Updated: Jun 7
UPDATED: Jun 7/23
We were a sponsor of Hawk's Nest 2023 and the third iteration of the biennial event was a resounding success, drawing a crowd of 225 people at the Roxy Theatre in Owen Sound for an entertaining evening.
The "Dragon's Den" inspired competition saw seven entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to the Hawks, local angel investors, resulting in over $36,000 in investments and loans.
Table of Contents (TOC): Hawk's Nest Contestants & Hawks | A Community Effort | Investment & Awards | 2023 Hawks | 2023 Contestants | Event Replay | Key Partners | My Impressions of Hawk's Next 2023 | Parting Thoughts to All Entrepreneurs
A Community Effort
Rose Austin, General Manager for Saugeen Economic Development Corporation (SEDC), and Barb Fisher, General Manager for Bruce Community Futures Development Corporation, expressed their satisfaction with the new partnerships formed with the Hawks and the participation of the sponsors.
The SEDC and the Bruce CFDC, the organizers of the event, offer a wide variety of programs and services supporting community economic development and small business growth. They are not-for-profit organizations that have partnered to provide an avenue for existing businesses looking to expand and entrepreneurs wanting to start a business.
Hawk's Nest 2003 Contestants and Hawks!
Investments and Awards
Each Hawk committed to invest $5,000 in the entrepreneurs during the evening, totaling a minimum of $30,000. However, after hearing the entrepreneurs' pitches, negotiations resulted in $36,000 in investments, as well as mentorships and more for all of the contestants. They were all that good!
As an extra bonus, Olivia Schlosser, with her business "Mutts About You," and youth finalists Olivia, Sierra, and Cole Griffin with "Griffin’s Sweet Sensations," tied for the People’s Choice Award, each receiving a cash prize of $565 and a $500 advertising certificate from Shoreline Radio.
The 2023 Hawks
The Hawks play a crucial role in the success of this year's event. They are local entrepreneurs, business owners and angel investors who not only provide financial support to the entrepreneurs but also offer mentorship, share their expertise, and open up their network contacts. The 2023 Hawks were:
Tony Solecki from Caframo Ltd. | BIO
Craig Beck from The Beck Auto Group | BIO
Rhonda Kirk from Home Décor and More | BIO
Howard Sher from Quality Homes | BIO
Ed Bosman from Bosman Home Front Ltd. | BIO
Craig Beck from The Beck Auto Group | BIO
Amanda Farrell Walsh from Miller Insurance | BIO
Each Hawk committed to invest $5,000 in the entrepreneurs during the event, totaling a minimum of $30,000. However, their support extended beyond financial investment. Some Hawks became customers of the contestants, while others offered to take some of the entrepreneurs under their wings to help them in areas where that entrepreneur excelled in terms of their competency, experience, and network contacts.
The Hawks' commitment to entrepreneurialism is remarkable. They generously share their expertise, time, and resources to ensure the success of these entrepreneurs in the coming years. Their involvement in Hawks' Nest is a testament to their dedication to fostering entrepreneurship and economic growth in the region.
2023 Hawks Profiles
Tony Solecki, Caframo, Ltd.
This was Tony's third year returning as a hawk. Tony grew up in beautiful Vancouver. He graduated from UBC with a degree in computer science and completed his MBA at Western's Ivy School of Business in 1983. Tony is married and has two children. Tony has worked for over 35 years in the design and manufacturing field, including 10 years with RBW in Owen Sound, and the last 25 years with Caframo near Wiarton. Under Tony's leadership, Cafaramo has grown from 20 employees in 1994 to 140 employees today. Caframo designs and manufactures scientific equipment and consumer products, including laboratory overhead stirs, specialty fans, heaters, thermoelectric fans, and thermoelectric lighting. Products are sold in over 40 countries worldwide.
Tony was thrilled to be back at Hawk's Nest for 2023 and was looking again to find that perfect match between entrepreneur and mentor investor.
Craig Beck, The Beck Auto Group
This was Craig's first year as a hawk. He is the principal owner of the Beck Auto Group, which amalgamates Owen Sound Chrysler; Kincardine Chrysler, port Elgin Chrysler, Montgomery Ford Kincardine Montgomery Ford. Lucknow. The Beck Auto Group began over five years ago and has since expanded to include the newest edition, Kincardine Chrysler. Craig was born and raised in Fergus, Ontario and now calls Owen Sound home. He attended school in London, Ontario and began his career in accounting, but made the move over to automotive early on. Craig is married with two children and works alongside his wife Christi as owners of the Beck Auto Group.
Craig believes strongly in giving back to the community and helping others succeed by providing opportunity and avenues for entrepreneurs and business owners to help them accomplish their goals. He is familiar with previous Hawks Nest events and was excited to join as an investor.
Rhonda Kirk, Home Decor & More
Rhonda's journey began with a passion for home design. In 2015, she took the leap to start her own business, Home Decor & More, a decision that has profoundly changed her life. With 25 years of experience in healthcare, Rhonda opened a warehouse in Owen Sound and expanded her presence to include stores in Collingwood, Hanover, and Allison.
Her business flourished, gaining a strong following of 65,000 members on social media. Rhonda is grateful for her dedicated staff and the recognition she has received, such as the New Business of the Year and People's Choice awards. Reflecting on her journey, she shares,
"Entering the world of retail has been amazing. I've made so many friendships with customers. I absolutely love what I do." Rhonda is excited about the future and remains committed to delivering quality products and services. As she continues to grow her business, her story unfolds with unwavering determination.
Howard Sher, Quality Homes
Howard Sher has 24 years of experience in the modular home construction industry. As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Quality Homes, he oversees all aspects of operations, including strategic planning, business development, project management, and team management. With a deep understanding of the modular home industry, Sher provides strategic leadership to maintain Quality Homes' position as Ontario's leading modular home builder.
He holds a certificate in Business Administration from Damelin Business School and is recognized for his work in developing attainable housing and serving on ULC committees for Canadian fire prevention standards. Outside of work, Sher is a competitive cyclist and volunteers for a charity supporting the homeless. Committed to delivering high-quality results, he fosters a culture of excellence and teamwork within the organization.
Sher was excited to participate in the Hawks Nest event, as it aligns with his personal and corporate goals of community engagement.
Ed Bosman, Home Front Inc.
Ed, born in 1955 to immigrant parents seeking a new home, has been married to Tilda for over 46 years, and they are proud grandparents of 17. After high school, Ed held diverse jobs, including forklift operator, welder, backhoe operator, ready mix and gravel truck driver, and highway truck driver. Despite doubts, he fulfilled his farming dream by purchasing a rundown farm in 1979. Today, Crimson Lane Farms Inc. employs over 10 people, producing 1200 piglets weekly.
Ed also founded and presides over Bosman Home Front, Inc. in Teviotdale, specializing in gazebos, sunrooms, sheds, garages, cabins, playsets, pavilions, pergolas, and outdoor furniture. Recently celebrating its 25th anniversary, the company actively supports foreign workers' integration through employment and community engagement. Ed's passion lies in providing opportunities for people to excel, leveraging their talents and skills for the greater good.
Delighted to be part of the Hawks Nest initiative, he eagerly anticipated supporting presenters' ideas, aspirations, and plans, wishing them success and blessings on their journey.
Amanda Farrel Walsh, Miller Insurance
Amanda Farrell Walsh, VP of Sales and Customer Experience at Miller Insurance, is a seasoned professional with a passion for the insurance industry. With over 10 years of experience, she thrives on helping people in their time of need. Miller Insurance operates eight offices across Grey, Bruce, and Wellington Counties, serving clients all over Ontario. Their team of nearly 50 members provides comprehensive insurance options for homes, autos, businesses, and farms. Amanda's expertise in marketing, communications, community economic development, and risk management allows her to excel in her role.
Outside of work, she embraces her role as a parent and enjoys coaching, participating in Scottish Highland games, lifting competitions, and finding solace on her front porch. Amanda's dedication, experience, and diverse interests make her a valuable asset in leading the sales and customer experience division at Miller Insurance. Her strong commitment to exceptional service ensures client satisfaction and fosters long-term relationships.
The Hawks Nest 2023 Contestants
The entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas spanned a variety of industries, from organic pet treats to eco-friendly accommodations. Each walked away with valuable advice, feedback, and financial assistance from the six high-profile business leaders, the Hawks. The entrepreneurs and contestants included:
Olivia, Sierra and Cole Griffin, Griffin’s Sweet Sensations | Profile
Jennifer Osborn, EcoWool Canada Inc. | Profile
Monique Travale, Dill Doughs | Profile
Nicole Ireland, Stilara | Profile
Julia Downer and Sharon Black, Black Forest Eco Oasis | Profile
Amy Caperchione, iSUP Saugeen | Profile
Olivia Schlosser, Mutts About You | Profile
Olivia, Sierra and Cole Griffin, Griffin's Sweet Sensations (Youth Category)
Olivia, Sierra, and Cole Griffin are the young entrepreneurs behind Griffin's Sweet Sensations. They specialize in a delicious selection of cookies, brownies, and blondies. With plans to expand their menu, upgrade equipment, and streamline production, they aim to make the world a sweeter place, one sensational bite at a time. Check them out!
Jennifer Osborne, EcoWool Canada, Inc.
Jennifer Osborne, a sheep farmer, founded EcoWool Canada Inc., Canada's first waste wool mill. EcoWool's mission is to initiate sustainability and support farmers by upcycling wool and fiber waste into valuable products. By converting this organic material into usable products, Jennifer aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support a thriving circular economy in rural Ontario. Learn more here.
Monique Travale, Dill Doughs
Monique Travale is the founder of Dill Doughs, an e-commerce artisan bread mix business. With a strong marketing approach, she plans to increase online sales and product presence in retail stores throughout Ontario and beyond. Visit their website.
Nicole Ray Ireland, Stilara
Nicole Ray Ireland is the owner of Stilara, a shop featuring handmade creations of over 100 Canadian artisans. Nicole plans to expand Stilara by creating craft DIY kits, expanding store products, and upgrading her point of sale system.More about Stilara.
Julia Downer and Sharon Black, Black Forest Eco Oasis
Sharon Black and Julia Downer, a mother-daughter duo, aspire to run experiential getaways focusing on unique styles of accommodation. They plan to create weekend retreat programs and provide off-grid, eco-friendly accommodations.
Amy Caperchione, iSUP Saugeen
Amy Caperchione aims to enhance the profitability and sustainability of her social enterprise, iSUP Saugeen. As Ontario's first mobile surf shop, the company specializes in aquatic recreation and outdoor education. Amy envisions a fleet of mobile surf shops that create jobs, enhance local tourism, and support the economy through safe, sustainable, and eco-friendly business practices. Start paddling now.
Olivia Schlosser, Mutts About You
Olivia Schlosser plans to expand her business, Mutts About You, into a retail location. She offers healthy treat options for furry friends made from single-ingredient items with no additives, preservatives, dyes, or fillers. Olivia's goal is to help reduce butcher shop waste, not kill any animals for treats, be budget-friendly, and help dogs thrive. Shop now.
The Hawk's Nest initiative is supported by a network of key partners and sponsors who contribute significantly to its success. Here are some of the main partners:
Bayshore Broadcasting | Country 93; 97.9 The Bruce,
Blackburn Media | 101.7 The One; Cool 94.5
My Impressions of Hawks Nest 2023
My impression of Hawks Nest 2023 was overwhelmingly positive. It was an incredible experience for both the entrepreneurs and the audience. The Hawks, the investors, played a pivotal role in motivating and encouraging the entrepreneurs. They praised the quality of the presentations and the hard work that had gone into them.
Collaborative Spirit Among the Hawks
What stood out to me was the collaborative spirit among the Hawks. They discussed how they could support all the participants, not just a select few. This support extended beyond financial investment. For instance, some Hawks became customers of the contestants, while others offered mentorship, sharing their expertise, experience, and network contacts.
The Potential for Annual Events
Hawks Nest is a biennial event, occurring every two years. However, I believe there's potential for such events to happen annually in the Grey Bruce area. I'm excited to continue supporting Hawks Nest in the future and look forward to participating as a 'dragon' in the upcoming Meaford event, the Meaford Dragons Den.
The Importance of Interconnected Events
It's crucial that we continue to host these events and even increase their frequency. However, it's equally important that these events are interconnected and supportive of each other, ensuring they act in the best interest of the broader entrepreneurial community in Grey Bruce.
Commending the Organizers and Hawks
I want to commend the organizers and the Hawks for their commitment. Their financial support, time, resources, and networks are invaluable in ensuring the success of these entrepreneurs in the coming years. I was particularly impressed with the number of women entrepreneurs present at the event and wish them all the best in their future ventures.
Parting Thoughts to the Entrepreneurs
You’ll get lots of advice from people on what to do, what not to do and everything in between. Many entrepreneurs can feel overwhelmed with too much to do, too much to know and not enough time and, during the early days, not enough money and resources.
There is always a path to success when you take the journey of being an entrepreneur! And, you’re not alone! There are many entrepreneurs out there who can and want to help. Here’s how I can help you.