StartUp Canada Awards celebrate Yukon entrepeneurs!

This past Saturday, Yukonstruct hosted the annual Startup Canada Awards – North Region program. The event took place at NorthLight Innovation – home to Whitehorse’s key entrepreneur support organizations, Yukonstruct Society and Yukon College’s Cold Climate Innovation. Recently outfitted with art by local artists and full of inspiring energy, the venue was the perfect backdrop for the evening’s celebration.

Yukonstruct team with Honourable Larry Bagnell, MP for Yukon; Chief Richard Sidney; Minister of Economic Development, Ranj Pillai; Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award winner Charlie Fiddler


A candid roundtable discussion with award recipients, local and national corporate partners, and key leaders in the North, got the night off to a productive and thought-provoking start. Participants discussed the state of entrepreneurship in the North and how entrepreneurs can best be supported. Key takeaways included:

• Importance of training and support for entrepreneurs (e.g. financial literacy, etc.);
• Importance of developing strong partnerships in order to start and scale businesses;
• Need for government to back existing organizations that already support, entrepreneurs, rather than create new programs.

During the reception, attendees enjoyed the incredible beer and award-winning cocktails served up by Yukon Brewing, and gourmet catering by the Wandering Bison. Guests also had a chance to check out artisan goods produced by some of the creative entrepreneurs working out of Yukonstruct’s Makespace at the Makers’ Market, held in the NorthwesTel Event Space.

Reception and Makers’ Market in the NorthwesTel Event Space.

The Awards ceremony kicked off after the reception and was hosted by the dynamic Lauren Manekin Beille from Yukon College’s Cold Climate Innovation. A passionate community builder, Lauren set an engaging and charming tone. Government attendees included the Honourable Larry Bagnell, MP for Yukon; Mayor Dan Curtis; and the Honourable Angelique Bernard, Commissioner of Yukon.

Winners and presenters of this year’s StartUp Canada Awards – North Region

The winners of this year’s StartUp Canada awards were:

Ranj Pillai – Startup Canada Entrepreneur Promotion Award
däna Näye Ventures – Startup Canada Entrepreneur Support Award
UasaU Soap – Startup Canada Entrepreneur’s Choice Award
Make I.T. Solutions – Startup Canada Global Entrepreneurship Award
Proof – Startup Canada Innovation Award
Arctic Fresh – Startup Canada Social Enterprise Award
Antoinette’s Restaurant – Startup Canada Women Entrepreneur Award
Charlie Fiddler – Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur Award
Outpost 31 Media – Startup Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Neil MacDonald, Jayden Soroka, David Hamelin

The ceremony included plenty of laughs, heartfelt speeches, and a few joyful tears by the amazing winners who continue to impact entrepreneurship in Canada.

Yukonstruct is honoured and humbled to celebrate the creative, hardworking, and inspiring entrepreneurs that make up this lively community.

Check out the pictures of the event here!

Philip Fitzgerald CFO, Northern Vision Development; Minister of Economic Development, Ranj Pillai

And a BIG thank you to our local sponsors for making these events possible!



Firebean Coffee coming to YuKonstruct!

In the wake of a successful visit from Small Business and Tourism Federal Minister Bardish Chagger, the YuKonstruct Makerspace and (co)space Team are hitting the streets with opportunities for the community to put their names behind the awesome work going on within our walls.

firebean coffee

Mike and Sarah Russo, founders and owners of Firebean Coffee Roasters, are no strangers to the hottest word in Whitehorse now – INNOVATION. Firebean Coffee Roasters offers organic, fair trade coffee, wood-fire roasted with a pedal-powered roasting machine.

They are also our newest organization-wide sponsors; all our members can look forward to being fueled exclusively on this java at the makerspace and coworking spaces!

The Firebean Coffee Roaster’s story is an example of the sort of initiatives we are championing at YuKonstruct. Mike and Sarah moved back to Whitehorse for the Yukon lifestyle and people. As many Yukoners are aware, life in the territory offers the freedom to have an ideal work-life balance.

They have been “boostrapping from the beginning.” The Russos started hand spinning coffee over an open fire to learn how the beans behave. Family and friends started ordering and they quickly needed a larger operation to keep up. They bought an old pizza oven at a flee market, outfitted it with a drum and, after a little trial and error, connected it to an old stationary bike et voila!

Their coffee is brought to you practically footprint free! The bike spins the drum that the beans are tumbling in over a hard wood fire. In just a short time of pedaling, the roast is ready.

Like for all of our entrepreneurs, the journey was not without its share of mishaps and learning experiences, but it’s paying for itself now and there is an awesome buzz around town (check out the recent What’s Up Yukon article).

“I think we can keep going and we are inspired to share this with more people which is why the partnership with YuKonstruct and Start Up Whitehorse (managed by (co)space) is so excitng. Maybe this can inspire others because we’re doing something unorthodox. Who pedals for their coffee when you can get a commercial roasting machine? We do! So maybe someone else will be inspired by the bootstrapping side of this.” – Mike Russo

Mike Russo


  2180, 2nd Avenue, Whitehorse
  (867) 457-0150
  [email protected]

NorthLight Innovation
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We acknowledge that we live, work and create within the traditional territories of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council.