Amy Dopson won $10

ThriveNorth opens applications for business challenge

With Futurpreneur Canada’s ThriveNorth Business Challenge, the young and ambitious aren’t discouraged from taking risks

Prince Rupert entrepreneur Amy Dopson carries a bit of a chip on her shoulder.

But it’s part of the reason she’s become one of the most successful business owners not only on the North Coast, but in the entire province of B.C.

Winning the distinction of being named BC Business’ ‘30 under 30’ in 2014 and more recently the grand prize winner of $10,000 for Best Growth Opportunity from the 2015 ThriveNorth Business Challenge, which had over 50 entries from entrepreneurs of new or existing businesses, Dopson has seen no shortage of success, despite her initial doubters telling her she was “too young” or “inexperienced” when she started PAC 10 Educational Services Inc., a  tutoring and education-focused business, in her early 20s in 2009.

“I used that doubt to help fuel my ambition and go forward,” said Dopson last week.

Now, the climate of support has changed. With Futurpreneur Canada’s ThriveNorth Business Challenge, the young and ambitious aren’t discouraged from taking risks, but supported through a vast network of mentors, peers and those who have been in their shoes.

“I have [ThriveNorth’s] support now, but I wish I had that support when I started,” said Dopson, who had the confidence of friends, family and North Coast investment company TRICORP, but not much elsewhere.

“There are roundtables, there are different focus groups and things where entrepreneurs can come together and get advice from other entrepreneurs, as well as mentors. [That’s] vital for someone starting out … It’s reassuring that you’re not the only one going through this. The world feels really small, especially when you’re so focused on what you’re doing, you forget that there are other people going through the same thing, and it’s very easy to reach out to them and have that back-and-forth support,” she said.

Dopson’s PAC 10 has grown exponentially and is known for incorporating interactive technology, like touch screens, Smartboards and more and works with students from the early ages all the way to college and university, and even adults upgrading skills.

“Our overall mandate is to make learning enjoyable and fun and not something you have to do … We have big, glass dining room tables that we can use markers on, so kids love being able to write on our tables. They can do things at our centre that they can’t get away with doing at home,” said Dopson.

This year’s ThriveNorth Business Challenge includes three categories – Best New Business, Best New Social Enterprise and Best Growth Opportunity, and entrants have the chance to win a $10,000 grand prize or a $2,500 runner-up prize.

With the funds she won last year, Dopson recruited more educational specialists and is in the process of trying to acquire even more technology-based systems (so grand that she’s having trouble finding the right shippers able to transport it to the Prince Rupert offices with insurance covered).

Applications for the challenge can be found at http://www.futurpreneur.ca/en/microsites/thrivenorth/business-challenge/ and the deadline for applying is Feb. 29.

“They say it takes a community to raise a child, it also takes a community to support a business. If you don’t have that support, then you’re not going to thrive,” said Dopson.

“I’ve been so lucky and blessed to have people take a chance on me and I’ve just continued to grow.”