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Startup Canada Podcast: Canada's Entrepreneurship Podcast

Startup Canada: A Grassroots, Entrepreneur-led Movement to Bring Together, Celebrate, and Give a Voice to Canada’s Entrepreneurship Community.

46 episodes

May 18, 2021

Identifying Opportunity with Razor Suleman – May 18, 2021 

Have you ever had an idea, but didn’t know if that idea was startup-worthy? Razor Suleman, CEO and Co-Founder of Elevate, has some advice!

Razor Suleman is a successful serial entrepreneur, investor and champion of the Canadian technology ecosystem.   

Currently, Razor is the CEO & Cofounder of Elevate, an organization committed to the advancing the Canadian technology ecosystem. Elevate’s mission is to unite the world’s innovators to solve society’s biggest challenges. The organization was created in partnership with Toronto Mayor John Tory along with 150 community and corporate partners. Razor is also the CEO of Design Exchange, a cultural institution that provides access to hands-on design-based learning for Canada’s next generation youth.

Previously, Razor is Founder & former CEO of Achievers, a corporate social network focused on employee engagement that was backed by legendary VC Sequoia Capital. Razor built Achievers from an idea to a company with a $100M in revenue in less than 10 years. Achievers was acquired by Silicon Valley based Blackhawk Networks (which is owned by Silver Lake Partners) in July of 2015 for $150M. 

“You’ll find opportunities by paying attention to the market and to your customers. Look for a vitamin that has turned into a pain killer – there’s your opportunity.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Razor discusses non-dilutive financing for founders, social impact as a profit driver, and how to identify (and test) opportunity.

The post Identifying Opportunity with Razor Suleman – May 18, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

May 11, 2021

Mixing Art and Management with Matthew Johnston – May 11, 2021 

Food, drink and culture are three things that often intersect. They help to build cultural, creative and social connections amongst communities. Matthew Johnston, CEO and Co-founder of Collective Arts Brewing, is working to increase creative consciousness through delicious craft beverages, art and inclusivity. 

Matt Johnston is the co-founder and CEO of Collective Arts Brewing Ltd. He started the company alongside Bob Russell in 2012 on the basis of two principles: creativity fostering creativity, and creativity fostering delicious craft beverages. Matt has built and managed brands in every major beer category, from craft, to import, to domestic, as well as brands in the value segment. As CEO of Collective Arts, he has spent the last 7 years disrupting the craft beverage market. 

Collective Arts, founded in 2013 in Hamilton, Ontario, has a wide range of beers, ciders, spirits and canned cocktails that are designed to be as diverse, creative, and unwavering as the artists profiled; respecting tradition, but not constrained by it. Collective Arts features limited-edition works of art by artists and musicians that change every few months. To date, more than 1,000 artists and musicians have been featured and championed by Collective Arts. Collective Arts was named one of Linkedin’s 2018 & 2019 Top 25 Canadian Startups and is now distributing in every Canadian province, 20 U.S. states, the UK, eight countries in the EU, China and Australia. 

“I disdain the status quo, and love all things creative – it challenges me and inspires me.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Matthew discusses the strides to create a brand inspired by creativity and bridging cultural gaps with art & drink.

The post Mixing Art and Management with Matthew Johnston – May 11, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

May 4, 2021

Financial Literacy as Empowerment with Gurgeet Matharu & Aman Thind – May 4, 2021 

Less than 35% of students leaving post secondary education in Canada feel confident enough to manage their own finances. Gurgeet Matharu and Aman Thind of Nava Ventures are on a mission to change that!

Gurjeet is an experienced Full Stack Engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the Financial Services and Defence industries. He is skilled in Kubernetes, Cloud, Python, Java and supporting the production of ML and scientific workflows and products. Gurjeet has a strong engineering professional with a Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.Sc.) focused in Systems Engineering from Simon Fraser University. Gurjeet also recently taught cybersecurity at BCIT. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his family dog, junior, or doing Ju-Jitsu.

Aman Thind is the Head of Sales and Marketing at Nava Ventures. Nava aims to build a gamified financial literacy and banking app for Canadian Credit Unions to provide to their members. Being a former student-athlete and honours graduate, Aman understands the level of dedication required to make something succeed. Soon after leading Club 16 in both monthly membership and personal training sales, he completed a Junior Analyst internship at Altus Group in the Research, Valuations, and Advisory department. In Aman’s spare time, he coaches children aged 6 to 18, in soccer, to be a positive influence on the community and pave the way for the next generation. 

Nava Ventures was also the winner of Startup Canada’s ‘Startup Impact: Sustainable Development Goal Pitch Competition’ in the poverty reduction category.

“In a time like this, you can choose to quit and blame life on COVID or you can be someone who thrives when the rest of the world seems hopeless.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Aman and Gurgeet discuss value alignment, fundraising for startups, and their mission to empower millennials with financial literacy.

The post Financial Literacy as Empowerment with Gurgeet Matharu & Aman Thind – May 4, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Apr 27, 2021

Optimism: The Essential Resilience Tool with Warren Dietrich – April 27, 2021 

Every entrepreneur faces challenges along their journey to success. Warren Dietrich, partner at Earthli Plant-Powered Superfoods Inc., believes approaching these barriers optimistically can make all the difference.  

Warren Dietrich is the co-founder of Earthli Plant-Powered Superfoods Inc. and a Civil Engineering student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, graduating in 2021. 

In April 2017, Warren was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer. After a long 2-year battle with cancer, he successfully entered remission. Since remission, Warren has become a prominent volunteer and spokesperson for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Cancer is also what inspired Warren to co-found Earthli, a socially conscious, value-based Canadian company focused on plant-based superfoods and environmentally friendly practices that promote bodily health and overall wellness.

Warren was also the winner of Startup Canada’s 2020 Startup Impact pitch competition in the category of Climate Action.

“When starting your business, do it optimistically. Deciding how you’ll attack challenges is really going to be what makes or breaks your business.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Warren discusses current trends in the health food sector, sustainability, and the power of optimism – both in life and in business.

The post Optimism: The Essential Resilience Tool with Warren Dietrich – April 27, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Apr 20, 2021

Strategic Planning: Playing the Odds with Warren Coughlin – April 20, 2021 

In a world of so many uncertainties, one of the main reasons founder’s avoid strategic planning is because it seems like a waste of time. Warren Coughlin, business coach at JumpStart Coaching, believes if you learn to play the probabilities, you’ll have an edge up on competition when navigating adversity.

Warren helps principled entrepreneurs build a Business That Matters. That is one that delivers to you, the owner, attractive profits and a fulfilling lifestyle while also creating positive impacts on customers, team and the larger community.  In other words, it is one that helps make the world – or just your corner of it – a better place.

This requires a combination of solid business skills and disciplines guided by deeply held values. He’s been helping entrepreneurs do this since 2002. They have experienced everything from 8 figure exits, to 7 figure salaries, from rapid expansion to minimized operational work because of the development of great leaders and high performance values-driven cultures.

Warren’s also a recovering lawyer, a serial entrepreneur, college professor, actor, theater director and Dad to a wonderful daughter who constantly challenges him to be a better person.  

“A rookie poker player can beat a professional in any given hand, but the pro player is always going to win the game. Strategic business planning works like the discipline of the pro player.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Warren discusses finding the root problem, and the need for execution and accountability in strategic planning.

The post Strategic Planning: Playing the Odds with Warren Coughlin – April 20, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Apr 13, 2021

Navigating Clean Technology with Greg Kiessling – April 13, 2021 

We often assume that because green energy costs more to produce, it’s less profitable for the seller in the long-run. Greg Kiessling, Board Chair of Canadians for Clean Prosperity & Inmotive Inc., believes we are just starting to see the real potential of cleantech, and that the possibilities will only increase as carbon prices adjust. 

Greg Kiessling is founding chair of Canadians for Clean Prosperity, a not-for-profit advocating for carbon pricing. He is also an investor and board chair of Inmotive Inc., a Canadian start-up developing an innovative two-speed transmission for Electric Vehicles.

Greg was co-founder and board chair of Bullfrog Power from 2004 to 2018. Bullfrog Power is Canada’s leading green energy provider. He has also served in a variety of fundraising and board leadership roles for the ground-breaking Pathways to Education program.

Earlier in his career, Greg was co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sitraka, which was Canada’s largest self-financed software company when it was purchased in 2002.

Greg received his Bachelor of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo in 1984.

“Think about how you can be ahead of your competitors on reducing carbon – this will help the earth and you.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Greg discusses the current trends in the clean tech space, the importance of carbon reduction, and his career in the 90’s software scene.

The post Navigating Clean Technology with Greg Kiessling – April 13, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Apr 6, 2021

Making It Work with Jess Chow and Sunny Fong – April 6, 2021 

Entrepreneurship is infamously difficult – with hard decisions, stressful deals, and many nerve wracking unknowns around each corner. Sunny Fong and Jess Chow, Co-Founders of VIEREN, think the key to making it work is a healthy co-founder relationship, unwavering curiosity, and having a creative edge. 

Jess Chow launched VIEREN as a love letter to her family, celebrating more than 40 years of luxury watchmaking. Growing up, she was immersed in watches and travelled often to watch factories around the world with her parents. She never thought she would get into the business back then. Instead, she focused her career on business strategy in Toronto. After a decade as a Management Consultant advising brands, she was ready to follow her passions for entrepreneurship and build a brand of her own. With time in focus, Jess saw an opportunity to create something special when she met Sunny.

Sunny Fong, Project Runway All Star & winner of Project Runway Canada, is driving the creative vision. His womenswear label, VAWK, has received International acclaim and has been seen on the red carpets of the Cannes International Film Festival, the People’s Choice Awards, and the Oscars. After nearly two decades in fashion, Sunny was inspired to venture into watch design after meeting Jess.

Sunny approaches designing for VIEREN like he would a runway collection – by focusing on structure, texture, and details. He had a vision, but translating his signature style from garments to gears was challenging, so he flew to Switzerland to work directly with the watchmaking team on our launch collection.

“I only know what I know, so as an entrepreneur it’s important to have a network that gives you actionable advice and makes you feel good – we are still just human after all.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Sunny and Jess discuss  their co-founder relationship, the benefits of curiosity and creativity, and the launch of VIEREN.

The post Making It Work with Jess Chow and Sunny Fong – April 6, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Mar 23, 2021

Creating New Value with Debbie Motilewa – March 23, 2021 

Creating new value for our customers and our communities is vital as we scale the impact of our businesses – enter Debbie Motilewa, Sustainable Business Leader at Afro-hub Market!

In the past nine years, Deborah Motilewa has helped several entrepreneurs across three different continents – North America, Africa and Europe create shared value – focusing simultaneously on the community and business profit (triple bottom line).

At 25, she was the youngest PhD graduate from Covenant University, Africa’s most prestigious University. In the startup world, Deborah is the sustainable business leader of two social enterprises: The VolunteerNG and Afro Hub Community – both focus on creating sustainable communities in line with a number of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The VolunteerNG has partnered with over 70 volunteers, mentored over 800 young adults, and is sponsoring 30 kids through elementary and high school.

In the research world, she writes peer-reviewed articles and makes contributions on corporate social responsibility, business sustainability and human capital development. Deborah has over 30 published articles and has contributed to academic books. She is also the author of “SMART Goals: Making habits work for you”, and is currently working on her second book on sustainable business management.

“Think value, always. Creating new value for our communities and people. People always remember businesses that make an impact.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Debbie discusses sustainable business management, the art of creating new value, and her work with Afro-hub Market.

The post Creating New Value with Debbie Motilewa – March 23, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

Mar 16, 2021

Harnessing Fear with Keturah Osinde – March 16, 2021 

Fear of criticism, judgement, and failure – fear is something founders are all too familiar with. Keturah Osinde, CEO of Fittedfast, thinks instead of avoiding fear, we should harness it.

When Keturah was a kid in high school, the last thing she thought she would want to take on was entrepreneurship and the world of creation. In fact, she wanted to be an orthodontist.

Fast forward a few years later and Keturah was applying for her undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto — thankfully realizing that her passion was not with mitochondria or chlorophyll cells: but with justice, writing, creativity, and development of the city through technological means.

Keturah is currently a 4th-year student at the University of Toronto double majoring in Ethics, Society + Law, and Urban studies; minor Women’s Gender studies. Fittedfast was created out of her love for technology and the city. In the era of social distancing and COVID19, local business closures were becoming more common within the city of Toronto. When Keturah recognized these trends, she created Fittedfast to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping with hopes of levelling the playing field for local businesses against giants like Amazon.

“We can choose to see fear as an opportunity – something we look straight in the eye and attack.”

In this week’s episode of the #StartupCanadaPodcast, sponsored by Mastercard, Keturah discusses the science of fear, navigating fear as an opportunity, and choosing to become “the person that makes it happen”.

The post Harnessing Fear with Keturah Osinde – March 16, 2021 appeared first on Startup Canada.

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