Small Business Week in Thunder Bay started off with a bang


Business StudentsTHUNDER BAY – The Annual Small Business Week in Thunder Bay started off with a bang on October 17th with 180 High School business students, their teachers and supervisors, event sponsors and organizers gathering at the Italian Cultural Centre to hear from 4 of Thunder Bay’s finest young entrepreneurs. Thunder Bay Ventures ( TBV) was the lead organizer of this 2nd Annual event and Passport to Prosperity, a Northern Ontario Workplace Safety Board program, was the break refreshment sponsor.

Ambition, dedication, enthusiasm and innovation are descriptive of the speaker’s businesses and presentations. The speakers were Milosz Skowronski of Imaginarium Studio Inc., Ken Horton and Kevin Kuchta of Qwantech, Marija Harp of Sweet Peas Home Catering and Erin May of The Bodymind Centre. The presenters shared a commonality in that they were able to transform a passion into a profession. Royden Potvin, manager of Thunder Bay Ventures and MC of the event, summed up the presentations and reminded the students that, “ they too can shape their own futures and create their own employment by developing their entrepreneurial skills and abilities.”

The official launch of the 3rd Annual Enter the Den program was also a highlight. Enter the Den was conceived by Thunder Bay Ventures in 2009 with the goal of fostering entrepreneurial culture in the city. A local business planning contest inspired by the Dragon’s Den. Enter the Den offers cash prizes totalling over $3000 to high school students with business plans that have been researched, presented, and well defended. The contest is meant to encourage students to consider entrepreneurship as a career, to help them build planning and communication skills, and learn what is involved in starting a business.

Some of last year’s winners were present. Phil Bystrican, Sir Winston Churchill, 3rd place winner of $500 in the 2011 finals expressed his interest in entering a new business plan. He currently designs applications and TBV’s Royden Potvin introduced him to the speakers from Qwantech. Qwantech is a company that provides custom software solutions to complex problems worldwide.

Thunder Bay Ventures also took the opportunity to gather data through a marketing survey completed by the students with a digital camera sponsored in part by The Power Center as a draw prize. The data, being analyzed by Amanda Sauermann, Enter the Den’s project coordinator, will help organizer’s determine the best means to reach potential contest participants. We can all learn from the results. These high school students are an informed generation and in 10 years their habits are not likely to change so we have to prepare our communications accordingly.
At the end of the morning and after a delicious lunch was consumed, we reflected on what was taken from the event. There was a definite buzz in the air. Speakers were planning partnerships or collaborations; educators were endorsing the program to their students; students were formulating business plans in their heads; and organizers were ensuring that all suggestions were being heard.

Mary Ann Tulloch, a business teacher at Sir Winston Churchill CVI, sent her thanks after the event, “ I appreciate all of your efforts in co-ordinating this event for us. I know it is difficult for entrepreneurs to take time from their busy schedules to be guest speakers. I think the people you chose covered an appropriate cross-section of the needs and wants of the Thunder Bay population: high tech, personal health, and nutrition. I learned a lot. I believe my students also absorbed the knowledge and advice offered. Now that first semester is well underway for us, I look forward to encouraging more Churchill students to “Enter the Den” this school year. Thank you for offering this opportunity for our students again.”

Thunder Bay Ventures and the Enter the Den Steering Committee suggest that you; Like Us (Enter the Den) on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @enterden, check out our website, pass on the good news and contact us if you are interested in knowing more about this year’s Enter the Den competition.
Thunder Bay Ventures – 768-6650,

Enter the Den

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