Reid Skelton-Morven’s first business was born in high school. A few credits short of graduating, he signed up for the Charles Hays Aboriginal entrepreneurship class and started a school canteen with his cousin.
“That was our first claim to fame,” Skelton-Morven said with a laugh. “I actually had not originally thought of entrepreneurship before my Grade 12/13 year.”
Now the 24-year-old Rupertite has three businesses in the works. For Northern Online Results — a full-service digital marketing agency — Skelton-Morven’s a finalist for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the 2018 Prince Rupert Business Excellence Awards.
It’s not the first time one of his projects has garnered praise. Last year, Skelton-Morven’s proposal for Skeena Exterior Cleaning and Coatings made it to the ThriveNorth finals. Even though he didn’t win, the calls from people asking about his services started coming in — and didn’t stop.
“I actually had to take my name and phone number off of Google, because it’s still in its early stages,” he said.
Finally, his third project is MotivNations, teaching youths modern entrepreneurial skills and helping them find and pursue their passions.
Originally, Skelton-Morven’s plan was to work for the RCMP. He was a student constable and was passionate about his chosen career path, but when he applied to become a regular member, he was deferred.
“Which was heartbreaking and earth-shattering as a 21-year-old, thinking your purpose has been stripped from you,” he said.
Then he discovered a program similar to the entrepreneurship class he’d loved in high school. It seemed like the natural next step for the man who’d always had a knack for business ideas.
Since then, he’s served as a youth director on the chamber of commerce, volunteers as the public relations officer for the Prince Rupert Toastmasters and even played semi-professional paintball.
In the six years after he graduated from the Aboriginal entrepreneurship class, Skelton-Morven has continued going to Charles Hays Secondary School, now as a mentor in the same program that he said changed his life.
“For me, it’s important to give back. A lot of entrepreneurs these days claim to be self-made. I’m not somebody who is self-made. I am someone who experienced a lot of growth and mentorship myself, what I’ve learned from others and I want to give back to the community in that way.”
The born-and-raised Rupertite sees a lot of promise in his hometown. He wants to inspire others to look for fulfilling opportunities here — or create them.
“My favourite thing about Prince Rupert is that tight-knit community feeling that you get from a community of this size. I hear from my friends that there’s nothing to do here [but] in Vancouver, you’re in a sea of faces,” he said. “There are so many people there and you don’t get that same small community feeling. You go around town and there are faces you’ve seen every day. You may not know them, but you know of them.”
The smallness of Rupert is one of its benefits, Skelton-Morven said.
“Having such a small community, you can be connected to people from all walks of life who bring new knowledge and add value to what you’re doing.”
He’s seen the confidence his students develop through the entrepreneurship course, and the new business sense they pick up as they take their projects from conception to the final presentation. The skills they learn, he said, can be applied to many problems in the area — it only takes one person to look at a situation in a new way to find a solution. From his own experience of the class, Skelton-Morven thinks entrepreneurship should be a part of the core curriculum.
“If you implement it into this generation, I think you’ll start to see it really kickstart the economy in the region. These larger projects can only give off so many jobs, but small business owners can grow off of what’s happening in our region.”