Matthew Leslie, 28
Co-founder and CEO, West Coast Canning
Evaan KherajLife Story: When Matt Leslie graduated from the University of Northern B.C. in 2011 with a B.Comm. in finance and marketing, he planned to become a financial adviser. So when his friend and fellow UNBC grad Kevin Pederson suggested starting a mobile canning service for craft breweries, he brushed the idea aside. “Being from Prince George, I assumed that craft beer was Cariboo,” he says. That summer, Leslie moved to Victoria; when his landlord hired him to run a new air filter business, he realized that “I did not want to be a suit for the rest of my life.” Plus, the thriving craft brewing scene in Victoria and Vancouver convinced him to try mobile canning. In 2014, Leslie and Pederson launched West Coast Canning, the first such company in Canada, which allows brewers to invest in more tanks rather than in-house canning.
The Bottom Line: Last year the Vancouver company acquired Toronto-based Sessions Craft Canning, expanding service from B.C. and Alberta to Ontario and Quebec. After growing from four to 10 full-time staff in 2016, West Coast Canning is on pace to increase revenue 175 per cent by year’s end.