intermission, attendees also enjoyed pre-event networking and dinner.

“Every year, it‘s a privilege to work with our LiONS LAIR companies and facilitate the collaboration that happens when you merge industry leaders with emerging startups,” said David Carter, the Executive Director of Innovation Factory. “We adapted the competition during the pandemic and offered a virtual format to ensure innovators were provided with similar opportunities, but it’s really something special to be back in person, and celebrate innovation at its best.”

Innovation Factory’s LiONS LAIR is an annual competition presented in collaboration with the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Office. As a celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation, the showcase gala event is a culmination of months of training and workshops with experts providing business, legal, and financial advisory support, thanks in part to this year’s legal, financial, and growth LiONS from Gowling WLG, KPMG, and Jan Kelley respectively.

Each of the finalists faced off against the Investor LiONS earlier this summer and their pitches and extended Q&A with the LiONS are available to watch by visiting:

“The entrepreneurial journey can be challenging so to have stayed the course during some challenging times, requires additional persistence and grit. This year’s cohort has shown a level of resilience that will serve them well as they continue to grow, scale, and make an impact. It will be exciting to follow their journeys as they evolve their innovative companies.”


Jennifer Gauvreau
Senior Manager, Marketing & Events
Innovation Factory