Cameron Olson, a Grade 11 student cross-enrolled at Nakusp Secondary and Burton Academy schools, was ecstatic. His team had won first place in the Junior Dragons Den and the Trail Junior Dragons Den competitions for its EZ Lite Fire Starter redesign.
It was through the Burton Academy school’s outdoor education and entrepreneurship program that Cam discovered his love of entrepreneurship and marketing. “This year, in the Burton Academy outdoor education/entrepreneurship program, they really upgraded the course with sessions from the Columbia Basin Trust around writing grants and business plans – there was a lot more focus on the Entrepreneurship 12 aspect of the program.” Cameron loved it!
His team looked at an existing fire-starter prototype to see how they could improve it and sell it. “We did a complete redesign of the product and then developed a marketing and business plan. We marketed all the pieces of the invention as a package, and the kit as an ‘EZ Lite Fire Starter kit,’ which had not been done before.”
Cam’s team success and entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t stop there. The team also won second and third place for its Rollyblade redesign and marketing campaign at another Junior Dragons Den competition. “We won as a team and that means a lot to me.” In total, Cam’s team has showcased its products at six events throughout British Columbia, including the Vancouver Boat Show.
Cam is grateful for the experience he’s had in the outdoor education program, which covered entrepreneurship, small business and marketing skills. He also attributes his success to the ACE-IT carpentry program, which he completed last year. “Both programs are about constructing and designing things that are practical.” And this experience has paid off. Cam’s team has already sold $26,000 worth of its products this year.
Cam is feeling optimistic about his future. He’s excited about being a student tutor in the outdoor education program next year. He is already thinking about inventing and marketing his own product.
As far as post-secondary, Cam is keeping his options open. “I’m not sure where I will go yet for post-secondary, but am starting to look at programs and most likely will go into business administration in marketing. But who knows? I have another year to learn and want to get the most from all the opportunities.”
Check out other B.C. student success stories.