The Startup Canada Podcast Show is a production of Startup Canada, a grassroots, entrepreneur-led movement to bring together, celebrate, and give a voice to Canada’s entrepreneurship community. On the podcast, award-winning entrepreneur host Rivers Corbett speaks with the movers and shakers of Canada’s entrepreneurship community to give a glimpse into the future of business, and share insights on everything from social innovation to the future of work, investing, and why we need to think bigger to take our businesses global. Join Rivers Corbett for new episodes every Tuesday airing at 10 AM ET for lessons, trends, and opportunities in entrepreneurship from Vancouver to Fredericton; and Israel to Peru.
Janie Goldstein argues that startups should have a social mission from the start. However, before she created The Upside Foundation, entrepreneurs didn’t have a model or platform to work from. “We know they (entrepreneurs) have no time, and they should be very focused on building a company and getting a product out. We know they have no cash. So that’s why this platform was created. People talk about what’s the problem, what’s the solution? They know they want to be philanthropic… but they don’t have the means or platform to do it.” Janie Goldstein is the Executive Director and founder of The Upside Foundation of Canada, a new philanthropic venture that helps startups to commit options, which are then given back to Canadian charities upon the company’s exit. Janie obtained a degree from Montreal’s McGill University in Electrical Engineering, followed by an MBA from Harvard University. Her marketing and technical career started at Bell-Northern Research (later Nortel) and took her into consulting, where she stayed for over a decade. In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Rivers and Janie delve deep into social entrepreneurship in Canada while using Janie’s insight to understand why startups should start with a plan to give back.
Tracey Scarlett is an expert in women entrepreneurship. Over her career, she’s learned what it takes for women to thrive and grow. “Women in general are really well prepared. They’re educated, they have great ideas, and they want to build businesses. A lot of the times it’s the external validation that says: ‘I’m not the only one in the world doing this, and I’m not the only one in the world doing this while I still have X,Y, and Z.’” Tracey is one of Canada’s leading catalysts, advocates and experts in women’s entrepreneurship and growth. For over two decades, Tracey has been mentoring, advising and fostering the growth of businesses run by female entrepreneurs in Canada. Tracey also lends her time to NSERC as a member of their council, volunteers with TEC Venture Prize and the University of Alberta School of Business MBA program. In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Rivers and Tracey chat about starting up, scaling and taking women entrepreneurship to new heights.
We are thrilled to have as our guest today, Randy Thompson, Founder and CEO of VA Angels, one of Canada’s most active angel groups. VA Angels recently celebrated their 130th company funded for over $38M in total investments which includes deals in the US, UK and Africa. Today, we speak with Randy about the Calgary’s startup community, go inside the mind of an investor and learn the ins and outs of building a fundable and investment-ready business. Randy is a true leader in the Canadian startup scene, is a member of The A100 and has fostered the community through years of mentorship. He is currently invested in twenty two companies and has been working in the startup venture space for 20+ years. Randy has been named Angel of the Year in Canada by Startup Canada 2014. As an entrepreneur he has been the founder or founding partner in four entities, and is currently building GenerUS Marketing Solutions, a platform for not-for-profits to raise money.
Camille McInnis knows the recipe for building a successful startup community. “Having people both internal and external to your community who understand what you’re trying to do, and who can connect you with other resources are so important to the long term success of startup communities.” Camille is the Community Advisor for Startup Canada, an official Startup Canada Community, as well as the Acquisition and Marketing Toronto for Square Canada, a processing and business solutions provider based in Toronto. She has worked with companies such as Innovate Calgary, Tailsman Energy, and Breezingly, on everything from marketing and social media to events and programming. In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Camille offers tangible tips for building startup communities from the ground up to help local entrepreneurs reach their full potential.
Crowdfunding and marketing genius Viktor Grabovskyy is often asked how the Foreverspin campaign gained so much support and raised so much money. “The items that succeed the most are the ones that you as an individual can imagine yourself using… What you can dream, you can accomplish through crowdfunding” Viktor Grabovskyy, a recent grad from the University of Waterloo, is the Co-Founder and Vice President of Operations at Niche Media Marketing Group (NMM) and Triple Jump Media. NMM is the company behind the famous ForeverSpin Spinning Tops, which had $1.5 million in sales in 2014, after raising $130K on its first Kickstarter campaign. Most recently, ForeverSpin was featured on CBC’s Dragon’s Den to raise funding for global expansion. In this #StartupPodcast, we talk about crowdfunding, marketing, manufacturing, and starting up young.
Nobody ever told Stephanie Yong she might not get a job after studying what she loved. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, Stephanie did what many others do and left her home town. “I went overseas for 7 years and travelled the world. I saw as much of the world as I possibly could before coming back, which really opened up my eyes to so many different things. I traveled back to Saskatoon and started my MBA and started a business shortly after.” Stephanie Yong is the Director at the University of Saskatchewan’s Brett Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning & Startup Canada Saskatoon Community Leader. Stephanie is an intrapraneur who has been instrumental to the development of Saskatchewan’s startup entrepreneurship and campus community. On this week’s #StartupPodcast, we get the low-down on the Saskatoon startup scene, building entrepreneurial campuses and intra-preneurship.
Just because you’re not an expert doesn’t mean you can’t play the game. Jason Field learned this important lesson when he started BrainStation, a digital learning facility with locations in Toronto, Vancouver, and New York. “In order to be a successful entrepreneur, always be looking outside of your comfort zone because that is where the magic happens, and the reward is amazing.” In this week’s #StartupPodcast, learn how Jason abandoned his comfort zone to start his company, why experiential learning is key, and how you can build your business skills by connecting with your startup community.
Canadian entrepreneur, consultant, and software developer Mike Iwasiow knows the secret to creating a sustainable work-life balance. “Don’t focus so much on success, or the traditional definition of that…. Focus on happiness and fulfillment of your whole day. Try to maximize your day, and everything else will fall out from that.” Mike is the Founder and CEO of BookedIN, an online appointment scheduling and payment software for small businesses. As a family man and a successful entrepreneur, Mike has powerful thoughts on emails, unplugging, and routine. This week’s #StartupPodcast hones in on what work-life balance means for startup entrepreneurs like Mike. Learn how he has more responsibilities than ever, but only works for 35 hours a week.
“Rockstar intrapreneur” Paul Gaspar says there is no better time than right now for Canadian startups to start thinking global. As the Director of Small Business at UPS Canada, Paul takes a cue from startup entrepreneurs and strives to think outside of the box when managing both internal operations and external communications. His intraprenurial attitude mixed with a passion for educating entrepreneurs on the importance of a robust supply chain and the benefits of going international, has made UPS Canada a strong supporter of startups and small businesses. “To me, (intrapreneurship) is internally running my own little business. It’s being that person who is . . . introducing something outside of the box and challenging the larger organization that I work for to change and do something differently.” In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Paul, who is one of Canada’s leading experts in global entrepreneurship, gives insights on how to develop a global growth strategy and offers tips on how to leverage partnerships to strengthen your company’s supply chains to grow your business.
Rent, for most, is the single biggest payment people make in a month. According to Vancouverite Philipp Postrehovsky, it’s a $450 billion market, and some say it’s gone undisrupted for far too long. That’s why Postrehovsky co-founded RentMoola, an online global payment network, to improve the rent and condo fee payment process. “If you give someone a tool that’s convenient, they will use it,” says Postrehovsky. “I’ve always been a believer in simplifying your life with online technology.” Many of RentMoola’s customers, including students, have rarely, if ever, used a cheque book. For this reason and more, Postrehovsky says banks are starting to sing to the fintech tune and partner with these innovative companies to improve customer experiences like paying rent. In this week’s #StartupPodcast with Rivers Corbett, Philipp dives into Canada’s fintech scene, reflects on how entrepreneurs are changing the future of banking, and discusses the impact mobile payments can have on the rent-by-check-tradition.
As a university student, International Startup Festival founder Phil Telio studied civil engineering and learned how to build bridges and buildings. After meeting an inspirational startup founder, Phil was invited to build some virtual bridges instead. “Like a lot of people, I started out working for tech companies working 90 hours a week, sweating it along, making a lot of mistakes and working on someone else’s dime until I finally got back and started running my own game again.” Today, Phil is the mastermind behind the International Startup Festival, a Canada-based startup festival for entrepreneurs around the world. Phil and his team are working to expand StartupFest to international stages and make connections between Canadian startup communities and startup communities around the world. In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Phil talks about startup conferences and festivals, why it is important to connect with your local startup community, and what to do if you’re nervous about networking. Learn how you can maximize startup events to help grow your business and create profit as well as social impact.
As a teen, like most her age, Tonya Surman was faced with the fate-defining question of choosing between good and evil. She knew the road to evil would be more lucrative, but instead, she made a decision to use her skills to make a positive impact on society. However, after feeling continuously dis-empowered by inefficiencies and lack of progress working at various non-profit organizations, Tonya knew her frustration needed an outlet. “I was confronted over and over again with people reinventing the wheel and getting nowhere. I found this to be infuriating,” says Tonya. “My passion is driven by rage, by the frustration of people trying to do good, (of people) who care so deeply who are being confronted obstacle by obstacle, (and) who are trying to get their work to the next level.” To help social organizations overcome this, Tonya co-founded the Centre for Social Innovation, which works to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world, and is currently its CEO. She’s also the co-author of the book “The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance” and was also named the Global Ashoka Fellow. In this #StartupPodcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Tonya about the social entrepreneurship revolution; shifting models of sustainability; trends, challenges and opportunities for social entrepreneurs in Canada; and, what needs to be done to support and promote the success of Canadian social entrepreneurs.
When David Alston travelled to Estonia two years ago to film the documentary Code Kids, he saw a country decades ahead of its time. Not only had the education system infused coding into its curriculum, the government had embraced the cloud and adopted an entrepreneurial culture. Unable to tell bureaucrats from entrepreneurs, the culture of innovation made a lasting impression on this East Coast entrepreneur that he applies to his work in Canada. “(Estonia) skipped a couple of generations and built their entire government on the cloud. This is where government should be… Why don’t we adopt similar technology and get government in the cloud?” Championing this forward thinking approach in his home province of New Brunswick, this serial entrepreneur (Alston is the talent behind Salesforce Radian6, Brilliant Labs and Introhive) is leading a movement to build Atlantic Canada into a cluster of startup provinces. In this episode of the #StartupPodcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Alston on the opportunities for the small and agile provinces of Atlantic Canada to become global leaders in entrepreneurship and innovation.
A leading Canadian Finance expert and catalyst, Richard Remillard knows the secret to a long-lasting economy. “I have long been fascinated in economic growth: How does growth happen? Entrepreneurs. People willing to stand up, be counted, and put their money where their mouth is and launch a business. That’s the only foundation for long lasting, sustainable economic growth.” Spending most of his career as a consultant and leader, Richard is the President of Remillard Consulting Group, an Ottawa-based, firm specializing in business issues and public policies involving the Canadian financial services industry. In this week’s #StartupPodcast, Richard will give you a bird’s eye view of the evolution of Canada’s financing environment for entrepreneurs. Learn what needs to be done to unleash untapped capital in Canada to fuel the next wave of Canada’s high-growth business.
When he was just 17 years old, Michael Legary knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur — he says he was born to be one. Now, after founding several successful startups, Legary is still passionate about building up other new small businesses. As a leader in Winnipeg’s startup community, Legary works to support several local organizations, such as Innovate Alley, Ramp Up Manitoba, and Havana Controls. Legary is a champion of community building, local entrepreneurship, and investment opportunities in Manitoba. “The last five years of my life have been trying to help out in my small way in growing [the Winnipeg Startup] ecosystem… so that entrepreneurs could have a community.” In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Legary about fueling Winnipeg’s grassroots startup movement, the challenges of starting a business, and what it’s like to have an entrepreneurial destiny.
Sean McCormick says his company, Manitobah Mukluks, is a microcosm of what is possible when a community comes together to solve social and economic issues. “We’re mission-driven,” says McCormick, recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Aboriginal Business Leadership Award. “We’re not really a company with a cause, we’re a cause that happens to have a company wrapped around it—that’s the new way.” Manitobah Mukluks is a Winnipeg-based company that collaborates with with Aboriginal artisans to make traditional moccasins and mukluks. McCormick is passionate about contributing to the economic and social development of Aboriginal communities in Canada while preserving traditional Indigenous practices. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with McCormick about his priority to give back to Aboriginal communities in Canada, the Storyboots project, and how entrepreneurship can help unleash the potential of Aboriginal youth.
Brenda Halloran’s father was an entrepreneur before the word even existed. In this episode, Halloran talks about how her dad’s influence inspired her to be entrepreneurial in all of her pursuits. “I grew up with this amazing man who was an entrepreneur, a self-starter, nobody ever gave him a dime, he just did it for himself … I grew up with that type of thinking, and that fun of [asking] ‘what is technology and what can it do?’ ” Halloran is the CEO of the WEK Effect Inc., a Waterloo-based e-commerce startup that aims to engage millennials in philanthropy, giving back, and making a difference in their communities. Halloran is also the former mayor of the City of Waterloo and the recipient of the 2016 Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Halloran about the WEK Effect, what it’s like to be a mayor-turned-CEO, and the friendship she forged between Waterloo and the city of Chongqing, China.
While serial entrepreneur Allen Lau knows first-hand how difficult it can be to build a startup, he also knows how rewarding the lessons brought with the highs — and the lows — can be. “The number-one thing that stops people from starting a business is hesitation,” says Lau. “If you can overlook this, you can enjoy the journey. Many startups will fail, and it’s only natural, and it’s actually okay. The lessons that you learn through success and failure will be life-changing.” Lau is the co-founder and CEO of Wattpad, a Toronto-based social story sharing app that connects readers and writers from around the world. Wattpad users can access multimedia stories from a variety of genres. If users can’t find exactly what they’re looking for, the app gives them the power to write and share that story themselves. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Lau, who is also an angel investor, about the keys to startup success, why Canada is the best place to start a business, and the importance of perseverance in the face of startup hardships.
As Canada made preparations to welcome Syrian refugees into the country, serial entrepreneur Michael Tippett knew he wanted to get involved. Cue the creation of Startland, a grassroots organization launched by Tippett and other Vancouver startup community members to provide Syrian refugees with the support and technology to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. “People have the potential to come in and really contribute from day one and we just want to make sure that they have the capacity to do it.” Along with co-founding Startland, Tippett is the brains behind a host of other startups and is the CEO and founder of Wantoo, a Vancouver-based platform that organizes feedback and suggestions to inform smart product decisions. In this episode of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Tippett shares with us the story behind Startland, the evolution of the Vancouver startup scene, and how his latest project Wantoo is helping entrepreneurs know exactly what their customers want.
“I decided to go right at Bell, Telus & Rogers, and disrupt the core wireless oligarchy that’s a core business for them, which obviously kicked off a very interesting eight years at Wind,” says the Chairman and CEO of Wind Mobile Canada. When Tony Lacavera co-founded Wind Mobile in 2008, he knew he was taking on some big industry players, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to shake up the state of wireless in Canada. That wasn’t his first time disrupting the status quo. Prior to Wind Mobile, Lacavera founded Globalive in 1998 to stimulate the Canadian startup investment sector. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Tony about how technology has impacted business, what it’s like to go up against the big guys, and how his track record and good old fashioned hard work has been the key to his success as a disruptive entrepreneur.
In the eyes of Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures, being a successful venture capitalist means, “remembering you are a coach, not a player.” In his first few years as an investor, Wertz struggled to follow his own advice. Today, he is one of the top early-stage investors in Canada, with more than 60 consumer, Internet and enterprise companies in his portfolio. Wertz is also the founder of JustBooks – an online platform to find used books in Europe. He led that company until it was sold in 2008. Following that, he dabbled as an angel investor, which eventually led to him becoming a venture capitalist. Having the perspective of both an entrepreneur and an investor has been valuable for Wertz; he has advice for both sides of the field. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast, Wertz shares an inside look into the life of a VC, and the pros and cons of Canada’s startup finance environment. Hosted by Rivers Corbett, we’ll hear what Wertz has learned from his experiences as an entrepreneur-turned-investor, and what he thinks needs to change in Canada to help more businesses grow.
“You can have an amazing life and have an amazing career under somebody’s umbrella or you can be the one holding the umbrella and shaping the world for other people.” Ray Walia chose the latter. As the CEO of Launch Academy, Co-Executive Producer of Traction Conference and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Victory Square Ventures, Walia is paving the way for a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada’s West Coast. In this episode of Startup Canada Postcast, he gives us the lowdown on key figures in the Vancouver startup scene and insight on how startup hubs like Launch Academy are connecting local entrepreneurs to the resources they need for their businesses to thrive.
Erin Bury, a leading marketing expert in Canada, has more than 21,000 followers on Twitter. How did the startup enthusiast build her social media empire? “One handshake at a time,” she says. The marketing guru has created a powerful brand for herself – both on and offline – by amalgamating digital and real-life relationships. It’s an important tactic for those looking to boost their brand identities, says Bury. Named one of Marketing Magazine’s 30 Under 30, Bury is currently the managing director at 88 Creative, a Toronto-based communications agency. In this episode of the Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Bury about branding, viral campaigns, strategic marketing, and how to get celebrity retweets.
“If you hire phenomenal people, that’s it. You’re winning.” – Janice McDonald, co-founder of CD Warehouse and This Space Works. McDonald has built two successful national companies on the foundations of good customer service, with employees who have a full understanding of the brand’s strategies to maintain shopper loyalty. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews McDonald about the importance of strong team members, leadership roles in startups, and how to build a dependable base of customers.
“I see too many youth trying to fit the mold and they lose sight of what their true aspirations are.” A $50,000 deal with Next Gen Den Dragons has 17-year-old Alex Gillis thinking about more than grades, friends, and getting through the awkward teenage years. As the co-founder and CEO of Bitness, a location analytics tool revolutionizing how retail stores learn about their customers, and as the co-founder of Hoist Halifax, a monthly meetup for teens interested in entrepreneurship, design and programming, Gillis is empowering his peers to shed conformity for creativity. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Gillis, winner of the 2015 Startup Canada Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award, on balancing business and school, empowering classmates, and plans for the future.
“Humour disarms. It educates, and it enlightens when handled properly.” For entrepreneur Andy Nulman, humour is as important as water or oxygen for survival. Nulman is the co-founder of Just for Laughs, a comedy festival that attracts two million visitors to Canada every year, including the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Tina Fey and Adam Sandler. Even though he’s moved on from Just for Laughs to co-found prediction gaming company Play the Future, to teach marketing at McGill University, and to author three books, wit is a key part of Nulman’s brand. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast, Nulman uses comedic relief to give insights on global marketing, brand building, and growing a business in Quebec and in Canada.
Thank you for listening to Season 1 of the Startup Canada Podcast Show. We will be returning March 1st, 2016 for Season 2.
“My job as a CEO is to think of what needs to be done 3 to 5 to 10 years from now.” – John Baker, CEO and founder of D2L. D2L is an edtech company based in Kitchener that has grown to 850 employees since launching in 1999 and has been used by over 15 million learners. Baker doesn’t focus his time on the online education company’s current activities. He trusts his leadership team to execute effectively. To him, it’s important to focus on where the company needs to go next. In fact, he carves out at least an hour of every day to reflect on D2L’s strategy. Although the company started in 1999, innovation remains as important as ever and metrics have become central to the decision-making process. “We’ve defined what we called our ‘mission metrics’…We really purposefully try to measure and even predict the impact of changes that we’re making to the system.” In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Baker about building a company that has impact, innovating in edtech and how his role as CEO has grown alongside D2L.
Why should building a relationship be the first step to scoring VC investment? “I’ll back the jockey before the horse,” says David Nault, a Venture Capitalist and Principal at iNovia. Nault says he looks to invest in entrepreneurs he thinks can change the landscape with or without his help. Over the years, his instincts have paid off. Nault’s portfolio includes investments in game-changing companies like VarageSale, Chronogolf, and Busbud. In this edition casino of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Nault shares his insights on the types of companies and entrepreneurs VCs are looking for. He believes it’s never been a better time to start a company in Canada, however, to get the attention of a VC, entrepreneurs need to think global.
“10 years ago, if you were an entrepreneur, people would refer to you as ‘unemployed’.” – Tadashi Takaoka, Director of Entrepreneurship at Corfo Chile, on the shift in perception on entrepreneurship in Chile. Entrepreneurship in Chile has boomed in the past decade, thanks to Carfo, Start-Up Chile and a publicly funded incubator that invites startups from all over the world. Chile also represents an opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs. Latin America represents 10 per cent of the global internet-connected population. Chile represents four per cent of that global population. In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Takaoka, who brings his wit and humour to explain why Chile and Latin America can be a great location to grow.
“How can we build a billion dollar company and have it be safe and de-risked?” This is a key question for Stephen Partridge when building a new business. Partridge is a serial entrepreneur, board member of Startup Canada, and Head of Strategic Assets at Events.com. To Partridge, the Silicon Valley approach isn’t perfect. While innovation and disruption are needed to build a scalable ‘unicorn’, there is value in de-risking a venture. This is where Partridge turns to Ottawa’s revenue-generating model. A venture that brings in revenue is de-risked and provides room to maneuver when funding is scarce. He believes Canada has everything entrepreneurs need to find the balance between de-risk and disruption in order to build a billion dollar global company. In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Partridge about building a global venture, the support needed to be successful, and why Canada is the perfect place to start up.
“We believe Vancouver is a place that offers an exciting environment for growth-oriented companies.” – Sean Elbe, Vancouver Economic Commission. According to Elbe, the Vancouver Olympics inspired the city’s entrepreneurship community to think on a more global scale. Now Vancouver is a leader in areas like fintech, quantum computing and green technology. In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett talks to Elbe about support for growth-oriented startups in Vancouver and the city’s amazing success stories.
Fun Fact: Although 70 per cent of purchases are researched online first, 90-95 per cent of transactions are completed in a brick and mortar store. It’s this relationship between online-offline commerce that created an opportunity for Gary Ziegler, CEO of eThor. eThor is a mobile app that bridges the gap between merchants and mobile. In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett talks with Ziegler about opportunities in fintech, building a high growth company, the importance of focus and why Canada is a great place to hire tech talent.
“Work hard and learn how to deal with your failures, because you’re going to have a lot of them.” – Gerry Pond, Co-Founder of East Valley Ventures and winner of Startup Canada’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement award. According to Pond, a successful entrepreneur is determined to stick with their business until the revenue stream starts flowing. And when is it time to accept failure? “It’s like baseball,” he says. “Three pivots and you’re out.” In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Gerry Pond on micro entrepreneurship, starting up in Atlantic Canada and bouncing back from failure.
“When we look at great entrepreneurs, they have that natural, burning curiosity and they have that sense of excitement around learning.” – Sarah Prevette, Founder of Future Design School. Sarah Prevette has been promoting and encouraging Canadian entrepreneurship throughout her entire career. Among her many ventures, she is best known for founding Sprouter, an online community for entrepreneurs, and BetaKit, a Canadian media site specializing in emerging technology and global innovation. She’s now shifting focus to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs through design education and real world experiments at Future Design School. Prevette has learned a lot from her first two exits. Namely, the key to success is simplicity, flexibility and a focus on the customer. She believes building a great product comes from “the customer discovery piece around building products for your user and putting empathy at the centre of your design process.” In this episode of Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett talks with Prevette about building a successful company, knowing when to exit, and creating a program to develop critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills in students.
“I’m constantly blown away by how much innovation and talent there is here with such a small population.” – Ron Taylor, CEO, Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI). Ron Taylor is a Toronto native who decided to move to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2002. Today, as CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI), he has seen technology act as an equalizer, creating new opportunities for more of Atlantic Canada’s young population to work and live in their home community. Over the years, NATI has established itself as a leading player in advancing innovation and entrepreneurship in St. John’s and across the province. What is casino the key to growing a tech company in Newfoundland? Exporting, says Taylor. “If you’re not exporting it, you’re not going to get that exponential growth,” he says. In this Startup Podcast, host Rivers Corbett talks to Taylor about the role of tech industries in fueling growth in Atlantic Canada, why startup communities are particularly important in rural locations, and why entrepreneurs should consider exporting early in their ventures.
“If you’re passionate about what you do and you work hard, something is going to come out of it.” – Linda Manziaris, Founder of Body Bijou; Winner of Startup Canada’s 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Linda Manziaris started Body Bijou when she was 13 because she saw it as a way to help others. Not only is Body Bijou successfully selling uniquely designed jewelry, it is also creating impact. Manziaris donates 50% of her company’s profits to help young girls in developing countries receive an education. According to 15-year-old Manziaris, the three most important secrets for success are: have grit, always say yes, and never take ‘no’ for an answer. Today on Startup Canada Podcast with Rivers Corbett, Manziaris discusses the appeal of entrepreneurship for young people, creating a social enterprise and what it takes to grow a company while in school.
“It is hard to build a business, but 10 years later you’ll be walking down the street and somebody will ask ‘How did you became an overnight success?’” – Frank O’Dea, Co-Founder of Second Cup and serial entrepreneur. Second Cup wasn’t an overnight success. It took innovative ideas and years of testing to land on the gourmet coffee model that continues to grow to this day. By exploring a new idea, Frank O’Dea learned that people are willing to pay more for a good cup of coffee in the right environment. “It changed the relationship between the coffee and the customer. It was no longer about having a beverage. It was now about a treat.” O’Dea believes the Blue Ocean Strategy, which involves creating a new industry, is useful for any entrepreneur. He also believes that creating the right environment is integral for any company, including tech startups. In this episode of Startup Canada Podcast with Rivers Corbett, O’Dea talks about the Blue Ocean Strategy, the three things entrepreneurs need to succeed, and how the Canadian government can empower entrepreneurs.
“There’s a huge wealth of innovation and a wealth of startups and their stories need to get out.” – Karen Greve Young, VP of Partnerships at MaRS Discovery District. MaRS Discovery District is not only a place for Canadian startups to grow, but is also where innovative multi-nationals such as Airbnb and Etsy have built their Canadian home. Like all good startups, Toronto’s main innovation hub has grown significantly and made significant pivots along the way. According to Karen Greve Young, VP of Partnerships at MaRS, Canada is at a pivotal moment where it needs to optimize success stories and make innovation a priority. “I don’t know if it was Canadian modesty, but we have not done a good job of commercializing or capturing the value for Canada. We’ve kinda given it away,” she says. In this episode of Startup Podcasts with Rivers Corbett, Karen Greve Young talks about why Toronto is a great place for innovation and how MaRS is putting Canadian innovation on the map.
“In order to finance these failures, you need money.” – Honourable Rafael Barak, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada. Did you know that in Israel, almost 4 per cent of GDP goes towards innovative developments? Israel is a leading hub for startups and innovation. Tel Aviv was ranked the fifth best startup ecosystem according to Compass. It was the only city outside the United States to break the top five. According to the Honourable Rafael Barak, Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, failure is part of the innovation process. In this episode of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Barak explains the secret sauce behind Israel’s innovative culture and how the Israeli government is actively exploring new ways to collaborate with startup ecosystems in countries like Canada.
“Entrepreneurship is about perseverance and not giving up. It’s important to continue to push that boulder up that hill and not be phased by distractions.” – Ronen Benin, Founder & CEO of RightBlue Labs Inc. RightBlue Labs Inc. is a Toronto-based tech startup that is already working some of the leading national sports brands, including Hockey Canada. Recently, Benin and RightBlue Labs Inc. won the Start Tel Aviv competition and a trip to Israel to network with investors and professionals from one of the top startup ecosystems in the world. Benin’s advice for entrepreneurs that plan to enter major startup competitions? Be ready to on-board new clients. Winning comes with lots of opportunities, but entrepreneurs need to make sure that they are able to deliver. In this episode of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Benin talks about his goals for visiting Tel Aviv, Toronto’s startup ecosystem and working with family.
“Out of the way entrepreneurs, seniorpreneurs are taking over.” – Wendy Mayhew Mayhew is an advocate for promoting seniorpreneurship in Canada. She is the producer of Real World Entrepreneur Training, author and the founder of Business Launch Solutions, an organization that helps startups tackle business fundamentals. Did you know: オンライン カジノ Gordon Bowker founded Starbucks at age 51. Ferdinand Porsche founded the Porsche car company at age 55. Estée Lauder started her namesake cosmetics company at age 54. Mayhew believes that in order for more seniors to have the confidence to pursue entrepreneurship, they need a community of entrepreneurs their own age. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast with Rivers Corbett, Mayhew discusses the state of Seniorpreneurship in Canada and how the startup community can make people over 50 feel welcome.
“We all have a lot to offer and we all have a lot to learn.” Noah Redler is in the trenches, growing the startup ecosystem in Montreal. He’s a Community Leader for Startup Montreal, Campus Director at the tech startup hub Notman House, and Co-founder of Publikit. To Redler, startups have a lot to gain by connecting with their local startup ecosystem. The growing ecosystem in Montreal has a creative energy that is breeding successful startups such as Busbud, Breather and Mixology. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett interviews Noah Redler about building an engaged startup community that serves and supports the interests of the people in that community. “It’s not trying to copy Silicon Valley or New York…It’s taking the best practices they’ve created and doing it in our own special way.”
“Six years in we’re still pivoting.” – Yona Shtern, Founder and CEO of of Beyond the Rack. Although Beyond the Rack is now one of Canada’s most successful startups, it wasn’t clear from the beginning that the business would survive. After the lead in their first investment round backed out, Shtern thought the whole thing might crumble. He spent $3,000 of his dwindling budget to fly to Zurich to meet with an interested investor. It was a gamble that paid off big time. This is reflected in the wisdom he wants to impart on the next generation: “Persevere and don’t give up. If you see an opportunity…don’t leave anything on the bench.” In this episode of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Shtern talks about proving concept, growing a business and maintaining a strong co-founder relationship.
“If everyone told you what they wanted, then everyone would have horses.” – Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company. Chris Johnson thinks Ford’s thoughts on innovating transportation applies just as easily to developing new technology today. To Johnson, it’s not about coming up with new ideas that the customer doesn’t know they want yet. It’s about reading between the lines of what customers say and delighting them in a way they didn’t expect. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast, host Rivers Corbett talks with Chris Johnson, CEO and co-founder at Permission Click and one of the founders of Startup Winnipeg. Johnson gets real about the challenges of being an entrepreneur and why it’s important to be connected to the startup ecosystem. What is his advice for entrepreneurs in the startup ecosystem? Invest ahead of the curve. Investing time and energy to build the community will pay off in the long run.
“Dream big, think the impossible, love passionately, and give generously.” This is the mantra Marissa McTasney created for herself. When McTasney started Moxie Trades, she didn’t have the skills, knowledge, experience or even a mentor. All she had was an opportunity. She dove in head-first, quickly landing a big contract with Home Depot and made a deal with Brett Wilson from Dragons’ Den. Now Moxie Trades is a successful handy-women apparel line that can be found in large retail stores across North America. How was McTasney able to transform an opportunity into a business? She created her own definition of success. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, Marissa McTasney explains how she found her moxie, grew a company and became a champion for women in entrepreneurship and trades.
“View the entrepreneur as the planter of the seed…The role of venture capital is the water and it is creating the fuel for growth.” John Ruffolo is very selective in picking which seeds to water. One of the most important questions he asks entrepreneurs is “How did you get to this idea?” He believes the best performing companies in his portfolio all started with an entrepreneur that had a passionate story. On this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast, Rivers Corbett interviews the man Bloomberg Business dubbed the “saviour to Canada’s startups” for offering direct investment when it was sparse following the last recession. John Ruffolo is the Chief Executive Officer of OMERS Ventures and the Executive Managing director of OMERS Strategic Investments. Hear why David Goldberg’s two and a half hour pitch for SurveyMonkey was among Ruffolo’s most memorable; how FOMO (or fear of missing out) is contributing to a tech bubble; and why Ruffolo thinks the government shouldn’t put taxpayer dollars towards private business.
“It’s not just a job. It’s a way of thinking. It’s a way of living your life.” This is how Rick Spence describes entrepreneurship. He should know. He has been writing about entrepreneurship and innovation for over 25 years. He currently contributes to the National Entrepreneurship Column in the Financial Post and is writing a book for veterans on entrepreneurship. Spence has interviewed many of the most successful innovators in Canada. There is a particular mindset that Spence believes will help grow the next generation of entrepreneurs. “We’ve got to create confidence in people so that they can make a difference.” In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast with Rivers Corbett, Spence explains why Canada needs more entrepreneurs willing to make an impact, what traits are needed to be successful, and what support is needed for Canada to compete in innovation.
The Great One summed it nicely for Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes: “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take.” It’s a piece of advice often quoted by CEO’s and sports stars alike, but Holmes couples it with another mantra: Hustle. Everyday. Just like hockey legend Wayne Gretzky missed the net the first time he shot a puck, Holmes’ first product wasn’t a roaring success. Today he is the CEO of a company with over 10 million customers, and his product is one used by athletes, politicians, and entertainers worldwide. How did he get here? Holmes hustled to build, innovate, fail, and find market fit. He hustled to find the perfect founding team, and to be his company’s greatest cheerleader. In this edition of the Startup Canada Podcast with host Rivers Corbett, The Man Behind Hootsuite shares his insights on the basics of business and the future of entrepreneurship in Canada. Hint: It involves the “h” word.