Sami Majadla has won the first round of KAST’s pitch competition. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Sami Majadla has won the first round of KAST’s pitch competition. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

Nelson tech entrepreneur wins Kootenay pitch competition

Sami Majadla has designed software to help craft cannabis growers

Your pitch should tell a story.

That’s the main thing Sami Majadla learned in the training provided by the Kootenay Association of Science and Technology leading up to its pitch competition on Nov. 12, in which business startups vied for top spot in pitching to an expert business investment panel.

Majadla put that learning to good use and won the competition.

The story he told the judges was a tale of small craft cannabis growers versus big government bureaucracy.

“Most growers, they’re farmers, they’re gardeners,” Majadla says. “They’re really nerdy and technological when it comes to biology and plant life. But they are not so skilled, generally, when it comes to difficult paperwork and bureaucracy.”

The paperwork involved in getting a small cannabis growing operation licensed by the federal government is extremely complex and detailed, Majadla says. Many craft cannabis growers spend tens of thousands of dollars getting a consultant to do it for them. Otherwise they risk a visit from the RCMP. Even if they do get licensed the paperwork required every month never ends.

He pitched CertiCraft, his new compliance software for small growers. It digitizes and automates record keeping requirements for cultivators, helping them through the process of not only getting a licence and the dizzying variety of detailed forms every month thereafter.

Majadla says there are about 50,000 craft cannabis operations in Canada, many of whom want to transition to government registration.

“Then they look at what’s required,” Majadla says. “And they’re like, well, if I were to do all this, I would be losing money, and I wouldn’t be able to sustain my family.”

Majadla started his pitch with that story at the forefront – a story about small craft businesses and their families faced by an overwhelming bureaucracy – but with facts, statistics and financial projections woven into that narrative.

“We want to help craft cannabis growers grow and thrive within the new regulated market,” he says.

He and the other two contestants had 10 minutes to pitch, then 10 minutes to take questions from the judges.

For his win, Majadia took home $500 cash, three free months in KAST’s Venture Acceleration Program ($600 value), a free KAST membership ($400 value), free entrance and two hours of expert coaching to apply for the New Ventures BC Competition in 2021, and a three-session coaching package with Volition Advisors (valued at $675).

The pre-competition training he and the other two competitors took included business coaching and a master class with Paul Brassard, one of the competition judges, as well as several follow-up practice sessions with feedback.

Majadla also practised a lot on his own before the competition.

“I wanted to make sure that I felt comfortable expressing the whole thing from my heart,” he says.

The other two entrants in the competition were a Castlegar teenager, Myles Peterson of the Terracore Plastic Company, who has started a recycling company using chemical processes to recycle plastic, and Nelson entrepreneur Cam Shute of Dark Horse Innovations, who is developing high performance sustainable products for the fly fishing industry.

There will be two more pitch competitions in the upcoming months, the next one scheduled for Feb. 4. Applications are due Dec. 14 by 11 p.m.



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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