The 30 Under 30 may celebrate young entrepreneurs, but it keeps getting better with age. This year, our winners—including one double act with the same company—represent B.C. from Vancouver to Prince Rupert to Port Alberni. Some hold graduate degrees, whil
Co-founder and CEO WORKSTORY INC. CEO VISUALCV INC. AGE: 29 company Workstory, which also makes a tool to help people track and share their career accomplishments.
Clift's own career path is a series of entrepreneurial ventures beginning in high school, with varying degrees of success. He imported and flipped cars; ran a window-cleaning franchise, then started his own business in the same field; and created websites for companies ranging from law firms to dog daycares. After graduating from the Sauder School of Business with a Bcomm in accounting in 2011, he tried and failed to build several software startups before founding Workstory with Jade Bourelle, Ken Miller and Thomas Zhou in 2014, the same year the company acquired Visualcv from a group of investors. LIFE STORY: Husein Rahemtulla and Dhruv Sood have been friends since they met in Grade 6 at Buckingham Elementary School in Burnaby. While Rahemtulla had lived in the area all his life, Sood's family had just moved there from Bangalore, India, where his father was a scientist working on flight dynamics for the Indian Space Research Organization and his mother was a translator.
After the two graduated from Burnaby Central High School in 2008, they both went to Mcgill University to study business. Living in residence and yearning for a home-cooked meal, they made red Thai curry but had to buy too much of some ingredients and forgo others—which would provide the germ of a business idea down the road. In 2010, they transferred to UBC, where Rahemtulla obtained a BA in philosophy in 2012 and Sood a Bcomm with a double concentration in finance and logistics in 2013.
Right after graduation, Rahemtulla, who had been playing poker professionally since 2011, took over the management of his family's hotels on Vancouver Island while his father was being treated for cancer, which reignited his interest in business. In spring 2014 he met Sood, who was working as a research assistant for financial planning firm Raymond James Ltd. in Vancouver, for sushi. Bouncing around ideas, they remembered the Thai curry and discussed creating a company that would provide the exact ingredients needed to make a single meal. The following January, they launched Fresh Prep.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Starting small with just Rahemtulla, Sood and their childhood friend Becky Switzer (now Brauer), by February the East Vancouver–based company had grown to 102 employees and 35 contract workers serving more than 7,000 customers from Squamish to Abbotsford, with plans to expand across Canada. Revenue was $3 million in 2017 and is projected to hit $12 million this year. To reduce packaging waste, Fresh Prep delivers meals in reusable cooler bags that it retrieves when delivering the next order. –F.S.
LIFE STORY: Entrepreneurship runs in the family for Foster Coulson. His grandfather, Cliff Coulson, founded Coulson Forest Products ( in 1960. With help from Foster's father, Wayne,
grew into the Port Alberni–based Coulson Group of Companies, whose holdings include an aviation division. The younger Coulson, who didn't attend university, started out in the forest products division in 2007, bucking and scaling logs. In 2010 he and his dad founded a business that manufactured environmentally friendly Western red cedar siding and soffiting by gluing a thin layer of the increasingly scarce wood to a backing.
In 2012, Coulson Group bought the intellectual property rights to an iceblasting technology for industrial cleaning developed by a bankrupt Washington State company. With his father as Coulson co-founded Coulson Ice Blast in 2016, obtaining funding from the National Research Council's Industrial Research Assistance Program ( Recruiting five engineers, he led a complete redesign of the technology and secured Canadian patents. The company released its first product last year, when Coulson Group sold the lumber manufacturing business to Langley-based San Group Inc.
The Icestorm90 uses 95 percent less water than a pressure washer and is 90 percent cheaper to run than a dry-ice blaster, maintains Coulson, who also works in the aviation division with his older brother, Britton, and has two young children. And it's much safer and cheaper than abrasive blasting, the other major industrial cleaning technology, he says. “Our primary patent claim is blasting with ice through a pressurized hose,” explains Coulson, noting that European and U.S. patents are pending. “That pretty much eliminates any competition we're going to have in the marketplace, which is pretty special because this is a multibillion-dollar industry.” Last fall, the Icestorm90 was named one of the most innovative new products of 2017 at the 100 Awards in Orlando, Florida.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Coulson Ice Blast's current system, which is assembled in Port Alberni and sells for US$35,000, is for heavy industrial use. Coulson, who expects 2018 revenue to be in the low seven figures, thinks sales will grow significantly when his team releases a new product line this June. The company has a deal with U.S. giant Reddy Ice Holdings Inc. that sees it collect 40 percent of revenue on each pound of ice sold to Ice Blast customers, Coulson says. It's also talking to corporations such as Ford Motor Co. and Royal Dutch Shell about adopting its technology, he adds. “We really are disrupting an industry that has seen no innovation in 40 years.” –N.R.
LIFE STORY: Julius Makarewicz is nothing if not persistent. The Powell River native, whose parents left Poland when it was under martial law, dropped out of university because he felt he had to get out in the world to learn. Makarewicz, who originally came to Vancouver to attend SFU, badgered the HR department at customer research firm Vision Critical Communications Inc. until they gave him a job in sales. After working for a few other companies, he saw a gap in the adult beverage market; in 2015 he started working on a low-calorie, sugar-free, gluten-free vodka cooler.
The product (available in lime, cucumber mint and strawberry kiwi, with another flavour in the works) took B.C. private stores by storm, bringing a few competitors into the market on the way. “We're the first unsweetened alcoholic beverage in B.C., but since we've launched, there are more coming to market as a direct result of us,” Makarewicz says. “They see how well we're doing.” After more tireless work, Makarewicz got Nude Vodka Soda on BC Liquor Stores shelves this March.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Since it launched last July, Nude Vodka Soda has sold some 24,000 24-packs through the private channel in B.C., posting more than $1.3 million in sales. The company has three full-time employees and four contract staff. –N.C. LIFE STORY: Qayyum Rajan was born in Vancouver, but he took a global outlook from a very young age. He was just two weeks old when his parents moved his family to Kenya, where he grew up before returning to Canada as a teenager. Food and finance are Rajan's lifelong passions. His parents ran a Nairobi butcher shop and bistro, and he started trading stocks in Kenya when he was just 12. “I've always been a bit of a finance nerd,” he says.
A bachelor of business management with a finance specialization from UBC in 2015 led to jobs at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, RBC Dominion Securities and Sentry Investments, but Rajan spent his own time learning about data science and blockchain, the distributed digital ledger behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. With Matthias Kucharska- Huelsmann, Alex Schumacher and Matthew Unger, he founded icomply Investor Services (icomplyico) last August. The Vancouver-based company aims to automate and streamline regulatory compliance processes for digital securities such as cryptocurrencies. Long-term, Rajan wants to help create opportunities for blockchain-based technology to mobilize capital, especially in developing countries like Kenya that lack sound financial infrastructure.
THE BOTTOM LINE: icomplyico has grown from a team of four to 15 and launched its automated compliance platform, digital identity tool and a private white-label product. The firm has closed two angel investment rounds, one from Uber Technologies Inc.'s first engineer, Conrad Whelan. –D.H.