First-place winner Anna Hwang (Young Entrepreneurs: YE$) spoke to a panel of judges along with audience members during Gators’ Den at Walnut Grove Secondary on May 26.

Langley high school students demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit

Student Anna Hwang took top spot during a recent Gator’s Den competition.

Walnut Grove Secondary School (WGSS) students showed their entrepreneurial skills recently, and they did it in the Gators’ Den.

The Walnut Grove Business Association (WGBA) in partnership with WGSS held an event similar to Dragon’s Den in the school’s drama room.

Dragons’ Den is a CBC series in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business concepts and products to a panel of Canadian business moguls.

After listening to the business pitch, the Dragons decide to either lend their expertise and cash to the companies, or walk away.

The goal of the annual Gators’ Den is to promote entrepreneurial spirit, and networking with business leaders.

The WGBA suggested the Gators’ Den concept to WGSS IT, Planning 10 and Business Education teacher Bruce Young five years ago.

This year, the Gators’ Den panel included managers from Walnut Grove’s six banks and credit unions.

This year’s Gator’s Den judges included Bikram Gill (RBC), Manay Sahota (Vancity), Julie Powell (G & F Financial), Patricia Case (CIBC), Dylan Fraser (Coast Capital Savings), Kyle Blais (TD), Ron Knight (McDonald’s), and Kim Wishinski (Kids in the Grove).

Each bank or credit union involved contributed $200, which was put into a pot that was subsequently distributed to the top three finalists – $600 for first, $400 to second, and $200 to third.

“The intent of the money is to use it to develop their businesses,” Young explained.

During Gators’ Den, the judges (local bank managers) along with other business people evaluated the students’ presentations.

The judges then selected the top six trade show students to present at Gators’ Den.

Young said each year, students take more time to put their proposals together and are “a little more conscientious as to what they’re doing.”

“The ones who win are committed to making their businesses grow and develop,” elaborated Young, who next year is starting a Young Entrepreneurs Club at WGSS.

“We have a really good group of conscientious kids,” he said.

Gators’ Den finalists included:

1st – Anna Hwang (Young Entrepreneurs: YE$),

2nd – Keaton Lawlor (Original Image),

3rd – Trevor Hawley (Delicious Delights),

Matt Elsey (Elsey Realty),

Matt Stanley(Deitas Development), and

Kierin Eggen (Kierin Daniels Collection).

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