Interviews and stories by Amber Nasrulla
A new addition to the 2014 Small Business Challenge was the regional winner category. We wanted to recognize more of the amazing businesses that apply for the $100,000 grant. Each year it’s harder and harder for our judges to select just one winner, so we let them also select 10 more small businesses to recognize and award a technology prize pack. We’re so very proud to reveal this year’s 10 regional winners and introduce you to their diverse businesses. We look forward to reading all of the entries that 2015 will bring, and to see the new finalist, semi-finalists, and regional winners that will come out of the competition.
Nothing makes Bryce North, founder of Winnipeg-based Advolve Media, happier than when he learns people have been sprinting out of the washroom yelling, “Oh my God, come inside, you have to see what I just saw. It’s fantastic!”
What they just saw is one of his interactive advertising mirrors, in the washroom of a restaurant or nightclubs. When you stand in front of it, the mirror transforms and you see digital ads. This modern-day “mirror on the wall” doesn’t tell you who is the fairest of them all, but it will display a cheerful beer commercial, or show you models in luxury suits, or talk about a new restaurant. The mirrors have been custom-made and tested at six venues in Winnipeg.
“People have been taking selfies in front of the mirror and posting them on social media,” says North.
His plan is to expand across Canada. The challenge is securing funding to improve the technology so the mirrors can ‘communicate’ with smartphones. And Advolve needs a larger design team. After just one year in business their revenue was $100,000. North says he’s trying to raise funds locally and will head to Silicon Valley in late October to talk to investors. “This is just beginning,” he says.