PHOTO: Pow Wow Pitch Founder Sunshine Tenasco announcing Teresa Sanders, CEO of FILL as the BC Sem-Final Winner

Teresa Sanders, FILL wins British Columbia Semi-Final

September 26, 2021

Four Indigenous entrepreneurs advance to the Finals

On Friday evening, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBCShopify and Facebook, announced Vernon Métis Teresa Sanders, CEO of FILL as the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch British Columbia Winner.

Teresa has won $500 and has advanced to the Finals along with Anthony Wingham, Co-Founder of Nuez Acres from the Waceya Society, Langley; Ecko Aleck, Founder & Artist at Sacred Matriarch Creative from Nlaka’pamux and Pentlatch First Nations; and, Derek Douglas, Co-Founder of Triden Dispensers from the Oneida Nation of the Thames. The four entrepreneurs are advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.

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

The judges

Last night, twenty-three Indigenous entrepreneurs from British Columbia pitched to a panel of judges, including RBC Vice President of Indigenous Markets Tracy Antoine; Shopify Indigenous Entrepreneurship Program Manager Tracy Ridler; Raven Indigenous Capital Partners Chief Investment Officer Stephen Nairne; Raven Reads Founder and CEO Nicole McLaren; 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 BC Winner. 

The winner

Teresa Sanders, CEO of FILL, is the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch British Columbia Winner. FILL is a refill store where customers fill cleaning, hygiene and personal care products with plant-based and organic products from local and Canadian suppliers. To date, FILL customers have saved over 150,000 plastics from entering the environment while providing high-quality ingredients to help keep waters clean from chemicals.

“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to connect with other like-minded businesses and organizations,” said Teresa Sanders. “I had no idea how empowered I would feel after hearing my fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs taking over the business world. With recent heatwaves, forest fires and climate change, we need to be better for our land and make refilling mainstream. If I win the Pow Wow Pitch Grand Prize, I will use the funds to expand FILL through a franchise model across British Columbia.”

The finalists

Also moving onto the Finals is Anthony Wingham, Co-Founder of Nuez Acres, a family-owned business that provides hand-harvested skin, hair and wellness products using pure pecan oil.

“I applied to Pow Wow Pitch to build awareness of our products and brand,” said Anthony Wingham. “Prize funds would be used for target ad campaigns, SEO optimization and scaled marketing efforts to grow our business.”

Ecko Aleck, Founder & Artist at Sacred Matriarch Creative, supports Indigenous youth and women with healing and transformation through safe spaces, creative practices and sacred storytelling, sharing ancestral knowledge and decolonizing practices. 

“We applied for Pow Wow Pitch to raise funds for the branding, program packaging and website relaunch to support or expansion,” said Ecko Aleck. “We are building a mobile studio, underpinned by a decolonized social enterprise, co-created by Indigenous youth for Indigenous youth.”

The final BC entrepreneur advancing to the Final is Derek Douglas, Co-Founder of Triden Dispensers, which provides touch-free dispensers and refill programs to promote a circular economy and eliminate excessive plastic waste produced from the cleaning products industry.

“I applied for Pow Wow Pitch to connect with a community of collaboration,” said Derek Douglas. “We would use prize funds to support the environment and health of Indigenous communities by introducing our dispensers to Indigenous communities across Turtle Island.”

“Congratulations to Teresa, Anthony, Ecko and Derek 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 British Columbia Semi-Finals.

Teresa, Anthony, Ecko and Derek are advancing to the 2021 Pow Wow Pitch Final 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. 

Everyone can also register for free to watch the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to watch Teresa, Ecko, Anthony and Derek pitch for the big prizes, airing on October 20. Click here to register now.