Meekis’ plan finishes fifth out of 160

Create: 12/01/2015 - 19:21

Sandy Lake’s Scott Meekis finished fifth in the 2014 Enter the Den business plan competition after an unusual flight to the May 22 event in Thunder Bay.
“We had trouble coming in but we made it,” said Meekis, who had just graduated from Dennis Franklin Cromarty First Nations High School on May 13. “They cancelled our flight the first day we were supposed to come here.”
Meekis and his mother Nora Jane Meekis flew down to Thunder Bay in a small plane chartered by Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund specifically to attend the finals of the Enter the Den competition.
“We jumped into a small (four-seat) plane and the flight was two-and-a-half hours,” Nora Jane said. “It was a very small plane, but we made it. We actually had a good ride even though I’m scared of plane rides.”
NADF’s Wendy McKay said Meekis’ scheduled flight was cancelled due to weather conditions.
“So we decided to fly him in this morning,” McKay said, noting that Nishnawbe Aski Nation also helped with the flight. “He did really well and the people at NADF are rooting for him.”
Nora Jane said her son was excited about being in the finals of the Enter the Den competition.
“I’m excited too,” Nora Jane said.
Meekis was the last of the five finalists to deliver his presentation to the panel of judges at the Enter the Den competition.
“This is my business plan, it is Native Beadworks,” Meekis said during his presentation. “My business focus is on conserving the knowledge that my ancestors passed on to my people. My slogan is giving people the warmth and comfort of the traditional clothes that they used thousands of years ago.”
After his presentation, Meekis faced a round of questions and comments from the judges, including a request from one judge to contact her about a potential purchase of one of his traditional products. Meekis plans to market and repair beaded moccasins, mukluks and clothing through his business.
“It was fun; it was alright,” Meekis said after the judges announced the results. “I don’t feel bad. At least I tried.”
Meekis received a $100 gift certificate from Gear Up for Outdoors for finishing fifth, while the top three finalists received $1,500, $1,000 and $500 cash prizes.
Brandon Wright, Meekis’ teacher at DFC, said he was “really proud” of Meekis’ efforts throughout the whole Enter the Den competition.
“It’s really rewarding to see one of my own students succeed to such a degree out of, as they said, 160 applicants,” Wright said. “Even though it wasn’t me up there and I’m not really receiving anything, it was a very rewarding experience.”
Wright looks forward to helping other DFC students to get into the Enter the Den finals in the future.
“You want to bring a story and a personality to your business,” Wright said. “Anyone can sell a product or sell a service, but you also want to sell a story that goes with it, because that is what customers identify and connect with.”
The Enter the Den competition was inspired by the popular Canadian television program, the Dragon’s Den.

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