Indigenous entrepreneur from Timiskaming First Nation wins $5,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
On Saturday, June 24, 2023, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, Mastercard and with the local support of Invest Ottawa and ADAAWE, announced Lisa Vicaire, from Timiskaming First Nation, founder of Algonquin Acres, as the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Ottawa Summer Solstice Festival Winner. Lisa has won $5,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow her business.
Twenty-two Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the Summer Solstice Festival at Mādahòkì Farm in Ottawa, Ontario, for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
Host Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch, emceed the action-packed program, where Indigenous entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas and businesses in one minute for their chance to win prizes and support to make their dreams a reality.
Following a first-round open pitch on the morning of Saturday, June 24th, judges Jason McDonald, Business Developnent Manager at Futurprenuer Canada, Relay Tangie, Director of Finance at NACCA, Lindley Graham, Director of Small Business Marketing at Canada Post, Paula Hopkins, Director of Entrepreneurship at Invest Ottawa, Karla Briones, Founder of Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada, and Shehnila Sayeed, Communications Specialist at CIRA, shortlisted the ‘Top 10’ entrepreneurs to advance to round two.
The Round 1 judges also awarded two special additional prizes courtesy of MINI TIPI that were announced alongside the Top 10. The Community Impact Prize of $1,000 was awarded to Alexandra Whiteduck, Co-Progrect Manager of Project Nibi, for her passion to gain access to clean water to Indigenous communities. The Start Up Prize of $1,000 was awarded to Shannon David, Owner of Shannon David Leather Creations, for her talented work and drive to succeed. An honourable mention went to Kona Decoursey, Owner of Love, Koko, for her artistic drive and amazing courage. Kona took home a bundle of gifts including a MINI TIPI bag, and Pow Wow Pitch swag.
The Top 10 entrepreneurs were then paired with mentors from Miss Bao Restaurant + Cocktail Bar, Futurpreneur Canada, CIRA, NACCA, Immigrant Entrepreneur Canada, RBC, and BDC to help them polish their presentations before they pitched one last time to judges Nishant Raina, Director of Small Businesses at Mastercard, Tamer Gabbour, Senior Commercial Account Manager at RBC, Trisha Pitura, Co-Founder of MINI TIPI, Angel Aubichon, Co-Founder of INDI CITY, and Jennifer Lafitte-Coute, Senior Procurement Advisor at EDC.
First-Place Winner Lisa Vicaire, Founder of Algonquin Acres said, “From the Pow Wow Pitch experience, I have come to realize that for every Indigenous entrepreneur there is a whole team of people out there to cheer you on that you haven’t met yet.”
Lisa started Algonquin Acres 11 months ago and has already been able to help hundreds of Indigenous youth at her farm through animal therapy and animal-assisted learning activities. Algonquin Acres is an equestrian centre that hosts riding programs and clinics. Lisa pitched to raise funds to build an enclosed riding centre so that she can also host programming in the winter. This was Lisa’s third year pitching for Pow Wow Pitch. She also has a featured episode on the Pow Wow Pitch Podcast set to air July 3rd.
The Second-Place $2,500 Prize Winner was Alexandra Whiteduck, Co-Project Manager of Project Nibi, a student-led social enterprise based at the University of Ottawa that focuses on investigating and creating a sustainable way to tackle the water crisis affecting Indigenous communities across Canada. “Pow Wow Pitch is such an amazing experience,” said Alexandra. “You meet amazing mentors, you meet amazing people and your network constantly grows just from the competition itself. So if you’re thinking of doing it, absolutely come out and pitch.”
The Third-Place $1,000 Winner was Gavin Decontie, Founder of Decontie Clean, a fully Indigenous owned and operated professional commercial property cleaning service. “This was my third time pitching at Pow Wow Pitch,” said Gavin. “Pow Wow Pitch means a lot to me because it’s able to help out my business and I’m really grateful to win third place. A word of advice I would give to people wanting to join Pow Wow Pitch is to never give up, you never know what could happen.”
Another prize courtesy of MINI TIPI of $1,000 went to Marissa Dube, Founder of Eiralize Lashes, a woman- and Indigenous-owned beauty brand that is dedicated to giving back and making beauty affordable. “I’m really happy that I did the Pow Wow Pitch,” said Marissa. “The main push for me was to practice public speaking and winning the money was just a bonus. I’m glad I got to take home $1,000 from MINI TIPI. I will definitely do it again next year and I’m excited for the virtual competition!”
The Youth Prize of $500 went to Cadence Cotter, Founder of Manes & Reins Equestrian Co., who is inspiring the younger generation to take initiative on their passions. Cadence started a business to be able to support herself through her equestrian journey. Cadence shared about her Pow Wow Pitch experience, “Sometimes it’s very nerve-wracking but if you work hard, you can get it done!”
The Fan Favourite Prize of $500 went to Dr. Sadie Laronde, Founder of The Butterfly Effect, a nervous system and generational healing practice, that wowed the crowd! “This has been such a great learning opportunity,” said Dr. Laronde. “Connecting with the community feels really empowering as a starting Indigenous entrepreneur. This was a surprise win and I’m going to put this to good use for healing our people.” The Fan Favourite Prize was announced and presented by Janelle Niles, Producer and Comedia of Got Land? Indigenous Comedy Show and last year’s Summer Solstice Fan Favourite winner.
In addition to all of the prizes won this weekend, MINI TIPI stepped up again to give back to the Pow Wow Pitch community by awarding Desiree Streit, Founder of Friday Night Beading Club with a MINI TIPI mentorship opportunity. “I’m really thankful for the opportunity that Pow Wow Pitch is here and makes it accessible for Indigenous entrepreneurs like myself, who are just starting out to network and get their products out there and be a part of a community which is really important to me,” said Desiree. “And that businesses like MINI TIPI have come up through the channels and are now mentoring young business owners like myself.”
“Congratulations to Lisa Vicaire on her Golden Ticket win to advance to the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “We are so proud to be a part of Lisa’s journey and so excited to see how much she has grown in this past year. She is truly an inspiration and we love supporting her efforts to build an amazing program for Indigenous youth! Another huge congratulations to all of our winners! This year’s Summer Solstice Pow Wow Pitch was definitely special, we can’t wait to see all the amazing things everyone will do!”
“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, Senior Lead for Indigenous Entrepreneurship 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!”
All those who participated at the Summer Solstice Festival Pow Wow Pitch will receive a free .CA domain name courtesy of CIRA, a 60-day free Shopify trial, and will join the Pow Wow Pitch community for ongoing support!
“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 Tara on advancing to the next round.”
“The Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival is thrilled to be hosting Pow Wow Pitch once again,” said Trina Mather-Simard, Executive Director & Producer of the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival. “This incredible opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs started right here on our Storytellers and Elders Stage. Each year we are blown away by the brilliance of our Indigenous community and love to watch them confidently pitch and ultimately grow their idea into a successful business.”
Lisa will now advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals to pitch for the Grand Prize of $25,000, which broadcasts online on October 19, 2023. Visit www.powwowpitch.org for more information.