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Selkirk College Business students experience life as an entrepreneur

Blending all their learnings from the past two years, Selkirk College Business students transformed theory into reality at the first in-person Business Plan Tradeshow Competition in three years.

From antique refurbishing to electric bike services, the variety of student-created business concepts stimulated a buzz of energy in the Pit on the Castlegar Campus in late March.

Unlike other Business Tradeshow Competitions held over the last three years, the Spring 2022 event was open for students, staff and the community to witness. Students presented to local industry stakeholders and organization representatives from the local area.

Judges in attendance were Paul Kelly (Community Futures), Gail Shaw (CIBC), Diane Sirois (Kootenay Savings) and Tammy Verigin-Burk (Castlegar Chamber of Commerce).

“I wasn’t too sure what to expect,” stated first-time judge Paul Kelly.

“It was challenging as a judge to evaluate a business concept in a short timeframe. I was impressed by the amount of work that had gone into each student’s presentation and it was neat to see the breadth of different types of business models,” Kelly added.

“It’s always great for students to go through the process of assessing a business for viability. Whether students will eventually run their own business or work for someone else, the skills learned in this process are really useful once in the workforce.”

The Business Administration Diploma program functions to create a cohesive network between Selkirk College, students and local businesses and organizations.

“The Business program does a real service to local employers; many employers hire students out of the program because they know students understand what a business needs,” expressed Kelly.

Facilitated by Entrepreneurship course instructor Cibylla Rakestraw, the Business Plan Tradeshow Competition functions as a cornerstone year-end project for Business

students.

Winners of the 2022 competition were Mariana Martin and Christine Joy Esplana with Kootenay Little Smiles, a Kootenay-based pediatric dental clinic. Second

place winners with their business concept Slickbooks, a bookkeeping service, were Connor Amonson and Kaleb Comishin. Finally, an honourable mention was given to Asmita Joge and Ankita Nair for their business model, a specialty shop titled Everything Asiatic.

“Leading up to the contest I was feeling nervous to present to a variety of judges. I wasn’t sure if I could properly express myself because English is my second language,” exclaimed first-place winner Mariana.

“The experience allowed me to transform theory into practice within a simulated environment that any person in business could encounter in the real world.”

Jessica Crookbain, a participant of the contest who graduated from the program in April, enrolled at Selkirk College to re-educate and enter a different industry. First educated as a Registered Nurse, Jessica realized she wanted a change.

After two studious years in the business program, Jessica reflected on how the Business Plan Tradeshow Competition capped off her Selkirk experience.

“The process of creating a business plan was such an effective way to combine what we learned in our Entrepreneurship class with the knowledge gained from the other classes over the past two years. The process was in-depth and a lot of work, but we had tremendous support from our instructor.”

Several days later, an online version of the contest was held for students in the Post- Graduate Business Management Diploma program. This rendition of the contest mirrored the in-person version over Zoom and was also judged by local community stakeholders.

Winners of the online contest were Kaila Kaufmann with Ponderosa Hot Yoga and Alexandria Beaton in second with Pawsome Organic Petfoods. Honourable mentions were given to Gauri Kataria and Simranjot Kaur with Cookie Kingdom and Kathleen Bautista with Castlegar Sports Equipment.

Whether students are in the classroom or presenting business pitches to real-world stakeholders, students in Selkirk College’s School of Business continue to cultivate the skills and experience needed in the workforce and or future education.

PHOTO CAPTION: Winners of the in-person Business Plan Tradeshow Competition standing proud after hearing the results, L-R, Connor Amonson and Kaleb Comishin (second place), Mariana Martin and Christine Joy Esplana (first place) and Ankita Nair and Asmita Joge (honourable mention). — Submitted photo