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.
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.