Three students from the Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en Education program in Old Hazelton earned the chance to take their business plan to the next level with an invitation to attend the National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition finals in Winnipeg next May.
The three young entrepreneurs, Bryan Beatty, Colin Teasdale and Karista Olson are taking their business plan titled Gitxsan Grease Trail Art Kits to the next round and everyone is very excited including their teacher, Kirsten Barnes.
“You have to apply as a school and then you enter teams, and Sharon Ness and I helped them out and then they choose the top business plans across Canada and they are invited to compete wherever the gala is and this year it’s in Winnipeg at the university,” Barnes explained.
“It was pretty cool because we didn’t expect much except they promised us a new computer which we got.
“We thought that was pretty good and then we got the news the three where chosen to go on to the finals”
E-Spirit is a national business plan competition, hosted by the Business Development Bank of Canada, with more than 500 students participating every year in the four E-Spirit milestones.
The BDC then offers the students to attend the tradeshow and the final presentation round.
For the competition, students can have teams of up to four members, supported by a teacher and a local business mentor. Then they come up with a business idea and develop it through all the planning stages.
The finalists then present their business plans in front of a panel of judges and elders and the winners are revealed during a formal awards ceremony.
The goal of E-Spirit is to provide students with, “A taste of the business world and to give them, through the competition process, the knowledge to succeed in today’s marketplace.”
For Teasdale, the whole process has done just that.
“We created a business plan and have all the details worked out like who will be our buyers, where we will be distributed, how much the gas will cost, the building rental and on and on, it’s just so detailed,” he said.
“We did ours on Grease Trail Art Kits because the Gitxsan Nation is very well known for their Grease Trails and where the Telegraph trail is now is built right where the Grease trail used to be.
“The kits we are making will be sold to teach other people how to do Gitxsan Art.”
As for the upcoming competition, Teasdale said although they are nervous, they are up for the challenge.
“We’re going to present our entrepreneurship plan with every detail memorized and it is going to be great fun,” he said.
“If we win we’ll get international recognition and although I’ll be pretty nervous, it’s going to be a lot of fun and totally worth it.”
For teammate and fellow entrepreneur Beatty, the whole experience is something to be enjoyed.
“Being a part of this E-Spirit and everything else up here is awesome,” he said.
“There’s a lot of great information on how to start a business and it’s really great practice.
“It’s also great to be in school and it’s brought me back up here and I’m really stoked to go to Winnipeg.”
Olson, who was away at the time of the interview, is also looking forward to the journey Barnes said adding she knows the students will not only do well but will gain a lot of great experiences.
The group will head out on May 14 − 18 and all three are flying and Winnipeg is the farthest east all three have been so far in Canada.
As for what the future holds, Barnes said the three students, along with eight classmates, will graduate this spring and both Teasedale and Beatty said they are excited about the next step in their careers even if it doesn’t involve starting a business right away.
Both hope to carry on to post secondary with Teasedale looking towards the mining and drilling programs and Beatty hoping to secure a welding apprenticeship.
“It’s great to be back up here now and to be getting my education,” Teasedale said about getting his Dogwood in the next few months.
For more information on the GWES education programs or the BDC E-Spirit competition call 250-842-0216 or visit the www.bdc.ca/en/espirit.