News and Events

Venture investment supports six local start-ups

Kenzie Schultze, owner of Prairie Instincts
May 29, 2020

Six emerging, local businesses received a combined total of over $41,000 in start-up funding and membership credits last week, at a time where economic stimulation is of upmost importance.

The funding was provided by The RBC Foundation, MNP LLP, the Medicine Hat and District Chamber of Commerce, and Medicine Hat College (MHC), in addition to the invaluable mentorship provided to the entrepreneurs throughout their time in the Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) program at MHC.

The completion of the EDC program saw the entrepreneurs pitch their business ventures to a virtual panel of judges and peers, a new take on the well-known Dragons’ Den-style competition, which was adapted to be done via Zoom and allowed the participants to share their business ideas from the comfort of their own home.

Christie Wilson, entrepreneur outreach coordinator at MHC, says the event is so much more than a pitch competition.

“Instead of looking at it just as a pitch competition, we see it as an opportunity to focus on venture investment to contribute to the future of our community and economy. These entrepreneurs take their business ideas very seriously, with the goal of starting a successful venture or enhancing a business that is already operational. That commitment and enthusiasm is mirrored back to them through the mentorship and financial support provided by RBC, MNP, the Chamber, and MHC.”

Wilson adds that the competition and EDC program provide valuable skills, knowledge and support for the entrepreneurs at any stage of their career, with the intention of preparing for and enhancing growth in the future.

“For example, one competitor this year identified that his business venture would provide the experience he needs to become a successful chef one day, so for him, it’s about being part of the journey of his career and the future of his work, not just about starting a business.”

That competitor’s name is Hector Valle, a grade 12 student from Medicine Hat High School. The youngest of the group, Valle presented himself eloquently and embraced the mentorship piece of the competition, requesting to speak with one of the judges following the pitch as time had run out before he was able to provide his input.

Valle received $5,000 in start-up funding for his taco cart, Valle Tacos, which he intends to operate while working part-time, with the end goal of becoming a chef later in his career.

Other business ventures featured in the competition included Angela Bunn of Décor Ink Emporium who received $8,000 in start-up funding, Hannah Duhaime of Sage and Grace who was awarded $2,000, and Sierra Levac of After Hours Imagery who received $5,000.

Kenzie Schultze, owner of Prairie Instincts, received her full ask of $10,000 in start-up funding, as well as $500 as the winner of the Best Pitch award, funded by the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce.

Husband and wife duo, Kristen & Skylar Walsh of Coffee Pops, were also awarded $10,000 in funding, and was further recognized with the Entrepreneurial Spirit award, an additional $500. The Entrepreneurial Spirit award, sponsored by MHC, acknowledges an individual(s) or business venture that embodies a passion for entrepreneurship.

Although not all presenters received their full ask, all received compensation from the merit-based competition, with the Medicine Hat & District Chamber of Commerce further supporting their efforts by giving each venture a one-year start-up membership with the organization.

To learn more about the EDC program, and watch pitch videos by this year’s participants, visit