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More North Okanagan Enterprize Challenge finalists announced

Seven entrepreneurs will compete in a live at Vernon’s Performing Arts Centre Wednesday
Adrianna Stange (top left), James Stuart, Stephlynne, and Leanna Makysmik have been announced as 2022 Enterprize Challenge finalists. They will appear next to three other finalists to make their final pitches at the Vernon and Districte Arts Centre Wednesday, April 27, 2022. (Submitted photos)

Four more finalists have been announced for the 2022 Enterprize Challenge, bringing the total up to seven.

Community Futures North Okanagan’s (CFNO) seventh annual Enterprize Challenge is returning to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Wednesday, April 27.

Innovation was a common theme among this year’s finalists given how many businesses were forced to pivot over the last two years.

“The last two years have really been about flexibility and seeking new opportunities,” said Kazia Mullin, business services manager for Community Futures North Okanagan. “These seven finalists are great examples of entrepreneurs who have a dream, see possibility and understand that there are new opportunities in the market.”

This year’s Challenge connected 28 new entrepreneurs with local business mentors. Over the three months leading up to their final pitch on Wednesday, the participants took advantge of online workshops and one-on-one coaching as they refined their business plans.

Seven finalists will share their business ideas in a Dragons’ Den-style evening of live pitches in front of a group of volunteer judges, with the winner taking home start-up capital and thousands in business prize service packages.

Community Futures announced three of its finalists earlier this month: Louis Saitowitz, Okanagan Foothills Poultry; Olive Butler, Conspiracy Cosmetics; and Sean Ling-Allen, Centred Pilates Studio.

On Tuesday they announced four more finalists:

Stephlynne, Wildflower General Store

A modern take on general store shopping in downtown Vernon. With a relaxing and comfortable shopping experience, Wildflower sells a curated assortment of unique and affordable home goods including everything from stationery to table wear, jewelry, gifts and beauty items.

Leanna Maksymik, Waste Not Wool

As a rancher who raises sheep for fibre, Maksymik knows firsthand how much wool ends up in the landfill. After selling out of her own wool clip, Maksymik decided to gather fleeces wasted by other ranchers and process them for wool. But, with the incredible amount of dirty, unusable wool, Maksymik sought a way to keep wool out of the landfill. Through Waste Not Wool, Maksymik purchased a wool pelleting machine that turns unusable wool into natural fertilizer. As a result, Waste Not Wool is now a zero-waste business.

Adrianna Stange, Townships and Tales

Create a ripple of kindness through e-commerce: that’s the inspiration behind Townships and Tales. This curated subscription box supports small-town B.C. entrepreneurs and artisans through regionally themed seasonal boxes. Each box features between five and seven items, ranging from houseware and décor to personal care and artwork, and a hand-written note detailing an act of kindness made possible by the purchase. Through Townships and Tales, Stange has partnered with local mechanics to give single mothers free automotive repairs, completed yard work for seniors and even fixed a leaking roof.

James Stuart, Uplift Aero Greens

What if there were a way to increase year-round food security and save water at the same time? That’s the question that sparked Uplift Aero Greens. Stuart’s indoor lettuce farm uses aeroponic technology he designed himself to produce hundreds of heads of lettuce per week in an 800 square-foot, artificially lit building without any sprays or pesticides. And, Stuart says, each head of lettuce required only half a litre of water compared to an estimated 56 litres when grown in traditional outdoor methods.

A total of 28 entrepreneurs brought unique business concepts to this year’s challenge, but organizers say the common theme was a dedication to the environment.

“Many of the program’s participants are coming into the market with a product that is not only strong on its own but also has a low carbon footprint, is eco-friendly or uses compostable packaging,” said Mullin. “The environment is so important to young entrepreneurs.”

Tickets for the April 27 final pitch are free. Register online through Eventbrite to reserve a spot in the audience. Doors open at 3 p.m. Pitches start at 4 p.m. with the winners announced before the finale ends at 7 p.m.

READ MORE: Enterprize Challenge finalists announced for North Okanagan

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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