$100,000 on the line for young entrepreneurs

Penticton and other Okanagan communities rank as some of Canada’s hotbeds for new business growth when it comes to self-employment and entrepreneurs.

But finding funding, especially if you are young, is one of the toughest parts of the job to accomplish. That’s why the Business Development Bank of Canada is putting more than $100,000 in seed money on the line in their latest BDC Young Entrepreneur award.

“It is a Canada-wide competition. Last year, they had a runner up from Kamloops that won $25,000,” said spokesman Stephanie Loo de Nevers. “The contest is aimed at helping the Y Generation (18-35) of business owners take their company to the next level.”

According to Statistics Canada, the Thompson-Okanagan had a net increase of 3,500 small businesses between 2007 and 2011, with Penticton, Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops ranked in the top 40 in 2011.

Loo de Nevers explains that young entrepreneurs are often faced with greater risk and realities of running a business that include access to financial resources and limited business experience. Topped off with sleepless nights and 70-hour workweek, the journey is exciting but the outcome is far from certain.

“All companies reach a turning point,” said Michel Bergeron, a senior vice-president at BDC. “Some may choose to tap into new markets by implementing an Internet strategy; others may decide to acquire new equipment that will increase their overall profitability. Recognizing challenges early on and having a plan to tackle individual turning points is important for business and should rank high on an entrepreneur’s agenda.”

To enter the competition, applicants need to create a short video describing a turning point their business has reached and the solution that will help them achieve future growth. The video should explain the turning point solution, describing an upcoming project. A professional production isn’t need, but the video should have good image and sound quality and be memorable. All entries have to describe an upcoming project.

Judges will shortlist 11 finalists, one for each province and one for the combined territories, to compete for the $100,000 grand prize. And in a twist on the new crowd funding paradigm, the video pitches of the finalists will be put online, with the public invited to review them and vote for their favourite.

“The value of participation goes beyond the monetary value of the award,” said Bergeron. “The entire experience brings finalists tremendous exposure, public support, and access to people and resources that will ultimately help their companies grow. As impressive as the monetary awards may be, a better reason to compete is to get noticed by potential customers and investors.”

Besides the $100,000 grand prize, there will also be a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services going to the runner-up.

The deadline for submitting applications is 9 a.m. on April 2. The contest is open to all Canadian entrepreneurs aged 18 to 35 as of Dec. 31, 2012, responsible for the daily management of a Canada based business for at least two years as of Dec. 31, and must hold at least 20% of the company’s capital stock.

More information about the BDC is available online at Application and competition details of the young entrepreneurs award are at





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