Teresa Sanders, owner of FILL Vernon’s Refill Store, holds her award after winning first place in the 2019 Community Futures North Okanagan’s Enterprize Challenge competition. <ins>Sanders is now a finalist for a Small Business BC award.</ins> (Photo submitted)

Teresa Sanders, owner of FILL Vernon’s Refill Store, holds her award after winning first place in the 2019 Community Futures North Okanagan’s Enterprize Challenge competition. Sanders is now a finalist for a Small Business BC award. (Photo submitted)

Vernon companies up for provincial honours

FILL and Numu Technologies are among finalists for Small Business BC awards

One uses data to help businesses grow their profits, the other uses jugs of household products to help people refill containers and keep plastics out of landfills.

Both are Enterprize Challenge alumni and both have been nominated for a Small Business BC Award.

FILL Vernon’s Refill Store has been nominated in the Best Community Impact and Best Innovation categories and NUMU Technologies has been nominated in the category of Best Innovation.

The Small Business BC Awards is a high-profile provincewide awards competition that also sees Vernon’s Pillow Talk Studios (Best Youth Entrepreneur), Sundance Martial Arts Ltd. and Summit Tiny Homes (Premier’s People’s Choice) named among the nominees.

FILL owner Teresa Sanders and NUMU owner Mitchal Derksen are no strangers to business competitions. Both participated in Community Futures North Okanagan’s Enterprize Challenge, a local business competition designed to give entrepreneurs a head start as they compete for more than $35,000 in prizes.

Derksen participated in Enterprize Challenge in 2018 with a dream of helping small and medium-sized businesses make better growth decisions and improve revenue with data and insights — the kind large companies have entire departments of analysts to support. After going through the competition, his focus shifted beyond offering a service and toward developing software to make “helpful data” even more accessible to a wider market.

“We feel very strongly that the work we do is innovative and helpful for clients, so we’re very excited to be included in a category that lets us celebrate that,” says Derksen, adding given the current business climate, NUMU’s work has been especially rewarding. “Forecasting cashflow helps develop resiliency so you can get through this and get through it stronger.”

Fellow Enterprize alumni Sanders and her store, FILL, are helping businesses cope with COVID-19 with natural hand sanitizer she created last year, and the store’s passionate community of “refillers” of everything from shampoos to laundry soap is also growing. After winning the 2019 competition, Sanders opened her refill store in December 2019, and recently celebrated 100,000 plastics saved.

“I am super excited to be recognized for this award and am touched that our community continues to see the value of saving plastic and our earth,” says Sanders. “FILL couldn’t save so much plastic without the support of the community. I never could have dreamed that the community would get so behind our little store.”

FILL has since expanded to open a new storefront in Kelowna.

CF North Okanagan wanted to draw attention to these nominations both to celebrate their achievements and to encourage the public to support them by voting. The public can vote for businesses until March 7 to help deserving nominees receive this special recognition at smallbusinessbc.ca/awards/

Excitement is also building for the 2021 Enterprize Challenge. A total of 23 participants are now in the learning stages as they work toward creating a promising business and a compelling pitch for judges. Derksen is among the one-to-one mentors supporting participants along the way.

On April 28, the finalists’ pitch, awards and challenger showcase will be live-streamed from the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, and the public can get tickets via Eventbrite.

READ MORE: Zeroes speak volumes for Okanagan businesses

READ MORE: Enterprize Challenge gives North Okanagan businesses a boost



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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