Meet Ruairi Spillane, Best Immigrant Entrepreneur

In 2009, driven by a massive property bubble, the previously buoyant Irish economy collapsed. The International Monetary Fund stepped in to ‘bail out’ a government that was forced to borrow heavily and recapitalize a banking sector in crisis. Irish people turned to their reflex action in times of crisis – emigration.

Lending a Helping Hand

At one point, an Irish person was leaving the country to move abroad every six minutes. Having already established himself in Vancouver’s finance industry, Irish native Ruairi Spillane saw an opportunity to help. He founded to provide a support network for the burgeoning Irish diaspora who were traveling to Canada in search of a brighter future.

“I was keen to find a business idea that would solve a real problem and provide an innovative solution,” Ruairi explained.

“The onset of the global financial crisis soon after my move to Canada made me question my career choice in finance, but also opened me up to queries from would-be Irish emigrants, which helped shape my business idea.

“The Irish economy had collapsed spectacularly. Irish people again had to look overseas for economic opportunity. I found myself fielding lots of questions from friends of friends who heard I was living in Canada and wanted to learn more about moving here.

“When I looked at the market, there was no one-stop-shop for planning your move to Canada. Lots of firms were monetizing basic immigration and settlement information, which I felt should be freely available. Immigration Canada speaks a complex language and though immigration professionals can simplify this language, they are focused on generating 1-to-1 consulting opportunities. At this point, I had the motivation and inspiration I needed to set up”

Community-Led Resource

Moving to another country is a process that’s rife with pitfalls. Emigrants need to quickly adapt to the many facets of day-to-day life in their new home; without the support network they’ve leaned on their entire life. Unfortunately, finding the advice you need online is akin to navigating a minefield. immediately became the go-to resource for these individuals, cutting through the noise thanks to a completely unique selling point in the world of immigration advice – It’s free.

“The Moving2Canada business model is based on a community-first approach,” says Ruairi.

“I didn’t want to become just another gatekeeper of information. Instead, I wanted to open the gate and ensure that Moving2Canada could be used by people from all over the world. I decided to study the needs of would-be immigrants and new arrivals and focus the commercial model around creating partnerships with products and services that could add value to our audience.

“We offer job postings, a Getting Started Guide, and articles covering every step of the journey. On social media, thousands of people offer advice and support to one another in Moving2Canada’s discussion forums. Remembering the uncertainty and excitement of our own move to Canada, we get what it takes to make a successful transition from abroad, and we have created a support network that offers advice to the new-to-Canada segment. And the great thing is it’s all free.”

Giving Back to the Next Generation

Ruairi quickly took to Vancouver’s bustling entrepreneurial scene. In a province where 98 per cent of business is small business, Ruairi has demonstrated the skills and aptitude to excel. So, what advice would he offer to those following in his footsteps?

“Entrepreneurship is like gambling; we often talk about the wins and hide our losses,” he explained.

“We focus on the positives, but people think of Jeff Bezos and fail to realize the hardship behind every successful entrepreneurship story. It’s not glamorous and you must enjoy the hustle to succeed.

“Focus on solving a real problem and less on making money. If you solve a problem you are passionate about, you will find a way to make money out of it. Too many businesses are focused on commercializing their idea too quickly without addressing their customer’s problems.”

Award Winner

On February 21, at a packed Vancouver Convention Centre, Ruairi’s efforts were recognized as he was awarded Best Immigrant Entrepreneur at the 16th Annual Small Business BC Awards. Rather than using it as an opportunity to rest on their laurels, Ruairi and his team see it as just another milestone in their effort to become a global resource.

“Winning the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur Award provides my team with the recognition they deserve and drives us towards mastery in promoting Canada as a great place to live and work,” Ruairi says.

“It is also a strong signal to our community that their efforts matter. That immigrants supporting immigrants is recognized in Canada, and that paying it down keeps paying off. The award is an acknowledgement of our company values as a basis for a successful business and further endorsement of our community-first approach to our partners.

“Our vision is to be the leading resource for global mobility focusing on all major destinations for immigrants around the world.

“We are looking to grow our business in Canada and Ireland — we recently launched our award-winning concept in Ireland with — and expand to new regions.”

5 Benefits of Nominating Your Business

Nominations for the 2020 Small Business BC Awards are underway, meaning awards season has arrived for BC entrepreneurs. We’ve had nominations from around our beautiful province, with entrepreneurs availing of this one-of-a-kind opportunity to get exposure for their business and access one-on-one expert business advice.
Nominations close November 30, but there’s still time to nominate your business or a business you admire.
For a small business, award contests can provide a shot of credibility to partners, clients and investors. They can also provide a massive internal motivator, making staff proud to work at a recognized high achiever of a business. For many, that motivation can be worth more than any cash reward.
With that being said, we get it. Creating your awards application can seem like a daunting process, especially with a million other small tasks to attend to. Think of the time you spend nominating your business for the Small Business BC Awards as an investment rather than a cost. Even if you don’t take home first place, being a part of the whole experience can be incredibly rewarding in several different ways.

Celebrating Your Achievements

Entrepreneurs can often be guilty of not seeing the big picture. They pour their heart and soul into their business but never take a step back to appreciate what they’ve achieved. Putting together a nomination for the Small Business BC Awards forces the nominee to look big picture, taking stock of how the business has got to this point, while plotting a course toward what the future holds. Not only is this action satisfying, it can also be a powerful motivator to make that future vision a reality.

Harness Powerful Marketing Opportunities

Getting a business into the media can be a tricky task. Previous nominees have received wide-ranging media mentions, popping up in The Vancouver Sun, BC Business, Prince George Citizen, and Whistler Pique News. Interested in sharing your story? We love to feature awards participants as success stories here on the Small Business BC website.


Savvy business owners look for every edge they can find to promote their business. Imagine being able to approach clients and prospective partners with the credibility you’d receive as a Small Business BC Award winner.
Tyson Still, Co-Founder of Winecrush, describes the effect of winning a Small Business BC Award on his company:
“Having the SBBC ‘Best Concept’ banner on all our marketing was huge for Winecrush,” he said.
“It really gets the conversation going deeper with clients and customers, and people took us much more seriously after winning, especially as our concept had never been done before. The success we’ve had as a result is clear.”

Motivation for Staff

Winning an award is a team effort. For many staff, playing a role in an award-winning team will make them proud to come to work each day. When you win, displaying that award in your place of business will show customers what you’ve achieved while reminding staff of the role they played in getting there.

The Awards Ceremony

The Small Business BC Awards climax in a gala event at Vancouver’s beautiful Convention Centre. With over 500 fellow entrepreneurs in attendance it offers an amazing opportunity to network and build connections that will help your business. Even if you don’t win, you’ll leave feeling inspired and ready to go one better next time out.


Coleen Christie to Emcee 2019 Small Business BC Awards

Coleen Christie

Small Business BC is delighted to announce award-winning TV anchor Coleen Christie will be our Emcee for the 2019 Small Business BC Awards Gala on February 21 at Vancouver Convention Centre.

A veteran of more than 20 years on the small screen, Coleen has reported on several major international stories. These include the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC Wildfires and the Boston Marathon bombing. In an historic first, Coleen was a key part of the broadcast team awarded the prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for overall excellence, as the best in the world.

Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and raised in Victoria, BC, Coleen has a BA degree in English, History and Art History from the University of Victoria. She is involved with numerous community and charitable organizations, love animals of all kinds, cooking and baking. She’s also been known to star at karaoke, under the right conditions.

Don’t Miss Out

With just a few days to go, we still have limited tickets available for the 2019 Small Business BC Awards Gala. This magical night of networking, celebration and fun celebrates the entrepreneurs who make our province the best place in the world to live, work and play. Don’t miss out on this once-a-year event!

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The Honourable Mary Ng to Attend 2019 Small Business BC Awards

Small Business BC is excited to confirm The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion will join us to celebrate the best of BC business at the 2019 Small Business BC Awards.

Taking place February 21, 2019 at Vancouver’s iconic Convention Centre, the Small Business BC Awards not only recognize the outstanding achievements of local entrepreneurs, they also provide a powerful platform for future achievement. Known as a long-time advocate of small business, Minister Ng will take to the stage help kick off the ceremony with a keynote address.

Secure Your Place Today

The Small Business BC Awards Gala will bring together over 600 small business owners, supporters, providers and government officials to network at a glittering reception. Tickets come with a three-course dinner and two complimentary drink tickets, as well as access to pre- and post-event networking.

Hosted by a special guest Emcee, this is THE event where small businesses are acknowledged for their outstanding achievements and contributions to their community and the BC economy.

Join us as we raise a glass in honour of the small businesses, on their night to shine on the podium.

Buy Tickets


Tickets On Sale Now

British Columbia’s small business owners make our province the best place in the world to live, work and play. It’s only fair they get a little recognition, right?

The Small Business BC Awards are the largest awards of their type in the province. They exist as a celebration of entrepreneurial achievement, and to give nominees a platform for further success.

Nominating your business, or a business you love, is easy and there are plenty of amazing benefits. Nominated businesses can leverage the amazing marketing and PR opportunities the Awards present. And, if they win, they’ll receive a cash prize of $1,500 and an all-access pass to Small Business BC education and experts for one whole year.

Small Business BC Awards Categories

Our 10 award categories cover the entire spectrum of the business world. Whether you’ve been operating for years, or are still in the planning stages, there’s an awards category for you. The categories this year are as follows:

  • Premier’s People’s Choice Award – Sponsored by the Province of British Columbia
  • Best Apprentice Training
  • Best Community Impact – Sponsored by Vancity
  • Best Company
  • Best Concept
  • Best Employer – Sponsored by Trushield
  • Best Immigrant Entrepreneur – Sponsored by Small Business BC
  • Best Innovation
  • Best International Trade
  • Best Marketer

Open for Business Awards

For the second year in a row, we will be joined by the Open for Business Awards. The Open for Business Awards recognize and celebrate communities that have cultivated a business-friendly culture that allows small business to flourish. These Awards provide an important platform for local government to learn and share Best Practices, while showcasing winning initiatives that have contributed to the success of local businesses. Managed and delivered by the Small Business Roundtable Secretariat, the Open for Business Awards encompass three categories:

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Announcing Your 2019 Small Business BC Awards Top 10s

After two months of nominations, voting and enthusiasm from small businesses around the province, the time has come to reveal the Top 10 Semi-Finalists for the 2019 Small Business BC Awards.

We’ve spent the last week hard at work counting your votes. And, alongside our partners at Canada Post, we’d like to extend our congratulations to all of the outstanding businesses that participated this year. We received almost 600 nominations from around the province, highlighting the importance and reach of British Columbia’s small business community.

As the largest small business awards competition in British Columbia, these awards not only recognize the outstanding achievements of local entrepreneurs, they also provide a powerful platform for future success.

So, without further ado, here are your 2019 Top 10 Semi-Finalists:

Premier People’s Choice Award

Presented by the Province of British Columbia 

Munday Media & Design, Oliver
Sue’s Clothesline, Creston
Namaskar Yoga, Parksville
Legends Academy, Abbotsford
The Realm of Toys, Williams Lake
Kootenay Canine Adventures, Cranbrook
Vancouver Island Hot Sauce, Nanoose Bay
Trench Brewing & Distilling Inc, Prince George
Warmland Garage Doors Service, Duncan
2 Guys with Knives, Vancouver

Best Apprentice Training

Presented by ITA 

Whistler Cooks, Whistler
Murphy Construction Corp. Pemberton
RDC Fine Homes, Whistler
Geotility Geothermal Installations Corporation, Kelowna
NZ Builders, Victoria
Solid Rock Steel, Surrey
The Garage, Burnaby
Mr. Swirl Plumbing, Coquitlam
Norlang Automotive Ltd, Langley
Diamond Diesel, Surrey

Best Community Impact

Presented by Vancity

Long Table Grocery, Quesnel
Okanagan RAWSOME, Grindrod
Sue’s Clothesline, Creston
Riot Brewing Co. Chemainus
Murphy Construction Corp. Pemberton
Jo’s Place, Pender Island
Namaskar Yoga, Parksville
Meanwhile in Sooke, Sooke
MakerLabs, Vancouver
Young Moviemakers, Vancouver

Best Company

Popov Leather, Nelson
On The Edge Roofing, Ucluelet
The Realm of Toys, Williams Lake
ARPA Investments, Kamloops
Riot Brewing Co. Chemainus
SUVA Beauty, Surrey
Jade Electrolysis, Richmond
Boldly Creative, Vancouver
Glutenull, Coquitlam
Rycor, Vancouver

Best Concept

Kootenay Canine Adventures, Cranbrook
Raven Reads Books Ltd. Kamloops
The Jump Life, North Vancouver
Barnacle Systems Inc, Victoria
Mr. Quinley’s Weird, Wonderful and (Sometimes) Slightly Odd Adventures, Surrey
Locelle Digital Inc. North Saanich
susGRAINable, Vancouver
Motus Health & Wellness, Vancouver
Haywood Golf, Vancouver
Campertunity, Vancouver

Best Employer

Presented by TruShield

COCO Cafe, Cedar
Murphy Construction Corp. Pemberton
MQN Architecture and Interior Design, Vernon
Jo’s Place, Pender Island
Lux Insights, North Vancouver
Natural Evolution Hair Studio, Parksville
Erickson Coaching International, Vancouver
Insights West, Vancouver
ZedStudio, Coquitlam
Redstamp Agency, Coquitlam

Best Immigrant Entrepreneur

Presented by Small Business BC 

Marwick Marketing, Squamish
LifeStyle Channel Ltd. Vancouver
Liontech Solutions, Vancouver, Vancouver
e-Visa Immigration Services Inc. Vancouver
HJ Wu & Company Inc. (CPA), Vancouver
Kipling Media Ltd, Vancouver
Arora Comfortechs, Vancouver, Vancouver
Westbridge Media, Vancouver

Best Innovation

Enercheez, Nelson
Coulson Ice Blast, Port Alberni
Lift Startups, Comox
The Self Publishing Agency, North Vancouver
Mommy Brain Creatives Inc. Vancouver
AirGMS, Vancouver
M·Y·O Cosmetic Cases, Surrey
GotHire, Vancouver
GenomeMe Lab Inc. Richmond
Traction Guest, Burnaby

Best International Trade

Popov Leather, Nelson
Mr. Quinley’s Weird, Wonderful and (Sometimes) Slightly Odd Adventures, Surrey
Community Customs Brokers Inc. Surrey
Elate Cosmetics, Victoria
Thai Roots Trading Corp, Vancouver
Earths Eats, Coquitlam
Photoras Consulting, Surrey
Shakti Acupressure Mat Canada, Vancouver
Pacific Coast Seafood Distributors Inc. Surrey
Sumo Environmental Products Inc. Vancouver

Best Marketer

Claris Media, Fernie
Get Clear Consulting, Abbotsford
blueberrycloud, North Vancouver
Array Web + Creative, Nanaimo
Kipling Media Ltd, Vancouver
Longevity Graphics, Coquitlam
SUVA Beauty, Surrey
SYN Interactive, Vancouver
Town Hall Brands, Vancouver
KIMBO Design Inc. Vancouver

The Next Phase

These businesses will now be invited to submit an Extended Application Form which will be used by our judging panel to determine the Top 5 Finalists, who will be invited to pitch why they are BC’s best.

Winners will be announced at our Small Business BC Awards Gala on February 21, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

All winners will receive the Premier’s Prize in the amount of $1,500 cash, a one-year All-Access Pass to Small Business BC education and experts, and the honour of being named a top BC small business.

Buy Tickets

The Small Business BC Awards Gala will bring together over 600 small business owners, supporters, providers and government officials to network at a glittering reception. Tickets come with a three-course dinner and two complimentary drink tickets, as well as access to pre- and post-event networking.

Hosted by a special guest Emcee, this is THE event where small businesses are acknowledged for their outstanding achievements and contributions to their community and the BC economy.

Join us as we raise a glass in honour of the small businesses, on their night to shine on the podium.

Buy Tickets

Three Weeks Left to Submit Nominations for the Small Business BC Awards and the Open for Business Awards

November 8, 2017 – British Columbia: There is only three weeks left to submit nominations for the 15th Annual Small Business BC Awards, presented by Small Business BC and Canada Post.

So far there are over 400 nominees from communities across British Columbia, including Summerland, Terrace, Coquitlam, Victoria and beyond.

Nominations for the largest small business awards contest in the province are open until November 30, 2017, so there is still time to nominate in one of the following 10 categories:

Premier’s People’s Choice
Sponsored by the Province of British Columbia

Best Apprentice Training
Sponsored by Industry Training Authority

Best Community Impact
Sponsored by Vancity

Best Company

Sponsored by Sage

Best Concept
Sponsored by Rogers

Best Employer
Sponsored by TruShield

Best Immigrant Entrepreneur

Best Innovation

Best International Trade
Sponsored by UPS

Best Marketer

Nominated business owners are tasked with gaining as many votes as possible through social media, word of mouth, e-mail or any other means possible.

Each award winner will receive the Premier’s Prize of $1,500 cash, a one-year All-Access Pass to Small Business BC education products and services, and access to the amazing marketing and PR opportunities that the awards present.

“The hardworking entrepreneurs who create and operate small businesses are so critical to our communities and economy,” said Lise Côté, General Manager of Consumer & Small Business Marketing at Canada Post. “Canada Post is proud to partner with them, knowing that their success makes our company and our country stronger.”

But the celebrations do not stop there. This year for the first time, Small Business BC, the Province of British Columbia and the Small Business Roundtable are also encouraging members of the public to nominate their community for the Open for Business Awards. The Open for Business Awards recognize the communities that best demonstrate they are promoting and adopting business friendly initiatives in their region.

“We are delighted to see the nominations coming in for the Open for Business Awards, in many of the communities we work with across the province,” says George Hunter, CEO at Small Business BC. “We see first-hand the impact a thriving community can have on a business, and we’re excited to celebrate that.”

“Small businesses continue to drive B.C.’s strong, sustainable economy and create good jobs for British Columbians across the province,” says Premier John Horgan, “It’s important to recognize leaders and innovators in small business for their contributions to our province, and I am delighted to support this year’s awards and the work of Small Business BC.”

The winners will be announced at the Small Business BC Awards Gala on February 23, 2018 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

More details on what happens after nominations are submitted for both the Small Business BC Awards and Open for Business Awards can be found at


Media Contact:
Leah Baker
Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Small Business BC
Direct: 604-775-5607

About Small Business BC
Small Business BC provides entrepreneurs with the information and guidance necessary to build a solid foundation for their business. Through a wide range of products, services, education and resources there’s a piece that fits with every business. No matter what stage or what skill level, when an entrepreneur finds themselves asking “How do I…?” Small Business BC is the one to call.

About Canada Post
Canada Post is Canada’s primary postal operator, providing service to more than 16 million addresses and delivering nearly 8.4 billion items in 2016. They are committed to providing innovative physical and electronic delivery solutions that create value for customers, small business and Canadians.

About the Province of British Columbia

The B.C. government recognizes that small businesses are the heart and soul of our communities, and the backbone of our economy. Small business plays a vital role in developing both the economic and social fabric of our province. The Small Business Branch, through the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, is committed to supporting and developing small businesses throughout the province in every stage of the business lifecycle. It’s part of our goal to make B.C. the most small-business friendly jurisdiction in Canada.

About the Small Business Roundtable

The permanent Small Business Roundtable was established in 2005 to engage in a dialogue with small business owners to identify the key issues and opportunities facing small businesses in British Columbia, and to develop recommendations for small business and government on strategies to enhance small business growth and success.

Door Prize Winners from the 2017 SBBC Awards Ceremony

Did you attend the 14th Annual Small Business BC Awards Ceremony on February 23, 2017? If so you could be one of our door prize winners!

Our Winners

Winner: Javier Neumann

Prize: 4 Club Seats and Swag, Whitecaps FC 

Winner: Clarence Tay

1 night stay at The Listel Hotel + dinner for 2 at Forage, The Listel Hotel

Winner: Stephanie Mallalieu

1 Night Stay in the Newly Reopened, Pacific Club floor and Brunch for 2 at Oceans 999’s Sunday Market , Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver

Winner: Oscar Paz

1 Night Stay in Studio Suite, Nita Lake Lodge

Winner: Bruce Livingston

3 Tickets to VidTalks Conference, Vlognation

Winner: Adam Strauts

Legal Consultation, Benchmark Law Corporation ($500 value)

Winner: Todd Katsuyama

Classic Full Set of Lash Extensions, Noir Lash Lounge

Winner: Adrian Partridge

Hat, Roxann’s Hats

Winner: Ray Salama

Facialiscious Facial, Skoah ($120 Value)

Winner: Barbara Christie

Screen Printing Service, Double L Screen Printing ($75 value)

Winner: Andrew Park

Catering Gift Card, Crème de la Crumb ($100 value)

Winner: Violet Shot

5 Hours of Graphic Design & Marketing Services, The Flower Girl

Winner: Sarah Morton

96 Cotton T-shirts with Your Chosen Design, Action Athletic

Winner: Mike Tran

Media Communications Kit, Incorporation Kit, Tax Sense Kit and $100 Gift Card for Small Business BC Seminars and Webinars

Claim Your Prize

Are you one of the door winners? Contact to arrange pick-up of your prize.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

Small Business BC would like to extend its thanks to this year’s door prize sponsors for their generous support!

Thank You for Attending

Thank you all for joining us to celebrate entrepreneurship in BC. We hope to see you next year!

Find out more about the Award Winners and event.

Presenting Your 13th Annual Small Business BC Awards Winners

Winners Shareable

Your top small businesses in BC were announced last night as the winners of the 13th Annual Small Business BC Awards, hosted by Small Business BC at the Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver.

The celebration of BC business has never been more competitive with a record-breaking 535 nominations from across the province and a handpicked selection of Top 10 Semi-Finalists and Top 5 Finalists.

The Top 5 Finalists were faced with a ten minute Dragon’s Den-style pitch to a panel of industry experts and leading entrepreneurs, with the exception of the People’s Premier’s Choice Award, which is determined by the highest number of votes.

After much deliberation, this year’s winners are:

Shiraz Café and Restaurant – Prince George

Premier’s People’s Choice
Presented by the Province of British Columbia

KYBE Electrical Contracting – North Vancouver

Best Apprentice Training
Presented by Industry Training Authority and BCIT

COCO Cafe – Nanaimo

Best Community Impact
Presented by Vancity

All Inclusive Marketing Inc. – Vancouver

Best Company
Presented by Dell

Filaprint – Tumbler Ridge

Best Concept
Presented by MNP LLP

Big Bro’s Barbershop – Vancouver

Best Emerging Entrepreneur
Presented by Yellow Pages

North Construction Ltd. – North Vancouver

Best Employer
Presented by WorkSafeBC

Republica Coffee Roasters Inc. – Fort Langley

Best International Trade
Presented by Livingston International

Glitter & Spice – South Surrey

Best Online Marketer
Presented by Sage

Left – Maple Ridge

Best Workplace
Presented by WellnessFits

Recipients of Small Business BC Awards were recognized with the Premier’s Prize in the amount of $1,500 cash. The winners were also offered a one-year All-Access pass to Small Business BC education resources and experts, and one-on-one business mentorship opportunities with notable advisors from award sponsors.

“We’d like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Small Business BC Awards and wish them the best of luck as they move on to grow their very successful operations,” says George Hunter, CEO at Small Business BC. “The participation of greater numbers of nominees from even more communities across the province this year has made for an entertaining and very high-spirited competition.”