As a new arrival to Vernon, Mitchal Derksen knew he’d have to build strong relationships for his business to grow. A chartered accountant with a background in finance, he already had a business plan. All he needed was to make the right connections.
That’s when he decided to enter the 2018 Enterprize Challenge. Presented by VantageOne Credit Union and Community Futures North Okanagan, the annual competition helps local entrepreneurs build on their business ideas with mentorship, marketing, skills training, and more.
Now the founder and CEO of NUMU Consulting, a software consulting firm that provides business data information and tech services, Derksen was supplied with all the tools he needed to succeed thanks to the connections he made at the Enterprize Challenge.
“Even though I had a business plan ready to roll, the program helped me refine my ideas and provided me with a clear point of communication and a strategic direction. I also appreciated the coaching and support I received from my mentor Ken MacLeod. He was a wealth of knowledge,” says Derksen, who now has a team of three supporting clients across the Okanagan, Alberta and around the world. “I would highly recommend Enterprize, especially as the competition has grown in its operation, exposure, and popularity.”
Anyone with a business idea or who has had a business open in the last 12 months can enter the 2020 Enterprize Challenge.
The competition sees participants work with a mentor and take part in business planning sessions and tasks over eight weeks. Seven finalists then compete in a Dragon’s Den-like competition, where they pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. Up to $45,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs for the top three winners, as well as a People’s Choice Award and the new Innovation Award.
Sue Cairnie also credits the personal connections she made as a 2017 Enterprize Challenge participant.
As a life cycle celebrant and metaphysical minister, Cairnie has not only created and officiated personalized weddings, funerals, and other rite-of-passage ceremonies through her business, Sue Cairnie Ceremonies, she has since launched a sister project called Elope BC, specializing in nature-based elopements. Last year she performed more than 80 wedding ceremonies across B.C., and Cairnie credits the Enterprize Challenge for showing her how important it is to network within the community.
“Enterprize helped me to streamline my message and showed me how success truly takes a village and also showed me that succeeding at business takes equal parts passion and hard work. You need to love what you do, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t put the time and effort into creating the systems that make your dream a reality. It also showed me that people love a story, and the more I can share who I am, the better I can connect with my community.”
For Dr. Steve Piper, a chiropractor and founding partner with Monashee Health Collective, the 2019 Enterprize Challenge helped him get more brand exposure for a new app he and his allied health care company is developing.
The app will help practitioners efficiently communicate with patients between visits, as well as provide personalized support, track patients’ progress daily, and reward behaviours known to positively impact wellness and quality of life.
Designed by the REd Academy Design School in Vancouver, the app is now being submitted to the National Research Council Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.
“It was through Enterprize that we were able to network and make connections with a research-based institution that guides funding further development,” says Piper.
Registration for the 2020 Enterprize Challenge closes at noon Feb. 7. The finalists’ pitch, awards and challenger showcase happens April 28 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. To learn more or to register, visit enterprizechallenge.ca.