Over the past five years, we’ve recognized Canada’s brightest entrepreneurs through the Small Business Challenge. Conducted in partnership with The Globe and Mail, the contest shines a spotlight on Canadian small businesses and aims to help them overcome their biggest hurdles while they work to reach their full potential. As we await the announcement of this year’s grand prize winner, let’s take a look at the entrepreneurs that placed first in the past. Fueled by their big wins, these businesses are thriving at home and abroad.
Four years ago, Down to Earth Labs Inc. won the Small Business Challenge and hasn’t stopped growing since, yet the Lethbridge based soil-and feed-testing company still treats its customers like neighbours. Every day, Down to Earth provides environmentally-friendly agricultural testing that empowers farmers and gardeners to better control their crops. Old and new clients are impressed with the changes the company has made since 2011. The company has invested in new technology and equipment, and profits are better than ever.
Winning the Small Business Challenge changed everything for Glassopolis, a Canadian seller and distributer of fire-resistant glass. The company purchased a heavy-duty glass saw with its winnings, making it the only company in North America to own this specialized equipment. Thanks to the innovative new production facility and renewed energy, Glassopolis expanded internationally and now exports its products to the USA, Middle East, and South America, helping businesses across the globe win the jobs they never thought they could.
Global opportunities were out of reach for Livestock Water Recycling Inc., a Calgary company that makes environmentally friendly systems to create clean drinking water from manure. But that changed after winning the 2013 contest. The exposure gained in the Small Business Challenge helped the company spread the word about how they change the world. People began to understand how Livestock Water Recycling turned a waste product into a sustainable solution. The result? Business expanded, revenues doubled and they are becoming recognized a world leader in their space.
Vancouver Island Salt Co. is one of the country’s first commercial harvesters and makers of artisanal sea salt and a huge proponent of sustainable business. In the words of the founder, Andrew Shepherd, “if you’re a small business and on some level you’re not thinking about the environment, you’re probably not going to be in business very long.” This B.C. business used its grant money from the 2014 Small Business Challenge to increase production and expand across North America, and will soon launch its unique Canadian product in the global marketplace. Their mission: produce the best sea salt in the world. And they are well on their way.
As you can see, The Small Business Challenge has huge potential to turn passion into profits! This year, we received more than 3,300 entries from Canada’s best and brightest entrepreneurs and our judges have narrowed it down to five semi-finalists: BakerStone International, PathCore, WTFast, AquaMobile Swim School, and MyBabbo.
We can’t wait to see which amazing Canadian business will take the podium in the 2015 Small Business Challenge. Get set to learn more about each semi-finalist and vote for your favourite business. Check here for updates throughout the summer about which entrepreneur will go forward and change the world.