Venture Kamloops Advisor Program Prepares Entrepreneurs with a Mini "Dragon's Den"


The Challenge: Sharing the Knowledge 

VK Venture Advisors

Entrepreneurs needed to find a way to benefit from the knowledge of local business leaders and to build relationships with the community. 

The Solution: Designing a Mini Dragon's Den 

The VK Venture Advisors program is formatted after the popular CBC television show “The Dragon’s Den” and leverages the popularity of the series. The entrepreneur is coached by the Venture Kamloops staff to produce a standard venture capital style presentation or “deck". They then make a presentation to a panel or local business leaders and collect constructive feedback and valuable community connections. This intensive mentoring session is designed to give entrepreneurs the very best possible foundation to build or expand on their business, and at the same time, allows local business leaders to give back to their community.

Benefits: Cost-Effective and Fun

  • This project is easily replicable in other communities. 
  • Costs are very minimal as they are comprised only of the venue and food for each meeting.  In 2014 the costs for operating this program was $6007 for a total of nine meetings. In the experience of Venture Kamloops, compared to other community outreach and marketing programs, this is an extremely cost effective way to connect with clients.
  • Besides the costs and time to organize each monthly meeting, the only other ingredients required are entrepreneurs willing to present their business idea and local business leaders willing to commit an hour and half each month to participate. In our experience, neither have been very hard to find, thanks again, to the popularity of the CBC television show “The Dragon’s Den.”
  • Further to these points, VK Venture Advisors are happy to share any information or resources that would be helpful to other communities looking to initiate their own version of this program. The program was presented at the Economic Development Association of BC Annual conference in 2014 as well as via webinar.

Outcomes: Advice that Pays Off

  • Since 2012, the program has assisted 32 entrepreneurs, representing a minimum of 25 new full time equivalent jobs and several part time jobs still in existence to this day.
  • The resulting employment earnings far exceed the cost of operating the program.
  • Participants represent a number of high-value industries, such a mining support, manufacturing and technology, which make significant contributions to the economy.
  • The new Thompson Division of Family Practice Programs helped attract and retain family doctors in the community. 
  • A partnership with the Thompson River University’s School of Tourism Management provides a unique real life perspective and lessons for young entrepreneurs. 

Lessons Learned: Building the Knowledge Library 

  • The program is an excellent tool that engages the business community and  builds lasting connections within the community
  • The relationship building leverages the “knowledge library” so that knowledge can be accessed quickly and on an ad hoc basis
  • Business leaders can give back to the community

Watch the Video Testimonials for the VK Venture Advisors 


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