10 To Watch 2009 Update

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Here’s a look at what last year’s winners are up to now.

Indochino
Business has tripled in the past year for the online custom men’s clothing company started by Kyle Vucko and Heikal Gani. Other highlights: Yahoo ex-CEO Jeff Mallett, an investor, is now chairman. There’s also a Vancouver office and a relaunched website with the slogan, “we suit anyone.”

Scooter Underground
Michael Stevulak says the recession was challenging, “but that did not dampen our enthusiasm.” Expecting a recovery in 2010, Scooter Underground is reworking its website, incorporating social media, and preparing to sell via e-commerce. 

Woodscan
Woodscan is still moving forward, says Dave Woods, who invented a kind of airhorn for warning signals for blasting and construction. He’s filed patents for a new product based on the original. “We’re in the middle of raising some capital. It’s plugging along.”

Ooh La La Cupcakes
Sales of the bakery’s delicious items are about 30 per cent ahead of last year. “I think cupcakes are recession proof,” says Sherryl Andrews. She bought out her partner Marilyn Miller last fall and is opening a second location in Sidney’s industrial area where baking operations will be located. 

Smoken Bones Cookshack
For Ken Hueston’s barbecue place, 2009 was “filled with new directions and angles of thought.” He hooked up with Natural Pastures Cheese Co. in Courtenay to smoke their boerenkaas and has expanded into commercial catering. Biggest news of all: Smoken Bones is opening a second location.

Oprius Software
Oprius, which designs contact management software for “solopreneurs,” retrenched a bit last year but is back up to strength. “Our year continues to be very, very strong,” says CEO Alan Smith. It found a niche among network marketing firms, like Mary Kay, Epicure, and Usana, and recently, Send Out Cards.

Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse
Kristen and Bruce Jordan had mentions in Sunset magazine, Seattle Times, and the Ottawa Citizen last year. “We planted more apple trees and doubled cider production,” she says. They now make nine types of cider.

Union Pacific Coffee Co.
Jim Walmsley’s Herald Street café is starting its fourth year in business. “We’re doing pretty good, hanging in there, although not retiring anytime soon.” Business is growing month by month. “We’re looking for our second location,” he says.

Victoria Wood Studio
The word “challenging” describes the past year for this business, which designs and builds sculptural-style fences, gates, and structures. But co-owner Frances Sidhu says it “brought us a greater degree of understanding of the heart of our business. We ‘rediscovered’ that we love the larger custom projects that we have been privileged to work on.”

Pacific Rim College
“PRC has had a banner year since we appeared in your magazine,” says Todd Howard, co-owner of PRC, along with James Christian and Dr. Victor Benedek. Three new academic programs were added: yoga therapy and Thai and ayurvedic massage. “It’s been great. Our enrolment has about tripled since last year.”

Find out more our 2009 10-to-Watch winners:

Pacific Rim College | Victoria Wood Studio | Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse | Union Pacific Coffee Co. | Oprius Software | Ooh La La Cupcakes | Smoken Bones | Woodscan | Scooter Underground | Indochino

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About 10 To Watch

Since Douglas started 2½ years ago, one strong theme of the magazine has been to celebrate local business, highlight the strengths and contributions to the community made by creative and hardworking entrepreneurs, those who have been around for decades and those who are new to the business scene. In 10 to Watch, we are promoting and congratulating the newcomers, the up-and-coming success stories of businesses that are less than three years old.

2009’s Competition

Finding the 10 to Watch has been an enlightening experience. The invitation for applications was met with a very positive response: 45 entries and stories from local businesses, all worthy of attention. Selecting just 10 from the many deserving entries was no easy task for our panel of judges. After much deliberation and discussion, the list was narrowed to 10, each chosen for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. The businesses showcased in 10 to Watch are all recently established businesses definitely worth watching, each with a unique business plan, its own path to success.

And you might learn something from how they started and where they are today.

Facilitator:
Cathy McIntyre, principal, Strategic Initiatives Inc.

Judges:
Deirdre Campbell, president of Tartan Group PR
John Juricic, partner at Etraffic Solutions
Rebecca Grant, associate professor faculty of business at the University of Victoria
Daniela Cubelic, co-owner of Silk Road Tea
Mike Thompson, associate vice-president of business development, Royal Roads University