Students in Hay River have once again shown their entrepreneurial spirit.
On Dec. 1, they made their best pitches for financial backing from local businesspeople in the annual Dragon’s Den Challenge.
The challenge – inspired by the popular CBC show Dragons’ Den – is presented by the Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise.
This year, 30 students from Grades 4 to 9 presented 15 business ideas to the dragons.
In the senior division for Grades 7 to 9, Rochelle Smith, a 12-year-old Grade 7 student at Princess Alexandra School, won with a unique idea called Furry Funerals, which was a theoretical exercise on creating a business to offer funerals for family pets – including flowers, cards and coffins.
Many people consider a pet to be part of the family, she said. “When our pet dies, we want to have a proper send-off for it.”
The dragons were impressed with the business proposal.
“I think it’s a fantastic idea and it’s very creative,” said Jane Groenewegen of Greenway Realty.
Smith said she came up with the idea after having pets in the past and planning funerals for them when they died.
As the winner of the senior division, she received $500, and she plans to use that money for a World Vision international development project to buy a cow, a goat, some chickens and a water filter for children in another part of the world.
In the junior division for Grades 4 to 6, Deacon Tybring, a nine-year-old Grade 4 student at Princess Alexandra School, emerged with the top project of a North of 60 T-shirt.
“I originally thought of a picture but then I kind of just thought of the North and it popped up,” he said of his idea, adding he hopes to print the T-shirts and sell them to tourists with the $500 he won.
“I worked very hard on it and I’m glad for this success,” he said.
Along with Groenewegen, the dragons were Kandis Jameson of Hay River Disposals, Tod Ashton of Ashton Chartered Accountants and Brad Mapes of Wesclean Northern Sales.
The Rotary Club of Hay River Sunrise came up with the idea for the Dragon’s Den Challenge and has been hosting it since 2011.
Tom Lakusta, the club president, said some members had noticed that teenagers enjoyed watching the Dragons’ Den show.
“And so we thought this might be an interesting challenge for the kids,” he said.
Lakusta said the students’ imagination is amazing.
Along with Princess Alexandra School, students participated from Ecole Boreale and Diamond Jenness Secondary School.
The dragons also presented so-called “dragon dollars” – from $100 to $200 – to support the ideas of a number of students, including Miah Harris; Delayna Cross; Josee Touesnard; the five-member team of Sophia Brito, Gina Lenoir, Daphee Babiuk, Penelope Berrub and Kamilah Gostick; Nicole Griffiths and Zoey Walsh; and Shyla Boyce and Julie Rowe.