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Former Entourage star Adrian Grenier (Peter Bregg/PETER BREGG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Former Entourage star Adrian Grenier (Peter Bregg/PETER BREGG FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Small Business Briefing

Entourage star Adrian Grenier brews new startup Add to ...

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Churchkey Can Co. launches nostalgic beer can design

Beer cans of yore have been revived by an unlikely candidate -- former Entourage star Adrian Grenier.

Mr. Grenier has teamed up with former Nike designer Justin Hawkins and two longtime homebrewers to co-found Churchkey Can Co., a Seattle-based brewery, reports TechCrunch.

The company is named after the sharp-ended mid-century can opener called a churchkey. It's banking on nostalgia for the flat-topped steel can that was in vogue from the 1930s to the 1960s, before it was replaced by the now ubiquitous tabbed can.

Churckey's cans, which contain a traditional-style Pilsner, are made from fully recyclable steel, which keeps the beer fresher. They also the most highest recycled of any food packaging,at 66 per cent; by comparison, aluminum cans are recycled approximately 58 per cent of the time.

So far, Churchkey has a limited distribution network centred around Seattle, and Portland, Ore. The company hopes to expand its operations, but says it is focusing on the local markets to begin, as the Pacific Northwest is a hotbed for craft brewing and sales have already been brisk.

Startup aims to give lift to ski resorts

San Francisco tech startup Liftopia will be making up-to-the-minute ticket price changes easier for ski resorts in the coming winter-sport season by offering its new "Cloud Store by Liftopia" for free to any ski resort that wants to use it. The platform allows for mobile purchasing of lift tickets, using a variable pricing platofrm similar to how airlines, hotels and car rentals are sold, reports TechCrunch.

One of the key benefits of the cloud-based system is to allow resorts more control over their ticket prices, giving ski destinations the ability to adjust their prices on the fly, attracting customers with discounts on poor skiing days and full-price lift tickets on days with ideal conditions. The system is powered by the same platform that Liftopia has already been using to sell tickets online, but the updates to the system allow individual resorts to integrate the code into their own website, with their branding.

Liftopia started the project with a pilot program of 15 resorts in North America and the company says the participating resorts grew their Liftopia revenue by as much as 12 times year-over-year. Though the use of the ticket selling platform is being offered for free, Liftopia does take a cut of the tickets sold through the service through a sliding revenue share based on the volume of tickets sold.

Small business key to future B.C. success, says B.C. Conservative leader

In a Vancouver Sun editorial on Friday, John Cummins, the leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, outlined the need for small business support in the province. B.C. lags behind many of the other Western provinces in employment while simultaneously holding one of the highest cost of living figures.

Mr. Cummins pointed out that 57 per cent of the private-sector workforce in B.C. is employed by small businesses, who do not have the same access to lobbying as multi-national conglomerates. Small businesses, Mr. Cummins said, have been stung by being left out of policy discussions surrounding minimum wage hikes, cancelling the small business tax cut and the B.C. carbon tax, and should have their voices heard in all policy discussions.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

PACE Yourself E-Marketing Workshop

This one-day intensive workshop aims to help small-business owners improve their business-to-business networking skills and funnel higher volumes of sales leads based on online marketing. It kicks off Thursday in Burnaby, B.C. and promises to offer resources relating to inbound marketing sysems and real-time tracking and business analytics. To register or find out more about the event, visit the event listing.

Toronto Talks presents Jumpstart Your Sales

In the latest in this series of workshops featuring industry experts, Toronto Talks will be joined by internation business speaker and trainer Eric Lofholm on May 8. Mr. Lofholm will be speaking about a number of business topics, including networking and way to generate and convert leads. Tickets are $35 in advance, and $45 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets to the event, visit the Toronto Talks website.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Startup aims to make selling online simpler and cheaper

Entrepreneur Katherine Hague has created ShopLocket, a simple resource for entrepreneurs looking for an online marketplace. The simple, low-cost site allows retailers to upload a few sentences about their product, as well as an image, and has already attracted some 1,200 users, writes columnist Mark Evans,

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

One for the revolution, please

Having grown his business from a simple scalping venture to ShowTime Tickets, Canada's largest ticket broker, entrepreneur Mario Livich was readying himself for a new fight against entertainment giant TicketMaster in this Nov. 18, 2009, story by Grant Robertson.

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