Indigenous entrepreneur from Cutler, ON, wins $5,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals
On June 25, 2022, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, Meta and Mastercard, announced Paul Owl, Founder and CEO of TeaTreas Brewing from the Serpent River First Nation, as the 2022 Pow Wow Pitch Summer Solstice Winner. Paul has won $5,000 and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow his business.
More than 25 Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the Summer Solstice Indigenous Festival in Ottawa, Ontario, for their chance to win cash prizes and advance to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
Following a first-round open pitch, judges Relay Tangie, CFO of NACCA, Tamer Gabbour, Senior Commercial Account Manager, Not-For-Profit Markets from RBC, Catherine Leteinturier Guisse, Business Centre Manager at BDC, and Zane Buchanan, Creative Content Manager at the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, shortlisted the Top 11 entrepreneurs, who were then matched with mentors from Futurpreneur, RBC, ITAC, CIRA, BDC, Shopify and Futurpreneur to prepare for their final pitch.
After polishing their pitches with the support of mentors, the Top 11 entrepreneurs then pitched to a new panel of esteemed judges including Carrie Batt, Vice President of Business Markets at RBC, Carrie Calder, Global Indigenous Programs Lead at Shopify, Debbie Reid, Indigenous Policy Manager at Meta and Todd Evans, National Lead of Indigenous Exports at Export Development Canada. Following inspiring and powerful pitches and judge deliberations, the audience cheered for their fan favourites, and the judges announced the winners.
“Pow Wow Pitch is about taking that risk and taking that opportunity to get yourself out there to promote your business,” said First-Place Winner Paul Owl. “Even if I didn't win today, people who can support and help me with my business now know who I am. I am a bit emotional that I won because this is my third attempt at pitching. I am really happy that my business struck a cord this year.”
Paul’s business, TreeTeas Brewing, creates natural teas and syrups with flavours from the region. TreeTeas’ new product, Ziibins Nibi, a collaboration brand with Madahoki Farm, is a canned alkaline water beverage from Lanark County infused with wild berry chai and cedar mint signature flavours of TreeTeas.
Paul hopes to win the Grand Prize to add caloric labels to his products, establish his online presence and procure six-unit sustainable packaging featuring local Indigenous art to position his products for significant retailers.
“Advancing to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals is a great opportunity to meet other Indigenous businesses and share that spotlight with them,” said Paul.
The Second-Place $2,500 Prize Winner was Dayna Elijah, Founder and CEO of Spirit Earth Holistics Inc from Oneida First Nation. Dayna’s company produces handcrafted all-natural bath, body care and wellness products with over 150 products from wellness teas and essential oils to shampoo, soaps, bath salts and salves.
“This is my second time being part of Pow Wow Pitch, and I am always open to learning,” said Dayna. “We are growing with ‘Indian country,’ and are now ready to enter the mainstream market. Being part of Pow Wow Pitch can help us to get there.”
The Third-Place Winner of $1,000 was Keri Gray, Founder and CEO of Shades of Gray Indigenous Pet Treats, which offers a wide range of delicacies made of a single ingredient of raw, dehydrated, and freeze-dried free-range rabbit and exotic meats that pets instantly love. Keri pitched to raise funds to build a pet park experience for her community and outside visitors to enjoy.
The Fan Favourite prize winners of $500 each were Janelle Niles, Founder and CEO of Got Land? Comedy who is SIPEKNE’KATIK Mi'kmaw, and singer/entrepreneur Alicia Kayley from Long Point First Nation and Tahltan First Nation.
Dayna, Keri, Janelle, Alicia and all those who pitched in Ottawa are still in the running for the 2022 Pow Wow Pitch and will find out in July if they advance to the Semi-Finals.
“Congratulations to Paul on his Gold Ticket win,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “TreeTeas Brewing is an evolving business that demonstrates collaboration is a winning recipe for Indigenous entrepreneurs. We look forward to spotlighting and sharing Paul’s business with the Pow Wow Pitch community and growing together.”
“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 Dale Sturges, National Director for Indigenous Financial Services at RBC. “We’re so proud of all of our participants and semi-finalists, and we will continue to support their growth and success in the future.”
"It was remarkable to take part in Pow Wow Pitch to watch such a talented and creative group of Indigenous entrepreneurs come together," said Carey Calder, Global Indigenous Programs Lead at Shopify. "Although this event has a competitive element, it was incredible to feel the energy and spirit of community and connection between the entrepreneurs and partners. The Build Native team with 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 a great opportunity for Indigenous entrepreneurs!"
“At Meta, we are thrilled to support Indigenous businesses and entrepreneurs who are driving innovation and change in their communities,” said Debbie Reid, Indigenous Policy Manager at Meta. “Recognizing the importance of Indigenous voices and the limitless potential of Indigenous entrepreneurs is vital to the growth of the Canadian economy. We send our congratulations to Paul Owl on advancing to the next round and to all entrepreneurs who participated in Pow Wow Pitch."
“At Mastercard, we’ve been truly inspired by the Indigenous entrepreneurs involved in this year’s Pow Wow Pitch as they’ve demonstrated such innovative thinking and solutions”, said Sasha Krstic, President of Mastercard Canada. “We are honoured to help support their continued success and see them grow. Congratulations to all the pitchers and congratulations to Paul on advancing to the next round.”
The 2022 virtual semi-finalists will be announced on June 14th and the semi-finals will be broadcast online in September. Visit powwowpitch.org for more information and to get involved.