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Small businesses on CNBC show Crowd Rules will pitch in front of a studio audience.

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Let the audience decide

CNBC on April 30 premieres Crowd Rules, a studio-based weekly reality competition with three small businesses competing in front of a 100-person audience that decides which one will take home a $50,000 (U.S.) prize.

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A panel of three experts will steer the conversations, including a rotating group of guests that changes week-to-week.

Whether the show will be any good or not remains to be seen, but the timing is certainly right, with entrepreneurship an increasingly hot TV subject. Dragons' Den and Shark Tank have large and loyal followings. The Canadian version of the former is the country's highest-rated reality show, and the latter regularly draws more than six million viewers.

Then came Start-Ups: Silicon Valley, though according to one review it tends to focus "on the personal conflicts between cast members, and episodes feature lots of drinking, swearing, sexual innuendo (including people in skimpy underwear and bikinis), and catty arguing."

Tourism program for Latin America

Tour operator G Adventures has announced a $1-million collaboration with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), to finance and develop a sustainable community-based tourism program in Central and South America. The aim is to increase the competitiveness of micro and small enterprises by expanding their tourism marketing and efficiency. "Tourism is one of the largest industries on the planet. Vital to the livelihood of 85 per cent of developing nations, it creates employment opportunities, battles poverty and strengthens economies," says Paula Vlamings, executive director of Planeterra, the corporate foundation of G Adventures. The program will operate in four destinations with a steady flow of organized-tour travellers: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Peru. Small businesses will be developed in communities that have not historically benefited from the travel industry.

Cross-country investment

Gustavson Capital, the private-equity investment firm of Peter Gustavson, is hunting for new Canadian investments, and he tells Daily Business Buzz that he's been drawn to Newfoundland and Labrador's resource sector. Plenty of investors are looking in major urban locales such as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, he says, but he wants expand his geographic horizons. "We're finding some really interesting ventures outside the big centres, and some of them have got a lot of promise and some really good operators, and what they're missing is the expansion capital to grow their business," he explains in the story, adding his targets may not be "quite bankable" but they must have high growth potential.

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Celebrate innovation in Edmonton

TEC Edmonton hosts its 11th annual TEC VenturePrize Business Plan Competition on April 17 to celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship in Alberta and announce this years winners of the Fast Growth and Student competitions. Guests will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite in the Fast Growth category, and the finalist will become the recipient of the new Edmonton Journal People's Choice Award. Keynote speaker this year is Dr. Ray Muzyka, founder and CEO of Threshold Impact.

Get going in Victoria

Business Victoria has put together a seminar on Business Start-Up Essentials to help attendees turn ideas into reality, learn the key aspects of building a successful business, and figure out how to enter any given marketplace. Includes a free one-to-one mentoring session.


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Off and running online

The ability of social channels to generate buzz around brands and connect companies with their audiences is well understood. But what can often appear more challenging, or a bit of a mystery, is how organizations can use social media to help drive a movement – the kind of social movement that takes on a life of its own and has an effect far beyond initial expectations.


Making it work

The flaw in the lean start-up approach is how these companies manage to attract enough customers to get the feedback they need to add more features that will make them successful, Mark Evans wrote in April, 2010.

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About the Author
Sean Stanleigh

Sean Stanleigh is the product manager of Report on Small Business. His goal is to make ROSB the primary destination for readers in search of information and compelling stories about Canada's small-business community, which continues to grow in size and influence. Mr. More


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