Reality show promises to put Kamloops in the spotlight

POSTED AT 1:30 p.m. Friday

Here's $500. Using creative thinking and successful investments, turn that fistful of cash into $1 million inside of one year and you'll earn more than just a hefty profit.

That's the premise of a locally spun, web-based reality show called Race to a Million that is about to hit the ground running in Kamloops.

"Race to a Million is a social reality show specifically designed to help us master the concept of masterminding," said Dean Pierson, a partner in Mastermind Development Corporation, the enterprise behind the show.

The concept of the mastermind in business circles is to capitalize on group dynamics and collective experience to build successful enterprises. Five to 10 individuals meet regularly to assist in the growth and development of each other's businesses.

In this case, four or five teams will compete to see who can reach the $1-million goal by July 1, 2011.

"This has never been done before, but we feel pretty confident in putting it together because the combined experience will be successful," Pierson said.

Pierson and business partner Peter Cameron-Inglis were in the process Friday of setting up a new office on Tranquille Road from which the reality show and its four or five teams will operate.

The contest already includes four business-based teams, most with involvement by people in the local information technology sector, with a possible fifth team to represent TRU. Mickael Maddison, owner of the Kamloops-based IT firm Silver Server Inc., is a member of Team Genie.

"It sounds pretty crazy to me, and that was one of the first things I said at one of the first meetings," Maddison said. Yet he sees the merits of the challenge.

"It's going to be a very interesting challenge, and having done some research, I'd say it is possible. The goal, of course, is not to have a negative effect on my business, so I'm going to be leveraging my time effectively."

The Interior Science Innovation Council granted $3,000 in seed money to Mastermind to help get the show off the ground. Executive director Bill McQuarrie admitted the idea might sound crazy, but it offers potential value to Kamloops.

"We haven't been able to find any bad ideas or negative implications," McQuarrie said. "In the end, hopefully, it will create jobs and investment. Where we get really excited is the attention it draws to the region. It may be an impossible goal, but if you don't set high goals, you'll have nothing to achieve."

The idea is not unlike that of the business incubator or accelerator, he noted. Even if the contestants reach only $500,000, there are broader benefits to be gained and no personal or business risk to the entrepreneurs involved.

The contest offers social merits as well as its business appeal, Pierson noted.

"The teams competing have to be doing it sustainably from a business standpoint. It has to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible."

And Race to a Million has a charitable element. Each team will play on behalf of a specific charity. In the event the winners reach the $1-million goal, each member and the charity would receive a $100,000 share, matched by Mastermind.

With the potency and reach of the web, the show promises to attract like-minded entrepreneurial skills to Kamloops, seeding the technology sector here, McQuarrie noted.

"The spinoff benefits will be tremendous."

The contest will be officially launched Wednesday, 6-8 p.m., at Hotel 540 (formerly the Executive Inn). Local business people, dignitaries and event organizers will be on hand.

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