Monday, 13 August 2018 10:56

Full Circle Plastics wins Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge

Written by  By Heather Cameron
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Stephanie and Jonathan Beekman of Full Circle Plastics recently acquired $10,000 as winners of the 14th annual Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge.


Full Circle Plastics is a processing plant that recently relocated from Lethbridge to Nobleford and manufactures products using 100 per cent post-consumer plastic.
“We were thrilled and shocked to win. We had started this to focus and work on our business, not to necessarily win a contest,” Stephanie Beekman said.
Full Circle Plastics has a vision of saving the environment by creating products purely out of waste. Jonathan Beekman, according to his wife, had a meeting with Bill Halley at Alberta Innovates - Technology Futures and he encouraged the Beekmans to enter the contest.
The Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge has been around for 14 years and includes ample opportunities for networking. The challenge is a business plan writing competition designed and targeted toward new or existing business (individuals or teams) who have a sustainable and high-growth business idea.
“It is a business planning competition providing training and the skills necessary to build a successful business plan,” Darlene Sinclair of Community Futures said.  “It usually runs in January-February and it is weeks of free training providing knowledge of what you need to know to write a business plan and do a cash flow.”
Sinclair says that all business plans that are sent out are screened by 3 individual professional screeners and rated as per a scorecard provided to both participants and screeners.  From there, the top three scores in each the general and technology side move to the finals. These 6 finalists present their pitch to judges who make the final decision on the winner.
“The contest exists to support and encourage anyone with a dream of starting a business,” Sinclair said.  “It also exists to start and grow new businesses in our region and to provide support and training on how to start and run your business.”
To be eligible for the contest, individuals or teams must have a sustainable business plan or concept; be living or working in the region where the challenge is taking place; have one member serving as a Team Leader that will be responsible for communication within and outside of the team.
If an existing business is entering or being entered, they must clearly outline their expansion plans; have fewer than 20 employees; and have annual revenues of less than $500,000.
“The Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge brings community partners, professionals and entrepreneurs together to provide a platform for learning how to do a business plan and cash flow; to discover opportunities for business; and validate the ideas and hopefully provide them with the necessary tools to become a successful business,” Sinclair said.
Community Futures organizations have been helping businesses and communities with financing, advisement and economic development services for over 25 years. The organizations consist of both volunteers and staff who are actively involved in the process of helping develop and implement community-based economic development strategies. Their focus is largely on rural economic diversification. Implemented strategies result in growth within Southern Alberta’s rural communities.
“It was a great experience,” Beekman said. “We learned a lot, made some great contacts and we got to focus on how we wanted to build our business and direction on how to do that. The support that is received during and after the competition is fantastic.”
For more information about the Chinook Entrepreneur Challenge, visit: http://www.chinookchallenge.com.

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