Chantelle Parrott, Economic Development Officer, Minnedosa and Area CDC
October 19 was a day of enthusiasm and excitement at the third annual ‘What’s the BIG Idea?’ where almost $10,000 in cash prizes was awarded to six innovative entrepreneurs from across the region.
While the Minnedosa CDC and the Town of Neepawa returned as partners, the Town of Carberry was welcomed to host this year’s Dragon’s Den style entrepreneurship event at the Carberry Memorial Hall. The early part of the day offered opportunity for networking in a trade-show environment with a variety of business support agencies, followed by presentations on all things entrepreneurial. The afternoon’s pitch competition saw engaging and inspiring pitches from seven regional entrepreneurs, competing for cash prizes in 15 different categories.
The BIG winner of the day was Neepawa’s Amy Spring, who collected four of the 15 available prizes and banking $2950 for her business ‘Fueled by Adventure’. Prizes included $2000 from NADCO, $500 from Neepawa Chamber of Commerce, $150 from Neepawa Lionelle’s, and a $300 prize for RBC’s ‘Best Pitch of the Day’. The business was born when Amy left teaching to explore the increasingly popular field of experiential tourism, and making authentic travel experiences accessible for adventure-seekers.
The next BIG winner at the event was Carberry’s Emma Denton, pitching ‘Emma’s Custom Creations’. The humorous pitch for high quality, attractive custom bras was awarded $2750 in prizes including $1000 from Carberry business, MSPrebiotics, $1000 from the Town of Carberry, and a $750 prize from the RM of North-Cypress/Langford. The handmade samples were a testament to the flawless final product, while Emma’s pitch detailed the process of creation, from initial consult to final fitting, and left the ladies in the room dreaming up their own designs.
Shay McLenehan of Minnedosa walked away with $1450 to launch his tech-startup, ‘Special FX Productions’. A graduate of the Interactive Media Arts program at Assiniboine Community College, Shay will specialize in high-quality video production, and social media management services for small to medium business. Shay walked away from the event with $1000 from the Minnedosa Area CDC, and another $450 for the coveted ‘Best Overall Idea’ award from Westoba Credit Union, Beautiful Plains Credit Union, and Minnedosa Credit Union.
Other winners of the day include Brenda Dote of Neepawa who earned $1000 from the Town of Neepawa for her party decorating business, ‘Dream Parties’ who had a colourful, cheerful display on site. ‘Gunnysack Acres’, a spray-free CSA farm and vegetable market outside Minnedosa, pitched by Morghan Wark, grew by $750, earning $500 from the RM of Minto-Odanah and $250 from Prairie Oasis. Ryan Mackay, pitching ‘Transformative Electrolysis’ in Minnedosa was awarded $250 and a year’s membership from the Minnedosa Chamber of Commerce.
The event would not have been complete without hearing from winners of past events, including a video from 2016 winner Kennedy Baker talking about her experience launching XK10 Designs, which secured a contract with the Winnipeg Jets selling custom shoes in the Jets Store, and earned her a trip to the Manitoba Legislative Assembly this April. A video on the partnership between Satori Counselling, a 2016 winner which opened inside Minnedosa’s Inspire Studio of Fine Art, a 2015 winner, was shown before 2015 winner Darryn Cameron of 4U Home Décor in Neepawa finished off the speaking portion of the day, and prizes were awarded. Entrepreneurs and a captive audience of other attendees enjoyed presentations and networking opportunities through the day from industry agencies and supporting business owners including Earl McLaren of MSPrebiotics, Entrepreneurship Manitoba, Manitoba Agriculture, and from generous event sponsors Futurpreneur, World Trade Centre Winnipeg, BDC, and Community Futures Westman.
The 2017 event rewarded 6 new entrepreneurs, a record high for the number of new businesses supported, and the amount of prize money awarded, which came in at an impressive total of $9150. The 2015 and 2016 events each assisted four businesses to launch or expand, and averaged just under $7000 in awards. The annual event is receiving attention from across the province and into Saskatchewan, with interest in how communities can replicate the idea and stimulate their local economy by asking “What Is the BIG idea?”