Indigenous business competition show Bears’ Lair has been renewed for a second season on APTN. Bears’ Lair

Dragon’s Den-style reality TV show Bears’ Lair has been renewed for a second season, with producers on the lookout for the next batch of innovative, Indigenous entrepreneurs.

The show sees 18 different Indigenous business owners pitch their ideas to a panel of Bears and guest judges. Cash prizes are handed out to a selection of the best, with a grand prize of $100,000 given to the winner.

With so much piqued interest this time around, budding businesspeople should prepare for some stiff competition, said the show’s executive producer Geena Jackson.

“This year we have had over 9,000 inquiries from people asking how they can apply to be on the show,” she said. “It’s unbelievable. It really shows the support and the energy that’s out there.”

While it is similar to other pitch-based business shows like Dragon’s Den, what sets Bears Lair apart from its contemporaries, said Jackson, is its sole focus on Indigenous entrepreneurs, and its step away from the business world’s stereotypical cut-throat nature.

“This is uplifting, it’s kind, it showcases a diversity within different cultures across Canada. We focus on what we call ‘co-op-etition’ here, which is holding each other up really respectfully.”

Jackson, from the Sechelt First Nation, is no stranger to guiding Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Prior to launching the show in 2022, she worked with the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) for 13 years as an economic development officer, aiding hundreds of members in starting their own businesses. Since the launch of Bears’ Lair in 2022, she has also kickstarted the travelling program Bear’s Lair Youth Dream Camps, designed to encourage and assist youth who hope to venture into the business world. 

Jackson will be bringing her wealth of business knowledge as a returning Bear, alongside Tabatha Bull and Dave Tuccaro, while newcomer Clint Davis, former president and CEO of Nunasi Corporation, will be a Season 2 addition to the judging panel.

Of the 9,000+ applicants that have put their name forward, just 1,800 will make it to the second stage, before a final whittling is made to finalize the 18 contestants that will take part.

Jackson said a committee of 10 to 12 people will decide who will be shortlisted, with decisions based on business acumen and geographic location.

“We would like diversity, and we want to have representation from every province,” she said.

“Whether it’s Coast Salish, or Cree or Métis or Anishinaabe, we are hoping to have as much cultural diversity as we possibly can, province to province.”

Potential contestants must have been running their business for at least two years, and that business should provide “a social impact within their community,” said Jackson, whether at a grassroots, regional, national, or global level.

“We’re looking to those who are trying to solve problems within the community, and trying to make a difference in the world. We want people to know that you can have a sustainable business, you can make money, and you can respect the community and make a difference as well,” she said.

Last year AgriTech North, a Dryden-based indoor farming business, took home the inaugural win. As for advice she would give to potential contestants this year, Jackson said it’s the driving force behind the idea that counts most.

“My advice is always to tell your story. Before you tell me what you do, tell me why you do it.”

The show will be filmed in North Vancouver September 19 to 24. Entrepreneurs can apply online at BearsLairTV.com.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

MKerrLazenby@nsnews.com
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By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 18, 2023 at 10:19

This item reprinted with permission from   North Shore News   North Vancouver, British Columbia
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