Transform Your Trade provides new opportunities for local entrepreneur
On February 4, Red Deer College hosted the second annual Transform Your Trade event, a Dragon’s Den-style competition for people with business ideas to enhance a trade.
The competition, which was open to local entrepreneurs, provided them with the opportunity to prepare a business plan and present it to community business leaders, all for the chance to win $5,000 toward starting a small business.
“Transform Your Trade is a fantastic program to support trades-related entrepreneurs who want to grow business activity in our region,” says Joel Gingrich, Dean, School of Trades & Technologies. “The prize money awarded to help launch the business has tremendous value for a start-up company. Adding to this, though, the competitors and winner receive tremendous incremental value through the deep and insightful advice from the community business leaders who support this event.”
The foundational support for this event comes from local business leaders and philanthropists, Jack and Joan Donald, who have sponsored the competition since it began in 2016. Their support includes the $5,000 prize, as well as business expertise and mentorship for the individual with the winning proposal. “We feel that many trades persons will eventually start and run their own businesses,” says Jack Donald. “If we can help this process along and make it easier for even one person a year to start something new that’s progress.”
“We have seen a number of new businesses start up and fail,” adds Joan Donald. “We hope that talking about the Transform Your Trade competition will help some people that are thinking of starting a new business to know that there are a number of steps to take, and much planning that must be done, before making that big decision.”
At this year’s competition, local entrepreneur Barry Hickey was the winner of Transform Your Trade, as he presented his business plan for Scent of Metal Automotive Inc. Hickey, who is a Red Seal Automotive Technician, has 17 years of experience in the industry and is looking to take his career to the next step by opening his own business. “I’m looking to provide a low-cost opportunity for local customers to have a licensed red seal mechanic for all of their maintenance needs,” he says. As this year’s winner of Transform Your Trade, Hickey will benefit from the prize money and from the on-going mentorship with local business leaders.
When it comes to his experience as an entrepreneur, Hickey shares that “failure is not always an option but rather a choice one makes in life. Never give up, if you decide to pursue your dreams. Complete each day with passion and you are already a winner.”
Darcy Mykytyshyn, Dean of the Donald School of Business, emphasizes the importance of collaboration and events such as Transform Your Trade in helping local entrepreneurs. “This initiative is a powerful demonstration of how we can bring together multiple disciplines from within post-secondary,” he says. “By working together and with business leaders, we can support not only students, but exciting and motivated entrepreneurs who want to be part of building our region.”
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