In December 2019, the ThriveNorth program successfully completed its five-year mandate. Managed by Futurpreneur Canada, the program helped young entrepreneurs in Northern B.C. launch and grow their businesses by connecting them with resources, financing and mentorship.

The results are in for the third annual ThriveNorth Business Challenge, in partnership with Futurpreneur Canada and PR LNG. Twenty-four semi-finalists have been selected to move on and pitch their business ideas in person between May 1-4. If selected as one of the top 12 finalists that will be part of the final live event, they’ll have a chance to win $10,000 for their business.

These semi-finalists will be competing in one of the following three categories: Best Growth Opportunity, Best New Business (18-28), and Best New Business (29-39). We wish them the best of luck!

The top 4 finalists in each category will be announced Monday, May 8th. 

Best Growth Opportunity

headshot of Amanda Dorscht

Amanda Dorscht, Smithers

Amanda Dorscht’s passion has always been dance. She trained in Waterloo, Ontario and graduated from Brock University in 2011, with an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing. Since acquiring Creative Roots Performing Arts in 2012, Amanda has been dedicated to developing fitness and creativity through dance within an inclusive environment. As enrollment increases each year, Amanda is faced with the challenge of keeping up with demand for dance classes. An additional space would support the business’ growth by meeting the need for demanded dance classes in the community.

Andrea Harmel and Kory Yamashita, Terrace

After attending the Academy of Excellence and working for more than a decade in the hair styling industry, Andrea launched Butter Hair Salon in 2014. After 2 years in business, Butter has been incredibly successful at delighting customers with excellent service, employing young mothers in a way that lets them put their family first, and doing business sustainably. In response to strong and resilient demand, Butter is looking to physically expand the shop to increase hair services capacity by 50%, start providing esthetician services and introduce a sustainable skin care line to the Northwest.

Barb Lippke, Prince Rupert

Barb Lippke is the owner of Little Anchors Resale. Barb is of Metis background and grew up in Calgary, AB. She moved to Prince Rupert in 2014 and quickly fell in with the North Coast. Barb completed her business administration certificate in 2016. She has over 10 years of retail experience and previously co-owned a children’s English learning centre in Hangzhou, China. Barb is currently enrolled in a program for entrepreneurs called Organized and Profitable. Winning this challenge would provide the opportunity for the development of an amazing website, new inventory, and the expansion of much needed counter space.

Jaclyn Gagnon, Terrace

Jaclyn Gagnon has lived in Terrace for over 25 years. She has been serving customers at the Farmers Market since 2012, and has spent time serving, cooking, and catering in restaurants. She and her husband Jon are now raising their family on the very property she grew up on. The past 8 years have been spent making improvements to their family farm and they now have a successful cabin rental business, a greenhouse, and a large barn, all of which they built themselves. It is this barn that they wish to turn into a unique venue for weddings, reunions, retreats and more!

Katryna Jenniss, Terrace

After growing as a graphic designer, and working in the signage industry for a decade, Katryna Jenniss launched Westco Designs in July 2016. The inception of Westco married her lifelong passion for art and dream of starting a business. Katryna brings a unique approach to the industry by focusing on creating strong relationships in the community, and supported growth of local business. Katryna embodies a strong commitment to giving back locally and globally by volunteering her time, and donating money and services to various organizations such as Terrace Churches Food Bank, community fundraisers, Pencils for Promise and Charity:water.

Kendall Wing, Prince Rupert

Born and raised in Prince Rupert, Kendall Wing always had a passion for his community. After he and his wife had their first child, they realized there was a lack of rental activities geared specifically towards parties and events. Bubble Trouble is an inflatable rental business consisting primarily of bounce castles and bubble soccer.  Although he works full time, weekends are booked months in advance with rentals in Prince Rupert and surrounding cities/villages.  He is currently looking to expand his supply of equipment to give customers a variety of rental options and become one step closer to his 5-year plan of opening his own facility.  

Marcie LeBlanc, Prince Rupert

With a Fashion Design Diploma and over 20 years of design and sewing experience, Marcie LeBlanc was thrilled to open LeBLANC boutique in November 2015 in her hometown of Prince Rupert, BC. LeBlanc had the vision to incorporate local artists and designers, mixed with international labels to create a truly unique and diverse shopping experience. With success since opening, LeBlanc sees the potential for further growth through an ecommerce platform and POP UP shops in the surrounding Northern communities to increase revenue and drive up the customer base, while creating new jobs.

Headshot of Miranda Kessler

Miranda Kessler, Prince Rupert

Miranda Kessler is from Salmon Arm, B.C. and has lived in Prince Rupert, for 10 years. She is part Ktunaxa, from the St. Mary’s Indian Band in Cranbrook and part Sioux. Miranda studied Wildlife and Fisheries at UNBC, before becoming a Trade Certified Cook. She uses her past education to create bath and body products and source local wild ingredients for her company, Moberry’s. Miranda plans to use the contest money to expand her business to other communities within Northern B.C., allowing her to remain a work at home parent to her two young children.  

Best New Business (18-28)

Photo of Amber Wright

Amber Wright, Kitimat

Amber Wright was raised in Houston, B.C. After graduating from Houston Secondary School, Amber moved to Kelowna and received her Esthetics Diploma at Marvel College.  Amber has called Kitimat her home for the last ten years. She lives there with her boyfriend Scott and their 2½ year old son Declan. Since Amber was a young girl, she has always dreamt of running her own spa and hopes to make that dream a reality. If she wins, she plans to use the money to open a spa in Kitimat.

David Tran, Prince Rupert

David Tran is a technology enthusiast who graduated from BCIT with the Bachelor’s degree in Network Security, receiving the top student award in of 2015. David is also freelance web developer for the North Coast. His business, Rupert.Tech Consulting, integrates web development, programming strategies and IT solutions as a one-stop-shop for the North Coast clientele. The ThriveNorth Business Challenge is an opportunity to help with startup costs, especially with equipment needed for teaching and mentoring students how to program. David’s vision with Rupert.Tech Consulting is providing his communities with resources in the sector where he is extremely passionate about.

Grace Shapansky, Terrace

Grace graduated from Columbia Bible College in Abbotsford, B. C. with a Diploma in Early Childhood Education specializing in Infant/Toddler and Special Needs. For the past seven years, she has worked in and run various preschools/daycares in Canada. Currently Grace resides in Terrace, working at the Child Development Center as a Supportive Child Development Educator. On April 1st, she opened “Grace’s Place” Licensed Childcare. Grace set her sights on educating families on how important the early years are to a child’s growth and development. Her vision is to have a safe space to explore in, take risks in, and learn in, while providing a home-like, one-on-one experience.  

Kevin Febril, Terrace

Chef Kevin Febril was born in Terrace B.C., and has been working in many different areas of the culinary industry since 2008. He is experienced in all aspects of food preparations and techniques. Kevin has worked for years in many high-end restaurants and as a sous chef for three years. He also completed a three-year culinary arts program in Kamloops and one-year specializing in butchering/curing. Kevin’s very diverse culinary background, which includes being an accomplished butcher, allows him to create from scratch sauces and cured-smoked meats as well as unique specialty dishes.

Reid Skelton-Morven, Prince Rupert

Reid is an alumnus of the Northwest Aboriginal Canadian Entrepreneurs Program, as well as the Social Media and Web Designing Program, both from the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business. Reid is of Tsimshian & Nisga’a decent, with roots in New Aiyansh and Metlakatla B.C. He finds fulfillment in mentoring and inspiring the youth entrepreneurs at his local high school in the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship program, and has a passion for identifying and solving problems in the region. Reid plans on using the grand prize for his complete “phase one” start-up of his venture, from professional equipment, to a reliable used work vehicle. Skeena Exterior Cleaning & Coatings is a company providing a professional cleaning and protective roof coating & refinishing services to Northwestern B.C. This company will also be providing a boost to the local economy by employing & training youth and entry-level workers in the communities of the Skeena & Nass Valley regions, as well as beautiful Haida Gwaii B.C.

Sarah Dantzer

Sarah Dantzer is a young mother with a passion for community, arts, sustainability and social engagement. From 2010-2013, she had a taste of entrepreneurship through event planning and festival organizing in Alberta. Prince Rupert drew her and her family to the coast in 2014. The vibrant community and the vast opportunities here has her impassioned and inspired that she is ready to take on the life of an entrepreneur, once more! This time in the realm of integrative medicine, education and craftsmanship.

Tara Young, Kitimat

Born and raised in Northern B.C., Tara graduated from the University of Calgary with a Bachelor of Kinesiology Degree & from the University of Alberta with a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy. Her dream of starting her company, ‘Forever Young Services’, would initially provide private practice Occupational Therapy services to children and youth in Terrace and surrounding areas. Tara truly believes it is her place in this world to work with individuals with disabilities to help them reach all of their goals, maximize their strengths and have the best quality of life possible.

Tara Paczkowski, Atlin

In 2015, Tara began to call Northern Canada home.  After working many years in community-building roles, including her current position as the Executive Director of the Fireweed Market, a local farmers’ market, Tara has decided to invest in the Northern food scene and jump into business with Ski Bum Pizza.  Ski Bum Pizza will bring handmade, wood-fired pizza to the streets of Atlin and Whitehorse.  It will aim to incorporate the style and attention to detail that is found in the food trucks of ‘the South’, with a Northern flare for local ingredients and a fun-loving lifestyle. 

Best New Business (29-39)

Alexander Kaul, Terrace

Alex has lived in Terrace with his family since 2016. He holds a post-secondary degree in geology and has worked as a geochemist assessing groundwater, soil and rock for the past seven years. In 2012, Alexander found a new passion in creating delicious craft beer at home. His vision is to create Skeena Valley Brewing Company right here in the beautiful Northwest and to provide locally brewed and inspired craft beer and spirits. He aims to add variety to locally available beer and also add spirits to the offering.

Bill Crosson, New Hazleton

Combining his love of brewing and passion for permaculture farming, Bill Crosson and his partner Laurie Gallant have embarked on a path to provide “Beer Security for the North” in the form of growing brewing hops. As well as brewing, hops are also sought after for their medicinal and edible values. The mission of Hazelton Hops is to provide a local sustainable product to the craft breweries on Highway 16 and promote agritourism. The prize money would be used to provide infrastructure for processing and packaging the hop harvest.

Photo of Bryan Last and Aleksa Havelaar

Bryan Last & Aleksa Havelaar, Terrace

Bryan Last has a strong background in project management, developing partnerships, and working with local communities. Bryan’s knowledge and experience in coffee-producing countries inspired him to learn the craft of coffee roasting in order to offer fresh, premium coffee to Northwestern B.C.  Aleksa Havelaar is a University of Victoria graduate with a background in marketing and brand development. A former product manager with MEC and a recent resident of Terrace, Aleksa has a wealth of knowledge and experience as well as a keen interest in developing premium, locally-made products. With a shared love of specialty coffee, Bryan and Aleksa have launched White Goat Coffee Roasters to produce small batch artisan-roasted coffee for the local market that is not only fresh, but also environmentally and ethically conscious.

Francois Blanchet, Prince Rupert

Francois has been a lover of nature since a very young age and grew up picking mushrooms and fishing. At the age of 19, he moved to B.C. and dedicated his life to work outdoors. From driving Snowcats and working as a steelhead guide, to representing fly fishing companies, he always is smiley, dedicated to his work and ready to help anyone. He wanted to find balance and be closer to home so he and his wife Nadia can think about raising a family. Running Wild forest edibles answered both his needs: to strive in business and to be outside, close to home, foraging for forest edibles. Frank plans to start at a small-scale mushroom growing facility and will supplement his stock by picking mushroom in-season.

Joni Jones, Telkwa

In 2015, Joni Jones completed the ISSA Personal Training Certification followed by the CFES Group Fitness Instructor National Certification. With a vision to bring health and fitness services closer to home, Juniper Health & Fitness will be more than just a gym, offering fitness classes, personal training and children’s fitness right here in the Village of Telkwa. Within the first year of operation, Joni’s goal is to add spin bikes, a protein shake bar and merchandise to the business.

Meghann Patterson, Prince Rupert

Meghann Patterson grew up in Nanaimo B.C. She learned to be a hard worker/self-starter at a young age. In her early 20’s, after trying to get by working 3-4 minimum wage jobs at a time, she decided to get back to school and chose carpentry as her trade. A little over a year ago, Meghann arrived in Prince Rupert to work at the North Pacific Cannery as a supervisor/trainer. She fell in love with the north and plans on staying there for the rest of her life. This is why Meghann wants to start her own business in Prince Rupert. With her 10+ years as a journeyman carpenter, she has gained the knowledge she needs to successfully run an exterior house cleaning business, and plans to expand the business in the future to include rot repairs.

Sandy Gaudry, Prince Rupert

Sandy is a rising entrepreneur in the spa & esthetics community. Her passion of owning her own business has been driven from helping her grandparents with their pub during the summers. Sandy is certified as an advanced sugar and bikini practitioner and is also working to complete her eyelash extension certificate. Her passion of owning her own business pushes her to obtain more certification and gain knowledge of running a successful business. Sandy currently runs her shop out of her home, and with growing clientele, she needs a salon to meet her business needs.

Santrina Meeks, Terrace

Santrina (left) was born and raised in the Northwest. She has always had a passion for fashion, but on a dime. Conscious of the fast-paced consumption of the clothing industry, and environmental impact of making and shipping new products, Glow Boutique was born. Glow Boutique is a brand name ladies consignment store, looking to give fashion a second life. It is focused on providing quality pre-loved, vintage clothing, footwear, and accessories. Having the vision to be accessible and relevant to today’s society, Glow Boutique will provide a retail location and online store. 

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