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This Leamington woman won $20,000 in a local business competition. Here’s her advice to young entrepreneurs | CBC News


Hannah Iacobelli’s dream is $20,000 closer to reality.

Take Your Shot, an entrepreneurship competition, gives youth a shot at some prize money — but also a chance to build the skills needed to bring their projects to life. 

“I pitched the Hive Hub, and the Hive Hub is essentially a mobile office and rapid prototyping lab,” Iacobelli said. “A trailer that serves as a space to collaborate and create with all of the tools needed to do so.”

Held in Leamington on Thursday, Take Your Shot is a program of the Bridge Youth Centre, which supports young people with mentorship, housing and job opportunities.

Iacobelli, who graduated from the  mechanical engineering program at the University of Toronto and now splits her time between Leamington and Toronto, said the Hive Hub allows her to move between homes. 

The competition was open to applicants aged 17 to 24 from across Essex County, who have a two-month window to share a business idea or business already in motion with organizers at the Bridge Youth Centre.

“We have a committee that selects the finalists, and then those finalists go through three different workshops,” said Krista Rempel, executive director.

These workshops cover topics including finance, marketing and pitch rehearsal — all of which Iacobelli said helped her hone her skills and strengthen any areas that needed work.

A woman in a patterned blouse speaks into a microphone
Krista Rempel is the executive director of the Bridge Youth Centre. Take Your Shot gives young aspiring entrepreneurs a chance to learn, she said. (Tyler Clapp/CBC)

“It was a really unique opportunity where they brought in industry professionals to speak about these topics and prepare us for a business pitch,” she said.

Rempel said Iacobelli gave a strong presentation that laid out not only her plans, but the project’s financial trajectory — all of whihc helped her win.

“It was just an exciting business opportunity and a model to support,” Rempel said. 

The competition started three years ago as a way to build on the initial services the Bridge Youth Centre has to offer.

The winners of the previous two competitions, Sarah Haefling and Dominique Mastronardi, have been able to turn their pitches into full-time businesses.

Moving forward, Iacobelli said she hopes to invest the money into developing a space for the Hive Hub. She’s aiming to launch the mobile trailer in April 2024. 

As for what others interested in the competition should know, Iaccobelli said future participants shouldn’t overthink it — just give it a shot. 

“As soon as you start overthinking it, your mind starts doing some crazy things sometimes and can very quickly talk you out of doing something that could change your life.”


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