Indigenous business competition series headed for APTN

Vancouver's Sparkly Frog Clan Productions is behind Bears' Lair, which offers Indigenous entrepreneurs a total of $180,000 in prize dollars for their business.

A new Indigenous business competition TV series from Vancouver-based Sparkly Frog Clan Productions is bound for APTN.

The Indigenous prodco is now accepting contestant applications for season one of Bears’ Lair, in which Indigenous entrepreneurs vie for a piece of $180,000 in prize dollars for their business enterprise.

The nine-episodes series will see 18 emerging and established Indigenous entrepreneurs from across the country pitch to a panel of judges, a.k.a. The Bears. The judges will select one $10,000 winner from each of six try-out episodes, with those winners moving on to the semi-finals. The final four advance to the season finale, where the ultimate victor wins a $100,000 grand prize.

Unlike other business competition series in which investors take part ownership of the competitors’ companies, such as CBC’s Dragons’ Den and ABC’s Shark Tank, the Bears’ Lair contestants keep full ownership and pitch to The Bears for grant money instead of investment tied to conditions. Judges consider the entrepreneurs’ social impact and award points for community impact and social purpose as they select winners for guaranteed cash prizes.

The competition will also offer contestants group business training and individual coaching from industry experts to polish their business pitches and prepare for the TV broadcast experience.

The core judges’ panel for season one includes Sparkly Frog Clan Productions and Bears’ Lair executive producer and founder Geena Jackson (pictured), of the Sechelt (shíshálh) First Nation in British Columbia; Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) president and CEO Tabatha Bull, of Nipissing First Nation in Ontario; Tuccaro Group of Companies president and CEO Dave Tuccaro, of the Mikisew Cree Nation in Alberta; and Steel River Group president and CEO Trent Fequet, from the Innu community of Pakuashipi in Quebec.

There will also be a guest judge from a Bears’ Lair sponsor organization in each regular episode, along with a group of special guest judges for the semi-final and final rounds.

“It is time to feed the spirit of Indigenous business to showcase the diversity and resiliency of Indigenous entrepreneurs,” said Jackson, in a news release. “It’s time for a reality show with real impact to bring forth our experts to share their wealth of knowledge to enhance the future of the Indigenous economy.

“This is a show by Indigenous entrepreneurs for Indigenous entrepreneurs that celebrates Indigenous values and the quadruple bottom line — balancing people, planet, profit and purpose — that are woven into so many Indigenous businesses across the nation.”