WINNIPEG, Oct. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - A select group of Canada's young
business people will receive BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards at a ceremony
tonight in Winnipeg. The event is a highlight of Small Business Week, which
runs from October 14-20 under the theme: "A world without boundaries, open to
"The entrepreneurial spirit and drive of these award recipients are
exactly what Canada needs," said the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of
Industry and Minister responsible for BDC. "Our economic prosperity depends on
the success of growing enterprises like these. The responsibility of Canada's
New Government is to foster Canadian entrepreneurship and to create an
environment where Canadian champions can compete in the global marketplace."
"Our 2007 Young Entrepreneur Award recipients represent the very best and
brightest of their generation, people who are leading the way in emerging new
fields, and making their mark in a wide range of industries at home and
internationally," said BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.
BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards, an annual event in its 20th year,
celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit and business success of Canadian
entrepreneurs between the ages of 19 and 35. The winners - one from each
province and territory - are selected by a committee, based on criteria
including originality of the business concept, its success, growth potential
and social involvement. The committee also considers the entrepreneur's age
when the business was started and any special challenges overcome.
Two additional special awards will also be presented at tonight's
Len and Kevin Thomson of Paradise Island Foods in Nanaimo, British
Columbia will receive the Rogers Business Transition Award - which recognizes
the seller and buyer of a business that has successfully changed hands from
one generation to the next. The Thomson brothers succeeded their father,
George, in the top jobs at Paradise Island Foods in 2003 and have since made
significant progress in taking the business to the next level.
The Export Development Canada Export Excellence Award, which recognizes
the most outstanding export results, will also be awarded during the ceremony.
The 2007 Young Entrepreneurs, listed by province and territory, are as
British Columbia -Sabrina Heinekey, 30, and Tiffany Steeves, 34,
EPIC Newsgroup Inc., Vancouver
EPIC Newsgroup Inc. is an innovative production and media placement
company that produces international segments for broadcast on outlets such as
the Discovery Channel, CNBC and the Travel Channel in North America, Europe,
Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Each year, EPIC selects five or six
countries which they believe possess untapped opportunities and offer them a
variety of production and media packages. After conducting extensive research,
they hire professional crews to film on location. Their professionalism and
international savvy have helped them to open doors around the globe, with
clients that include tourism boards, ministries, embassies and corporations.
Alberta -Ashif Mawji, 35, Upside Software, Edmonton
Seven years ago, when Ashif Mawji couldn't find the type of contract
management software he needed, he created his own company to provide it.
Upside, which started out with two employees, now numbers some 130 and serves
customers in the U.S., the United Kingdom, South Africa and Germany. Between
2001 and 2006, Upside realized an increase of over 3,300% in revenues and more
than 400% in profits. "We spend three times the industry average on R&D," says
Ashif. "We really push the limit and that's how we stay ahead of the curve."
Saskatchewan -Greg Fettes, 30, Jeff Fettes, 33, 24-7 INtouch, Regina
Using innovative technology to give them an edge, Greg and Jeff Fettes
have carved out a niche for themselves in the highly competitive world of
outsourced call centres. Their business, 24-7 INtouch, provides affordable,
quality service for the small-to-medium and enterprise-level markets. Their
operation, which started out as a small 10-seat call centre serving the local
market in 1998, now numbers between 350 to 500 employees working from offices
in Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto. 24-7 INtouch has received numerous awards for
call centre excellence and quality, and has been ranked by Profit Hot 50 as
one of Canada's top emerging businesses.
Manitoba - Dan Belhassen, 33, Modern Earth Inc., Winnipeg
Modern Earth, started in 1999 by Dan as a "hobby business" is today
growing by leaps and bounds, helping some 400 customers in North America and
beyond stand out in the marketplace. The web development company combines
technical and artistic skills to provide both programming and graphic design.
Its unique services include an e-mail marketing system, greatBIGnews.com,
which is endorsed by major associations in the educational and travel
industries. "Our motto is 'eclipse the ordinary', says Dan. "We're changing
this industry for the better."
Ontario -Razor Suleman, 33, I Love Rewards, Toronto
A passionate entrepreneur who started his first business as a student,
Razor Suleman heads an online incentive marketing company that ranks number 12
on the Profit 100 list of Canada's fastest growing companies. I Love Rewards
uses a Web-based point system to build reward programs for companies that want
to increase sales, motivate employees and build customer loyalty. The company
has also been recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 employers. "We've proven
that you can be both a fast-growing company and a great place to work," says
Québec - Inder Bedi, 34, matt & nat, Montréal
Inder Bedi's line of vegan handbags and wallets for men and women is
appealing to an ever-growing number of savvy consumers across Canada, the U.S.
and Europe. matt & nat, founded 10 years ago, distinguishes itself in the
crowded fashion accessories industry with three key factors: fashion-forward
designs, a philosophy (reflected in its positivity message stamped on all
bags), and reasonable pricing. "Our strategy is to carefully select who we
sell to and be the most affordable line in high-end stores," says Inder.
Nova Scotia - Nathan Kroll, 35, Ad-Dispatch, Halifax
In the notoriously competitive and fast-paced advertising world,
Ad-Dispatch has made its mark on the national scene and become one of the most
successful audio/video production companies in Atlantic Canada. Ad-Dispatch
produces Web video segments for national ad agencies and advertisers. "We're
very competitive compared to high-end production companies in Ontario, for
example," says Nathan. "With our own internal team and the great pool of
talented people in Atlantic Canada, we can produce the same product they do,
but at a lower cost."
New Brunswick - Gene Fowler, 31, Fatkat, Miramichi
Gene Fowler heads up Atlantic Canada's largest animation studio, with a
staff of 115 who provide animation services to the television industry. The
company's flagship co-production, Happy Tree Friends has a strong following on
the Internet, and helped to "put Fatkat on the map". Unlike many other
studios, Fatkat's staff is full-time and salaried. Gene believes that "taking
a leap of faith" that he could provide steady work for full-time staff is one
of his company's greatest strengths. "We're proving that you can do big things
in this little town," he says.
Prince Edward Island - Jared Stretch, 27, Smooth Cycle, Charlottetown
Jared Stretch has turned Smooth Cycle into a thriving business that
attracts Islanders and tourists alike. Since buying the bicycle store in 2003,
Jared has moved it to larger premises, widened the range of services offered,
increased traffic to the store's web site and become a visible participant in
cycling events across the province. One of the store's most popular offerings
is a shuttle service from tip to tip of Prince Edward Island. "I plan to take
the business a lot further yet," says Jared.
Newfoundland and Labrador -Jonathan Brett, 28, MedicLINK Systems Ltd.,
Jonathan Brett has transformed a software solution he developed for one
client into a growing enterprise that is helping optometrists across North
America to better manage their businesses. MedicLINK, established in 2005,
provides software solutions which enable eyecare clinics to manage their
practices with an automated system that tracks everything from appointment
scheduling to billing to marketing. MedicLINK is now branching into the field
of dermatology. "I'm proud that I've been able to contribute to the
Newfoundland economy," says Jonathan.
Nunavut - Krista Uttak, 31, Igloolik Isuma Productions, Igloolik
Isuma, Canada's first Inuit independent production company, is best known
for the international box-office success, Atanarjuat The Fast Runner which won
the award for best first feature film at Cannes in 2001. Krista, who became
equal partner and vice president of Isuma in 2003, is the daughter of one of
its founding members, the late Paul Apak. She is involved in all aspects of
Isuma, including building economic development in Igloolik and Nunavut through
initiatives such as Artcirq, Igloolik's youth circus and video performance
group, and Arnait Video Productions, the first Arctic women's collective
independent production company.
Northwest Territories - Scott Smith, 34, Northern Canadian Adventure
Scott Smith has combined his experience in the mining exploration
industry with his love of physical endurance sports to create a company that
stages endurance races in the Far North and attracts athletes and media from
around the world. Northern Canadian Adventure Racing held its first race, the
Rock and Ice Ultra, this past spring, attracting 100 endurance athletes and
offering a purse of $30,000 worth of diamonds. The second Rock and Ice Ultra
will be held next spring and Scott and his crew are scouting locations for
venues to stage additional races.
Yukon - Tammy Beese, 35, What's Up Yukon, Whitehorse
What's Up Yukon, Tammy Beese's entertainment magazine that features 100%
local content, has fast become a mainstay in the region. "There's so much
happening in this community that I saw an opportunity to start a publication
that would get the word out about our living culture," she says. A background
in advertising sales and knowledge of marketing have been key to Tammy's
success. She has also started a quarterly business magazine with all-Yukon
content and is introducing a semi-annual Yukon health magazine.
Small Business Week partners
Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Western Economic
Diversification Canada, Export Development Canada and Rogers. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.
BDC is a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada.
BDC actively supports the development and growth of Canadian small and
medium-sized businesses through its complementary financial, investment and
consulting solutions. BDC is one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2008. Visit
www.bdc.ca for more information.
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
For further information:
For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 16th:
Media Room: 1-866-515-6033, (204) 985-6251; After October 16th: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929