When her video camera turned on suddenly after the announcement was made, Amanda Homeniuk’s ear-to-ear smile filled the screen.
Homeniuk, new owner of the revamped Shambhala Clothing (soon to be renamed KALECO), took home the business services package valued at more than $20,000 during the Enterprize Challenge. Her prize includes business capital, banking, accounting service, marketing, legal services and more.
“This has been such a great experience,” says Homeniuk. “The community here is so great.”
Presented by VantageOne Credit Union and hosted by Community Futures North Okanagan the 2021 Enterprize Challenge culminated in the virtual Expo livestreamed via Hopin Wednesday, April 28. Seven competitors presented their final pitches to volunteer judges from VantageOne Credit Union, Sproing Creative, Nixon Wenger LLP, Wayside, and BDO Canada LLP.
Shambhala has been in the community for a long time but with new ownership and an entirely new business model, Homeniuk fit the criteria as a start-up in the program. Surrounded by the eco-friendly clothing and jewelry from brands dedicated to social good, Homeniuk espoused the environmental and social need for change that drives her sustainable clothing business.
From adventure gear rentals to permaculture recycling and food waste recycling, environmental impact and conservation were top-of-mind for many of this year’s entrepreneurs.
“A global pandemic has not kept this years’ participants down,” says Michelle Hill, chair of the CFNO board of directors. “While navigating social bubbles, shifting restrictions and digital platforms, our participants have really risen to this year’s challenge.”
Second place winners OTA Gear Rentals, which helps people enjoy outdoor adventures, claimed the more than $10,000 prize package.
“We’re so grateful for everything we got from this competition,” says Olivier Asselin.
During a 30-minute break, while local musician Justin Moore performed, audience members voted for the People’s Choice Award. Sponsored by Sproing Creative, OTA Gear Rentals also won a $750 marketing package in addition to their second-place prize package.
Bryn Davis and Jessica Bosman of DOUBL, a custom-fitting bra harnessing 3D imaging technology, took home the third-place package valued at more than $6,000.
Each of the seven contenders was assigned a mentor to aid with their final pitches and underwent marketing, financials, development, and operations training. Entrepreneurs spent 10 weeks preparing for the Expo on Wednesday.
In its first virtual year, the Enterprize Challenge saw 25 businesses join the challenge and 15 present their initial pitch to the judges.
“The innovation we have seen this evening both at the Expo and in the final pitches is very impressive,” says Glenn Benischek, VantageOne Credit Union CEO. “The display of entrepreneurship shown during the Enterprize Challenge is to be commended, and we congratulate all of those that participated as well as all seven of our finalists.”
Following the Enterprize Challenge, CF North Okanagan will support all participants as they continue to grow their businesses.
Kazia Mullin, CF North Okangan Business Services Manager, says all the entrepreneurs, even those who didn’t take home a prize package, benefit from the Challenge.
“All of the Enterprize challengers showed innovation in their ability to adapt traditional business ideas to meet a changing marketplace,” says Mullin. “The Enterprize Challenge looked different this year, but the core principles of hard work and creativity remain. If you work hard, show your idea is valid, you will succeed not only in this competition but in business.”
Enterprize Challenge supporting partners include VantageOne Credit Union, Nixon Wenger LLP, Sproing Creative, BDO Canada LLP, Wayside, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan College, Accelerate Okanagan, Rhythm Productions, Entrepreneurs with Disabilities, Vernon Morning Star, the City of Vernon and Beach 107.5.