Spirit Award Winners… Where are they now?

February 26, 2019

​On March 6, The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce will celebrate 22 outstanding local organizations at the 10th annual Spirit of Winnipeg Awards Gala. The Spirit Awards were first held in 2010, and has grown to become one of the most highly anticipated events of the year.

So what does it mean to win a Spirit of Winnipeg Award? We caught up with three Spirit winners from past years to let them answer that question, and to see what they’ve been up to since winning their award!

Peg City Car Co-Op
Winner: Rising Star, 2017
What was the significance of being recognized with this award? What did it mean to you or to the organization?
As a small community based organization it was really important for us to be recognized by The Chamber and the business community at large in Winnipeg. We want more people to see that businesses with alternative economic models (e.g. consumer co-op) can succeed!
Speaking to the award ceremony itself, it was honour to stand up in front of Winnipeg’s business community and accept an award that recognizes the great work we are doing in Winnipeg to reduce automobile dependence.
Why do you feel the Spirit of Winnipeg Awards are an important event for Winnipeg’s business community?
As a small business we are often too busy struggling with the day-to-day operations to remember that there is a broader business community out there working to make Winnipeg a better place. The Spirit Award is a great chance to think beyond the day-to-day and to build new relationships within the business community. It’s also nice to take a moment to recognize the great work your business is doing!
How has your organization grown from the time that you won the award until now?
Two years ago Peg City Car Co-op had a fleet of 21 vehicles. Today we have a fleet of 34 vehicles.  This is a 60% growth rate in two years! As we grow and increase our marketing budget and brand awareness we are seeing that more and more people are willing to consider carsharing as an alternative to car ownership.Since winning the Spirit Award, we also added more diversity to our fleet. Our fleet now has three minivans, two pickup trucks and one cargo van. Our goal with vehicle diversification is to help serve our existing members better and to also to entice people looking for a second vehicle option to sign up.We are also excited to announce that we were able to raise $300,000 in capital through the Community Economic Development Tax Credit. The CED Tax Credit is a government funded program that provides a 45% refundable tax credit to those who invest in an eligible. The generous tax credit provided by the government allows small business like ours to reach out to our community to help us build equity.

What’s next for your organization?
Based on our current member growth projections, we expect to reach a fleet size of 40 vehicles by the end of this calendar year and 50 vehicles by 2020. From there, we hope to double our fleet to 100 in three years.We are also working with our various partners to continue to improve our technological capacity. In the next 12 months we hope to develop a mobile app and the ability for members to access our vehicle via Bluetooth on their phones. Bluetooth vehicle entry would mean that members would no longer need to use a fob to enter our vehicles. We also hope that developing an app will improve our user experience through real time reminders and troubleshooting.

Bold Commerce
Winner: Start-Up, 2015
What was the significance of being recognized with this award? What did it mean to you or to the organization?
This award was actually the first time our company had ever been recognized in a large way like this. We had essentially just been heads down for two years prior trying to build products that added value to online merchants and see if we could make this business go. Looking back at this award, I think it was the first time we “came up for air” and realized that we weren’t just building products, we were building an amazing company.
Getting that award, and the peer recognition, really lit a fire under us to keep going and take it to the next level. Reflecting back on it, we were with some other amazing companies too. Skip the Dishes was nominated in the same group as us. I guess you could say the Spirit of Winnipeg “Class of 2015” turned out pretty well!
Why do you feel the Spirit of Winnipeg Awards are an important event for Winnipeg’s business community?
I am a firm believer that Bold is successful not in spite of being in Winnipeg, but because of it! I think Spirit awards are important because it’s crucial to see, surround yourself with, and celebrate success in Winnipeg. We’re tired of people saying you can’t build a world class company in Winnipeg. We’re doing it!

Some other reasons we feel they are an important event for Winnipeg’s business community:

• An opportunity to recognize and celebrate some of the innovative businesses that are working tirelessly to make Winnipeg a better, smarter, more fun place to live and work.
• An opportunity to bring awareness to some of the organizations that are bringing about positive changes in the areas of technology, environment, social change and more – and learning how we can contribute to that.
• An opportunity to connect and network with key players in the industry, who can work together to bring even more value and encourage growth in our city

How has your organization grown from the time that you won the award until now?
Our little “startup” has come a long way! In 2015, we were a company of 61. Today, we’ve grown to 280+. We’ve outgrown multiple offices (including makeshift home offices and commercial garages), and have no plans of stopping. In January, we were pleased to share the news of our $22 million raise by the way of Series A Financing. The funds will be used to accelerate significant growth in our lineup of e-commerce apps and artificial intelligence-based commerce solutions.

On top of this, one of the key metrics we care about is how many merchants we have helped succeed. In 2014 we had just cracked the 10,000 mark, and today, we’re proud to say we’ve supported over 100,000 merchants succeed on multiple platforms.

What’s next for your organization?
We’re quickly outgrowing our physical space and are excited to announce that will be opening a third office at the Smartpark Research and Technology Park. Smartpark has a vision to build a community of innovators on the doorstep of the University of Manitoba – something we’re honoured to be a part of. We look forward to the opportunity to work in such close proximity to progressive leaders in the areas of information and communications technology, engineering and advanced materials and more.

Using our recent funding we have ambitious plans to hire over 200 developers, designers, analysts, scientists and sales staff over the next 18 months. Our recruitment plan includes both local and cross-country hiring, as well as international recruitment. We’re planning a trip to Paris, France this spring to scout some of the world’s best talent in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

From a product standpoint, although we’ve seen a ton of growth in people, buildings etc., we’ve become significantly more focused than ever on solving core problems that merchants face when selling online. Our goal for the future is simply to continue what we’ve started and to enable commerce everywhere.

Siloam Mission
Winner: Charity, 2012
What was the significance of being recognized with this award? What did it mean to you or to the organization?
The Spirit of Winnipeg Awards is all about honouring local organizations making a difference, and making a difference is the sole reason Siloam Mission exists. To be recognized for our efforts by a longstanding and respected institution such as The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce is a huge honour. We are grateful and humbled, and promise to live up to this recognition by continuing to provide the much-needed care and services to those most in need in Winnipeg’s core.
Why do you feel the Spirit of Winnipeg Awards are an important event for Winnipeg’s business community?
The Spirit of Winnipeg Awards provides insights to Winnipeggers on what businesses and organizations they can trust. As a non-profit organization serving Winnipeg’s homeless population, we are not alone in our efforts, so to be recognized as an upstanding organization worthy of public support is priceless to our efforts to help those in need.
How has your organization grown from the time that you won the award until now?
Since Siloam Mission received the Spirit of Winnipeg Award in 2012, we have done nothing but grow! We were able to renovate – The Madison – our supportive living facility in Wolseley which is home to 88 people who have transitioned out of homelessness. We have expanded existing programs and added new programs including transition services, spiritual care, mental health support, art therapy, as well as our on-site health centre.
What’s next for your organization?
In 2018, Siloam Mission announced the Make Room In Your Heart Capital Campaign – a $19 Million expansion project set for completion in Spring of 2020. The campaign is to fund a 54,000 square foot addition which will be home to more shelter space – including a dedicated and separate space for women – as well as more room for transition services, health centre, and a new social enterprise laundry service to create job training and income for those transitioning out of homelessness.

Phase one of the project is already complete in the form of a brand new Drop In Centre and kitchen that can serve 450 people at a time – a big step up from 150 in the old drop-in!To date we have raised 90% of the funds needed to complete the project – if you are able, please consider donating at www.siloammakeroom.ca