KPU alumni get boost from Coast Capital Savings in Dragons' Den-style competition

Thu, Sep 1, 2016

Surrey, B.C. – Three recently graduated alumni from Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) are starting their careers with some startup capital thanks to Coast Capital Savings.

Launched late last year, the Coast Capital Savings Youth Entrepreneurship Award (CCSYEA) was created to support KPU students and alumni who have the ideas, talent and skills to start their own business, and are looking for the financial support to realize their entrepreneurial goals.

For Cloverdale’s Michael Morris, top recipient of the CCSYEA, the $5,000 will help him and his business partner take Tailwind Energy Group Co.’s sustainability initiatives to the next level. The company upgrades and retrofits industrial buildings with exterior LED lighting that reduces costs and environmental impact.

"The Coast Capital Savings Youth Entrepreneurship Award means a lot to us at Tailwind Energy Group. While the monetary award will go a long way towards setting our business up for success, it means more to us than just money. Coast Capital Savings is working with us to hone and perfect our business plan and financial reporting systems, which is a huge benefit to us. Having access to that field of expertise is worth so much to us, especially as we are developing our business foundations,” said Morris, who serves as director of operations for the company, and graduated with an arts degree in policy studies from KPU this spring.

In a competition similar to CBC’s Dragons’ Den, participants from three KPU faculties and four programs pitched their business proposals to an experienced panel of representatives from KPU and Coast Capital Savings.

KPU alumni David Hunt, of South Surrey, and Tabitha Swanson, who lives in Fraser Heights, secured a $2,500 award as the competition’s runners-up for their startup Forte Marketing, a research-based creative marketing firm they founded during their marketing practicum experience at KPU.

“We are absolutely honoured to be one of the recipients of this award. Creating a company has been quite the journey, and full of many learning experiences. We're thankful to both KPU and Coast Capital Savings for being a part of this adventure and aiding in both the growth of our company and ourselves,” said Swanson.

The inaugural recipient of the CCSYEA was announced in January of this year. The spring edition was able to engage three times as many young entrepreneurs, who were selected in part for the strength of their business ideas and presentation skills. Tailwind Energy Group in particular impressed because of its commitment to local and global social responsibility.

“Congratulations to the finalists of this year’s Coast Capital Savings Youth Entrepreneur Awards. These individuals who share the same level of passion and innovation that Coast Capital Savings was founded on 76 years ago,” said Don Coulter, president and CEO of Coast Capital Savings. “Our partnership with KPU reflects our desire to help emerging entrepreneurs get their small businesses off the ground because we know that small businesses contribute significantly to the success of our communities.”

The $7,500 awarded this spring will enable both companies to enhance their marketing efforts, and bring their budding businesses to wider audiences.

“We are grateful to Coast Capital Savings for recognizing some of our brightest young entrepreneurs with this opportunity, and also incredibly proud of the work shown by our students and alumni,” said Steve Lewarne, KPU’s executive director of advancement, and CEO of the KPU Foundation.

The Coast Capital Savings Youth Entrepreneurship Award will be offered again next spring. For more information, visit

About the KPU Foundation
The KPU Foundation builds community and corporate partnerships that benefit students, support faculty and enhance education. Each year, hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards are given to students across disciplines. More on the KPU Foundation is available at

About Coast Capital Savings
Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s largest credit union by membership. A recipient of the 2015 “Outstanding Corporation” Giving Hearts Award, the credit union invested $5 million­­­­­­­­ into local communities in 2015, focusing on empowering and engaging youth. Coast Capital is one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club, and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. It has 50 branches serving its 532,000 members in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions of British Columbia. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. To learn more, visit

About Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Kwantlen Polytechnic University has served the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 200,000 learners. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs in business, liberal arts, design, health, science and horticulture, trades and technology, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 120 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates, citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at

Media contact:
Corry Anderson-Fennell
Manager, Media and Communications
t: 604.599.2840
c: 604.828.5232

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