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SMALL BUSINESS CHALLENGE

Voting is closed for the $100,000 Small Business Challenge

This year, a record 3,400 companies from across Canada entered the Small Business Challenge contest. Here are the semi-finalists, as chosen by a panel of judges. The winner of the $100,000 grant – plus a suite of secondary prizes – will be announced in September. Judges will take into account the five finalists' original contest submissions, live pitches and online vote scores before making their final decision in September.

Click on the images below to learn more about our contenders before casting your vote:



Josie Rudderham, left and Nicole Miller opened Cake and Loaf Bakery in Hamilton five years ago this August.

Josie Rudderham, left and Nicole Miller opened Cake and Loaf Bakery in Hamilton five years ago this August.

GLENN LOWSON FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Cake & Loaf Bakery Ltd.

Cake and Loaf Bakery in Hamilton, Ont., has become a destination for people looking for creatively-made baked goods produced from scratch using local ingredients. Founders Josie Rudderham and Nicole Miller started the business six years ago because they were both "really jaded about bakeries, which were using a lot of frozen products and turning bakeries into factories." Today they have two locations but would like to create a public space for baking classes and community events.

Bakery a sweet success for pastry-school pals
Josie Rudderham and Nicole Miller bought a house that serves as a storefront and artisanal kitchen in Hamilton



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From left, Jackson Wyatt, Morgan Wyatt and Adil Qawi of Autom River Inc. are seen at their offices in Toronto.

From left, Jackson Wyatt, Morgan Wyatt and Adil Qawi of Autom River Inc. are seen at their offices in Toronto.

Kevin Van Paassen FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Autom River Inc.

After being grossed out by the organic waste bin in their home, brothers Morgan and Jackson Wyatt developed Greenlid, a composting bin made from the same type of cardboard used in most egg cartons. They appeared on Dragons' Den and secured enough money to kickstart their business, Toronto-based Autom River Inc., and Greenlid is now available in big Canadian retailers such as Sobeys and Canadian Tire. But now the brothers want to make a larger, family-size bin that would expand their market.

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A compostable solution to messy organic bins
Gross can be good sometimes, especially when it leads to a great business idea.

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Tyson Leavitt, CEO, craftsman and builder of Charmed Playhouses and his wife Audrey design and build luxury children playhouses in Lethbridge, Alberta.

Tyson Leavitt, CEO, craftsman and builder of Charmed Playhouses and his wife Audrey design and build luxury children playhouses in Lethbridge, Alberta.

CHRIS BOLIN FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Charmed Playhouses Inc.

When Tyson Leavitt built a playhouse two years ago as a present for his daughter, he had no idea the fantastical structure would lead to a business venture. Mr. Leavitt and his wife started Lethbridge, Alta.-based Charmed Playhouses Inc. in 2015, and within months sold their landscaping business. The custom-made playhouses start at $7,500, with some high-profile future projects expected to generate a flood of business that Mr. Leavitt will need to prepare for.

Playhouse creator lays a foundation for success
Alberta-based Tyson Leavitt uses same interior finishes you’d find in a real home

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Joshua Linde is the director of sales for Walter Craft Caesar Mix.

Joshua Linde is the director of sales for Walter Craft Caesar Mix.

KEVIN VAN PAASSEN FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Brutus Beverages Inc.

Zack Silverman and Aaron Harowitz know cocktails. When they decided to start a business, it made sense to develop a much-needed enhancement to a highly popular, made-in-Canada cocktail: the Caesar. "Everybody was using the same mix," Mr. Silverman said. They came up with a recipe using all-natural ingredients, and Vancouver-based Brutus Beverages and its star product, Walter Craft Caesar Mix, was launched in 2013. Now the founders' goal is to put Walter in major grocery stores across Canada.

Cocktail fans build a better Caesar mix
‘We realized that everybody was using the same mix, a product made in the U.S.,’ say B.C.-based entrepreneurs

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Elize Shirdel, is the founder and CEO of DateNight Babysitting.

Elize Shirdel, is the founder and CEO of DateNight Babysitting.

JENNIFER ROBERTS FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL

DateNight Babysitting Inc.

Need someone to watch the kids for a few hours? If you live in Toronto or Ottawa, Elize Shirdel can connect you to a couple hundred potential babysitters in the city. She launched DateNight, an online platform that matches parents with babysitters, two years ago. The concept is simple: Families who register with DateNight get access to babysitters who have been interviewed via Skype and approved for listing by the company. Now she wants to expand into Vancouver, improve her online platform and hire a manager.

Startup links babysitters, parents
Families who register on the DateNight site get access to sitters who have been approved for listing

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