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Atlantic Canada coffee idea gets business development cash

A good cup of coffee might be the cure-all for a nasty weekend hangover, but apparently it's a pretty sound idea for a business, too.

That's what 27-year-old Zane Kelsall proved after winning The Business Development Bank of Canada 2012 Young Entrepeneur Award today, which carries with it a grand prize for innovation of $100,000.

Two If By Sea Cafe, the name of Mr. Kelsall's two Nova Scotia coffee shops, is planning to open its own roastery, with the hopes of buying beans directly from farmers in Central and South America. By cutting out the middleman, Two If By Sea Cafe will have better control over the source of its coffee beans – ensuring the beans are sustainably and ethically grown – through a process known as "direct trade buying."

But Mr. Kelsall's plan doesn't end there. The next step is to sell these beans through his Anchored Coffee brand to other independent shops across Canada.

In second place, British Columbia's Mike Miltimore has designed and built an entirely new type of guitar – one that improves upon the traditional instrument's design with a stronger neck. By eliminating tension, his Riversong guitars are said to produce a better sound. Mr. Miltimore plans to use his $25,000 award to scale up the size and speed of his manufacturing operation, with the hope of producing 320 guitars a month.

New Internet domains coming .soon

After years of fighting for elusive .com domains, small businesses and entrepreneurs may soon have a wider range of online choices to choose from.

The Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the U.S.-based nonprofit organization that regulates the Internet, began accepting applications for new domain endings earlier this year at $185,000 for each  domain.

This includes common phrases such as .app and .home, in addition to corporate interests ranging from .canon to .youtube. At an annual ICANN event in Prague this weekend, the Wall Street Journal spoke to applicants about their plans for the new endings – many of which will eventually be sold back to average Internet users alongside more traditional options.

A popular pizzeria might soon be able to register a .pizza domain, or a local veterinarian could opt for .dog.

Applicants submitted a total of 1,930 applications for new Web address endings earlier this year, which ICANN is expected to begin evaluating next month. However, it is still unclear when final selections will be made.

BuildDirect gets $16-million from OMERS Ventures

For those working in contracting and trades, BuildDirect is like the Amazon of heavy building materials, which sells its range of industrial products exclusively online. But after a $16-million investment from OMERS Ventures, it looks as if that range is about to get a little wider.

The deal, announced today, means BuildDirect will be able expand its customer base even further, with a more extensive line of products for workers in more fields. Founded in 1999 in Vancouver, the company says customers have doubled in the last 12 months, and the hope is that OMERS Ventures' investment will help carry that momentum forward.

While the rest of the raw materials industry has apparently lagged in e-commerce adoption, BuildDirect has managed to streamline its relationship with supply chain partners and shippers over the years to offer products more efficiently – and cheaply – online.


York Region small business Tweetup

For entrepreneurs in the Newmarket, Ont., area, the York Region Small Business Club (YRSBiz) will be holding its first Tweetup on July 3. The event is free to attend, and meant as an opportunity to connect small business owners and entrepreneurs in York Region, both online and in the offline world. The club says this will be the first of many events planned throughout the coming months, with more information available on the YRSBiz website.

Small business hiring webinar

If you're new to hiring employees, the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) is holding a webinar this Wednesday with advice. Chris Hylton will be leading the session, with plans to discuss the interview process, checking references, making an offer and orientation. For more information and to register online, visit the CYBF's website here.


Countries make pitch for Canada's startup talent

Brendan Fay doesn't see himself as a poacher – rather, as a preacher of opportunity. The development adviser for Enterprise Ireland is just one of many global companies looking to woo Canada's tech-savvy entrepreneurs to foreign countries, as the Canadian government' devises its own entrepreneurial-minded immigration strategy.


There was a time when independent cafés were on life-support, writes Jane Armstrong, but coffee chains from Starbucks to Second Cup have seen a resurgence of independent vendors brazenly taking on their big-bean competitors – spurred, not only by demand for richer, more flavourful coffee, but a desire to know from where their beans are sourced.

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