$10,000 prize up for grabs for new Pictou entrepreneurs

Sueann Musick
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PICTOU – Pictou Business and Marketing is hoping a little help from friends can go a long way in establishing new business in the Town of Pictou.

Luke Young, president of the Pictou Business and Marketing Society, and Jim Proudfoot of Proudfoots Home Hardware in Pictou are excited about a new project launched by the PBMS to encourage the development of new business in the town.  Based on the premise of the television show, the Dragon’s Den, entrepreneurs can pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges in a chance to win $10,000.  The grand prize will be made of donations and in-kind services from Pictou business owners.

Sueann Musick – The News

Luke Young, president of PBMS, said Wednesday during presentation to Pictou entrepreneurs that it’s time to sink or swim in relation to generating new business in the town.

“We want to show people that Pictou is open for business,” he said. “We welcome new business and it's a good place to do business.”

The concept to generate new business in the town is based on CBC’s popular business show, Dragon’s Den. Entrepreneurs interested in starting a new business in Pictou will be asked to submit a business plan, similar to those standing in front of the dragons, that will detail why they should be the recipients of a $10,000 prize to help them get their business off the ground.

He said the prize money will come from in-kind donations from other business people in the town who will donate their skills and resources to help the new operator get up and running.

“We are looking at how you can offer something to help out the project,” he said. “Everyone has interesting and unique talents and that’s what we are all about.”

Young said PBMS is not expecting any businesses to make big sacrifices for the contest, but instead offer knowledge and services that a new entrepreneur might otherwise have to pay for.

For example, he said, PBMS already has secured $5,500 toward the contest from local business people such as Ahead of Hair, Proudfoots Home Hardware, MacLean and MacDonald law offices, Advocate Media and Don Gunning investments.

“I think it’s a really great idea,” said Gunning. “It’s what a small town needs and maybe it will work.”

Gunning said he offered to put $1,000 towards the project with stipulation that the winner spend the money with other Pictou businesses supporting the project. 

Young said Ian MacLean of MacLean and MacDonald would offer business legal services while he pointed out all Pictou entrepreneurs have something to offer in one way or another.

“If you are in the coffee business, someone might need coffee in their office, someone else might need a meeting space or child care services,” he said.

Pictou Business and Marketing has been working on this project for year, he said, and he admits it continues to be a work in progress. However, in light of the recent announcements by Convergys and Michelin and the dramatic effect that would have on the employment levels in Pictou County, it felt now was the time to get people looking for new ways to make a difference.

Young said PBMS is hoping to attract entrepreneurs willing to put something of their own on the line and this will demonstrate their commitment to their business and the town.

“This is not a handout, but an investment,” he said. “If it is repeatable, maybe we can do it year after year.”

One business owner expressed concern was to what would happen if they committed to the project and that winner of the $10,000 was setting up a similar business that already exists in Pictou and could soon be seen as the competition.

Young said the type of businesses in the contest would be examined closely and this would be taken into consideration in addition to the proposed entrepreneur’s commitment to the town and their own investment into their business.

Pictou Business and Marketing Society has set up a tight timeline that includes securing the funding and in-kind services for the $10,000 cash prize by September. Young said members will be speaking with local businesspeople about the project over the summer and if more than $10,000 is raised, it might look at offering a second prize.

It plans to call for business submissions from entrepreneurs in September and a panel of five people will be selected to judge submissions and declare a winner by November.

“It’s all a big gamble, but we are entrepreneurs and business people and we are used to taking risks,” he said.

Some of the businesspeople in the room commended Young and Pictou Business and Marketing for taking a positive response in light of concerns expressed over Pictou County’s economy.

“I think this is a great initiative,” said Pictou West MLA Karla MacFarlane who also owns Hector Heritage Quay gift shop on Caladh Avenue. “We all have some huge challenges ahead of us.”

Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes said he was impressed with the project and likes the concept of businesses helping businesses.

“You have to help yourself and this is a real good initiative,” he said.

Organizations: Pictou Business and Marketing Society, CBC, Convergys

Geographic location: Pictou County, Caladh Avenue

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