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'I almost didn't apply,' Challenge contest winner says

As the 2016 Challenge contest kicks off, last year's winner Diana Goodwin reflects on the impact of winning the $100,000 prize, AquaMobile's new look and why she nearly didn't apply

Q: How did winning the Challenge Contest help your business?

A: It's hard to quantify, but the exposure we've received from winning The Globe and Mail/Telus-sponsored Challenge Contest and appearing on CBC's Dragons' Den has really promoted awareness of our brand in the market. Our customers and instructors are rallying around us. They're excited to be a part of a growing Canadian company devoted to saving lives.

Q: Your company's branding has evolved since winning the contest. Why the change?

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A: When we updated the technology platform last year, the developer hated our logo with a passion. Design-wise it didn't work with the new modern, clean look they were going for. The Web designer came up with the new logo basically because they refused to use the old one.

The change felt natural. We didn't have to rely on AquaMobile 'Swim School.' We could use the standalone name, as if to say, "This is where we are now."


Q: Applications for the 2016 Challenge Contest are now open and judges have already offered some sage advice. What else would have been helpful to know?

A: The first bit of advice I'd give is, when applying, start putting your ideas down and come up with a framework. I waited until the last day and nearly didn't submit it because I hadn't gotten it quite to the place I wanted it to be. But I pushed through: "Diana you're almost done with this and you need a few more tweaks."

Secondly, if you make it to the final round, put together a solid presentation. I recruited some people to help me make sure the broader audience could understand my challenge, what I would do with the money and the results I expected to see by implementing the $100,000.

And finally, avoid the giant word wall. A lot of judges have appreciated that my slides were very visual. Minimizing the amount of text on your slides also means that you don't have to memorize your lines.


To enter the 2016 Small Business Challenge Contest, click here.

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The Challenge blog gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the weekly small business series as well as the $100,000 contest.

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