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 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.