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Cowichan Secondary School students prepare to enter local Dragon's Den

Dragon's Den Cowichan? Why not? Community Futures Cowichan and Cowichan Secondary School have been inspired by the TV show to team up to offer young entrepreneurs a fun contest to test their business ideas and savvy.

Their contest includes many of the same exciting factors that make Dragon's Den such a viewer magnet.

"The ultimate goal is to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit of Cowichan area teens by providing them with the opportunity to be handson with their business skills and ideas in a fun and interactive format," Cathy Robertson, general manager of Community Futures Cowichan said.

Teams will compete in a threestep process where participants will have to demonstrate their skills in the key areas of product/service development, marketing, and finance.

The final event is in late May, when a winning team will be determined by the judges.

The contest gets its official kickoff on Thursday, Feb. 6 at Cowichan Secondary School. "There will be a grand prize for the winning idea, but there will also be additional prizes along the way. And it's not only prizes the students receive. Many local business people will be helping out as both mentors and judges. The mentors will be available to teams to provide advice and guidance for each of the major tasks. The judges will provide that helpful feedback so the students can make changes and improvements," Robertson said.

Community Futures launched the idea as a way to connect students on the career path of entrepreneurship, and to connect youth with local business, she said.

"For many students retirement is a lifetime away, but for baby boomers it's right around the corner and they wonder who is going to buy their businesses. This a critical issue in local economies as small business owners create up to 98 per cent of local jobs. By offering this type of 'real-life' learning experience the hope is a few students will aspire to become the future business owners of our favourite local businesses," she said.