Startup Grind is an incredible community for entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to lead the Ottawa chapter for a few years, getting a chance to speak with many amazing guests!
Huge thanks to Robert Decher for recording these! Here’s a look at just a few of the events that we held!
Joe worked for Google as a software engineer and product managed for over 5 years before diving into startups. At Google he contributed to projects like Google Buzz, Google+, GMail, mobile search and more!
In 2012, Relay was born and several months later, Joe and his co-founder Jon, raised $700k from some really big name investors ( Peter Thiel’s Valar Ventures, The Social+Capital Partnership, Graph Ventures, and Real Ventures).
In November 2014, Relay was acquired by Waterloo based Kik along with their $38 Million dollar raise.
Mark Klibanov is the co-founder and CPO of Ottawa based, GestureLogic. He’s an electrical engineer by profession, having graduated from Carleton University. During his fourth year research project, Mark created new technology that interfaced between human muscles and computers and and would go on to form the fundamental technology behind LEO. LEO is a wearable fitness device targeted for runners/cyclists with a unique ability to measure muscle activity. It more than doubled its crowdfunding target on Indiegogo.
Ethan is a co-founder, the CEO, and the Creative Director of menswear e-tailer Frank & Oak. His vision of creating a simple and innovative company at the nexus of fashion, technology, and retail makes him an inspiration to his team and those around.
Eric Chan (aka Eepmon)
Tracey shared her background and how a backpacking trip to Nicaragua helped shape her perspective on how development work doesn't need to just be charity. The entrepreneurial spirit of people in developing countries showed her how proud they were - a spirit Tracey says is just starting to be built here in Canada.
Ali is a 3rd year bio-medical engineering student who came up with the idea for a connected Smart bike with his brother and friends during summer 2013. The team then met with FounderFuel accelerator in Toronto before being accpted and moving to Montreal in spring 2014.
Twelve days before Demo Day, they launched a Kickstarter campaign for their product and within 30 hours, they surpassed their main objective of $100,000. Thirty days later, the campaign has raised more than 8x it's original goal, getting featured in different media outlets like NBC, TechCrunch, FastCompany, Mashable, Uncreate and more.
Aaron Zifkin is the Airbnb’s country manager for Canada. He’s tasked with figuring out what Canadian nuances he can find for Airbnb users in our country and how his team can normalize the concept of Airbnb for Canadians.
Steve Beauchesne is the co-founder and CEO of Beau's All Natural Brewing Company, a multi-award winning microbrewery in Eastern Ontario.
Prior to starting Beau's, Steve worked for six years in Business Planning within Ontario Public Service (OPS). He graduated from Ryerson University and had his own band and record label prior to starting Beau's.
In 2012 Steve was a finalist for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, and was a nominee for the Desjardins Entrepreneurial Excellence Awards.
Dax was named Quebec Entrepreneur of the Year in 2012 by Ernst & Young Canada, the same year his company scored a $30-million investment from Accel Partners of Palo Alto, Calif., one of the early backers of Facebook Inc. They recently raised a $35-million Series B round from those same partners.
His company boasts 20,000 customers and has grown from 50 employees in 2011 to 200 now, processing $7.5B in annual transactions with offices in New York, Ottawa, Silicon Valley, and Sydney, Australia.
Justin Mares is the co-author of Traction: A Startup's Guide To Getting Customers.
Justin studied finance at the University of Pittsburg and started his first startup, RoommateFit, while he was there, getting accepted into a local accelerator called AlphaLab. Failing to be able to build a product for the idea, Justin then co-founded CloudFab, am online platform for creating 3D printed products. It was acquired in 2012.
Following this acquisition, Justin joined the team at Exceptional Software as the Director of Growth & Revenue. He was responsible for building out the marketing team in Las Vegas and making sure the product was growing and generating revenue. It was acquired in 2014 by Rackspace.
Shannon Fox is the co-founder of Canopy, a community curated marketplace for Amazon, built by a small team of four based in both San Francisco and Toronto.
Brandon studied economics at McGill University - all while working at one of the first mobile startups in Canada (Airborne Mobile), first as a quality assurance tester and eventually as an integral part of the business development team, pitching brands like Oprah.
Fresh out of school, he was approached to lead mobile product at Manwin, one of the largest adult entertainment companies in the world. Deciding to not pass up on the once in a lifetime opportunity to work in a field with such rich user data and marketing opportunities, Brandon lead a team of 45, generating about 20 million visits per day to the mobile properties and millions of dollars in revenue.
A few years ago, he joined best-selling author Julien Smith, and designer Caterina Rizzi as the first employee at Breather - an on-demand space reservation service (like Airbnb for really, really nice office space).
Dan Beer is an entrepreneur and former director of mergers & acquisitions at IBM. He shared his experience from both sides of the table - building and buying companies; the combination of which made for a very interesting conversation on what decisions founders need to take when building a startup.... even in the very early days.
April Dunford has always been in a marketing role throughout her career in startups. Trained as an engineer, April brought with her methodical principles and the instinct to quantify everything. And it's served her well.
Six startups later, 4 of those have lead to acquisitions and a diversity of executive level marketing roles, most notably with IBM where April handled some acquisitions of her own totalling around $1B.
April doesn't see herself as a founder, but rather a specialist. She typically joins interesting startups between the seed round and the series A round. As we quickly found out, she definitely is a specialist.
FUTURENATIVE - THINK BETTER. BUILD BETTER.
I very occasionally send out an email recapping some thoughts, learnings and ideas typically centred around a thesis & approach I call being “FUTURENATIVE”.
In short, the thesis states: FUTURENATIVE individuals and organization find a unique way to leverage apparent tensions and blend both discovery & execution work, in order to unlock massive impact.
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