Over the past year, nine entrepreneurs have participated in three qualifying pitch events hosted by the Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST).
The contest attracted thousands of viewers from across the province and beyond. According to KAST: âEntrepreneurs from all corners of Kootenay have braved the virtual stage to present their businesses to the world.
The grand prize of the Kootenay Pitch Competition (KPC) won by Sami Majadla and the CertiCraft team was $ 2,500 in cash, three months of enrollment in the KAST Business Acceleration Program, five hours at the Selkirk Technology Center and $ 500 to organize a party with their team.
Majadla is the CEO and one of the founders of CertiCraft, a company that wants to see artisanal cannabis communities thrive across Canada, especially in the Kootenays. Their mission is to help artisanal cannabis producers make the transition and succeed in the newly regulated market. CertiCraft has built the only compliance platform that digitizes and fully automates record keeping requirements for growers.
For Majadla, this competition could not have been better.
âWe were preparing to raise capital to expand our operations and get to where we want to go faster. An opportunity to participate in a local pitch event where part of the competition package was the mentoring around the pitch. It made sense to hone our skills.
CertiCraft was imagined in 2018, says Majadla.
âWe launched our pilot project in 2019 with a few selected clients for a year and a half. Last fall we completely launched our product.
The company is already working with clients across Canada. Mainly in British Columbia with a higher concentration in the Kootenays.
âWe have clients in all provinces of Canada,â says Majadla.
Winning the competition is valid for the team.
âIt shows that we are on the right track. Other people agree that we are doing what it takes to give ourselves the victory. Hope this helps you research investments and find investors as there were a few different investors on the pitch judge panel. We have had a lot of good feedback from everyone involved. We use it as a launching pad, âexplains Majadla.
CertiCraft accessed support for KAST’s Business Acceleration Program in 2020. Majadla is grateful to have launched the business a year and a half before the pandemic.
âWe decided to walk away completely as a business in 2019, so when the pandemic hit we weren’t too affected. Nothing has changed for us as a team. What was difficult was that we were looking for investments at that time. The pandemic hit the week we were ready to finalize the deal. Investors around the world have stopped investing.
The team has become very budget conscious. Many CertiCraft clients have had their operations halted or delayed for a year or two, which has affected the team’s ability to take clients.
Majadla, born and raised in Palestine, moved to Canada in 2011 and became a citizen in 2018. He lived in Vancouver before finding a home here. Before moving to Nelson, he had the opportunity to perform and teach workshops in the Kootenays as a music producer. Community Futures brought him here to give a seminar for cannabis growers in 2019.
âAll the growers loved it. We had over 100 installations present, âexplains Majadla.
This connection paid off.
âCommunity Futures wanted us to move here because it was essential for the industry, so we moved here. I have wanted to move here for years. I have always liked it here and felt at home.
Majadla was happy to face other local business owners in the competition. He says of the other two finalists:
âThey both work at great companies. I wish them all the best.
The event was sponsored by Nelson & District Credit Union, New Ventures BC, Traction on Demand, Volition Advisors, Selkirk Technology Access Center, Green Light Solutions, Rice & Co Chartered Professional Accountants, Kootenay Coop, Columbia Lake Technology Center and Columbia Basin Trust .