A group of 100 businesspeople and entrepreneurs will soon come together in the 100 Entrepreneurs: Planting Seed$ event that aims to nurture Nova Scotia’s youth and provide one lucky young entrepreneur with $10,000 in investment.
It’s the second year for the Planting Seed$ event, which was created to give young entrepreneurs a chance to start and/or grow a viable business in Nova Scotia, said co-founder Stefanie MacDonald.
“This event serves both as a forum for micro-funding great ideas and as a way to educate and encourage young Nova Scotians to roll up their sleeves and try right here at home,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald is the owner and designer of Halifax Paper Hearts, a greeting card company that aims to “create fairy tales for everyone” through inclusive and diverse designs.
She began Planting Seed$ with her friend and colleague Allyson England after MacDonald attended a YES NS (Youth Entrepreneurship and Skills Nova Scotia) brainstorming event in the spring of 2015.
The two Atlantic Canadians met a few years ago in a professional setting. MacDonald later hired England to expand her export operations across Canada and into the U.S.
The colleagues have themselves achieved a great deal in the year since Halifax Paper Hearts began.
The company’s first card was produced to celebrate the wedding of two women close to them. After failing to find the right quirky and contemporary card in large department stores, MacDonald created a card that showed two sweet, aging female faces and the greeting, Let’s Grow Old Together.
Since then, Halifax Paper Hearts has sold more than 17,000 greeting cards and secured 50 retail partners. The partners have plans to attend trade shows in Toronto and New York next spring.
The partners want to share their experience with other young entrepreneurs. The 100 Seed$ event is also winning support from many others in the business, government and academic communities, who are prepared to show up and write cheques for $100 each. The event is designed to introduce youth to the concept of pitching ideas and developing networks earlier, MacDonald said.
Last year’s fledgling entrepreneurs pitched varied ideas and hailed from across the province. The three finalists, all aged under 24, were judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Their projects were rated on viability, impact on the province and scalability.
The winner of the $10,000 was Canada Cold Press Juices, a Nova Scotia-based venture that uses undersized fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste.
This year’s applicants must also be Nova Scotians under 24 years old. Their pitch must include a description of their product or service, a list of targeted or current customers, a marketing plan, a list of competitors and a clear budget that explains how they would spend the winning $10,000.
Applicants can attend 100 Seed$ free of charge. Others who can attend without committing $100 include 20 student spectators and 15 representatives of youth organizations.
Many well-known groups such as Futurpreneur, Junior Achievement, CEED, Fusion Halifax and Techsploration, attended last year’s event.
“We believe this mix encourages outreach, education, mentorship and venture capital opportunities for all attendees,” MacDonald said.
England said youth entrepreneurship is important to the growth of Nova Scotia. “But people hear 100 reasons why starting a business is too hard . . .We want to take the fear out of trying.
“Research cited in Ray Ivany’s Now or Never Report revealed that many Nova Scotia youth want to work in traditional professions or be public servants. Only 12 per cent want to be entrepreneurs. We want to raise that percentage and demonstrate that entrepreneurship is a rewarding career path.”
Planting Seed$ will be held at Halifax Central Public Library on Spring Garden Road on November 28th from 4-6 p.m. Tickets are avaiolable here.