Business leaders to offer cash to help local entrepreneurs

A group of five local business leaders are putting their own money on the line to help would-be entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

The City of Prince George will be hosting an event, called Titans' Den – in homage to the popular CBC TV show Dragons' Den – where people can pitch their business ideas to the business leaders and receive up to $5,000 in start-up capital. But unlike the TV show, the local business leaders won't be buying a stake in the proposed business, city manager of economic development Melissa Barcellos said.

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"This is a gift. We're really fortunate to have local entrepreneurs willing to put their money toward this," Barcellos said. "The only requirement, from us as the city, will be in six months we'll follow up with the successful pitchers. Ideally we want to see businesses start up and be successful."

Unlike the Dragons' Den TV show, the event won't be televised or open to the public. The  five local business people who have each committed a minimum of $2,500 of their own money to support the best pitches will remain anonymous. They come from a range of business backgrounds, including transportation and warehousing, retail, business consulting, manufacturing and exporting, Barcellos said.

The event will take place on Oct. 29 at the Ramada Hotel downtown, and will follow physical distancing safety measures.

There will only be time for a maximum of 12 pitches, so those wanting to sign up should do so as soon as possible, Barcellos said.

Those pitching ideas should expect a maximum of $5,000 in support ($1,000 from each of the five business leaders), Barcellos said. But ultimately, it will be up to the participating business leaders to decide how much, if any, of their own money they're willing to give to support a pitch.

To make a successful pitch, participants should be ready to show knowledge about the business they are entering, outline potential costs and present the steps they plan to take to develop their business.

"It's pretty wide open," Barcellos said. "It could be they have an idea they want to develop. They could be running a side gig and want to take it out of their house. Maybe they need to buy equipment to start their business."

In addition to the cash, the business leaders may be willing to step forward and offer some mentorship to the successful pitchers, she added.

“As this is a pilot project, we will be measuring the success of the event and then making a decision about whether to hold more,” Barcellos said.

To register to participate, contact Allan Stroet at 250-561-7582 or by email at allan.stroet@princegeorge.ca. Business leaders who want to participate this year or in future versions of the event can also contact Stroet.

Further information is also available online at www.princegeorge.ca/entrepreneurship. 

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