The cofounders of Elevate Ultimate are used to winning on the field, but took to the stage for a different kind of victory.
The Burnaby company, run by Danie Proby and Ari Nitikman, won the Best Youth Entrepreneur Award at the Small Business BC Awards on Friday, Feb. 21.
“We got very amped, we basically danced all the way up to the stage,” Proby said of the awards night. “We were up against really stiff competition. We saw a lot of the other companies and we really like what they’re doing.”
The youth-run companies are doing things that are good for the world around them, she added.
“We were really honoured and pumped, I was on Cloud 9 the whole night,” Proby said. “It’s very validating.”
Proby and Nitikman started their Ultimate Frisbee company in 2016 and the first program launched in 2017, she said. The programs teach Ultimate Frisbee to kids ranging from age six to 19.
They run in-school programs, out-of-school programs, and they also have travel teams, high school academy and leadership programs, Proby added.
Both Proby and Nitikman are experienced athletes and have been playing the sport for 10 years each, she said.
“We’ve both represented Team Canada and coached Team Canada Under 20,” Proby said, adding she played at the University of Victoria and Nitikman played on the National Under 24 team.
Proby has a degree in education and was teaching and coaching when Nitikman approached her about starting a company together.
“It took some convincing but I said yes,” she said.
The programs have been doubling in size every year since they started, according to Proby.
Running a successful business venture takes both passion and humility, she said.
“If your heart is there and you believe in it and your 'why' is solid, nothing really can stop you if you’re willing to go in with an open mind and you’re willing to receive hard feedback and implement it,” she said.
And both Proby and Nitikman are very passionate about Ultimate Frisbee.
“As a player I learned so much about myself and what I need out of a community from playing Ultimate. It’s always felt like a duty to get more people to experience what I was able to experience,” she said. “Bringing it to more people has always been an important part of what we do.”
The company is expanding its programs to Surrey, Richmond and North Vancouver this spring/summer season, according to Proby.
“Our goal is to create an Ultimate club for elementary, which has never existed before,” she said. “They can come together and play little mini tournaments and see what the spirit of Ultimate is all about, because it’s very different from other sports.”
To learn more about Ultimate Frisbee and the programs Elevate Ultimate offers, go to elevateultimate.com.