A quartet of Okanagan College students have pedaled their way onto the podium with an Okanagan-inspired business idea at one of B.C.’s most prestigious tourism case competitions.
The team made of up Adrian Lemiski, Brooks Hewko, Merissa Hucul and Nick Gallant took second place at The Winning Pitch competition at the B.C. Tourism Industry Conference in Victoria this week.
Hosted by go2HR, B.C.’s tourism human resource association, The Winning Pitch challenges post-secondary students to propose concepts for new B.C.-based ventures. Teams were tasked with developing a proposal and business plan for a new accessible activity-based tourism business or service.
The group from Okanagan College, coached by OC School of Business professors Blair Baldwin and Laura Thurneer, took second place with their proposal for “Pioneer Adventure Company,” a premium cycle tour based out of the South Okanagan.
“We were thrilled that our idea resonated with the judges,” says Hucul, a third-year Bachelor of Business Administration student at the College’s Kelowna campus. “The process of developing our pitch, refining it, and preparing for the competition involved months of hard work. From start to finish it’s been an incredible learning experience, and it’s still going.”
The team’s business plan is already getting noticed. Not long after the event, coach Blair Baldwin was contacted by a potential investor interested in speaking with the students about bringing their idea to life.
“These students put in an extraordinary effort, investing countless hours of their own time on top of their course loads to develop this pitch,” says Baldwin. “And so it’s exciting but not entirely surprising that the business community is recognizing the value in what they are proposing.”
Hucul attributes the well-developed pitch to the perfect blend of backgrounds and personalities on the team. Combined, they boast specializations in Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality and General Studies.
“It is the ultimate compliment to hear that our idea has merit and is financially sound enough to potentially become a reality,” adds Hucul. “I think that was borne out of the depth and variety of skills each of us brings to the table.”
She is also quick to acknowledge the efforts made by the team’s coaches to ready them for the competition.
“We couldn’t have done it without Laura and Blair’s expertise and guidance. We learned so much from them throughout the process.”
The team from Okanagan College was one of three finalists in Victoria. The team from Royal Roads came out on top, while BCIT took bronze.
In order to advance to the finals, the team from Okanagan College beat out challenger Thompson Rivers University at regionals last November. The event was held at Predator Ridge in Vernon.
“This team exemplifies the amazing crop of young businesspeople coming out of the Okanagan School of Business,” says Thurnheer, who is also Chair of Business Administration at Okanagan College. “We applaud their success and look forward with interest to seeing how their idea continues to unfold and develop.”
For more information about the competition, visit www.go2hr.ca.