Students in Hay River don’t have a shortage of business ideas.
That was made abundantly clear on March 24 at the sixth-annual Hay River Dragons’ Den Challenge.
“There wasn’t a bad idea in the house,” said Sherry DaRosa, co-owner of G&L Workwear and one of the dragons along with Brian Lefebvre, owner of Power Surge Technologies/The Source; Nikki Ashton, co-owner of La Dee Dah Boutique; and Jack Rowe, president of Rowe’s Construction. “Everybody in here should be extremely proud of yourselves and all these ideas. Hay River has a bright future from what I’ve seen tonight.”
In all, 20 students or groups of students in grades five to nine from Princess Alexandra School and Ecole Boreale made pitches to prominent businesspeople in a bid to win a $500 grand prize or to obtain financial support from the dragons.
The $500 was won by Declan Munro, a Grade 6 student at Ecole Boreale, for his business idea called Easy Wood, which would sell bundles of firewood and bags of kindling.
“I think this business is needed because campers and local people would buy small bundles of firewood for their fire pits,” he said during his pitch in which he outlined a marketing strategy, a lack of competition, and a breakdown of costs and supplies.
Munro convinced the dragons.
“I think the project was done very well,” said Tod Ashton, a member of the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise, which sponsored the challenge, and the host for the event, held at Diamond Jenness Secondary School. “He was very convincing with his arguments, and he certainly sold me because I think I’m going to be contacting him this summer.”
Munro was proud to have been selected by the dragons to win the challenge.
“There were a lot of good ideas and I guess it was a tough choice for them,” he said.
While some of the business ideas presented to the dragons were theoretical, Munro actually plans to start Easy Wood this summer.
In addition to the $500, he was presented with a trophy by Peter Groenen, president of the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise.
The judges also awarded up to $200 to some other business ideas – an afterschool program by Connor McKay-Ivanko and Landon Bowker of Ecole Boreale, a reusable herbal teabag by Madison Beck of Princess Alexandra School, plush pillows by Gabrielle Morse and Chandelle Leonard of Princess Alexandra School, and a robotic video fish finder by Mason Walters of Princess Alexandra School.
Lefebvre agreed that all the ideas were extremely well thought out.
“There were some very good business ideas and certainly some opportunities,” he said. “I think what would be really good is to see these youngsters take some of these projects and run with them, and see what they can do with them.”
The Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise initiated the challenge – inspired by the popular Dragons’ Den show on CBC television – as a way to teach students what it takes to own and operate a business.