A strange sight greeted crowds strolling uptown Saint John on a gloomy Tuesday evening - a shiny black limousine rolled slowly down the street, endlessly circling the block to let passengers out and welcome new ones in. A group of solemn-looking suits ushered the passengers back to a restaurant, holding umbrellas over their heads under a smattering of rain. It was all very swish.
The limo service heralded the return of Enterprise Saint John's annual entrepreneur contest to Saint John last week, giving the Port City's ambitious young business people a chance to pitch their best ideas to a panel of seasoned judges. Over 100 participants attempted to win over a panel of hardened business owners, including Saint John Ale House owner Peter Stoddart, Susan Fullerton of Chipman Hill Suites and Peter Lewis, owner of Ultimate Windows and Doors. At the end of the day, it was an all-natural granola company that took top prize.
"It's a great opportunity, not just because we can use the money for new equipment and catching up on orders, but also to get our name out there," said Metaxia Flogeras, the owner of organic snack company Granola Girls.
Flogeras was all smiles handing out samples of her wares at the event, which was hosted by the newly-opened Magnolia Café/Bourbon Quarter on Prince William Street.
Flogeras said she felt extremely blessed to win the competition, and praised the judges for hardball questions and genuine interest in her company.
"I was born and raised here, and you make the best of what you've got. Saint John is small, but it's a booming city and a great environment for young business people," she said.
Flogeras and her mother Mary Lou started the company in 2008, offering homemade granola bars made with all-natural and organic ingredients. She said she stays on top of things with a website, granolagirls.ca, in addition to regular appearances at the Kingston Farmer's Market.
"We're also very involved in social media like Twitter and Facebook, so I'm used to getting the name out there," she said.
Event organizer Sarah Jones, owner of uptown's Jones Gallery, said the competition is great because it encourages people to make their ideas a reality.
A swanky limo ride doesn't hurt, either.
"We sort of wanted to give it this big city feel, it's this urban thing we wanted to do and something exciting. Entrepreneurs work so hard with no time for vacation, so to have a fun evening like this is great. It's something really unique," she said.
Contact Saint John reporter Paige Aarhus at firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to the Here Magazine Story