Four East Coast Indigenous entrepreneurs advance to the Finals
Last night, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify and Facebook, announced Jolene Laskey, Founder and CEO of Wabanaki Maple, as the Atlantic Canada Winner.
Jolene has won $500 and has advanced to the Finals along with Savannah Simmons, Founder of The Home and Co; Hazel Catherine Baxter, Owner of Chic Image Consulting; and Kelsie Amber Young, Owner of Dream Webs, for a chance to win $25,000 to take their businesses to the next level.
This Summer, 1,642 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Turtle Island (Canada, the United States and Mexico) submitted one-minute video pitches of their businesses to win funds and support.
In August, Pow Wow Pitch announced the Semi-Finalists and paired them with mentors to refine their business pitches in preparation for their presentation to the judges.
Last night, twenty-one Indigenous entrepreneurs from Atlantic Canada pitched to a panel of judges, including Pow Wow Pitch Alumni and CEO of Birch Bark Coffee Co. Mark Marsolais-Nahweahbow, RBC Commercial Account Manager Krista Chase, Shopify Head of Marketing Ali Leung, BDC Regional Manager of Diversity & Indigenous Monica James, and Canada Post Director of Parcels and eCommerce Luke Misczyk.
Pow Wow Pitch’s Founder Sunshine Tenasco announced the judges’ selection of the entrepreneurs advancing to the Finals and the regional winner.
The Regional Winner of the evening was Jolene Laskey, Owner of Wabanaki Maple, a maple syrup company based in Tobique First Nation, New Brunswick, with a signature line of barrel-aged maple syrup, which includes flavours of Toasted Oak, Bourbon and Whisky syrups. Their product line also includes traditional maple syrup and organic maple surgar.
“As an Indigenous entrepreneur, I’ve experienced many hiccups along the way trying to advance my company to the next level,” said Jolene Laskey. “In working towards finding solutions and opportunities to grow the business, I learned about the Pow Wow Pitch. My goal is to raise funds to invest into R&D, expand our product range and grow our facility for greater production capacity.”
Also moving onto the Final is Dream Webs, an online dreamcatcher and spiritual shop created by Mi’kmaw Artist Kelsie Young from the Qalipu M’kmaq First Nation in Nova Scotia. The company makes high-end, handmade dreamcatchers inspired by nature, spiritual tools with guided learnings, and handcrafted healing jewelry. Dream Webs combines culture and science to support wellness and sleep.
“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to be part of this amazing community of indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kelsie Young. “I hope to win funds to digitize my operations, expand marketing reach, and publish a children’s book sharing the dreamcatcher legend.”
Hazel Catherine Baxter, Owner of Chic Image Consulting from the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, is also moving onto the Finals. Hazel works with menopausal women who struggle with weight gain and hot flashes to dress confidently and be comfortable through appearance, behaviour and communication.
“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to support women throughout Turtle Island,” said Hazel Catherine Baxter. “Winning Pow Wow Pitch would help me to scale out our ambassadorship program in the spirit of rising tides lift all ships, and we are all connected through all my relations.”
The final Atlantic Canada entrepreneur advancing to the Finals is Savannah Simmons, Founder of The Home and Co from the Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick, who creates and sells sustainable candles that include Indigenous teachings.
“Winning Pow Wow Pitch would help us to move into a facility, contract more elders, educate more youth, and sell more candles,” said Savannah Simmons. “Sharing Indigenous teachings and giving back is core to our business.”
“Congratulations to Jolene, Kelsie, Hazel and Savannah on advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Your resilience, creativity and commitment to celebrating and sharing our diverse Indigenous culture while making an impact is a testament to how our unique style of business can and will create a better future for us all.”
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Dale Sturges, National Director for Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “Indigenous entrepreneurs play a critical role in creating innovative solutions, sustainable communities, economic prosperity. It’s an honour for RBC to be part of the Pow Wow Pitch this year as we play our part to put a spotlight on Indigenous innovations and share their inspiring entrepreneurial stories with Canadians at large. We’re so proud of all of our participants, finalists and winners, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“We’re honoured to be a part of the Pow Wow Pitch competition and play a role in supporting these incredibly innovative entrepreneurs as they start and scale their businesses,” said Garrick Tiplady, Vice President and Country Director, Facebook & Instagram Canada. “Congratulations to the semi-finalists and we wish them the best of luck in the next round!”
Click here to watch the Atlantic Semi-Finals.
Jolene, Kelsie, Hazel and Savannah are advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Finale set to air on October 20, 2021. The entrepreneurs are pitching to win one of the following prizes: $3,000 for the Alumni Choice Prize, $5,000 for 3rd place, $10,000 for 2nd place, and $25,000 for 1st place.
Voting remains open for the People’s Choice Award until midnight on September 26. Everyone can vote for their favourite entrepreneur to get an Express Pass to the Grand Finale. There is one vote per person. Vote now.
Everyone can also register for free to watch the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to watch Jolene, Kelsie, Hazel and Savannah pitch for the big prizes, airing on October 20. Click here to register now.