Tiny Cabins, Food App Win Top Prizes in VIU Business Plan Competition

Jessica Reid and Patrick Whelan celebrate a first place in the open category in VIU’s Business Plan Competition after pitching their plans for Rewild Homes.

December 3, 2014 - 11:00am

Two bright ideas taking top honours in Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Business Plan Competition are tiny, affordable homes on wheels and a smartphone app that helps shoppers identify foods that fit into diets limited by allergies.

Final pitches were made by 10 finalists before a panel of business expert judges in a ‘Dragon’s Den’-style competition at VIU Nov. 28.

Rewild Homes took first place in the open category, while a smartphone app called Foods Me took top honours in the category for students registered in an entrepreneurship course at VIU. Each first place winner earned $2,000 to help launch their business.

Rewild Homes is a new venture developed by Patrick Whelan, a construction apprentice, and Jessica Reid, a fourth year student in VIU’s Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design program.

Rewild Homes is focused on building tiny, portable cabins on wheels. Starting at $25,000, the homes are affordable to acquire and maintain and ecologically friendly. Whelan and Reid believe their business will capitalize on a growing trend for minimization in house construction, which focuses on a buyer seeking a lower cost of living, smaller footprint, and the ability to live comfortably anywhere.

“We’ve been pouring our hearts and souls into our business, so it was really nice to get a reward,” said Reid, adding the additional benefits of competing included working with a fantastic local mentor, Leo Boon, and meeting a wide variety of contacts with helpful advice and possibly funds to invest in their venture.

Rewild Homes is currently working on their first build, and have enough customers wanting their homes to keep them in operation for two years.

“We have a follow up meeting with a potential investor later this week that could really skyrocket things for us,” said Reid, who has applied her skills to creating a website, marketing plan and brand identity for the business.

Elisa Köhler’s idea for a smartphone app that links grocery shoppers with food allergies or intolerances to the right food products for them also got top marks from judges in the competition.

A German student on exchange to VIU for one semester, Köhler is in Professor Frank Theuerkorn’s Entrepreneurship class, and developed the idea with new skills learned and the encouragement of her instructor and classmates.

“I learned so much about how to pitch successfully and how to develop my own business,” said Kohler, who hopes to develop her business idea further for the German market when she returns home.

Other winners in the competition included Kenton Dyck, who took second place in the open category for his business linking senior citizens to computer education; Karen Krucik, who took third place in the open category for her online education marketplace, Eloorn; a student team taking second place in the entrepreneurship student category for a Moroccan restaurant in Whistler; and another student team earning third place for Autbod, a business offering automobile protection.

The VIU Business Plan Competition offered $10,000 in cash prizes to the winners, and was presented by VIU, Startup Nanaimo, the Pieter de Reuver Foundation and Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation.

Dr. Ken Hammer, and instructor in VIU’s Recreation and Tourism Management and Master in Business Administration programs, said the committee behind the competition was “extremely pleased” with the number – more than 30 – and quality of entrants, especially given the tight turn-around for submissions.

“It was a tremendous success, bringing together students, community business leaders and faculty to promote and encourage student innovation and entrepreneurship.”



Shari Bishop Bowes, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P:250.740.6443  C: 250.618.1535 E: shari.bishopbowes@viu.ca

Tags: Student Success