Indigenous entrepreneur from Gatineau, QC, CA wins $1,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
On September 8, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, and Mastercard, announced Desiree Streit, The Pas, MB Founder of friday.night.beading.club from Gatineau, QC, CA as the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Startup Innovation Winner. Desiree Streit has won $1,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow her business.
More than 2,000 Indigenous entrepreneurs from across Canada and the United States applied to Pow Wow Pitch this year for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals. From the 2,000 applicants, 130 were selected as Semi-Finalists and provided with training and mentorship to prepare for their semi-final pitch to the Judges.
On Friday, Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where four Innovation Semi-Finalists had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win.
Judges included Renee Racine, Head of Digital Design, Journeys and Design Operations at RBC; Kristina Vilf, Senior Managing Consultant at Mastercard; Anthony Wigham, Entrepreneur & Business Owner of Nuez Acres; and Althea Wishloff, Partner at Raven Indigenous Capital Partners.
“Last year, when I entered Pow Wow Pitch with only an idea, I had a really positive experience and met some great people,” said Desiree Streit, Founder of friday.night.beading.club. “This year I came back with an actual product and business and was happy to see where it would lead me! I knew I wanted to continue to create a relationship with Pow Wow Pitch, and learn as much as I could.”
The BOO-zhee Board, the hero product of friday.night.beading.club, is an innovative storage accessory and system for beading that allows its users to take beading everywhere, with ease. Created by Desiree Streit, the BOO-zhee board is changing the way creators can craft pieces of artwork through portability. Beading is a practice that creators like Desiree hold close to their heart and with this innovative tool, can hold anywhere.
Desiree shared in her pitch that she intends to expand friday.night.beading.club by providing workshops and expanding her product line. She also shared her commitment to give back, “While I grow this business, it is important to me to give back to the community. I am hosting a free BOO-zhee workshop for Indigenous youth this fall.”
Felisha Crier, Founder of PregZen, was also honoured as the Runner Up of the Innovation Category. Felisha was congratulated for her innovative and inclusive underwear design and for responding to new market opportunities.
“Congratulations to Desiree Streit on winning our first-ever Startup Innovation Semi-Final! ” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “As a Mom and beader on the go, the BOO-zhee Board, I know Desiree’s product is going to be a game changer for many crafters and artists. Product innovation takes trial, error, pivoting and perseverance while using user feedback to improve product development. Desiree displays this in spaces and we look forward to supporting you through to commercialization.”
“Pow Wow Pitch is a tremendous showcase of Indigenous innovation and entrepreneurship, and the stories and achievements of this year’s semi-finalists are a testament to their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Michael Ferencich, Senior Vice President, Business Financial Services, RBC. “We’re so proud of all our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
“Being involved in Pow Wow Pitch is not just an honor, it’s a privilege to witness the creativity and innovation of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Kyle Brennan Shàwinipinesì, Build Native Program Manager at Shopify. “It’s a reminder of the resilience and strength of our communities and the power of entrepreneurship to create positive change. Shopify has played a proud role in supporting Pow Wow Pitch, so it is exciting to see how things have grown over the years. What an incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!”
“At Mastercard, we’ve been inspired by the innovative thinking and solutions brought forward by all the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch,” said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard in Canada. “The future is brighter when Indigenous entrepreneurship is recognized, supported and celebrated, and we are honoured to play a role in continued success and growth of these entrepreneurs. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Kona Slays on advancing to the next round.”
Desiree will now advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000, which broadcasts online on October 19th. Visit www.powwowpitch.org for more information.