Penticton students enter Dragons’ Den

Penticton students will take part in Young Entrepreneurs Program sponsored by Windward Software and Okanagan College

Any entrepreneur will tell you that there is lot more to creating a successful business than just having a good idea.

That’s a lesson that students from Penticton Secondary, as well as McNicoll Park and Skaha Lake middle schools, will find out first hand Saturday as they try to convince a panel of judges their idea is worth backing in a Dragons’ Den-style competition.

This is the fourth year for the Young Entrepreneurs Program, sponsored by Windward Software and the Enactus student group from Okanagan College. For the past two months, they have been mentoring the younger students through what it takes to make a business idea work, focusing on concept development, marketing and finance

“The Okanagan Valley is built on a foundation of entrepreneurial businesses. We recognize that students are the next generation of entrepreneurs. But there is little to no lessons taught in the classroom on entrepreneurship and business and finances,” said Ryan Lancaster, vice-president of Enactus Okanagan College.

“We really hope not only to create new business here, but also to hopefully keep some of the youth that seems to be steadily travelling away from this region after they graduate from high school,” said Lancaster. Through this outreach, they hope to show the students there are opportunities they can create themselves in the Okanagan.

Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon at Okanagan College Penticton, the young entrepreneurs will face a panel of judges drawn from the community as they pitch their ideas with presentations developed  during their mentorship with the Enactus students.

Unlike the TV Dragons’ Den, the judges aren’t making investments, through they do have $3,000 in prize money to hand out. This year, the “dragons” will consist of Andrew Greer, Wayne Tymchuk, Bruce Schoenne, Cary Schneiderat, Andre Martin, Kim Lawton and Mary Ellen Heidt.

Lancaster is impressed with the concepts the young entrepreneurs are coming up with, including one by a group redeveloping and expanding an idea they pitched last year.

“They presented last year on a choose your own adventure card game they created themselves. Really kind of unique and wacky. Now they are trying to build a mobile version of the game so they can be more environmentally conscious, they don’t have to have cards and paper and packaging,” said Lancaster. The concept is to make the game into an app that will run on smart phones and pads.

“We have been trying to connect them with some resources, cost of building the application and people that actually could build it if they decide to pursue it further,” said Lancaster. “They are super excited and both said if they actually won any financing they would be prone to investing it back into the business to see if they could get their idea up and going.”