Business plan places well at competition

Peggy Revell

The business plan created by three Fort Frances High School students was a top contender at the 10th E-Spirit National Aboriginal Youth Business Plan Competition last month—finishing ninth out of the 50 teams.
“I thought it was just an amazing experience,” said Max Calder, who travelled to Ottawa with teammates Steven Mitchell and Ryne Strachan to present their unique business plan at the national competition held May 11-13.
“It was awesome,” he enthused. “There was a lot of good competition.
“It was great to see what other students had out there, and hopefully we’ll be trying just as hard next year,” Calder added.
The Fort High team was up against more than 190 youths from across Canada in the competition organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada, which aims to build entrepreneurial and business skills and knowledge in aboriginal youth in Grades 10-12.
Their business plan centered around creating a funeral home that would be able to accommodate different traditional burials, such as those for First Nations’ people.
“Max came up to me and said, ‘I’ve got bad news and good news,’” Mitchell recalled about hearing that they had been selected as one of the 10 finalists.
“I’m like, ‘What’s the good news? Did we make it?’ He said, ‘Our friends in the other business made it.’
“So the bad news is we didn’t make it?”
“He said, ‘No, no, no, it’s that we’re just going to have to kick their [butts] out of the competition.’”
“I was disappointed,” Mitchell admitted about not placing first, but he’s vowing to return next year with an even better version of their business plan.
“We didn’t have enough for financials,” he explained, referring to where they need to make improvements.
“We’re going to go with the same business plan, but we’re going to improve it,” Mitchell remarked.
“So we’re going to have a catalogue, we’re going to work on the financials more, add a new business partner to our group.
“And we’re probably going to dress like the Jonas Brothers again,” he laughed.
For Mitchell, who is originally from the Akwesasne First Nation about an hour south of Ottawa, one highlight of the event was being able to see old friends and family, including the inspiration behind his business plan—his grandfather.
“My grandparents even came up to the awards ceremony,” he noted. “[The] same grandfather who told me it was a good idea to start off with it.”
Mitchell said there was a beautiful gala at the Museum of Civilization.
“They had the ceremony right next to the totem pole,” he recalled. “They had dancing, they brought people up.
“I went up for a few of them, it was great.”
“My favourite part was probably the entire last day, where we had the gala, the dance, everything,” agreed Calder.
“It was also my birthday, so it made it just that much better.”
Calder added the competition mainly gave him more of an insight into how business really works.
“I’ll probably have to deal with that a lot in the future,” he noted.
“People should get more involved because it’s a great experience,” he added.
“Our school should get more involved,” echoed Mitchell, noting that while other students from Fort High had the opportunity to form a team, he was the only one who followed through.
“I think if more teams did it, it would’ve been a greater experience for everyone—people should get involved with it,” he stressed.