Relan Johanson, Laureen Shannon and Lana Fitt are among many Okanagan College students and community members involved in the Launch-a-Preneur program in Salmon Arm. Since 2012 they have helped many businesses get off the ground and created a network of support and advice for local entrepreneurs. (Jodi Brak/Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap entrepreneurs go head to head in business competition

Launch-a-Preneur season five gets close to the main event

Shuswap entrepreneurs will have their chance to battle it out for the intrigue of the crowd – and a chance at a big boost to their business – during the fifth rendition of Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur, March 14.

The program has become a launching point for several local businesses in the Shuswap area, including the Elderberry Grove farm, Intwined Fibre Arts and Winebox Sweets. It is run out of Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm campus with support from the Enactus group, Salmon Arm Economic Development and other community groups, working since 2012 to ensure a thriving climate for new business ventures.

Nearly 100 jobs have been created as a result and, according to Salmon Arm Economic Development Society manager Lana Fitt, the success rate for businesses participating in the program is close to 90 per cent.

Read More: Giving business a boost in the Shuswap

“The most amazing part of the Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur program is how our community comes together to support these teams. The support extends well beyond the program and the prize packages, and sees our community following their progress for years to come,” Fitt says. “The whole Shuswap gets behind these entrepreneurs and creates a supportive environment to foster their start-up.”

During the Final Night Competition at the Salmar Classic Theatre in Salmon Arm, which kicks off March 14, participants will present their final pitches and detail the progress made towards their business, much like the popular programs Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank.

Entrants in season five include an up-and-coming cosmetics brand, a health and wellness focused coaching program, an educational childrens book, a Japanese-inspired Canadian barley tea and other budding business ideas.

Prizes are awarded by judges for their top three selections based on the pitch, business plan and progress made on each group’s project, which contribute capital, consultation and marketing support to the winners. In addition, the audience has a chance to vote on an additional winner, and a prize is given to the team which presents the most environmentally sustainable project.

Read More: Taking a trip to Salmon Arm’s Elderberry Grove

Doors open at the Salmar Classic for the Final Night Competition at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 14. For more information or to reserve tickets before they sell out, visit www.launch-a-preneur.ca.

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Val Hillicker and Lilli the duck show Layla McMillan how to stand up to bullies during the Launch-a Preneur sneak peak event at the Mall at Piccadilly on Saturday, Sept. 9. Hillicker has created a children’s book she hopes will help address bullying in schools. The book is Hilliker’s entry for this years Launch-a-Preneur competition, which will be held at the Salmar Classic on March 14. (Kayleigh Seibel/Salmon Arm Observer)

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