Community Futures North Okanagan’s business bootcamp returns to the stage, live at the Performing Arts Centre April 27
Inspired by businesses who were forced to pivot and find new ways to be successful, innovation is a key driver for this year’s Enterprize Challenge finalists.
“The last two years have really been about flexibility and seeking new opportunities,” says Kazia Mullin, business services manager, Community Futures North Okanagan. “These seven finalists are great examples of entrepreneurs who have a dream, see possibility and understand that there are new opportunities in the market.”
Hosted by CF North Okanagan and presenting sponsor VantageOne Credit Union, the 2022 Enterprize Challenge connected 28 new entrepreneurs with local business mentors. Over the three months leading up to the final pitch at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre on April 27, participants accessed online workshops and one-to-one coaching as they refined their business plans.
All 28 entrepreneurs who began the program in February had a unique business concept. The thread tying each of this year’s finalists together is a dedication to the environment.
“Many of the program’s participants are coming into the market with a product that is not only strong on its own but also has a low carbon footprint, is eco-friendly or uses compostable packaging,” says Mullin. “The environment is so important to young entrepreneurs.”
The seven finalists will share their business ideas with the community in a Dragons’ Den-style night of live pitches before a group of volunteer judges. The winner takes home start-up capital and thousands in business services prize packages.
This year’s finalists include:
Stephlynne, Wildflower General Store
The new Wildflower General Store is a modern take on general store shopping in downtown Vernon. With a relaxing and comfortable shopping experience, Wildflower sells a curated assortment of unique and affordable home goods including everything from stationery to table wear, jewellery, gifts and beauty items.
Leanna Maksymik, Waste Not Wool
As a rancher who raises sheep for fibre, Maksymik knows firsthand how much wool ends up in the landfill. After selling out of her own wool clip, Maksymik decided to gather fleeces wasted by other ranchers and process them for wool. But, with the incredible amount of dirty, unusable wool, Maksymik sought a way to keep wool out of the landfill. Through Waste Not Wool, Maksymik purchased a wool pelleting machine that turns unusable wool into natural fertilizer. As a result, Waste Not Wool is now a zero-waste business.
Adrianna Stange, Townships and Tales
Create a ripple of kindness through e-commerce: that’s the inspiration behind Townships and Tales. This curated subscription box supports small-town B.C. entrepreneurs and artisans through regionally themed seasonal boxes. Each box features between five and seven items, ranging from houseware and décor to personal care and artwork, and a hand-written note detailing an act of kindness made possible by the purchase. Through Townships and Tales, Stange has partnered with local mechanics to give single mothers free automotive repairs, completed yard work for seniors and even fixed a leaking roof.
James Stuart, Uplift Aero Greens
What if there were a way to increase year-round food security and save water at the same time? That’s the question that sparked Uplift Aero Greens. Stuart’s indoor lettuce farm uses aeroponic technology he designed himself to produce hundreds of heads of lettuce per week in an 800 square-foot, artificially lit building without any sprays or pesticides. And, Stuart says, each head of lettuce required only half a litre of water compared to an estimated 56 litres when grown in traditional outdoor methods.
Tickets for April 27 final pitch at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre are free. Register online through Eventbrite to reserve a spot in the audience. Stay tuned for details about how to watch the event via livestream. Doors open at 3 p.m. Pitches start at 4 p.m. with the winners announced before the finale ends at 7 p.m.