Indigenous entrepreneur from Pinaymootang First Nation wins $5,000 and advances to the Pow Wow Pitch Finals.
On Saturday, May 20th, 2023, Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs, presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify,and Mastercard, announced Tara Hall, from Pinaymootang First Nation, founder of The Indigenous Kitchen, as the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Manito Ahbee Festival Winner. Tara has won $5,000, a $20,000 value package in digital marketing from IndigPro, and is advancing to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000 to grow her business.
Thirty Indigenous entrepreneurs pitched their businesses live at the Manito Ahbee Festival in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 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.
This past weekend’s events were also covered by last year’s Manito Ahbee Festival winner, Erica Daniels, Founder of Kejic Productions. Erica’s team followed Sunshine Tenasco and the Pow Wow Pitch team for a mini-documentary.
Following a first-round open pitch on the morning of Saturday, May 20th, judges Noah Wilson, Senior Business Development Manager at Futurpreneur Canada, Yvette Shang, Senior Advisor in Business Development of Mitacs, Melanie Gamache, Founder of Borealis Beading, Nermin Sa’d, Global Entrepreneurship Specialist of North Forge Technology Exchange, and Sage Lacerte, Founder and CEO of Sage Initiatives, shortlisted the ‘Top 11’ entrepreneurs to advance to round two.
The Top 11 entrepreneurs were paired with mentors from Futurepreneur Canada, Mitacs, North Forge Technology Exchange, Sage Initiatives, and IndigPro to help them polish their presentations before they pitched one last time to judges Erica Daniels, CEO of Kejic Productions, Sean Rayland Bourbar, CEO of Red Rebel Armour, Dwayne Bird, CEO of IndigPro, and Clarissa Cruz, CEO of Bare Body Sugaring.
“Doing this Pow Wow Pitch was amazing,” said First-Place Winner Tara Hall, Founder of The Indigenous Kitchen. “It was my first try, so I want to say ‘Give it a try and it was worth a shot.’” Tara shares her advice to other entrepreneurs, “Somebody said that the worst case scenario was that someone was going to say ‘No’ to me but to just keep on trying, so that’s what I did.”
Tara’s business, The Indigenous Kitchen, is a local food truck in Winnipeg that specializes in traditional Indigenous food. The Indigenous Kitchen was a vendor at the Manito Ahbee Festival and celebrated a sold-out weekend on top of bringing home the Pow Wow Pitch First-Place Prize. Tara shared in her pitch that she has goals to turn her food truck into a fine dining experience inspired by her traditional meals. “I want to showcase the foods that I grew up eating and to elevate them into a fine dining setting with new techniques that everyone can love and enjoy.”
The Second-Place $2,500 Prize Winner was Jordan Smith, Founder of Renterii, a rental share app that allows users to rent out items, spaces, and experiences. “I’m beyond appreciative for this opportunity to put a spotlight on what I’m doing,” said Jordan. “This is going to help me with the start-up side of my business and to keep marketing and development going forward.”
The Third-Place $1,000 winners were Dana Conolly, Shauna Fontaine, and Brittany Grisdale, co-Founders of Pitâw Mīno Muskiki, a fully women and Indigenous owned marketplace, specializing in uplifting handmade products. Shauna Fontaine commented. “We are excited to use this money to continue to help build relationships with youth, and to be able to help pay them honorarium for helping out as volunteers at our markets.” Dana Conolly continues, “And we are really excited about this opportunity to continue to be able to host our Indigenous handmade markets and supporting Indigenous entrepreneurship.”
In addition to Second and Third Place Prize money, both Renterii and Pitâw Mīno Muskiki will each receive a $5,000 value brand development package courtesy of IndigPro.
The Youth Prize of $500 and Fan Favourite Prize of $500 both went to Simon Monteith, a.k.a Simon the Scientist, who is inspiring the younger generation through science experiments on his YouTube channel. Simon shared his wisdom beyond his years to any entrepreneurs who may be thinking about pitching in the future, “Nervousness is just excitement for something that hasn’t happened yet.”
“Congratulations to Tara Hall on her Golden Ticket win to advance to the 2023 Pow Wow Pitch Finals,” said Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch. “Lines for her food truck could be seen all weekend long and we applaud her success and passion! We can’t wait to see where she grows from here and what delicious meal she creates next!”
“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.”
All those who pitched at the Manito Ahbee 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.
“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!”
“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.”
“This year the Manito Ahbee Festival was a success with record breaking attendance. With our new programming Red Road Runway, jig n jam, partnerships with Treaty 2, MICEC ( big bingo) and Anishiinaabek Odaminoang – Manito Ahbee Cup Hockey tournament people from all over turtle island came out and supported,” said Candice Hart, Program & Pow Wow Manager, Manito Ahbee Festival. “Also returning this year was our Indian Horse Relay was a big success with Elite Indian Horse Relay Association. Without all our managers and volunteers we would not be able to run this festival without them.”
“Congratulations to winners Tara Hall at the Indigenous Kitchen, Jordan Smith at Renterii.com , and the ladies of Pitâ Mīno Muskiki for winning top three spots, and for everyone who entered,” said Lisa Meeches, Executive Director, Manito Ahbee Festival. “The Manito Ahbee Festival is so proud to support young Indigenous entrepreneurs and future leaders. Chii miigwetch to Sunshine Tenasco and her team for their work to support growing Indigenous businesses and I can’t wait to see these innovative people flourish and inspire more Indigenous creators.”
Tara 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.