The jury had a tough choice to make on April 26 at the Fosse aux Lions competition. After deliberating for more than a half hour, the four judges finally selected Dominique Noël’s La Cabane Guest House as the big winner of the 7th edition of La Fosse aux Lions. She takes home $15,000 in prize money, free publicity, and a mentorship opportunity.
An emotional Dominique Noël couldn’t believe it when her name was called. “It’s a bit of a shock! It’s so wonderful to have all my hard work and effort recognized. It’s a true gift”
The young 29-year-old entrepreneur also admits to being relieved. “I’ve been preparing myself for this competition every day for many months. I firmly believe in my business, but it wasn’t easy for me to create a presentation and speak in front of an audience. I really surpassed my own expectations.”
The Cercle Molière theatre, where the finals were held, was packed. Over 150 people attended the entrepreneurship competition organized by CDEM.
La Cabane Guest House opened its doors last August in St. Boniface. The youth hostel welcomes visitors from all over the world.
However, Dominique Noël has recently had to turn away some groups due to a lack of space. The $15,000 will be used to expand the hostel. “I’m going to buy four twin beds to create another dorm room. I also plan to install a window and maximize the basement area.”
The young woman can also count on help from her father, “who is in the construction business. And I’m pretty handy myself,” she says. “Everyone’s going to pitch in.”
The other finalists were all worthy competitors. The Monkey Bar even won the People’s Choice Award.
Suzanne Druwé, CDEM’s Director of Communications points out that, “even those who “lose” are actually winners! Before making their presentation to the jury, they had to ask themselves some tough questions about their business, its feasibility and viability. People find it hard to talk about themselves and who they are. The Fosse forces them to practice that. For that reason, their participation to the Fosse is very rewarding. And of course, the media exposure they gain, is extremely valuable.”
Dominique Noël confirms that La Fosse aux Lions was an amazing adventure. “There’s nothing to lose. People told me that, but I didn’t believe it. I don’t think anyone could be more afraid of speaking in front of a crowd than I am. If I could do it, anyone can. When you’re passionate about something, the words just come naturally.”
As early as next week, the owner of La Cabane Guest House expects to start work on her expansion plans.