GUELPH – Noki Farms, a farm-meets-deli counter retail space, received first place and $20,000 at the Business Centre Guelph-Wellington’s (BCGW) first Win This Space business pitch competition.
The contest was held in partnership with Downtown Guelph Business Association (DGBA) and Invest Guelph.
Founded by biotechnology technicians Nykole Crevits and Karl Fellbaum, Noki Farms will offer harvest-on-demand specialty mushrooms, leafy greens, microgreens, edible flowers, and fresh herbs at an upcoming space located in downtown Guelph.
“This is a huge vote of confidence to make it this far alongside fantastic competitors,” said Fellbaum, after learning that Noki Farms had won the competition.
“You can’t do anything in this world without help, and we’re grateful for the business coaching from the BCGW and support of the DGBA and Invest in Guelph. Mushrooms for everyone!”
Crevits and Fellbaum plan to use the $20,000 cash prize to support early marketing efforts, purchase lab equipment and create the controlled environment required to grow their mushrooms, greens and herbs.
Noki Farms also received a $750 commercial space design from sponsor Centre Staged Designs Inc.; branding, signage and digital marketing support from sponsor 2H Media; six months of business banking services from BMO Bank of Montreal and one year of ongoing business development and advisory services from the BCGW.
The company was one of three local businesses that competed for more than $40,000 in cash and awards in a virtual business pitch event on April 13.
The event was the culmination of nearly three months of business development, training and coaching for the participants, and was well attended by more than 60 community members, entrepreneurs and competition partners.
Second prize was awarded to Fan/Joy Culinary, Counselling & Training Academy, a culinary social enterprise that offers cooking and counselling programs to improve the physical and mental health of youth and their families.
Founder and chef Pam Fanjoy gave an engaging pitch that resulted in a $7,500 cash prize from Invest in Guelph to expand her existing operation, as well as branding, signage and digital marketing support from 2H Media; six months of business banking services from BMO Bank of Montreal and one year of ongoing business development and advisory services from the BCGW.
Third prize was awarded to Amber Ozols Art, a creative studio that offers large-scale murals, art, and paper and stationary goods through the HomeBody product line. Artist Amber Ozols secured a space in the BCGW’s Starter Company Plus business development program this spring and a $5,000 grant, as well as branding and marketing support from 2H Media, and six months of business banking services from BMO Bank of Montréal.
Ozols was also selected as the recipient of the Jan Hawley People’s Choice Award through an in-real-time audience poll.
A year in the making
“The Win This Space competition has been more than a year in the making, and it would not have been possible without the partnership of the Downtown Guelph Business Association and Invest in Guelph,” said Kristel Manes, executive director of the BCGW. “We are so proud of the finalists for taking advantage of this incredible opportunity in our current economic climate, to challenge themselves and grow their businesses, while contributing to the vitality of our city.”
“We think all three entrepreneurs have businesses that our commercial landlords will be interested in, and we know there are spaces to fit each of them,” said Marty Williams, executive director of the DGBA.
“We’re excited to set up connections so the founders can press on with these innovative ideas and add something new to downtown Guelph.”