Small Business BC Awards Gala | Entrepreneurial Excellence Across the Province

After years of virtual meetings it was time to get BC's entrepreneurial talent together under one roof.

The SBBC Awards were hosted at the Fairmont Plaza in downtown Vancouver. They kicked off the evening with an hour long networking event. One of the things I enjoyed about the SBBC Award's meet and greet was that it was a lot of non technology professionals. As in real industries with real world problems.

Far too often at tech events there's a homogeneity of field professionals. Don't get me wrong, tech events can be great for skills development, workflow improvements/fine tuning, recruitment and lead generation. It's just refreshing to find individuals and teams driving initiatives in fields such as:

  • Hospitality
  • Healthcare Products
  • Textiles
  • Cleaning and home care
  • Butchers
  • Cosmetics and skin care
  • and more!

Conversations with attendees revealed that many organizations have, to varying degrees, complex data requirements and restrictions to maximize the value of the data itself...

cue acorn 😉 

Mitch and Sam looking snazzy in front of the SBBC sign

It was fun to explore how teams like ours could collaborate with industries like insurance or banking to leverage both organizations subject matter expertise to build out sensible and future friendly systems. This would involve the capture, action, and relaying of data in new and meaningful ways. For example, I was able to talk to guests about ways that quantum systems, or artificial intelligence could benefit these organizations (amongst many others), along with the common pitfalls associated with implementing data systems and user interface paradigms.

Event Details

This evening of celebration is the climax of our months-long awards competition where four deserving small businesses will take home a massive cash prize of $10,000. Join hundreds of small business owners, supporters, and government officials to network at a glittering reception and enjoy a three-course dinner while we announce the winners of this year’s awards.

-SBBC Award Summary

Categories for Nomination:

  • Business Impact Award (link)
  • Premier's People's Choice Award (link)
  • Premier's People's Choice Award (link)
  • Best Youth Entrepreneur (link)
  • E-commerce Experience Award (link)

How it worked (link):

January 16th 2023

Nominate your business (or a business you love) & share it with your community to get as many votes was you can by March 10th

Late March, 2023

Top 5 finalists announced for each category

Mid April, 2023

Business Pitch categories present to a panel of judges

June 2nd, 2023

Awards Gala Ceremony

The winners:

Business Impact Award: The Speckled Sow Butchery & Market 

Matthew and Brittany Giesbrecht

Best Youth Entrepreneur Award: OVRY

Jackie Rhind (LinkedIn) & Christina Witzel (LinkedIn)

E-Commerce Experience Award: Mint Cleaning 

Robyn Mair & Monika Scott

Premier’s People Choice Award: Discovery Fabrics 

Leslie Hanes (LinkedIn)

Regional stakeholders from ranging fields including insurance, hospitality, academia, and leadership exchange ideas in a panel about the state of entrepreneurship in BC.

Major Takeaways:

As much of the night was social, I didn't have a ton of time to collect notes on the evening. I was able to draw a couple key themes from keynotes and presenters:

  • Meaningfully supporting entrepreneurs in academia and post secondary institutions
  • Cultivating entrepreneurial leadership through interdisciplinary approaches like sport, teaching, mentorship, and life experiences
  • Points of pains and bottlenecks experienced by entrepreneurs in the post Covid era.

Each one of these talking points is a full conversation onto itself. With that, there's no sugar coating the fact we're navigating a particularly complex chapter of history. In many regions across the continent there are disparities between living expenses, trade and logistics bottlenecks, and isolating meaningful sectors of growth to facilitate meaningful investments.

Working as a software professional with an interdisciplinary team, I can speak to the fact that managing both team and customer expectations amongst a climate of uncertainty has... its moments.

Adding onto their panel discussions about leadership, leveraging experiences to propel value and growth, and creating enmeshed community dynamics to empower entrepreneurs to thrive I have some additions I'd like to make from my own working experience:

  1. Intergenerational challenges regarding technology are becoming increasingly challenging to navigate. Installing a process within any team requires a significant amount of training, correspondence, testing, and process adjustments to factor in things like real time analytics and actioning decisions from them. Finding ways to both explain developments in technology and roles that stem from advancements should be a major consideration to align capital investments with talent and outcome.
  2. Interdisciplinary teams are the best. Seeing a former hockey professional meet with a catering service professional and academic reinforced this, and sparked my curiosities on how "roles" work would given their broad experiences. E-commerce for catering (we do have experience here) is a team sport. Accounting, logistics, food preparations, timing, and quality metrics are all measurements of success. Asking oneself rhetorical questions in the confines of an operation could be one strategy organizations could deploy to write functional "user stories" to keep an initiative on the rails.
  3. Industries outside of technology need your help. It's far too common to see people in the software and technology space being siloed away from applying these skills to applied, and real world, business problems. For example having spoken with Nathan LayFayette, SVP & Chief Insurance Officer at BCAA, was extremely helpful to see the types of knowledge gaps that may exist in the insurance industry. The need for stability in daily operations has to continue, emerging technologies will continue to emerge, these technologies could support and extend the capabilities of an insurance outfit, but the costs of invoking these would require serious planning considerations, training, staff education - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
  4. Do your research: Far too often we want to get cracking with the tools and technologies. Ask any user experience designer and they'll quickly tell you about how many successful initiatives are research driven. Technical mastery is, of course, expected to perform any role in our space. Technical mastery met with planning, goal setting, clearly articulated milestones, and sustainable project management methodologies are essential to build it right - the first time.

As I've attended more and more of these events, several key themes appear to be prevalent in modern entrepreneurship. I'd say given the setbacks and challenges of the past few years, it's time to get back to basics and learn about the nature of problems many entrepreneurs are facing. In doing so, agencies like Acorn and beyond can learn how to tailor their core service provisions to support these outfits for success!.

Industry Partners:

Small Business British Columbia

Canadian Western Bank

Canadian Digital Adoption Program

Fortis BC


980 CKNW

A big theme of the evening was how good it was to be back in person after the Covid Pandemic. Keynotes regularly recognized the difficult burdens placed on entrepreneurs over the past few years, and acknowledged a lot of work has to be done to align the province and get us back to full capacity.

It's so nice to be meeting again in person.

It's great to have the opportunity to meet regional stakeholders who can help organizations like ourselves grow and provide quality services provisions to British Columbia. We look forward to continuing to learn more about the vast range of opportunities that exist right here at home, along with the awesome work coming out by entrepreneurs across the country, and world, as we ourselves grow in our mission as a software development and technical excellence outfit.

Congratulations to all of the nominee's and finalists, keep up the hard work!!! 🥳💪🏾💪💪🏿💪🏼

Up next? Vancouver Startup Week.

Acorn is all for supporting software and software related initiatives for regional entrepreneurs! Want to get an initiative rolling, or support an existing software project