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.
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 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.