May 26th, 2018

Entrepreneurs cash in at MHC

By Gillian Slade on May 17, 2018.


gslade@medicinehatnews.com 
@MHNGillianSlade

Feeding garbage to worms and turning it into an organic fertilizer was a winning business idea pitched at a Medicine Hat College (MHC) competition on Wednesday.

Roxanne Doerksen of T.R.A.D. Worm Industries not only received $10,000 for the purchase of equipment but won the Peoples’ Choice award and the award for the most innovative pitch.

The worm produced castings would be an ideal fertilizer for cannabis growers, according to research at the University of Michigan, but would also be ideal for organic farmers, Doerksen explained. There is a never-ending supply of local garbage for the worms to eat and what she really needed was an industrial shredder to increase production.

Beth Lewis of Rustic Rose was also awarded $10,000 to purchase equipment that will take her line of T-shirts with heat pressed western-themed designs to the next level. Rustic Rose began with a line of jewelry featuring the designs she was always looking for. She has since expanded to include apparel and has become a distributor for Spin-Em hats. Lewis also received the best pitch award.

Bubbling with enthusiasm for a unique cafe concept that will target millennials and the “fandom” culture, business pitcher was Cleodel Capiral of Aeon Cafe. In addition to unusual menu items, Aeon Cafe would sell fan apparel and have a photo booth.

“Basically speaking, a haven for nerds,” said Capiral, noting the curiosity factor would attract customers. The judges awarded her $2,500 to go towards a revision of her business proposal and to connect with a mentor. The judges applauded her enthusiasm and passion and felt she has identified a great target audience.

Last year’s Start Up Company Pitch winner, Patrick Tolchard of Valley Zipline, returned to tell of his business adventure in the last year at Radium Hot Springs in B.C. Some of the challenges have been obtaining affordable land and funding, not to mention contending with smoke from wildfires last summer. They opened on July 21, 2017 and made a go of it, he said, adding it was a “wild ride” from the beginning with 3,000 guests in the first year. There has been a huge demand for merchandise and they have introduced team building packages for businesses.

Tolchard explained how he has learned the value of going above and beyond because “you never know who your customers are going to be.”

The MHC Start Up Company Pitch competition is a growing experience for participants and a huge inspiration too, said Christie Dick, entrepreneur advisor at the college.

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