October 2019 – Making Waves

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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Page 32 of 71

BCBUSINESS.CA R U N N E R - U P Don Konantz C E O , H O P S C O N N E C T H O P T R A D I N G C O . n Don Konantz was an entrepreneur most of his life until prostate cancer threatened to take everything away in 2011. He sought to return to business in 2016, but didn't feel he could manage a startup or a turnaround with his health situation demand- ing so much of his energy. Vancouver-based Hops Connect was a struggling distribution company with unpaid workers and unsatisfied customers, but Konantz liked the opportunity enough to buy it anyway. He didn't know how he would drag the business to profitability, so he put himself to work delivering specialty hops from North American, European and Australian farms to his craft brewery customers across Canada, trying to learn how he could best provide for their very particular needs. "I wanted to have that con- versation at the loading dock," explains Konantz, who earned an MBA from Western Univer- sity's Ivey School of Business and previously founded North Vancouver–based Colorworks Autobody Centers. He listened well. Hops Connect has grown its revenue by 100 percent every year for the past three, and Konantz says his team of seven serves about 600 of Canada's 900 craft breweries. –D.H. Next Big Thing, the Vancouver incubator started by Hootsuite Media founder Ryan Holmes and venture capi- talist Meredith Powell. SmartSweets launched in August 2016 with two lines of gummy bears (fruity and sour) that have just three grams of sugar per 50-gram bag. The Vancouver-based compa- ny's six types of sweets can now be found in more than 12,000 stores across the continent, including retail giants like London Drugs, Loblaws, Kroger and CVS. It aims to be in 20,000 by the end of this year. Smart- Sweets, which has 39 staff, completed its first venture capital funding round in January, at a $60-million valuation. Bosch, 25, says she always planned to grow her company quickly, despite its humble begin- nings. "I had that vision of scale and reach from day one," she explains. "It needed to be a global candy company that is synonymous with candy in the same way Kleenex is synonymous with tissue." Surprisingly, she doesn't always feel super- human, despite her heroic ambitions and unwavering determination. "It's funny, because it's in direct con- trast to waking up every day and wondering, am I capable?" she reveals. But Bosch never doubted she would achieve her goals: "My vision that it was going to happen never trembled." —D.H. R U N N E R - U P Christina Marcano F O U N D E R A N D C E O , S I L V E R I C I N G n Five years ago, Christina Marcano was running her fashion company, Silver Icing, from her South Surrey home. She quickly grew out of that space. "Within a year, we had 12 employees who were coming down my back steps into the basement," she remembers. Today, about 60 employees work in Silver Icing's 14,000-square-foot, purpose-built warehouse, shipping clothing and accessories across Canada. Marcano, who has a BA in anthropology from UVic, built this suc- cess from years of trial and error, resilience and multiple pivots. She had been designing and wholesaling clothing since 2004, but in 2013, her supplier suddenly stranded her without product she had pre-sold to retailers. Marcano's retail clients had little interest in the incomplete collections she still had on hand. However, women had long been asking her if they could sell her clothes to their friends. She switched to a direct- sales model, but the business took flight in 2014 when she freed her sales associates, or stylists, from living-room parties to use her social media-connected e-commerce platform instead. –D.H. OCTOBER 2019 BCBUSINESS 33

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