Mentorship, Skills & Big Steps: Enterprize Offers More than just Prizes

It’s been a long road since he entered the Enterprize Challenge, but Ryan Silverthorn attributes much of the knowledge and mentorship he attained during the entrepreneurial competition for the success of his business.

After taking part in the 2017 Dragon’s Den-like competition, hosted by Community Futures North Okanagan, the former golf pro at Predator Ridge was able to get his business, Okanagan Power Trips, off the ground.

Okanagan Power Trips offers Okanagan visitors and residents the opportunity to drive Teslas, with the battery-operated electric vehicles now being rented for tourism and business events, weekend getaways, birthday parties, and even by people wishing to get to the coast without having to worry about fuel charges, says Silverthorn.

“The business has been very successful for us and we’re still going for it this year,” he says.

With the registration deadline for the 2019 Enterprize Challenge just around the corner, those with a big business idea and the enthusiasm to put it into action are encouraged to sign up.

During the entrepreneurship competition, participants work with a mentor and take part in eight weeks of business planning sessions and tasks. Seven finalists are then chosen to present and compete for the top three prizes. Worth more than $35,000, the top prize includes start-up capital, free business banking for a year and a range of legal, accounting, marketing and advertising services. All participants are featured at the final showcase and awards ceremony, which takes place April 24, 2019 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

This year, a People’s Choice Award, sponsored by Sproing Creative, will also be given to the runner-up business earning the most votes from the audience.

Although he didn’t receive the top prize when he entered, Silverthorn credits the competition for helping him develop his business model and for providing him with great mentorship. He encourages anyone with a unique business idea to sign up.

“I learned a lot from my Enterprize advisor Jamie Morrow, who helped me get my business set up and provided a lot of great advice,” says Silverthorn. “Preparedness is key. Make sure you have a really good idea of what the judging committee is looking for before you start.”

Former Enterprize Challenge participant Brent Kisilevich works with his client Whitney Wagner at his Okanagan Feldenkrais studio in Vernon.

Brent Kisilevich says he also benefitted from entering Enterprize in 2017.

He had just opened his business, Okanagan Feldenkrais, a few months before the competition began and says the competition brought him out of his comfort zone to learn important business skills he would not have learned otherwise.

Kisilevich now operates one of two Feldenkrais centres in all of Canada. Practised around the world, the method reconnects people with their natural ability to think, move, and feel.

“This is a passion and a practice for me and because I had such an unusual offering, Enterprize was able to help me bring awareness to what I was doing,” says Kisilevich. “By doing up a mission statement and learning how to manage financial documents, give presentations, and work on marketing, I was able to develop my business and gain access to community support.”

Besides developing his practice, Kisilevich is planning to open a Feldenkrais training facility in the Okanagan in the near future.

Are you an entrepreneur or start-up business looking to start the next, best thing or expand your operations? Register for the 2019 Enterprize Challenge at enterprizechallenge.ca. Registration closes at noon on Feb. 12, 2019. Participants can enter individually or as a team.

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