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November 7, 2002 MBA student Russell Draper wins $50,000 business bursary



Russell Draper

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Brad Hunter

Second-year MBA student Russell Draper has been awarded top prize in a bursary competition recognizing promising student entrepreneurs in Quebec.

Draper’s winning entry in this year’s Pierre Péladeau Bursary laid out his plans for Corrofoil Coatings, a company he launched to commercialize an innovative approach to preventing corrosion on steel structures.

“I know that all businesses that have won prizes in this competition in the past five years have all gone on to succeed,” said Draper, “So I suppose this is a good omen for the future.”

The 41–year-old native of South Africa called the $50,000 bursary, which was officially presented to him on May 8 at Quebecor’s annual shareholders meeting, “a good starting point for my business. It will hopefully help me attract new investors.”

Draper, who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and is a certified protective coatings specialist, explained his company has developed a coating similar to common household tape that is applied over contaminated steel surfaces. The coating not only keeps corrosion in check, but also prevents old paint from escaping into the environment.

“Most existing steel structures are covered with lead paint, which is very toxic and dangerous when it gets into the environment,” said Draper. “There’s a real need to contain this.”

He explained that since paint does not have to be removed from a structure before his product is applied, customers avoid the expensive process of safely removing old paint in an environmentally friendly way.

Draper said that his MBA training gave him an edge over other students in the competition when it came to preparing the business plan that was submitted as part of his entry.

“There are many students out there working on leading-edge technology, but they don’t have the training and experience preparing business plans that are targeted towards investors,” Draper said.

Before he enrolled in Concordia’s MBA program, he knew “next to nothing” about how to put together an effective business plan.

Danielle Morin, John Molson School of Business associate dean of graduate programs and research, called the business plan that Draper submitted to the competition “professionally done.”

“I think this shows that what we teach here is applicable in the real world when students put what they learn into practice,” said Morin, who helped organize the process to select Concordia’s two entries in this year’s Pierre Péladeau Bursary competition.

“He has combined his expertise as a chemical engineer with his business training to come up with something really impressive.”