Emerging entrepreneurs take home up to $10,000 in ThriveNorth Business Challenge

Competition empowers 18- and 19-year-olds to launch their companies in B.C.’s northwest

Sponsored by ThriveNorth Business Challenge | Impress Branded Content

You could hear a pin drop in the theatre on Saturday night (May 7, 2016) as, one by one, each of the 12 finalists in the second annual ThriveNorth Business Challenge approached a panel of judges to deliver carefully prepared business pitches.

The finalists might have had sweaty palms and stomach-turning butterflies, but the three judges had the toughest job: selecting winners.

The award categories included Best New Business, Best New Social Enterprise, and Best Growth Opportunity. High stakes were on the table, as grand prize winners in each category would take home $10,000 and runners-up, $2,500.

These young entrepreneurs received awards and prize money:

Best New Business Award

Winner: Bobby Middleton, The Saw Shack, Terrace – $10,000

Runner-up: Jill Whitfield, Repose, Terrace – $2,500

Best New Social Enterprise Award

Winner: Heather Bohn, Our Roots, Terrace – $10,000

Runner-up: Andrea Pollock, Island Sugar, Prince Rupert – $2,500

Best Growth Opportunity Award

Winner: Kristine Ewald and Simone Crook, Transcend Fitness, Terrace – $10,000

Runner-up: Johanne Chaine, Peoples Pharmacy, Terrace – $2,500

Plus, audience members voted on their favourite business pitch, presenting Kristine Ewald and Simone Creek with the Audience Award and $2,500 for their business.

The event might have been a competition, but it also helped foster a sense of community among the finalists and the more than 100 people gathered in the audience to listen to some of the northwest’s brightest residents.

“The sense of community was no coincidence,” says Julia Deans, CEO of Futurpreneur Canada. “These finalists have been working together for several weeks to craft and perfect their pitches as part of the dedicated coaching and training they’ve received through the ThriveNorth program. It’s why we do what we do. It’s about building a sense of community between young people who are passionate about growing a business in the place they call home and giving them support to help them succeed.”

ThriveNorth is a program created to support and empower 18- to 39-year-olds in the northwest region of B.C. to start and grow businesses. The program is a joint initiative between Futurpreneur Canada and Prince Rupert LNG, the proposed LNG project on Ridley Island.

“Congratulations to all of the finalists who pitched their business ideas over the weekend,” says Simon Nish, VP Sustainability with Prince Rupert LNG. “We were extremely impressed by all the finalists — the judges had a tough job. We extend a special congratulations to the winners and runners-up. We look forward to seeing what this year’s group of young entrepreneurs achieve for their businesses and communities.”

Over the past two years, ThriveNorth has funded 19 young entrepreneurs who have created 60 jobs, provided coaching, training and support to 77 people and helped engage 1,600 members of the community through entrepreneurship-focused events.

To learn more about ThriveNorth, visit www.thrivenorth.ca.

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