Two entrepreneurs originally from Athahkakoop Cree Nation have advanced to the semi-finals in Pow Wow Pitch, North America’s premier pitch competition for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Kimberly Kayman, Founder and Executive Director of Quest Accommodation, and Taylor Sasakamoose, Founder of Taylor’s Tipiskâw Pisîm were among the 126 semi-finalists announced in June. More than 2,400 entrepreneurs applied for a chance to win $25,000 to grow their businesses.
Kayman lives in Edmonton now. She said the competition seemed like a good fit for her and her business.
“I am an Indigenous person and I have an Indigenous experience company. It just makes sense,” she said.
Kayman is looking for seed money to get her glamour camp (Glamp Site) going roughly an hour and a half west of Edmonton. The camp will mix traditional Indigenous experiences with unique camping experiences, like treehouse.
As a semi-finalist, Kayman will now benefit from expert pitch training and one-on-one mentorship with Industry leaders.
“I think that helps a lot,” she said.
“It is really good to just help solidify your idea and plan as well.”
Sasakamoose, who is based out of Prince Albert, is also eager to benefit from the pitch training and one-on-one mentorship. She said there is a lack of Indigenous representation in entrepreneur circles, so competitions like this one are a major benefit.
Sasakamoose is an artist who uses her artwork to destigmatize and raise awareness about mental health. She hopes to create an online shop where she can sell her work.
“I believe we are the only (band) that had two people,” she said. “(The competition) is all really across North America so it includes the States and Mexico, but I am not sure if anyone from Mexico made it through but there are some Americans that made it through to the semi-finals as well.”
Both Kayman and Sasakamoose will pitch their business to a panel of Judges in early Fall as part of the Tourism Semi-Finals. If successful they will win $1,000 and advance to the Finals for a chance to win $25,000.
Kayman likes her chances because she feels that the concept and pitch are strong but realizes the competition gets tougher as more people are eliminated.
“They pre-recorded the semi-final pitches already, those have already been completed,” she explained. “They are putting it live as a show in September. It will be on the first week but the exact date hasn’t been decided yet.”
Both entrepreneurs will have a chance to collaborate with major businesses or organizations on their projects. For Kayman, that means a chance to work with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada on a mini-project. For Sasakamoose, that means a technology grant from Best Buy.
The competition offers a people’s choice award, so both entrepreneurs are hoping for strong community support.
“If the person that you really wanted to make doesn’t make it, you can still vote for them,” Kayman explained. “If they get the people’s choice award then they will make it into the finals.”
Kayman said Indigenous entrepreneurs have a lot to offer the business world. She’s hopeful this competition can not only be a stepping stone for her, but a chance for younger, would-be Indigenous entrepreneurs to watch and learn.
“By participating in the Pow Wow Pitch, we’ve been able to connect with other entrepreneurs with a similar focus,” she explained. “While working together, we hope to be role models and inspire the next generation of Indigenous entrepreneurs.”
Kayman also encouraged her fellow Indigenous entrepreneurs who weren’t taking part in the Pow Wow Pitch to do so.
“If there are other people in the future who are considering starting a business and are of Indigenous origin, they should definitely apply for the Pow Wow Pitch next year, because it is super helpful,” Kayman said.
Pow Wow Pitch is presented in partnership with RBC, Shopify, Meta and Mastercard. For more information visit www.powwowpitch.org.
“Congratulations to Kimberly and Taylor on advancing to the Semi-Finals,” Sunshine Tenasco, Founder of Pow Wow Pitch said in a release.
“We look forward to spotlighting and sharing your business with the Pow Wow Pitch community and growing together.”