Tara Bosch, 22
Founder and CEO, SmartSweets
Evaan KherajLife Story: “When I was growing up, I watched Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank and had all these great ideas, but I lacked the confidence to act on them,” says Tara Bosch. Yet by the age of 21, Bosch, who grew up in Surrey, had started two businesses. As a 17-year-old UBC arts student, she launched Decaled Out, which made removable wall decals featuring inspirational quotes.
The decals didn’t catch on, but her next venture hit the sweet spot. In June 2015, after her grandmother mentioned that sugar had affected her health, Bosch began testing low-sugar candy recipes. By fall, she had dropped out of university to focus on SmartSweets as a venture in residence in The Next Big Thing incubator program at Vancouver’s Hootsuite Media. Last July the company’s gummy bears, with 24 grams of plant-based fibre and just two grams of sugar per 50-gram bag, launched online and in B.C. stores.
The Bottom Line: In August 2016, Bosch received and declined an acquisition offer of $2 million. This February, she won the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs’ $25,000 Pitch for the Purse. SmartSweets are sold in more than 170 locations across Canada and online throughout North America. Bosch plans to launch four new smart candy products and reach $1 million in sales by the end of 2017.