Junior Dragons’ Den is returning to the West Kootenay.
Put on by Community Futures Development Corporations since 2014, the competition is for youth from Grade 8 to post-secondary school and is based on the popular CBC show, Dragons’ Den.
Asked what the idea behind the competition was, John Reed, junior initiatives coordinator for Community Futures of Greater Trail, said, “To create an opportunity for students to be creative, inventive, learn leadership skills. We’re big advocates of financial literacy, so it’s a really nice, fun challenging way for students to either create a business or to expand an existing business, if they have one.”
Youth submit applications pitching a business idea or a business improvement idea. Short listed applicants — five from each category, including Junior (Grades 8-10), Senior (Grades 11-12) and College/University/Trades — are then assigned a mentor from the local business community who will help them refine their business concept and turn it into a one-page business plan with financial statements. Those who make it this far will also have to create a video elevator pitch.
Students will only have so long to prepare, because they’ll have to present their business plans at a regional competition in Trail on Thursday, April 21, in front of a live audience and a panel of local business leaders.
The first, second and third place winners from each age category will be rewarded cash prizes and awards to go toward the start-up costs of their business, or to expand their existing business.
“The cash prizing portion needs to go toward business start-up and/or expansion, and it can also go toward continuing education or tuition,” says Reed.
Winners of the regional competition will then advance to the Junior Dragons’ Den Championship 2016, also in Trail on Saturday, April 30, where they’ll face the winners from the other two regions.
Past winners include Eric Gonzalez, who has a video company, and Jordan Strobel, who runs Ebon Supply Company.
Reed says they anticipate receiving over 200 entries from the West Kootenay Boundary region alone this year. So far three students from Rossland, ten students from Nelson, over 60 students from Castlegar, and over 80 students from Trail are expected to apply.
Sophie Wardy and Alesha Hall from the Seven Summits Centre for Learning are the two of the students applying from Rossland. Their idea is to provide babysitting and grocery delivery in the community.
“What’s happening is I guess we kind of have our centre location and over a few months or something, we’ll hope to have people, like employees. So what will happen is that if somebody wants us to babysit for them, they’ll call us and we’ll have babysitters around the town, and we’ll be able to contact whoever’s closest to them to make it efficient for everybody,” explains Hall.
“For the grocery part, we know how it’s difficult for some residents in town to reach like Ferraro’s, for example, in winter especially because it’s all icy and stuff, and we mostly like to focus on the seniors,” says Wardy.
Wardy and Hall have also received positive feedback from classmates who say they’d love to use a grocery delivery business.
Both learners are nervous about the possibility of presenting their business plan on stage.
“The only thing I’m worried about is actually presenting the information on stage,” says Wardy. “Because that’s always sort of the stressful thing about any presentation I do, but presenting works after a couple of months, I should feel a little bit confident.”
“I can barely do piano concerts, so this is going to be a bit difficult,” said Hall, “but I think I’ll do fine.”
Interested students can apply at juniordragonsden.com; the deadline has been extended to Tuesday, March 1.