Young entrepreneurs got the chance to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges as part of the first annual Cranbrook Junior Dragons Den competition last week at the Key City Theatre.
Four youths from Cranbrook and the surrounding region came together to showcase their businesses in front of a live audience and vie for a place at a regional competition in Trail this weekend.
A street clothing apparel business idea from Nathan Hilton proved to be the overall winner in the college/university division of the event.
Hilton, who is currently attending the College of the Rockies, has been busy getting Black Dust Apparel off the ground and pitched his business to the judges and was very well received.
Black Dust Apparel is a street wear company founded by Hitlon a few months ago, but he’s already got big plans.
“We’re a high-end street wear company based in Cranbrook, bridging eastern aesthetics with modern street wear silhouettes,” Hilton said.
“…I guess I’ve always been into clothing and then I just decided maybe it’s something I could get into business as well, making and selling clothing so I did it.”
He is currently developing prototype pieces to send to manufacturers and is also looking at manufacturing space in the Kootenays.
He’s hoping that the regional competition in Trail will be a jumping-off point to bigger things.
“Hopefully we can impress the judges there and do well in that competition, I think there’s about 14 people in that competition, but moving forward, we’re going to be implementing our marketing plan as well as getting our manufacturing up and going and speaking to retailers to take some orders,” Hilton said. “We already have a lot of interest generated from retailers across Canada.”
Hilton doesn’t have a website or social media presence yet, but plans are in the works once clothing prototypes and a marketing plan is finalized.
Bruno Hambalek, a grade 10 student at Mount Baker Secondary School, earned the top honours in the junior division with Speedy Spouts—a redesigned sealed spout for field and jerry cans.
“The Speedy Spouts are an improved replacement to the existing field can spouts and I got the idea because I dirt bike a lot and I over pour when I gas,” said Hambalek. “My Speedy Spouts are one piece, so it’s completely sealed, so the older spouts, they have so many pieces that there’s lots of holes and gaps where the gas will spill out.”
Prototypes of the spout were built with piping and tubing at Caliper Machinery and Hydraulics, and the idea spawned a kit of spouts for varying applications.
“There is a spoon spout which is shaped like a spoon and is for smaller applications like chainsaws and dirt bikes, because it has high visibility compared to the older ones,” said Hambalek.
“There is the flexible spout, and that’s in two sizes, for bigger machines and dirt bikes and vehicles even.
“There’s also a ventilated spout, which is like the flexible spout, but it has a breather line in the inside to allow for air inside fuel cans that don’t have breather vents.”
Hambalek also has made a vent-making kits to make your own vents.
Hambalek received positive feedback from the judges and advice on how to polish his pitch before heading to Trail this Saturday to go up against regional competition from around the Kootenays.
“After the competition, I want to get into buying an 3D printer, because with that, I can start making tests and prototypes of the spouts and then I can hopefully get into more local businesses,” said Hambalek.
“And then as I get feedback from them on how to improve, I can then go to try and set up meetings with larger box stores.”
Each competitor had five minutes to pitch their idea to the judges, following the airing of a short promotional video produced for the competition highlighting their business or business concept.
“Last night’s East Kootenay regional qualifier was very fast paced and all competitors did very well,” said Sean Campbell, GM at CFDC East Kootenay in Cranbrook. “We were very pleased with the results for the launch of the competition here and look forward to bigger and better things as word gets out and the competition grows.”
Prize money awarded to the winners must be used to expand their business or launch their business concept, or go towards tuition for post-secondary education. Winners advancing to Trail will go head to head on May 7 at the Charles Bailey Theatre.