CanadianSME September Issue

Page 1


Empowering Canadian Small & Medium Businesses Exclusive PC partner





CEO and Chairman of Square, CEO of Twitter



DECEMBER 10, 2019

CELEBRATING BUSINESS SUCCESS IN CANADA NOMINATIONS NOW OPEN, APPLY NOW T h e C a n a d ian S ME Bu s ine ss awar ds i s de si gn ed to r ec o gn ize and ap p l a u d the co n t ri b u t io n t hat s m a ll b u s in ess owne rs p r o vi de f o r Ca nad a’ s ec o no m y.

25 Award Categories 30 Judges National Awards







COO - Canadian Chamber of Commerce

VP, TELUS Small Business Solutions

President, Canadian Media Directors Council

President & CEO Proof Inc.

President - Cargo






CEO of Nerds on Site

President & CEO Blade Creative Branding Inc.

Executive Director Innovation Guelph

Managing Partner, Disruption Ventures

Founder-Group of One Executive Training Systems Inc.

Exclusive PC partner

WELCOME The September issue of CanadianSME has officially arrived. Through our informative articles and exclusive interviews with influential business leaders, we are undoubtedly impacting Canada’s small and medium-sized business industry. We understand the important role SMEs play in our country’s economy, which is why we’ve made it our mission to deliver vital information to entrepreneurs on their path to success– every month. The month of September represents the end of summer and for many people, it means returning to their regular work schedule. Businesses start blooming and for many entrepreneurs, new ideas start developing. This is where innovative thinking plays an imperative role. For this reason, we have dedicated our September issue to innovation and technology. To stay in the competitive market, entrepreneurs need to prioritize innovation and technology. For many, these two concepts go hand in hand. Innovation means forward thinking and coming up with new and better ways of doing business - often embracing new technology trends. The future is technology. With this said, many entrepreneurs are taking the time to invest in innovative technology resources that can contribute to the success of their business. We firmly believe in the power that innovation has when it comes to the success of your business, which is why we have dedicated an entire issue on all things innovation and technology. This month, our interviews are with some of the most knowledgeable tech leaders in the industry. Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey shares his insights on the latest trends in the tech word, Echosec Systems CEO Karl Swannie talks about technology and entrepreneurship, and Muse CEO Derek Luke gets real about the many challenges faced by entrepreneurs. The Canadian Media Directors’ Council President Shannon Lewis gives us an insider perspective on her role. We also have our business woman of the month, Serena Holmes from Tigris Events. Aside from our exclusive interviews with these Canadian tech tycoons, we also have some fascinating articles on the menu in this month’s edition. Be sure to check out who made our list for the 5 Best Digital Payment Technologies for SMEs and a compelling article titled, Driving Innovation with Collaboration Technology, written by Lisa Ricci, Cisco’s VP of Small Business Solutions. Exclusive chat with Catherine Roche - Head, Marketing and Strategy, BMO Financial Group. Still craving more? Check out our Q&A section with the Top 50 Canadian Leaders on innovation. Our September issue is full of promise and insightful reading on the latest in innovation and technology. CanadianSME hopes you will find your next big idea in this issue. It has been a pleasure to support and encourage you on your journey to entrepreneurship success. Thank you for your continuous support. Happy reading!

Thanks for your support!

CANADIANSME Empowering Canadian Small & Medium Businesses canadiansme canadian_sme canadiansme

Publisher Shaik Khaleeluddin (SK)

Webmaster Ashraf

Consulting Editor Victoria Marcelle

Social Media Cmarketing Inc

Creative Designer Abdhesh Kr. Jha

Cover Photography Ahsan Khan


The Honourable Mary F.Y. Ng Jack Dorsey Lissa Ricci Janet De Silva Jerry Paradise Scott Smith Brett Pitts Laurence Cooke Paul Struthers

Greg Grice Bruce MacLellan Brian Weiner Marie Rosecrans Charlie Regan Hilary Zaborski Nancy Wilson Elaine Kunda Jeff Brown

Carinne Chambers Saini Miki Velemirovich Rick Moore Randall Smallbone Maarten Wensveen Anne Toner Fung Brian Cookson

For Advertisements: For Distribution Enquiries: CMarketing Inc. 2355 Derry Road E, Unit 27 | Mississauga, ON | L5S 1V6 Phone: 416 6550 205, 647 668 5785


ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) ISSN 2562-0649 (Print) ISSN 2562-0657 (Online)

Published by CMarketing Inc. 2355 Derry Road E, Unit 27 | Mississauga, ON | L5S 1V6. Copyright © 2019 CMarketing Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part of any text, photography or illustrations without written permission from the publisher is prohibited.

CanadianSME is also available on:

The contents in CanadianSME Magazine are for informational purposes only. Neither Cmarketing, the publishers nor any of its partners, employees or affiliates accepts any liability whatsoever for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of its contents.



06 11





FoodFund Inc. named winner of TELUS Pitch 2019 and $100,000 Grand Prize


Best Digital Payment Technology for Small Businesses


Making clear business sense with Derek Luke CEO at Muse® by Interaxon Inc.

Small Business Minister The Honourable Mary F.Y. Ng and her thoughts on Innovation for Entrepreneurs


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Jack Dorsey, the CEO of Square and Twitter





Serena Holmes

President & CEO at Tigris Events

Empowering women in business Exclusive chat with Catherine Roche

Head of Marketing and Strategy, BMO Financial Group




Senior Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation Policy, Canadian Chamber of Commerce shares his thoughts on innovation for Canadian businesses

12 18


The Beacon of Light in Media Leadership, Shannon Lewis

By Lissa Ricci, Vice President of small business solutions for Cisco Canada


President of CMDC

Presenting partner January 20, 2020 TORONTO, CANADA


50 20 15

SPEAKERS Expert business speakers

WORKSHOPS Interactive workshops by industry experts

PANEL DISCUSSIONS Expert panel discussions

Exclusive PC partner

The Biggest Gathering of Canadian Small and Medium Enterprises Be a part of the crowd as more than 3,000 business leaders, top executives and top Canadian SMEs gather at the CanadianSME Business Expo taking place on January 20th, 2020 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This is an event that you don’t want to miss!

SHOWCASE YOUR BRAND AT CANADIANSME BUSINESS EXPO 2020 For exhibiting and sponsorship inquiries please email - VENUE


Metro Toronto Convention Centre - 255 Front St W, Toronto, ON M5V 2W6

416 6550 205 647 668 5785


FoodFund Inc. named winner of TELUS Pitch 2019 and

$100,000 Grand Prize Sustainable subscription-based grocery platform selected from a group of five finalists by judging panel led by Canadian small business champion Arlene Dickinson

At a live event in downtown Toronto, the winner of TELUS Pitch 2019 – Canada’s largest small business competition – was announced. FoodFund Inc. – which received a $100,000 cash prize to help further build their business – was chosen from a group of five finalists who emerged from more than 6,400 entrants from across Canada.

make a profound difference,” said Arlene Dickinson, lead judge for TELUS Pitch, General Partner, District Ventures Capital and Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den.“FoodFund has developed an exciting initiative that addresses real concerns that not only impact consumers and farmers, but our environment and economy. I look forward to following their story.”

FoodFund challenges the notion of perfect produce through an online subscription-based platform that connects imperfect produce from farms and distributors directly to households within local communities.

With the $100,000 prize, FoodFund Inc. intends to expand its operations, diversify its produce offering and build food literacy curriculum.

“Once again, TELUS Pitch has highlighted some of the most innovative, tenacious and passionate entrepreneurs in Canada who, through their commitment to create a better future, will help to



“It’s a surreal feeling to win the TELUS Pitch and to rub shoulders with Canada’s brightest entrepreneurs,” said Divyansh Ojha, Founder of FoodFund Inc. “This is the stepping stone we need to take our business into new markets and amplify the impact we’ve already made.”


The other finalists in this year’s TELUS Pitch competition included: Creation Crate, Instage, Goldilocks and Higheredpoints, which each received a $10,000 cash prize. In addition to the grand prize winner of the TELUS Pitch 2019, TELUS also handed out a series of awards recognizing the accomplishments of other outstanding entrants. TELUS presented a “Community Impact” award to MPL Cuts, which has gone above and beyond to build a space that is not only a gender-affirming barbershop in Toronto, but a hub for the queer community. With the award, MPL Cuts also received $5,000 in Samsung products and $5,000 in-kind marketing services from Eighty-Eight. TELUS also presented the “Most Promising Startup” award to Farmbucks, which was established to transform the Canadian agricultural industry by providing grain farmers with a one-stop shop online where they can access the best prices for their products according to location and grade. Farmbucks also received $5,000 in Facebook advertising credits and a oneyear membership at Workhaus valued at $4,200. Finally, TELUS presented the “Multicultural Business of the Year” award to Nom Nom Foods, which has created a range of healthy, family-friendly international food options with authentic world flavours. Along with the award, Nom Nom Foods received $5,000 of in-kind marketing services from Response and a one-year membership at Workhaus. In total, the TELUS Pitch 2019 competition handed out more than $170,000 in cash, prizes and services.

only developing innovative solutions to practical problems, but making a difference in the day-to-day lives of many Canadians,” said Roi Ross, VP Small Business Mobility Solutions, TELUS. “With their leadership, we can be sure to see the Canadian small business landscape continue to grow and thrive.” TELUS Pitch 2019 - by the numbers: •

A record 6,400+ entries were received;

All eligible provinces and territories in Canada were represented;

45 per cent of the entries came from Ontario, with another 45 per cent coming from Alberta and BC;

50 per cent of all entries received were businesses that have been operating for less than two years;

Over 70 per cent of entrants came from rural communities across Canada;

In the top 100, there was an even representation of both women and men entrepreneurs;

83 per cent of all entries were from businesses with less than five employees;

Entries spanned 17 industries, including real estate, IT and telecom, construction, manufacturing, trade and retail.

Watch how the exciting night unfolded via Facebook Live on the TELUS Business page to see the winner receive $100,000.

“TELUS is proud to support Canada’s impressive entrepreneurs who are not only developing innovative solutions to practical problems, but making a difference in the dayto-day lives of many Canadians,” said Roi Ross, VP Small Business Mobility Solutions, TELUS. “With their leadership, we can be sure to see the Canadian small business landscape continue to grow and thrive.”

“TELUS is proud to support Canada’s impressive entrepreneurs who are not






JACK DORSEY Jack is CEO and Chairman of Square, CEO of Twitter and co- founder of both.

How Square is changing the shape of business in Canada? When we launched Square in Canada seven years ago, it was to enable anyone to accept credit cards with a smartphone in their pocket. We have since seen that two-thirds of our Canadian sellers are new to card payments. As sellers of all types and sizes run their business with Square, we have added more tools to help Canadian businesses grow, including digital invoices, analytics, and a customizable loyalty program. We recently launched Square Terminal so Canadian businesses wanting a dedicated payments device finally have a fair and modern way to take payments.

How are Square products and services unique compared to your competitors in the Canadian market?

Too many Canadian businesses deal with monthly and hidden fees and long-term, complicated contracts from traditional payment processors. For the first time, Canadian businesses have a managed payments service with transparent rates and favourable terms with Square. We also help businesses save time and grow faster by offering a digital toolkit that helps sellers manage their sales, inventory, employees and locations. Also, with our free Square app, sellers have access to analytics so they can make informed decisions about their business. What







competitive business environment? No one should be left out of the Canadian economy because the cost is too great or the technology is too complex. We are leveling the playing field so every business has access to the same tools big businesses use.

As sellers of all types and sizes run their business with Square, we have added more tools to help Canadian businesses grow, including digital invoices, analytics, and a customizable loyalty program.




A NEW, FAIRER WAY TO TAKE PAYMENTS, REPLACING THE KEYPAD CARD MACHINE New types of Canadian business owners, from dry cleaners to restaurants, are joining Square Payments and point-of-sale company Square announced Square Terminal, a new, portable, all-in- one payments device for Canadian sellers to ring up sales, accept all forms of payment and print or email receipts. Square Terminal stands apart from keypad card machines as a modern, elegant device, and a fairer way to take payments. Many Canadian businesses wanting a dedicated payments device have dealt with extra fees and long-term contracts for far too long. With Square Terminal, these businesses now have a better way to take payments.“Payment terminals are everywhere, from barber shops to dental offices to furniture stores, and most of the time these businesses are using 1980s calculator-style keypad card machines with complicated contracts and are paying extra fees,” said Jesse Dorogusker, Head of Hardware at Square. “With Square Terminal, we took something Canadian business owners know and have learned to live with, and turned it into something they will love. Businesses are better served with elegant hardware, transparent rates and no long-term contracts, ever.” Built in-house and in part by hardware engineers in Square’s Toronto office, Square Terminal is a dedicated payments device for a wide range of sellers who don’t want to use a consumer device such as a smartphone or tablet as a business tool. With a battery that lasts all day, and both Wi-Fi or Ethernet internet connections, Square Terminal is versatile in helping sellers take payments at or beyond a countertop — around a retail shop, at the table in a restaurant or even when internet service is temporarily unavailable. Ramin Samani, owner of leather repair and key-cutting shop Walk & Wear in Toronto said Square Terminal is another essential tool in his shop. “Finally, there is an honest payments system and it’s simple to understand fees with Square. I was fed up with the other payments providers I tried,” said Ramin. “I love how Square Terminal does it all and it just works. I even get compliments from my customers on the way it looks.” Square Terminal is available to order at priced at $299 for a limited time. With Square Terminal, sellers pay low, transparent and fair transaction rates of 2.65% for every tap, insert or swipe credit card payment and 10¢ for every debit payment. To help smaller sellers, Square is offering zero-interest financing plans so businesses have the option to pay for Square Terminal in monthly installments. Sellers can focus on their business, knowing Square has them covered with data security, dispute management and fraud prevention all included in the flat rates. Sellers also receive 24/7 phone support and a one-year warranty, and can try Square Terminal risk-free for 30 days. Square, Inc. (NYSE: SQ) revolutionized payments in 2009 with Square Reader, making it possible for anyone to accept card payments using a smartphone or a tablet computer. Today, Square provides tools that empower businesses and individuals to participate in the economy. A cohesive ecosystem of managed payments, hardware, point-of-sale software and other business services helps sellers manage inventory, locations and employees; build a website or online store; and grow sales. Square is headquartered in San Francisco, with offices in the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, Ireland and the UK. Square operates in Canada through its wholly owned subsidiary Square Canada Inc. More information about Square is available at 10






With new and innovative ways to make purchases, businesses are opting less for cash and more for digital payment methods. Not only is it more secure, it’s also more convenient and easier. That being said, the digital payment industry is becoming more and more competitive. Gone are the days where consumers only had a limited choice of digital payment technologies to choose from. Providing digital payments as an option to clients can significantly help small business owners to grow their business. It allows them to reach a larger client base and puts them as strong contenders in the competitive market space. When it comes to choosing the right digital payment for SME owners, there are many aspects that they must consider. It can seem overwhelming with all the options in the current digital payment industry. Our team of experts has narrowed down the top 5 best digital payment technology for any small business.





PayPal is the most popular and standard digital payment technology. Not only is it a trusted brand and known by everyone, but also the most convenient. PayPal gives clients the opportunity to purchase things online directly through the PayPal checkout button. Business owners can create, send and receive payments through PayPal making it that much easier for them to manage their payments electronically. The first online global payment platform created for freelances and small businesses, PayPal has come a long way and still continues to innovate the online digital payment industry.

Square gives entrepreneurs a free online store site for them to sell their items and services. Additionally, Square has completely revolutionized the Point of Sale hardware industry. Its device allows smartphone users to attach the little square to their smartphone or tablet and people can easily make their payment like they would with a terminal. Modern and innovative, Square is the new modern technology for POS merchants and digital payments.





Designed to facilitate the checkout process for both consumers and business owners, Stripe has completely redesigned the checkout platform. The Checkout platform offered by Stripe lets consumers stay on the website of the business directly as they purchase their items. No longer being redirected to a third party, Stripe connects consumers and businesses all throughout the checkout process. Definitely a strong contender in the digital payment industry.

PayStand is perfect for small businesses who sell in larger volumes. Instead of charging per transaction, PayStand offers a wide-range of monthly subscription with different monthly fees for entrepreneurs to choose from. Entrepreneurs can choose the model that best suits them and their business and simply pay a monthly fee as opposed to paying per transaction. This can be beneficial in the long run, especially for those who are expecting to have a high number of sales on a regular basis.

Wave facilitates the task of finance management. With a simple platform that makes online payments a breeze, Wave is revolutionizing the digital payment industry with its several features to removes the haste of payments. Keeping things simple, easy and secure is part of Wave’s motto and they are succeeding at it. With their innovative thinking and easy to use features, Wave has quickly become a popular choice among entrepreneurs when it comes to choosing their digital payment technology.





EYE ON TECH DR I VI N G I N N OVAT IO N W IT H CO L L A B O RAT ION T EC HN O LOGY By Lissa Ricci, Vice President of small business solutions for Cisco Canada

Complex work. Teams spread across offices, homes, hotels, cars and airports. That’s the modern reality for business leaders —work happens everywhere at once. And it’s more than that. Work happens on all kinds of devices, from desktop to mobile. Today, co- workers mingle flexibly in pairs and groups. They meet up in spaces designed specifically to encourage innovation and ideation. The modern workplace is one where ongoing innovation is valued above all else –especially for growing organizations. And this flexibility extends well beyond four walls. Think about the way you work today and how it has evolved. Chances are it’s no longer 9 ‘til 5.Mobile employees, contract workers, freelancers, working parents, and the growing army of crowdsourced employees in co-working spaces ... today’s businesses need to have the tools to connect and empower everyone. And they should. Employees expect a flexible work-from-wherever experience. They expect to not let little things like hemispheres and time zones get in the way of good ideas. Collaboration in real-time and in virtual work spaces is considered table stakes. Consider this. In today’s disruptive economy, it’s more important than ever to create and innovate. Start-ups can quickly become the next big global corporation with the right mix of innovation, technology, and talent. How? By focusing on the following:

Communication Strong communication between employees drives the most successful teams. Allow your teams to determine how they want to communicate upfront, and find the right tool(s) to meet their needs.



Focus on goals and results


Make work modular, with tangible deliverables replacing office hours. Teams begin to align more around shared goals and delivering desired results.

Your business may not require voice, video, meetings, and messaging tools. Or your business may require all of them. Evaluate how your employees prefer to work, where they prefer to work, and when. Then look for the tools that will enhance how your employees complete tasks, at a cost you can manage.

Diversity Diverse teams are powerful, with each employee bringing their unique perspective and experiences to the table. And sometimes this diversity literally means working with people outside of your business to gain new insights. When that happens, it’s important to know that you have a secure, fast, and trusted method of communication.

Get organized for speed Agile teams have regular rapid-fire meetings. Access to collaboration tools such as online meeting solutions and persistent messaging platforms are critical and enable teams to quickly engage, ideate, and share. What does this mean for business leaders? If you want to foster innovation within your company, it’s time to prioritize technology that creates opportunities to share concepts and opinions, to brainstorm, envision and dream, no matter what those dreams are. By creating the right environment through focusing on communication, goals, diversity and speed, you get a stream of ideas that might turn out to be the next Uber or Airbnb. But you need the right collaboration tools to get you there and there are lots of options to consider. So when it’s time to select your voice, video, meetings, and messaging tools for your team, consider the following.

By creating the right environment through focusing on communication, goals, diversity and speed, you get a stream of ideas that might turn out to be the next Uber or Airbnb.

Data encryption Not all collaboration tools encrypt your data, which may leave it vulnerable to hackers and malicious users. When it comes to how your employees share customer information, product development updates, and personal details, it’s better to not leave anything to chance. Look for a vendor that takes your cybersecurity seriously and encrypts data.

User experience It almost goes without saying that using your collaboration tools should be simple, easy, and enjoyable. Video should make team members feel like they are sitting at the same table, even if they are separated by thousands of kilometers. Audio should be clear and reliable. Meetings should start with the click of a button. The experience should be the same whether someone joins from their computer or mobile or video device. And all of this should integrate seamlessly with each other, and your other productivity tools.

Simplicity (and reliability) The last thing you need is for your meetings or video solution to require hours of troubleshooting or support every time an update is available. Look for cloud-based solutions that automatically update when newer versions are available and require less hands-on expertise and management. And remember that your collaboration tools will only work as well as your network will allow, so double check that your infrastructure can support the increase in data required by video and meetings.


Vice President of small business solutions for Cisco Canada Lissa Ricci is vice president of small business solutions for Cisco Canada. She is passionate about technology and how it can help growing businesses achieve their goals. See how collaboration solutions can help your business by trying Cisco Webex for free at






EXCLUSIVE CHAT WITH CATHERINE ROCHE Head of Marketing and Strategy, BMO Financial Group

As the Head of Marketing and Strategy, Catherine Roche oversees the bank's strategic positioning relative to emerging business opportunities, with a view to challenging our business models and pointing the way to strengthened cost efficiency and enriched customer relationships. As a key member of the bank’s executive committee, Catherine is accountable for setting the overall strategic direction for the enterprise and operating groups. She is responsible for developing enterprise brand, customer acquisition, and loyalty strategies to create the right external presence for BMO. Catherine develops, communicates and provides oversight on enterprise brand direction, positioning, promise, attributes and architecture, and ensures consistent global application. In addition, she is responsible for the bank’s centres of expertise in digital marketing, customer growth, and retention analytics and customer insights. In partnership with all lines of business, Catherine helps BMO move forward with clear actionable plans and pace. Prior to joining BMO, Catherine spent 20 years working with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), most recently as partner and managing director. She founded and led BCG’s global Center for Consumer and Customer Insight – a functional area of expertise on customer experience and knowledge that crosses all sectors. Adding to this broad and impressive background, Catherine is a published expert in fields such as consumer analytics, data and customer experience. In 2018, Catherine was selected by the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) to join Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners. Catherine sits on the boards of Futurpreneur Canada and Toronto Global. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Memorial University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar and graduated with distinction.




In your expert opinion, what do you believe is the impact that women entrepreneurs have on the Canadian economy? Opinions aside, I think the facts on the impact that women entrepreneurs are having on the Canadian economy do a great job of speaking for themselves. Consider these few proof points as examples: •

We know that women-led businesses contribute $148 billion annually and employ 1.5 million Canadians. (Source: Start UP Canada)

We know that 50% of all new businesses that are started today in Canada are women led. (Source: Everywhere, Every Day Innovating Report)

And businesses started and lead by women entrepreneurs on average create more jobs and have higher survival rates. (Source: Everywhere, Every Day Innovating Report)

What is the number one challenge that women entrepreneurs face and how can BMO help them? Research shows that access to financing is often a challenge for women who start businesses. There are sectors in the economy where access to financing has been easier – tech being one of them. But for many sectors where the representation of women entrepreneurs is even stronger in their leadership and innovation footprint is huge, it can be tougher to get access to financing. At BMO, we’ve been working to address this issue through our own service offerings, but also by elevating the broader public discourse – for example through our recent research partnership with Carleton University and the Beacon Agency to better understand the innovation contributions and support needs of female entrepreneurs. What was the inspiration behind BMO for Women? Fostering diversity and inclusion for our employees, clients and the communities we serve is one of our core values, as we believe it is our purpose to boldly grow the good in business and life.

June 2018 BMO Celebrating Women awards ceremony in Toronto. From left to right: Andrew Auerbach, Head, BMO Private Wealth Canada and Asia; Catherine Roche, Head, Marketing & Strategy, BMO Financial Group; Jody Steinhauer, president of The Bargains Group; Nadine Artemis, co-owner and creator of Living Libations; Nancy Adamo, president and co-owner of Hockley Valley Resort; Christine Manning owner of Manning Canning Kitchens, Inc.; Linda Lundström, Canadian Fashion Icon & Entrepreneur; Sheri Griffiths, Regional President Greater Ontario Region, Business Banking, BMO Financial Group.

Approximately five years ago, leaders from both our wealth and personal and business banking groups recognized the need to take a deliberate approach to serve our women customers. They were inspired by compelling data that underscored a huge growth opportunity from better serving the needs of female entrepreneurs.

Over the next several decades, women will inherit about 70 per cent of the $41 trillion of expected intergenerational wealth transfers. According to Statistics Canada, around 47 per cent of all small and medium sized businesses today have at least some degree of female ownership.

"Research shows that access to financing is often a challenge for women who start businesses. There are sectors in the economy where access to financing has been easier – tech being one of them. But for many sectors where the representation of women entrepreneurs is even stronger in their leadership and innovation footprintishuge,itcanbetougher to get access to financing."

To our BMO team, that spelled opportunity to deliver a truly better and differentiated service experience for female investors and entrepreneurs – and out of that was born our BMO for Women Program.

How is BMO helping women become successful entrepreneurs?

Specifically: •

industry and a strong majority switched their financial advisor following the death of their spouse.

• Despite the clear attractiveness of this group, the survey feedback of women at the time indicated that more than 70 per cent of North American women were unhappy with the financial services

We are helping women succeed as entrepreneurs in a number of important ways. In June, we announced a commitment to double the bank’s industry leading women including support for entrepreneurs, increased dedicated business relationship managers by 2025. Access to financing is a critical need for new and growing businesses. BMO is actively addressing that need with strong credit support for female entrepreneurs. The $2 billion of credit that we announced in 2014,and $3 billion in 2018 – all specifically aimed at the female entrepreneur community – are clear evidence of that commitment.




We are also helping women entrepreneurs with advice and guidance tailored to their needs; and with connection and networking to help them tap into a community of likeminded individuals who are trying to solve for similar goals. It is incredibly important to women entrepreneurs to be able to connect with organizations such as GroYourBiz, WPO. By supporting those organizations as partners, BMO helps deepen and grow those networks. We play a material partnership role in making sure that the networking system is strong and can support women entrepreneurs with their needs. Last year we partnered with Carleton University, the Beacon Agency and the Federal Government when we released the study called Everywhere Every Day Innovating: Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation. A study that also helped form the women’s entrepreneurship strategy in the 2018 Federal budget.

BMO is driven by a single purpose to boldly grow in business and life. At our core, we are focused on driving positive change for our customers, employees and the communities where we do business. We are proud to be recognized by Bloomberg for 4 years now, and by other organizations including Catalyst – we’re one of only nine organizations to win the award twice. Recently our U.S. BMO Harris Bank was recognized by Forbes as one of America’s best employers for diversity. It’s an honour for BMO to be included among global leaders in advocating for a more equitable world.

And also importantly, at BMO we see these types of forums like the Bloomberg Index as wonderful learning opportunities for us. There are great companies doing really great things to move us all forward on the subject of gender equality. Seeing the achievements We are partnering with Women and Gender of other companies highlighted in this way Equality Canada to provide training alongside ours gives us the benefit to women’s organizations to of new ideas and inspiration to build capacity for strategic continue moving our own and financial planning. work on gender equality "We are helping women forward. succeed as entrepreneurs What is the best Such recognitions in a number of important advice that you also serve to inspire ways. In June, we announced a commitment to double the bank’s can give to women organizations to industry leading support for entrepreneurs when embrace diversity and women entrepreneurs, including it comes to inclusion in their own increased dedicated business financing? workforces. relationship managers

1 Know your

by 2025."

numbers. Having a solid business plan and cash flow projection in hand leads to more informed decisions on 2 expansion and business growth. Have confidence and believe in yourself. You’ve got to convey that belief and confidence in selling your business plan.


Talk to your business banker early – even before you think you may need financing. A conversation will go a long way in ensuring you are prepared when you walk back in to apply for the financing you need. Often your Banker will identify items that you haven’t thought about.

BMO was named for the fourth year in a row in the Bloomberg’s Gender Equality Index. What does this represent to you?


The last two decades have been pivotal for women entrepreneurs. Today, there are more women entrepreneurs then there were 20 years ago. (Source: Everywhere, Every Day Innovating Report) What do you believe is the main reason? Women represent 35.6 per cent of all selfemployed persons. (Source: Industry Canada 2015) Women’s motivations to start a business are often related to the types of innovation they create. For instance, women’s entrepreneurial motivations may include rapid growth, a better work-life balance or solving a problem. Although women are found to often have similar motivations to men when they start a business, such as desire to create something or become their own boss, women


nevertheless show that they are more preoccupied by a work-life balance than men. An interest in a work-life balance often drives women’s motivation and creates an incentive for innovation. Wanting to make a social contribution and develop an affiliation to broader groups also motivates women more than men when they start a business. Women entrepreneurs want control over their destiny. They want to find their own way and path. What is the biggest accomplishment that BMO for Women has had to date? What are you most proud of? We are helping transform the public discourse about women entrepreneurs, keeping the topic at the top of the agenda and top of mind by:


Supporting research that drives action to address the imbalances that systemically exist

2 Partnering with women’s organizations

GroYourBiz, President’s Organizations (WPO) of high caliber to support today’s entrepreneurs and the next generation of entrepreneurs (Plan International).

What is the main goal of BMO for Women? Where do you see it going in the future? BMO’s main goal is to be the financial institution of choice for women as investors who are seeking wealth advice, and as entrepreneurs who are seeking business guidance and financing and as an employer of choice for women growing their career. We have seen tremendous pick up of engagement in the past year. We have continued to deepen our partnership with organizations such as GroYourBiz and Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) and have developed new relationships with organizations that also align to our values such as #movethedial, Women Get On Board and Women Deliver. We will continue to champion women entrepreneurs within the industry and with the local, federal and provincial governments.


Does your business need a dedicated I.T. team? Get our Nerds on it.

Not only can we optimize the security and efficiency of your technology, we can also help you save up to 25-35% on your overall tech costs.

Bring us in for a FREE 2-hour technology assessment. VISIT NERDSONSITE.COM OR CALL 1.877.696.3737




The Beacon of Light in Media Leadership,


An executive communications leader, with 18+ years of international experience in the advertising, media and communications industries. Passionate and driven. Shannon champions CMDC’s business objectives with sound strategy, inspired creativity, and humanity. Her mission is to shape the new direction of CMDC. Shannon's operating mandate is to bolster trust by delivering greater – and lasting – value to CMDC members and partners. Currently, CMDC member media agencies account for 80 per cent of the total annual advertising investment in Canada. CMDC actively operates to ensure a fair & progressive marketplace on behalf of their clients, agencies, and media partners.

Blue Ocean Strategy. It’s in my office and I swear by it. It’s fantastic for any business leader. The reason being, you identify what your “blue ocean” is and how to create uncontemplated marketplace and how to make the competition absolutely irrelevant. I think the beauty is when you are strategically agile, you can look beyond that and look at new frontiers, to where opportunity lies. They refer to the Blue Ocean Strategy as looking at your current business, but looking beyond your current customer base. Looking at different opportunities that complement the existing business you are in. I think that speaks true to being strategically agile.

With over 18 years of experience in the media, advertising and communications industries, what would you say is the most important thing you’ve noticed that has an impact on the success of small businesses? Over my career, I have worked in three other markets other than Canada: London, Sydney and Hong Kong. The common thread amongst all has been the importance of agility - to create a culture that is strategically so. Businesses today are a lot more dynamic, going at a faster pace and velocity than they once were. To build sustainable businesses, brands and leadership styles need to be particularly agile. You have to act quickly, decisively and strategically in response to change. I’ve worked across a lot of categories and have been susceptible to change. Whether it be market, culture or regulations, I think companies need to be agile to change, [thoroughly] understand the nuances of the marketplace, and act responsibility and strategically to what is going on out there. Over my career, whether I’m working on big brands or SMEs, I always refer to a book called 18


In your expert opinion, how can SMEs use M&A and strategic partnerships to grow their business? I am running the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC) and my philosophy is “We are better together.” There is an African proverb that says, ‘if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ That’s my intention as leader. For SMEs, I would say strategic partners are a game-changer. Having a small business can be challenging at times when you are competing against big giants. I think partnering, and identify the white space I referred to in Blue Ocean Strategy, defines what opportunity is. [Most] of the time, opportunity lies with partnership. At the CMDC, we did a great session called “Unicorns, Giants and Startups”. CMDC is known for facilitating discussions [between businesses and industry leaders]. We gathered “the unicorns”, which are the startups [that are] shining, tech startups and the giants on stage [to discuss how] digital tech is delivering high growth for SMEs. What I found fascinating is it wasn’t just about the underdog, but a dual benefit for SMEs and larger organizations with partnerships.


When you align strategically, the most important thing to align on is your commonality. [This includes] everything from the core values of your organization, the audience you’re trying to tap into, to your vision and purpose. The [most significant] insight for me was when SMEs partnered, there was access to invaluable expertise and experience. On the flip side, for larger organizations, it can position you with competitive edge, which sometimes is lost with scale. For larger organizations, it can be a testing ground when they partner with SMEs to test new products or innovations or potentially as a white space opportunity for potential acquisitions. As President of the Canadian Media Directors Council, what are some of the initiatives you’re hoping to put in place? I took on the role of president last September. Right off the bat, being a leader, my focus was on the most important aspect of the company which is people. It’s really about human capital. And the second, how do we create substantial growth for our industry? I also believe in improvability. How I’ve done that is by creating a series called the Media Leader Series. CMDC [has a] board comprised of CEOs from leading media organizations. I’m in a unique situation where I’m surrounded by media leaders who are driving the commercial value of their clients, who are marketers. At the same time, we are coming through a bit of change because we are redefining what the media agency model looks like, as well as the media agency environment. [My focus is on] how can I make my leaders be better leaders and bring them all together across all facets of media organizations and media ecosystem, which includes everything from digital, social, creative to broadcast. How do I built programs that inspired and continue to ignite and network amongst the leadership group? And also, the most important thing in my view, how do we inspire the next generation of leaders?

impact within their partnership and also performance. In terms of programming, we hosted a media summit which is focused on inspiring our media community and also talking about the big, burning issues in the [current] media [landscape]. Under my leadership, I want to refresh CMDC and make it a more contemporary and relevant brand. I had a vision to do something [bolder] in our industry and create a form where we gather our media community together and talk about how we build a sustainable, forward-facing future for our business. With that being said, it was called, “seed the future”. It focused on building sustainable business brands and the most important thing, human capital – people. At the same time, it was a marketplace for ideation. We brought some big players who were also partners of ours, The Globe and Mail, Amazon, Spotify, Facebook, Google, and ThinkTV which was representative of all the broadcasters across Canada (Rogers, Bell, and Corus). [The summit] was about bringing all of our partners together to ignite conversation at the leadership level, but also encourage new partnerships. The last thing that is on the top of my role is advocacy. As an association, we are promoting the value of our industry, but also partnering on any big, burning issues that affect our industry. For instance, we’re involved in shaping policy that is directly impacting

marketing and advertising communities. Most recently M2K, which is marketing to kids, which was called Bill S-228, I was involved with, in partnership with our other associations. Anything related to CanCon (Canadian content) we lean into it. The big question right now is around data privacy and responsible advertising. As a body, an association, we definitely lean into the conversation. You’re hoping to reshape the CMDC by bringing it towards a new direction. Do you believe that by implementing a new perspective in the CMDC you will be able to further help entrepreneurs grow their business? Why? As I’ve mentioned before, I was brought in to rejuvenate the brand of CMDC. CMDC is an iconic heritage brand and is over 32 years old. We have strong brand equity in the marketplace. The first thing to do is research, whether you’re a B2B brand or B2C brand, figure out what you stand for and what your customers or members think of you. I met with our members, partners and people to really [understand] what CMDC means to them as a brand. What I found out is it needed to be contemporized, which was my gut feeling at first being a leader, and we needed to rejuvenate it to build some relevancy. That was my first thing to do – reshaping the brand - and also bridging it to the future where we are today. The most meaningful

At CMDC, we have our Youth Ambassadors. They represent all of our member agencies. I meet with them on a monthly basis. The philosophy behind the YA collective is we’re trying to inspire culture connectivity and creativity. In September, we are hosting an award [ceremony] that is going to recognize the next generation of talent. The awards are centered around impact, which I strongly believe in as a leader - how are our youth creating positive impact in the media community, how are they creating positive CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



In your previous experiences, you’ve actively contributed towards the success of global brands such as BBC and Microsoft just to name a few. Can you tell us about the strategies you used that helped you in the successful branding and marketing of these exclusive companies? BBC and Microsoft are very different [brands]. BBC is a quintessential British brand and Microsoft is a leading tech company. I’ve worked on over 50 international brands and the commonality for success has been purpose. The common thread is they stay true to their higher purpose, vision, and true meaning. And more important for today, it’s done in a responsible fashion and acted upon. You can say you have a purpose, but don’t actually act on it. Acting on your brand’s purpose has never been more important. Ultimately, that’s what grows brands that people identify with and love. insight I received, which is also relevant to the marketplace today, we see in the headlines all over the news, is about trust. I believe trust right now is the ultimate currency for our brand, and also for SMEs. In order to grow the business as a brand, they have to build trusted relationships with customers or clients. At CMDC, our core proposition is to be trusted advisors to our media community. What struggles do entrepreneurs encounter in growing their business and how can CMDC help them overcome this? I’ve reframed it to what keeps entrepreneurs awake at night? I was an entrepreneur for five years, I’ve also worked with startups, and as a leader of CMDC, I still have entrepreneurial spirit. Although I am leading an association that is representative of 90 per cent of media across Canada, we still have at our core entrepreneurial spirit. The number one is struggle [surrounds] growth. How do [businesses] scale? But, once you’ve scaled, how do you maintain a start-up culture? It’s that debate between giants and startups. I think with a startup, the struggle for entrepreneurs is the more you grow with talent, scale and resources, how do you maintain that innovative vibe or culture, and will innovation slow down? The flip side solution is if you hire the right people, maintain the right culture and nurture that culture innovation, you can maintain that momentum even if you are growing at rapid speed. There is also a rule of thought that there is a numbers game behind this. An example of this a creative agency I know they 20

opened a second creative shop once they hit 120 [employees] – that was the sweet spot in terms of numbers. Some agencies and organizations will open start different divisions once they’ve reached a specific cap [number of employees]. A second struggle is [acquiring] talent. I constantly hear people ask, ‘how do we attract talent’? I believe we are very lucky in Canada. SMEs are perfectly positioned because we have a diverse marketplace – a diverse city in thinking, which is critical to our industry today. On a broader spectrum for Canada, we embrace entrepreneurial culture. You look at the rise in creativity, the rise in tech jobs (we’re a hotshot for AI right now), the engagement economy and sharing economy in the Canadian environment, I think we’re a hotbed for entrepreneurial spirit and creativity. The Economist [magazine] said there were more creative and tech jobs in Toronto than there are in Washington, Seattle, and San Francisco combined. For me, being a leader in our media industry, this is what is so exciting – when you look at our diverse palate. Number three is attitude. As an entrepreneur or leader, you have to be a self-motivator. What keeps entrepreneurs up at night is ‘how am I going to get up and do it again?’, and have that drive and ambition, and look at things from a fresh and optimistic perspective. We are our best motivators. It can be very lonely at the top, so it’s very important to surround yourself with brilliant people you can rely on. I think it’s very important to stay connected to people that can understand the position you are in.


I always distill purpose to what is your why for the greater good. A lot of people think purpose is philanthropy – what charity are you aligning your brand with? That is not it. Your purpose and your brand is your mission. Every successful business I’ve worked on really stayed true to their purpose. Without a purpose, I believe the business model is incomplete and will not survive the test of time. Purpose is also about the bottom line because you need to run a business. Purpose is about having a core purpose, but making profit, and driving optimal performance from your team. What are the top three factors that entrepreneurs should consider when it comes to the successful marketing and advertising of their company? Number one is human truth. Even though we live in a world where we have a lot of data which informs insights, the focus on any successful marketing or advertising campaign is what is that core insight that really drives people? What is the fundamental human truth that is motivating the customer’s behaviour? That’s paramount for any CEO driving the business. My next point is never lose sight of your customer, whether it’s B2C or B2B. Number one, how do you provide the ultimate customer experience? Right now, in our digital world, how do you connect those dots? How do you provide this connected customer experience across every single channel? The third point is to test new ideas and strategies. We should advise entrepreneurs

to be ready to explore, take risks, test, and implement. Draw on skills from the current talent you have in your current organization, but also look outside of your organization to enable you to try and test new ideas and strategies. That’s really the only way you can be innovative as a small business owner. How important do you believe innovation is when it comes to marketing and advertising for small business owners? What role does it play? For small business owners, there is a [demand] that you have to be innovative, especially in the age of distraction. As we know, there is a velocity in data and consumers are more distracted. Companies and brands need to be innovative and innovation is a leader in having that relentless pursuit to be better and move your brand forward. I recently attended the Cannes Lions Festival and one common truth with innovation was there is a rise of challenger brands in the marketplace. I call it a marketing mega trend – there are a lot of small, innovative brands coming up that are challenging different categories, creating new audiences and transforming the way we live. At Cannes, I met with a company called Oatly, a Swedish brand that is an alternative to milk. Their philosophy is ‘it’s like milk, but made for humans’. They are staying true to their core purpose which is redefining what the food production system is. This is especially [relevant] with the rise in lactose intolerance and people [examining] the food production [processes] today. They’re really redefining the farm to table

category. To me, that was really fascinating as a challenger brand in terms of what drove it, what made it unique and successful. While I was in Austin at a YPO retreat, there was the rise of e-scooters. Everyone was commuting by e-scooters. When you look at it from a challenger brand perspective in that sector, they’re not only redefining what mobility is, but they’re challenging cities to rethink the way they build cities and the way transportation functions. I think that’s important for Toronto too. As cities [become denser] and populated, it’s important to look at redefining how people get around, the mobility of a city, and how to give accessible mobility to everyone in terms of affordability. Brands such as Lime and Bird have redefined the e-scooter revolution. Uber is now getting into e-scooters. What has been the biggest accomplishment of your professional career? What are you most proud of? I have been fortunate to work with wonderful people because I’ve had a lot of international experience. I think the people I surrounded myself with are what has driven success in my professional career. Currently, I am honoured to be the president of the CMDC and I work with my board, who are some amazing CEOs who are leading media agencies. Not only are they driving the commercial success for their clients, but also driving the culture and reshaping the future agency model and media within their organization. I am so proud to be at the helm of this association.

Ultimately, what’s most important to me is the next generation – looking at the future generation in media and inspiring youth. I am also honoured to sit on the Canadian Cannes Advisory Board. In June, I was at the festival and I mentored the next generation of marketing and creative talent that were competing on a globe scale. I am proud I was able to be at the epicenter with them, discussing important topics such as unbiased leadership, responsible advertising, brand purpose and women in leadership, which is close to my heart. On a personal note, you are involved in several charities and organizations. What organization is closest to your heart and why? I always believe that anything I do related to a charity or organization has to be intrinsic to my core values – what I believe in or what issue I want to address at that time. In the past, I was heavily involved with a children’s charity in London, England when I wasn’t a mom. Now, as a single mother, I am still involved with children’s charities because it’s intrinsic to what I believe in. I believe in protecting, and inspiring kids to be the best they can be and play. Through CMDC’s Youth Ambassador program and Young Lions program, [I have been able to mentor] the next generation. I have also been involved in raising awareness and fundraising for art charities, such as NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society).



Canadian business leaders and their thoughts on





The Honourable Mary F.Y. Ng

Lissa Ricci

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Vice President, Small Business Cisco Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is about pushing boundaries; finding a solution where others see a problem; and creating new ways of thinking, doing, and relationship building. For generations, Canadians have been at the forefront of discovery. We are a prosperous and competitive nation, adapting and thriving in a rapidly changing economy.

Innovation is all about creating new solutions for existing problems. We want our small business customers to be productive, grow and stay competitive – and having solutions that empower them to do that is key. At Cisco, we have a rich history of innovation and collaboration, bringing customers, partners, entrepreneurs and academics together to create, test and refine leading-edge technologies that will ultimately solve pain points, whatever they are, for entrepreneurs.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? In a globally connected world and an increasingly digital economy, businesses must continue to innovate and invest in modern technologies to remain competitive on the world stage. This is why, in 2015, our government began its work with a mandate that prioritized investing in innovation and job creation. We built critical infrastructure, modernized regulations, and invested in Canadian innovation so that companies could compete on the global stage. Our government created the firstever Innovation and Skills Plan, which has redefined Canada’s innovation ecosystem, helping thousands of Canadian companies start up, scale-up, and create one million new jobs. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? My advice would be to check out to learn more about the tailored supports our government has for you. We know that entrepreneurs are busy. To help you access government programs and advice, we launched the one-stop shop website where SMEs can enter just a few details about themselves and find out all the government programs for which they are eligible. We also launched the Canada Business App that brings the world of government programs and services to your phone and provides helpful notifications for entrepreneurs and business owners. I would also say to remain curious, creative, and bold. This entrepreneurial and innovative spirit long ago situated Canada as a global leader.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Whether you’re a large enterprise or a small business, investing in technology is no longer a nice to have. Modern tech can help you reach more customers, be more profitable and improve productivity. Investing in new technology also doesn’t mean overhauling and can suit businesses and budgets of all sizes. If you’re not investing, you’re missing out on growth opportunities for your business. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Innovation is an ongoing process, and it isn’t always going to be large, flashy and disruptive. Equally important is ensuring you’re continuing to support smaller, incremental innovations that together, will make a big impact. Focus on your most valuable innovation experiences and leverage your employees’ strengths and passions to encourage future innovation.

Janet De Silva President & CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is the process of turning original thoughts, ideas and inventions into practical, real-world value. The best innovations are the ones that create value not only for its creators but for the society as a whole. It can help answer some of the big social challenges facing us, such as climate change or a sustainable urban environment. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The past two decades have seen the business world transformed by the mass adoption of information and communications technology. From a business perspective, refusing to adapt to this scenario means falling behind in productivity and growth. Emerging technologies such as machine learning and cloud computing promise to unleash a new wave of innovation and adopting these as early leaders can offer huge opportunities. To delay could be terminal.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Innovative technology is not a solution on its own: the wrong tech can be like a square peg in a round hole, so it is crucial to get the question right before you make an investment. If your goal is to save energy costs, then maybe the internet of things could help better manage your business. If it is about increasing customer loyalty, using existing information through data analytics may be a better alternative. Understanding the problem is key to turning innovation into an opportunity.




What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is taking transformative technologies and turning them into business advantages for our customers. It is what drives us at Lenovo as we focus on designing products with purpose and smarter technology for all. By listening to our customers’ feedback and studying their habits, we are continuously innovating and bringing new solutions to market. Our foundational engineering principles focus on things that matter to our customers: productivity, collaboration and security. For example, Lenovo has been selling the iconic ThinkPad computer for 27 years, and we have continuously innovated by listening to 140 million ThinkPad users worldwide. A few of those innovative solutions include new form factors like ThinkPad Yoga with 360-degree hinge, new lighter and more durable materials such as carbon weave and aluminum, as well as security features for today’s business users. Our ThinkShield security solution provides holistic hardware, software, services and processes for a business to secure its data. ThinkShield Innovative features also include a privacy screen, security of data while working in crowded areas, airplanes, as well as ThinkShutter camera for confidential conversations. Our customers shared those pain points, and Lenovo has delivered – that is the definition of innovation to me. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Technology has the ability to empower smarter business. At Lenovo we see this as Intelligent Transformation – using intelligent computing to empower people and business. I have seen first-hand the impact leading technology can have on a small to mid-size company, and I would break down the benefits of adopting new technologies into three points:

Smarter Devices: Outdated technology increases downtime. According to IDC, the average cost of downtime is $70,000 per hour. Small to medium companies can’t afford downtime. Thus they have to make sure they are using the latest technology and devices to make their business competitive. Different job functions require different tech solutions. Engineers need powerful ThinkPad workstations with the latest processors to complete their tasks. Much of the healthcare industry needs workstation power for diagnostic imaging. With more data analysis, more industries are turning to these solutions. It’s all about the device of choice and giving employees devices to do their specific job from PCs to tablets, to workstations and servers. Smarter devices and technology are also being used to attract talent, as 80% of millennials say technology influences job selection. Smarter Workplaces: Technology allows for workplace transformation. Physical boundaries do not define younger generation employees and small/medium businesses – they expect to work remotely or in co-working spaces and look for virtual connectivity and collaboration with colleagues on-demand. Around 92% of businesses are embarking on workplace transformation initiatives creating smaller huddle rooms that promote better collaboration. Lenovo ThinkSmart conferencing solution with Skype and Zoom can link people faster and transform meeting culture, making it simple to connect across the world with one touch of a button. This is the evolution of the smart office, and 57% of employees expect to be working in that type of environment within five years. Delivering on these technology expectations creates a positive employee experience and increases productivity and employee retention. Smarter Businesses: Emerging technologies can revolutionize the way we interact with each other. Adapting innovative technology in the workplace can increase competitiveness and enhance the speed of business processes with employees and consumers. An example of this is the automation of labour-intensive manual tasks. Integrating AI technology in the workplace can effectively streamline busy-work and get your employees focused on more strategic thinking and greater business challenges. Augmented reality and Virtual reality solutions are allowing businesses to change their practices completely. For example, our aerospace customers are using Lenovo’s ThinkReality headsets to eliminate downtime by diagnosing airplane issues, fixing them quickly and getting travellers on the way faster. At Lenovo, we see similar applications in manufacturing, oil/gas/utilities, field service, healthcare, engineering and architecture. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Updating technology is essential for a company to remain relevant. However, the transition to new devices and tools should be done mindfully. Ensure that your investment in tech seamlessly enables a better employee experience and promotes agility, creativity and productivity while meeting security needs. Just like you have a business plan to run your business, you should have a tech plan so that you can allow your business to grow. Technology also attracts and empowers employees. People are a company’s most valuable asset, and it is predicted that by 2025, Millennials and Gen-Z will represent 75% of the total workforce. Companies must accommodate how this next generation is looking to work with advanced tech tools and have smarter experience between devices. They must demonstrate dedication to employee success and motivate their teams by providing them with technology that helps them perform at their best.

Jerry Paradise

Vice President, Commercial Portfolio & Product Management, Lenovo Jerry joined Lenovo in 2005 and is currently the Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Portfolio & Product Management. His responsibilities include global commercial portfolio strategy, innovation planning, and product management for the corporate, education, and government segments. Jerry also has responsibility for Lenovo’s Workstation and Smart Office businesses. Prior to this, Jerry led the global Commercial Business Segment for Lenovo and was a key contributor to Lenovo's rise to become the largest commercial devices company globally. Before joining Lenovo, Jerry spent 13 years at IBM holding numerous management roles across manufacturing, and development. He has multiple patents in the information technology field and holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from N.C. State University. 24



Brett Pitts

Scott Smith

Chief Digital Officer, BMO Financial Group

Senior Director of Intellectual Property and Innovation Policy Canadian Chamber of Commerce

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation’, to me, is the development and execution of breakthrough, valuegenerating improvements to process, technology, and/or user experience for customers or employees. The value generated from successful innovation doesn’t even have to be associated with an intended outcome – it can be from the learnings associated with failure.

Innovation means capturing and executing on a clever idea for a product, service or process that solves a problem in such a novel and unique way that it grabs the attention of the marketplace as the preferred option. Too often, the word innovation is branded in a marketing exercise to draw attention to something that is not particularly clever and would not meet the test of novel and unique. All companies should strive to innovate.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Business environments, today, are incredibly dynamic and only becoming more so. When an organization is looking to invest in innovation, they are looking at their business critically - understanding the needs of their customers, their traditional and non-traditional competitors, and looking at how their own organization runs in order to make it more effective and efficient. Innovation requires the development of organizational muscles, across functions, for years, in order to become more effective – it’s not something at which a company is effective the day it decides it needs to be more innovative. An innovation culture is a learning culture and a risk-taking culture that is more responsive and adaptable in everything it does. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Investment in innovation is not inherently the same as investment in technology or investment in feature-development or projects. Effective innovation requires a deep understanding of what creates customer and business value, what creates and mitigates risk, and when technology supports a complete rethink of business processes. Innovation requires a bias for action and an understanding that an organization learns more by doing and iterating than it does by endlessly analyzing. In my experience, here’s how to start: pick a meaningful customer or business problem; put together a cross-functional team composed of people close to the work to examine that problem and possible ways of addressing it from different angles; give the team the resources and the permission to experiment, and then publicly celebrate the learnings from unsuccessful outcomes every bit as much as you celebrate successful outcomes.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? There is a clear correlation between innovation and profit growth. Companies need ideas to grow, and the companies that generate a plethora of ideas grow faster when there is a clear corporate commitment to cultivating ideas and executing on them. That is a culture of innovation. While investing in modern technologies is important for all companies, adopting new technologies is not an innovation per se. However, using technology in a novel way to execute on an idea? That is innovation. Good fortune comes to those who are prepared. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? The commitment to an innovative culture starts at the top and percolates through the company. Innovation is a process, not a windfall. The process begins by allocating the resources necessary to generate ideas, evaluate ideas, refine ideas and execute on the ideas that rise to the surface as winners. Finding the right people and giving them the tools, such as technology and training, to succeed and the right balance of rewards to incentivize the process will lead to profit growth.

Laurence Cooke

Founder, Chief Executive Officer nanopay Corporation

What is your definition of “innovation”? In my opinion, there are two parts to innovation:1) The first aspect of innovation is that it has to be something brand new. It’s not copying something what someone else has done, but something truly unique.2) The second aspect is that is must add value. Innovation should improve a product, idea, or break a paradigm. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? With increasing global competition, the world is now relatively ‘flat’. Companies cannot rely on their existing customer base and market share. They must innovate to survive. Especially with the pace of improvements in Artificial Intelligence (AI), if companies do not continue to innovate - everyone’s job will disappear.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Canadian businesses need to look well beyond our borders to unexpected places. While the U.S and Europe have generated a number of ‘unicorn’ startups lately, I believe that the real innovation is happening in Asia and Africa. It’s time to think beyond a Canada- first or Canada-only business model. The global economy is where innovation is going to matter most.






upto 100 employees





T h e Can a di anS M E Bu s i n es s aw ard s is d e sig ne d to r ec o gn ize and ap p l a u d the c o n tr ib u t i on th at s m al l b u s ine ss o wn er s p r o vi de f o r C anad a’ s ec o no m y.







COO - Canadian Chamber of Commerce

VP, TELUS Small Business Solutions

President, Canadian Media Directors Council

President & CEO Proof Inc.

President - Cargo






CEO of Nerds on Site

President & CEO Blade Creative Branding Inc.

Executive Director Innovation Guelph

Managing Partner, Disruption Ventures

Founder-Group of One Executive Training Systems Inc.


Greg Grice Executive Vice-President, Business Financial Services, RBC

Paul Struthers Executive Vice President and Managing Director at Sage Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is the iterative journey of solving pain points and looking for ways to make good things even better by relentlessly challenging the status quo, asking and understanding the “why” before we ask “how”, and putting the client or end user at the heart of it all. Innovative changes can be incremental to an existing idea or they can be a revolutionary ‘first’. Regardless of the scale, any truly innovative change has the potential to transform the way we live, work and interact, whether it’s in the small, everyday moments or in more profound and widespread ways.

To me, innovation isn’t something you turn on or off. It has to be part of your DNA, every waking moment of every day. It’s the lifeblood of how humanity has scaled such great heights with technology, medicine, architecture, art, and manufacturing. And although innovation is often connected in people’s minds to technology, I believe we need to look at it from diverse perspectives. Yes, part of that is about asking oneself ‘how can I create the next killer product in the market,’ but we also need to consider questions such as how can I radically improve that business process? How can I shake up my team to drive worldclass results? How can I be the best team member, partner, or leader? Most importantly, how can I deliver the most breathless, memorable and impactful experiences for my customers? Innovation is a way of approaching the world, and the more we push ourselves to embrace it, the better off we’ll be.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The advancement of technology is fueling an unprecedented level of change, both in customer expectations, behaviours and the way we work and deliver in the marketplace. The speed and magnitude of that change will only continue to accelerate, and investments in innovation, talent and emerging technologies is now table stakes for companies that want to stay competitive and relevant to customers. Given this, it’s important to balance the common instinct to view emerging technologies as risky disruptors and play devil’s advocate by approaching it with some curious optimism as well. Modern technologies can be powerful enablers to help companies unlock greater efficiencies and innovations, and create more value for their customers. Are there risks to emerging technologies? Absolutely, and that risk threshold will be different for every business. But rather than taking a “wait and see” approach to adoption, businesses should assess the risks, weigh it against the ultimate benefits to their clients and employees, be agile in piloting solutions before a widespread implementation and have thoughtful contingency plans. By waiting too long and trying to avoid the risks of technology and innovation altogether, you face a bigger risk of being left behind by your customers and competitors. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Before diving into the investment, make sure you truly understand the “why”. What’s the pain point you’re trying to solve and why? What impact will it have on your customers and employees in the short and long term? Do these changes align with your company’s ultimate purpose and vision? Successfully implementing technological changes or innovative programs also requires a shift in mindset, culture and way of working. That needs to be led from the top and embraced throughout the organization. To maximize adoption, bring your employees and clients along the journey by creating an open feedback loop throughout the implementation process. It takes diverse ideas and perspectives to come up with great solutions. Encourage people to share what’s working well, their concerns and candid feedback so that you can continue to adapt the implementation process and ensure that it works for the employees and customers who will become the ultimate end users and beneficiaries. Finally, you don’t have to do it alone. Explore opportunities to partner with organizations that have the expertise, scale and capabilities to collaborate on innovative opportunities, seek advice and share best practices.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? If you’re a company interested in growth, then you need to be constantly pushing boundaries, whether that’s developing the next big thing in a product, raising capital, entering new markets, or just creating the best company possible for you and your people. To do that an innovation mindset is critical. When harnessed properly, technology can help to unleash disruptive new ideas by providing eye-opening data insights, exposing new market opportunities, automating business processes, removing the administrative burden, and broadening your brand reach. Depending on your area of focus, data analytics, opportunity identification and nurturing, as well as order-to-cash technology (accounting, business management), payment and payroll automation can help to ease your day-to-day hassles so you can focus on what matters most – taking care of your business. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Don’t’ try to do too much. You likely got into business to solve specific problems for your customers. Stay focused on that mission and allocate your investments to areas that will make the most impact. Hire the best people for your domain. Deploy technology and processes that will help you understand your customers in- depth so you can best solve their current and future needs. Provide the best training and development possible for your team, and keep them on the cutting edge of technology. Create a fun, challenging, continuous learning environment for your team – as well as customers and partners for that matter – that will keep innovation core to your company’s DNA.




Brian Weiner Vice President, Product and Strategy, Visa Canada

Bruce MacLellan CEO Proof Inc.

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is about taking ideas and elevating them from concept to reality. The payments ecosystem is a breeding ground for innovation. As a leading player within that ecosystem, Visa is constantly looking for ways to help Canadian consumers and merchants make their ideas a reality. Our Visa Developer Center was created with just that in mind – it’s a resource for fintechs and small businesses to turn their great ideas into commercial realities by leveraging the payment capabilities that Visa is synonymous with.

Innovation is the disciplined process of pushing for ways of doing something better, faster or cheaper, or some mix of all three. Ideally, there is a customer benefit, allowing the innovative organization to grow and prosper. At Proof, it’s about supporting people to experiment in doing things that are new or different in how we deliver excellence in communications for clients. We must expect mistakes and failure in this process, but the discipline is in not tolerating complacency, mediocrity or incompetence. Innovation should also be about excellence.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

The most important thing for Canadian businesses is to stay current with their customers’ expectations. The digital age has led to changes in consumer expectations with respect to the way they transact and make purchases. Canada has one of the highest growth rates of e-commerce and mobile payments in the developed world, yet according to a recent Business Development Bank of Canada study, less than half of small and medium-sized businesses sell online. This must change; in 2019, the ability to sell online is just table stakes.

The capitalist system functions by eliminating weakness and rewarding innovation. Without innovation, a company will fade away to nothing. Henry Ford watched other people trying to perfect faster horses or lighter buggies, and then he developed the mass-produced automobile. Innovation is not only important or the industry, it’s important for employee morale and company culture. The best talent wants to work at a company where change is encouraged and expected. In our business, innovation is about understanding client challenges trying different approaches and building new services (innovating) to meet those needs. With the Internet, tools and technologies allow us to be more efficient and learn faster than ever before – all to serve our clients better.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Be very clear about the expected impact of those investments on your customers, test your theory before investing, and track its impact after investing. There are always going to be competing priorities, and small business owners can only spread their time and resources across so many things. Ensure that you are prioritizing investments that will enable you to meet your customers’ needs today and in the future. Also, take advantage of the resources around you. Leading companies in the payments ecosystem like Visa are looking for ways to help small businesses – business owners would be surprised at the number of tools at their disposal.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Know your industry sector, observe your competitors, listen to your clients and deliver what they need. Innovation is a long-term play and requires lots of collaboration and willingness to fail. Leadership must set the tone. “Cool” offices don’t equal innovation – open and curiousminded people willing to try new things – with the leeway to try, learn, fail, try, learn, succeed. Invest in the right people, set a standard of excellence and skip the pool table!

Raghwa Gopal President + CEO - InnovateBC

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is our pathway to a better future. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? All over the world, we’re seeing technology transform industries to help companies become more efficient, more competitive, more scalable, and most importantly, more profitable. Companies that are not embracing innovation will soon find themselves out of money, out of customers, and quite possibly, out of business. 28


What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Investment into innovation is an investment in your company’s future. For Canadian companies looking to adopt or develop innovative solutions, there are several funding, mentorship, and collaboration opportunities available to you. Whether it’s government grants, R&D tax credits, or even a local accelerator program, there are resources in place to support your innovation investments.


Holger Kormann President - ADP Canada

Carmine Cinerari President - Sharp Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Anticipation and transformation. Innovation is about leveraging insights to evolve the way we live, work and play – and it isn’t limited to technology. To me, it is about challenging the way we think to discover a new or better way of doing things.At ADP, we embrace this philosophy and are constantly evaluating how we can empower our clients to think forward and shape the changing world of work.

Innovation is an imaginative mind at work. In the case of incremental innovation, it considers what currently exists or seems possible within the confines to today’s reality. On the other hand, the most exciting innovation is breakthrough innovation which focuses on what is imaginable but not yet possible without solving many challenges. Innovators convert an idea or concept into a reality that tends to look obvious in hindsight. Of course, it’s tough to make that intuitive leap, and even harder to solve all the problems to make it real. For us, this often involves solving technology and engineering challenges or imagining new solutions to make people’s lives better.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Service delivery today – from hailing a cab to managing talent at a large-scale enterprise – is largely technology based and driven by user experience. End users expect authentic and intuitive platforms that add value. Technology is becoming a more integrated aspect of the HR landscape. It is used to recruit and onboard new talent, empower and train employees, schedule or track time and simplify payroll. These tasks, among many others, are being seamlessly integrated into various HR programs to make processes easier for employees and employers alike - all thanks to modern technologies. However, technology should also be human - centered and focus on the needs and abilities of the user, so that it’s enjoyable and easy to use. For example, we offer our clients access to the ADP Marketplace, which is a digital HR storefront offering solutions that simply and securely share data. Investing in modern technologies allow businesses to improve productivity, stay ahead of their competitors and build value while reducing costs. Businesses that fail to innovate and embrace technology run the risk of losing market share to competitors, losing key talent or going out of business. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Canadian businesses that are looking to make the most out of their innovation investments should:Understand why you are investing. What problem are you trying to solve? In today’s landscape technology and innovation are everywhere – there are so many interesting and slick platforms on the market that we can often be mesmerized by how ‘cool’ something is. Before you invest, take the time to understand the problem you are trying to solve and what your needs are. Don’t forget to involve the end-user. Your employees and customers are integral to your success – any new technology should be built with them in mind and include their feedback, input and expertise. Focus on ease of adoption.With innovation often comes a fear of the unknown. To help encourage adoption, focus on the ease of integration, and how it will improve outcomes and efficiencies. Embrace technology and change. Technology has always laid the foundation for the way of the future. It helps businesses improve processes and efficiency, as well as profitability.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? As the technology that was once used in business has become ubiquitous in our daily lives (think the mobile phone, LCDs, companies have no option but to innovate and invest in modern technology to arm their organizations for survival in a competitive market. They also must adapt to changing demographics in their workforce that have been born into this technology-driven environment. Investments in technologies that facilitate innovation can pay small dividends daily in terms of customer care, employee satisfaction, cost reduction, and productivity improvement. With the trend to open office environments, telecommute and share workspaces, it is important for employees to be connected and able to collaborate. For example, imagine a full range of large-format interactive displays that allow team connectivity, communication and collaboration around a central display. Rather than the social trend of “heads-down” swiping and screen time which isn’t conducive to teamwork, employees can leverage their technology to share ideas on a central collaboration display that operates much like the mobile technology they are used to. It’s a new experience that opens up new possibilities forcing peoples’ heads up and participation. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? One of the most important things for businesses to consider when implementing new technology is the communication and integration of the solution into your company culture, keeping a keen focus on your vision or desired state. From the initial needs assessment through the implementation, companies should contextualize investments in terms of the innovation or value they bring to the business. Employee engagement and training is also necessary to ensure that investments are utilized to their fullest potential. Look for solution providers with an eye to understand your business and potential implementation challenges rather than selling you the latest technology that may not generate value in your organization.




Marie Rosecrans Senior Vice President of SMB Marketing at Salesforce

Jesse Dorogusker Hardware Lead, Square

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is often thought of as the latest buzzword in technology, but to me, it’s simply about achieving positive outcomes in new ways. It’s one of our core values at Salesforce, and something we always think of in relation to our customers: What challenges are they facing today and how can we find new ways to help solve them? I’m constantly on the road meeting with small businesses, listening to their needs, and working with our team to develop creative ways to address them — it could be adopting AI or advanced analytics, but other times, it could just be finding ways to make their lives easier. Many small businesses don’t have IT teams or budgets for consultants, so we invested in making it easy to get started with CRM. Essentials is easy to set up and we’ve made support “coaches” available to provide a helping hand right when small businesses need it. We’re in an exciting time where customer needs and expectations seem to change daily, and we want to help our small business customers stay ahead of the curve.

At Square, all of our innovations are a direct extension of our purpose of economic empowerment and we build and ship products in service of it. It’s important for us to understand our seller's needs, and also be an expert in the latest in technology, so we can build the most innovative tools that will best serve them. For the Canadian business owners we work with today, that means designing remarkable products to ensure sellers of all sizes can start, run and grow their business seamlessly. Take the traditional payment terminals that are everywhere—from dry cleaners to dental offices to corner stores— for business owners, they symbolize access and financial inclusion. Many businesses today are using outdated keypad card terminals that come with extra fees and long-term contracts. We recently introduced Square Terminal to change that experience by offering sellers a beautifully designed, modern, all-inone device that is a fairer way to take payments.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Today’s consumers hold all the power — they determine which companies lead and which fall behind. Innovating and investing in technology to provide better experiences to these customers is critical. But it’s not always easy! In fact, our most recent Small and Medium Business Trends report found that 53 per cent of SMB leaders feel they’re at a competitive disadvantage versus large enterprises when it comes to meeting customer expectations. But modern technology evens the playing field, helping companies of any size to engage with customers and build stronger relationships. One of our small business customers,, which creates award- winning podcasts, was able to get started using Essentials in just a few hours. They use it to manage relationships with guests and sponsors, and provide a better experience to both. Although they launched just last year, they’re already reaching millions of listeners! At Salesforce, we see many small companies that can take on large, well established competitors when backed by the right technologies.

In major technology transitions, big businesses do well because they have large budgets, big IT departments, and ongoing, expensive support. Smaller businesses, however, get left behind because they don’t have access to the same resources. They instead get stuck with old, expensive and complicated technology that no longer adequately serves them. Our job at Square is to level the playing field and make sure Canadian business owners of all sizes and types have equal access to the tools they need to grow. We designed Square Terminal so sellers and their customers can use it immediately without a second thought and with no extra training required. With this all-in-one, purpose-built tool, we offer sellers simplicity and reliability right in the palm of their hands.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Being a small business leader means wearing a lot many and not having enough hours in the day, so finding the right technology to make running your business easier is key. My advice is to think not only about what would help you now, but also what you’ll need in one, two, or five years down the road. It’s critical for businesses to choose technology that can grow with them. For example products that give them flexibility to organize teams and access to information as they grow, or let them easily add additional functionality (like marketing or customer service) as they need it. If their technology doesn’t scale in this way they’ll waste valuable time and money every time they outgrow a product. That’s why created Salesforce Essentials — our allin-one sales and support app designed and priced for small businesses. Customers kept telling us they wish they could have started with enterprise- quality CRM at an earlier stage. Now they can.



What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Canadian business owners should invest in technology that allows them to save precious time and money, and focus on what they do best - running a business and making the sale. At Square, we build remarkable, modern, affordable, self-serving products that allow them to do just that.

"In major technology transitions, big businesses do well because they have large budgets, big IT departments, and ongoing, expensive support. Smaller businesses, however, get left behind because they don’t have access to the same resources."


Andrew Turnbull Senior Vice-President CIBC Business Banking

What is your definition of “innovation”? For me, innovation is about new ideas coming to life, transformation and simplicity. For business owners today, it can be a ‘first to market’ product or service, implementing a new technology to achieve efficiencies and also changing your business model or radically simplifying how something is done, and so much more. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Technology is evolving so rapidly today. It is enabling business owners to interact and transact with their employees, customers, and suppliers more efficiently while freeing up time to focus on higher-value activities. Investing in innovation is essential for businesses to stay relevant in their industries and achieve business growth. At CIBC Business Banking, we help business owners invest in innovation. We are also leading by example with cutting edge banking tools and solutions for our clients, including CIBC SmartBanking for Business, a first-of-its-kind platform that combines banking and cloud accounting and payroll platforms. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Every business should evaluate its resources, needs, priorities, and vision in order to understand the path that maximizes the impact of any investment in innovation. Do your research and talk to trusted advisors.

Sohil Tiwari Senior Vice President, Market Development, Mastercard in Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is about giving consumers choice – by making the technology in their lives simple, secure and ubiquitous. For Mastercard, that means making payments frictionless because people don’t wake up in the morning thinking about how they’re going to pay. They simply want to go about their lives, and our role is to ensure they can make fast, simple and secure payments, regardless of the device. We’re constantly focused on providing the best digital experience, ensuring every transaction is secure and giving consumers control. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Consumers today want a personalized, seamless experience, the ability to shop from anywhere and on any device, and to be protected from fraud. Experience and security must go hand in hand. Similarly, businesses also need to be protected from fraud so that they can do what they do best – deliver a great product or service. Advancements in electronic payments and authentication technologies, which use

biometrics and tokens, allow businesses to process payments efficiently and securely, eliminating the need to count and store cash, and allowing them to focus on customer experience. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? In a world where the physical and digital are converging, a consistent and secure experience is crucial as it drives the trust to build loyal customers and users. Payments play a big role in getting that experience right. It’s important to offer choice to your customers as they will gravitate towards the payment method they prefer; however, the benefits are two way: for instance, with contactless or “tap and go” technology, customers can move through the checkout line quickly, and businesses can spend more time serving customers and less time handling cash.

Julie Bedard President and CEO of Quebec Chamber of commerce

What is your definition of “innovation”? Often, we say that innovation is about technologies, but technologies are one part of the innovation. To innovate is a blended way of thinking, the art of being and the way we act. The growth of companies is linked with their ability way to create and innovate. This is about going further and changing the way you do normal things with modern technologies and taking risks. Of course, the CEO’s and founder’s have to be up to date about new technologies, but they also have to be surrounded with a team that believes in innovation and have an open mind towards change. Most of the time, changes and innovation in companies are complete only when the team support and believes in it. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The modern technologies are connected with consumer’s interests. If your company are up to date with modern technologies such as CRM, corporate brand and social network monitoring, you will reach your consumer easier than never before. The cost of being “modern” is important but think of it differently, Can you manage not to be connected? Think of it a long term investment as if it’s done the right way, it will increase your team’s efficiency, and the company’s valuation and a very powerful HR strategy to retain the best employees! What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Taking risks With a clear go to market strategy is the first step of innovation. It’s not all about pure technologies, but putting your clients and employees around innovation is the right way to do it. However, you will not win without fail. Never underestimate the strength of a team in the success of your innovation. Consult them. Make them a part of your project. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



David Ciccarelli

Craig Alexander

Chief Executive Officer

Deloitte Canada’s Chief Economist

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

At the heart of the matter, innovation is about creating something new, or doing something differently. This means innovating results in new products and services, yet also new methods and processes.

Innovation is the process of translating an idea or invention into a good, service or process that creates value or efficiency. A key dimension of innovation is the commercialization of new ideas or advances.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? To compete in today’s landscape, it’s important to evaluate your current systems and processes to spot opportunities for improvement. Consider first starting with employee interviews or perhaps a recent employee engagement survey that asked about your existing systems. From there you’ll get pointed in the direction of which systems need improving. Taking that a step further, one exercise is to run an end-to-end process with the deliverable being process map of your current state. It’s likely that several steps could be eliminated or perhaps a new system would be able to automate much of the manual work currently being done. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Pick a problem, a single problem and define it well. Use a problem solving framework such as a three-step process of crystallizing the problem, aligning the problem with your team and stakeholders to validate you’ve got it right and then developing potential solutions The solutions you come up with may include an investment in technology, such as software or hardware. But, don’t feel that innovation needs to be expensive. Consider beginning with a no tech solution, then graduating to a low tech solution and finally the high tech solution. While it’s tempting to implementing new software right way, skipping steps in your problem solving process could result in wasted resources, or worse being set back due to poor planning or solving the wrong problem.

Josh Zweig

Partner, Co-founder LiveCA

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is what happens when you ask the question 'how can we do this better?' Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The future value of a company is determined by its ability to innovate. 32


Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Innovation is a fundamental part of competitiveness and growth. Investment in new technologies is often how companies become innovative. A new technology can allow the production of a superior product or service. It can often create new efficiencies and enhance productivity. Sometimes, there can be cost savings. Innovation and investment in new technology can frequently be used to address labour or skills shortages. Capital investments are key to economic productivity. Indeed, I monitor business investment as a key ingredient to our forecast for Canadian economic growth. As part of a partnership with Deloitte and the Business Council of Canada, we released Canada’s Competitiveness Scorecard— measuring eight critical dimensions of Canada’s economic performance on the global stage. Innovation was one of these dimensions. Sadly, Canadian businesses invest less than their U.S. counterparts, with the result that capital per worker is lower in Canada. This partly explains why Canadian productivity lags that in the U.S. and other global competitors. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? I think a key barrier to investment is uncertainty. Over the last decade, business investment has been disappointing despite a technological revolution taking place. I think businesses need to overcome their risk aversion and the tendency to delay investment. We will always be in a riskfilled economic environment, but business leaders must accept that and still make strategic and core investments. Moreover, we need a business culture of constant innovation. In today’s globally hyper-competitive world, businesses are faced with constant disruption and that means long-term success and the ability to scale will necessitate relentless innovation.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? There isn't always a direct, calculable ROI on innovation. Sure there are times when innovation translates into process efficiencies and you can track how much your costs decreased as a result to deliver the same produce or service. However, often the results of an innovation are intangible such as higher employee engagement or better customer experience. Ultimately , the question shouldn't be "do we innovate or invest in new technologies" but rather "which area of our company needs innovation the most." Adopting that mentality should ensure that you're deriving the most value from your innovation efforts.


Miki Velemirovich President at Cargo

Matt Tyrer Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing Americas Commvault

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is often only associated with new technologies, with various start-ups driving the digital revolution and reinvention, connectivity and smart devices changing how we live and work. While this is very true and critically important, innovation is not only about the new tech. It's also about new and innovative ways and strategies of how we move our business forward. This is the real power of innovation.

I look at innovation as creating new ways/approaches to solving problems. Those problems can be old ones, new ones, or even some that we didn’t realize we had until the solution was presented. Innovation doesn’t have to be a “thing”; it can be a process too. This means sometimes you can teach an old dog new tricks, but more often than not innovation is delivered through fresh features or technology.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Modern technologies drive efficiencies and this, in turn, removes the hassle out of the small business owners’ daily grind. And the application of these modern technologies provides business owners with more time to innovate not only their business processes but also the business strategies: new markets, new experiences, new customers and even new offerings. Technology makes this so much easier than ever before. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Many small business owners believe that new innovative products may be too complex for their “simple” business operations. Or they believe that these technologies are going to be too expensive to implement. On the contrary, as complex as they may seem, the new technologies are easy to implement, use and manage. Just think how easy it is to set-up and use various smart devices that are ready to tackle anything we throw at them. And they are surprisingly cost-effective. And the best part? These innovative products and services leave small business owners with a lot more time to innovate their business strategies, allowing them to more easily sustain and grow their business. Let’s embrace innovation and watch our businesses soar to new heights.

Mike Owens

Founder and CEO of Absorb

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is translating new ideas into novel products and services that both address business challenges and create a competitive advantage. It’s born of extremely hard work, but when done well, it looks logical and obvious. Far from magic, it takes a steady commitment to technological advancement that’s informed by business requirements: what do customers need to do that they can’t do now? What unique products or features can set our company apart from the competition? The convergence of those two dynamics is where meaningful innovation lies. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Innovation is the fundamental source of growth. Every company striving for success must harness new ideas, so success isn’t left to chance. To stay the same is to be left behind. But modern technologies are the ultimate

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Risk. When companies innovate, not just their technologies, but their processes too, they can mitigate a lot of risks associated with their data. Innovation could take the form of improving its ability to respond to regulatory and compliance requests. It could be building better data resilience and recovery capabilities. It could even mean a stronger defence against cyberattacks and ransomware. By innovating and investing, companies can be better prepared to deal with the dynamics of today’s fast-paced market. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Just do it! The best advice I can give is to not be afraid to innovate. There are a lot of businesses out there stuck in neutral because 'they’ve always done it that way' or 'it works, don’t mess with it 'when they could really be making significant gains by looking closer at those processes and technologies, and seeing what they could do to improve them. Even a small investment can drive big improvements.

equalizer. Technology can transform startups into market leaders at a pace previously unthinkable. And that’s where our learning technology comes in. We empower businesses of all types to elevate their most prized asset: their people. When your systems and your people are growing in unison; when employee skills are on point and they’re engaged in the organizational mission, your potential is limitless. That’s the power of well-applied modern technology What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Get brave! That crazy idea you have might just be a dragon slayer. Embrace risk and take the plunge. Failure is an opportunity to learn—but don’t be a frequent flyer. Innovation takes a sustained commitment to rethink approaches and processes—and yes, sacred cows—and be open to pivot. When choosing technology, keep scalability in mind and choose partners that inspire, grow and pivot right along with you. That avoids the need to rip and replace. However, if you do need a pivot, it only means that current dynamics call for a different approach. It then becomes the right choice to switch any technology holding you back. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



Andrea Knapp

Scott Michaels

Manager - Communities and Governance at Startup Canada

Chief Strategist and Partner, Apply Digital

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

My definition of innovation is “to creatively improve something that already exists”. Innovation is all about providing solutions to needs not by creating something entirely new (which would be defined as creativity) but by making an existing product/service way better through creative - new - ways. As an example, the first mobile phone ever invented would be creativity whereas, a smartphone would be innovation.

I define innovation as developing solutions that focus on the needs of your customer, not what makes your own life easier or is a small, back of house incremental house improvement. With customer-centric innovation, both big and small ideas can have an outsized impact. Thus, creating an outside-in process where the voice of the customer and their needs are considered paramount is critical to being innovative.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? In my opinion, a company that doesn’t innovate will not make it too far in time. With new companies being created every single day worldwide, new solutions and needs are being covered. If you stick to one product/service that may be innovative at the time without “upgrading” it, guaranteed someone else will come up with an improved innovation that might kill your business. Owning a business isn’t a steady journey, you should be learning new trends every-day to keep you up to speed. Acquiring modern technologies will help your product remain innovative at all times, which translates into keeping your business alive in today’s fast-paced world. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Research, research, research and allow time to try and test. But don’t do this alone, always aim for a diverse team to support you with this. You might think that investing in a certain type of innovation will be the greatest solution, but maybe your target audience will not think so. That’s why you should research all of the options out there, try and test them out with a diverse team that can give you honest and genuine opinions before a final investment. Get out there, explore the market, ask for demo tests, and make sure you set time aside for that process to find the right technology FOR YOU to keep you on track.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? To answer this question, I like to consider the opposite view. What happens to your company if you don’t innovate and invest in modern technologies? Suppose you are on legacy platforms or technology and a new player or disruptor enters the market. You would be at a severe competitive disadvantage in the near term. You will be left scrambling to modernize your business to catch up with the new entrant. Projects will need to be estimated, budgeted, capitalized, staffed and executed. By the time all that is done, the new competitor will be well entrenched in the market. Thus to avoid a scenario like this innovation and invest in modern technologies is essential? What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? First and foremost, companies must align around delivering the needs of the customer as a north star. All departments must then fall in line to achieve a shared view on what needs to be done. Recognize that ideas are cheap and execution is hard, so feel very free to generate and then discard ideas until you move into development. Get feedback from the people that are closest to the customer, such as sales, customer service, marketing, and engineering, then vet those ideas against your customer’s real needs and wants through research and reaching out to them. Once you feel you have an idea worth pursuing, you should also ask yourself, can I use this innovation to go downmarket with my product? This means investing in making the product self-serve in order to preserve margin and ability to scale. You must also ensure that your innovation dollars are being used to differentiate yourself in the market. Here, the goal is to create a ‘smart’ product, using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for example, that bolsters the product’s differentiation over time by adapting to users’ needs.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Susan Bowen

Chief Executive Officer, Aptum

What is your definition of “innovation”? Businesses today are faced with rapidly expanding volumes of information and data is becoming an integral part of their infrastructure. We believe technology will help harness the power of data to enable better decision making, risk evaluation and customer engagement. Innovation is about being able to adapt to meet the expectations of your customers, partners, employees and the market in general. 34


It’s important because technology and customer expectations are always evolving. For example, 5G cellular technology is about to transform the way we consume information and media by enabling much faster speeds. Businesses need to account for how their customers and partners will use technologies like 5G and what new applications will appear that might allow companies to create a competitive advantage and drive more revenue growth. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Make sure you’re investing in the right technologies and skills, for today and for the future. If you think you need help identifying how to make the most of your investments, don’t be afraid to work with a partner that has the technical expertise and can help guide your technology investments.


Alejandro Adem

Carinne Chambers Saini

CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs

CEO and Co-Founder | Diva International Inc

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

To me, innovation is the willingness to think outside the box, to break away from old approaches and discover new ways of doing things. You can’t be a one trick pony, with just one innovation. You may be a disrupter now, but if you get complacent, there’s always another company right behind you, ready to fill in the gap. So you have to stay competitive and create a culture of innovation within your company. At Diva, we have to continually adapt to shifting trends and economic conditions in order to give our company an edge, growing existing markets and creating new ones.

Innovation’s fertile ground is the intersection of a need, an idea, and the ability to execute. Innovation is the establishment of a new process, technology or approach that did not previously exist, and which brings value. Innovation’s value can be widespread from social enterprises to industry, and the advances provide a range of benefits from economic development to life-saving technologies.

At Diva International, right from the start, innovation was practically our middle name. When my mother and I founded the company in 2001, our product, DivaCup, was a total disrupter in the menstrual care industry. Disposable pads and tampons dominated the market. And there we were, a mother/daughter team from Kitchener, Ontario who believed in the menstrual cup concept, which had been available since the l930’s. Our modern redesign was made out of medical grade silicone (not rubber), and it was eco-friendly, reusable, economical, and totally effective—a new innovation in the category. No longer would women have to spend hundreds of dollars annually buying non-biodegradable disposables that pollute the oceans and landfills. As inventors, we spent months designing our cup with our design team, adjusting it until it was perfect. Then we introduced it at trade shows, educating consumers, many of whom became raving fans. Flash ahead 18 years: The DivaCup is the highest-rated, bestselling menstrual cup in the world, leading in all personal care products on Amazon. It’s sold in over 35,000 U.S. and Canadian retail outlets and in more than 35 foreign countries. Had we not been willing to innovate, none of this would have happened. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? For a host of reasons—globalization increased competition and a rapidly changing environment, to name a few. Needs are constantly evolving. For example, 50 years ago, there was no need for concern of plastics in our oceans, and 25 years ago, there was no demand for faster Internet. With change being the only constant, companies need to invest in modern technologies to remain competitive continually. And beyond staying competitive, companies would benefit from partnering for the necessary research at the front-end of their customer’s needs. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? I would advise Canadian businesses to develop a threepronged approach to their investments in innovation: •

First, partner. Take advantage of the programs supported by government to leverage your investment in innovation. For example, Mitacs, a Canadian not-for-profit, offers funding to support the investment of businesses to enlist research talent. Our team of business development specialists are trained to understand business concerns. Universities and colleges across Canada partner with us to help meet business needs with precisely the right research match. Leverage open innovation to accelerate your business innovation.

Secondly, establish feedback mechanisms to ensure your investments are providing returns. Recognize there is a dynamic reality of constant change.

Finally, be willing to take risks within the context of what your business can absorb. Responsible risktaking is fundamental to seeing returns on innovation investments.

Innovation and investment are the two pillars of corporate growth. And as I’ve often heard, ‘if you’re not growing, you’re dying.’ Every company has to expand past its comfort zone to tackle new ways of doing things. But you have to be strategic. I believe that investing in modern technologies is one key component to business sustainability. Innovation increases the likelihood that your business can benefit from cost-saving methods. And the revenue can then be re-invested in other ways to enhance your corporate mission. Better analytics from an innovative technology will give you the data to make sound business decisions. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? First and foremost, foster a culture of open communication. At Diva, we want our team to bring their ideas forward. And no idea is a bad one. You have to be willing to listen to your entire team, so brainstorming sessions are encouraged. At Diva, we even have a whiteboard posted, for any idea that can be considered. Equally important, you have to listen to your consumers, who tell you what they want through a customer service line, social media threads and comments. We have a very strong dialogue with consumers, and their observations are invaluable. We also hire a dedicated innovations manager to review all product possibilities. We prioritize potential projects, and do a lot of research and testing, and bring to market the ones that really work. In the end, responsiveness to consumer need and open communication are the secrets to expanding any business. Plus, you have to have the willingness to break away from old approaches and use technology to fulfill your company’s greatest potential.




Cato Pastoll CEO at Lending Loop

Louis-Martin Parent Director of Executive Operations, CFIB

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation is constantly striving for new and better ways to do business with the purpose of creating better experiences and values for customers. Achieving innovation means rejecting the status quo, and so environments, where individuals are encouraged to think from an entrepreneurial perspective are the best place to achieve it. Small businesses are inherently more nimble, and so they are usually able to experiment, adjust and execute faster, which allows them to be better innovators.

CFIB’s 2016 report on Innovation, Beyond the Big Idea, addressed the issue of defining innovation as being important in some instances (e.g. eligibility for innovation-based governmental grants), but acknowledged that a perfect definition for such a broad – and broadly applied – term would be very difficult to achieve. In the end, the authors went with the OECD’s guidelines on innovation, which is to note four types of innovation (product, process, organizational and marketing), and to note that “the minimum requirement for an innovation is that the product, process, marketing method or organizational method must be new (or significantly improved) to the firm”. What the authors wish to push back against is the notion that innovation really only happens in high tech firms. While all successful companies use technology – and the most successful ones do it well – many large firms became successful because of other types of innovation. Walmart, for example, focused on innovation in their marketing and logistics (i.e. organizational) processes to get to where they are now.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Today’s innovations pave the way for how we will conduct business in the future. When companies fail to treat innovation and technological advancement as an integral part of their business, they are doing a disservice to both their customers and themselves. Today’s consumers have more access to goods and services than ever before, so failing to improve upon your current practices increases the likelihood of your potential and existing clients going elsewhere. Companies that don’t innovate stagnate, whereas companies that prioritize innovation, more often than not, see it pay dividends in the long run. Simply put, innovation is often the most reliable way to differentiate from your competitors, particularly in a marketplace that is constantly changing. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? There are two important things to consider when maximizing your chances of success: 1) Be Hyper Focused On Solving A Particular Problem With limited time and resources, you'll likely only have the ability to do a great job at solving one particular problem. Spend time talking to your customers so that you can develop a solid understanding of the most important problem that you can help to solve. Once you have a good understanding of this, your ideas will become much clearer and so your investment in solving these problems (innovating) will be much more likely to pay off. 2) Be Ready and Willing to Learn, Adapt and Change Direction Quickly As you are starting to work on and develop new innovations, you are bound to run into unexpected challenges, roadblocks and opportunities. As an entrepreneur, your greatest asset is your ability to learn as you are doing and create a very short feedback loop. This will ultimately mean that what you end up creating as your innovation will likely be greatly different than your initial plan. Using an example from our experience, we decided to undertake a new initiative of creating the first free business credit monitoring service for Canadian businesses almost a year ago (through our platform at Our initial thought was to focus on providing free credit scores to businesses as this was something they don't currently have access to. Along the journey of creating this, we started to learn that business owners value access to their credit score but they were more interested in understanding how lenders look at their business and what they can do to improve their score. Learnings like these are vital to pick up as you are innovating as they allow you to re-focus your efforts so that you can make sure you are solving the right problem for the right people. 36


Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The vast majority of firms have competitors, and new entrants are always popping up. Those new entrants in particular often bring new ideas, processes and technology to market. If an existing company wants to keep or increase its market share, they will need to keep up with their competitors’ offerings. This often involves investments in technology and equipment to improve current products or services, or increase internal efficiencies so as to be more competitive in other areas such as price. The good news is that small business owners are acutely aware of these realities. In the survey behind the Innovation report, respondents were nearly unanimous (97%) in saying innovation is important to a strong economy. Over 90% agreed that innovation requires a lot of investment on the part of the business. Finally, when asked what investments they had made in the past five years in support of innovative activities, “Acquiring machinery or equipment” was the most frequent response, with 81% of business owners saying they had done major or minor investments in this area. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Before making the leap into a new innovative project, talk to people within your business and to contacts externally in your field or network of contacts. Business owners tend to get innovative ideas and practices and/or how to implement them from three sources: sources within (their) industry (57%), sources within (their) business (40%) and trade shows (36%). You may have a great idea and are very eager to get it to market to be the “first mover”, but there may be an additional consideration that could be very helpful in terms of maximizing the project’s impact, or a potential hurdle that you had not considered. This is not to discourage business owners from being audacious and taking risks (many of them became entrepreneurs in the first place because they are risk-takers). However, leveraging other people’s expertise and experience to help you as you move into a new area can’t be a bad thing.


Lloyd Ainey The founder of Interface Technologies

Jeff Brown Head of Small and Medium Business Strategy & Innovation at Equifax Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation helps organizations identify and implement solutions to complex business and technical challenges. These improvements are not incremental ones but those with significant impacts, helping small businesses especially to substantially increase efficiency, stay ahead of competition, improve profitability and grow their market value. Specifically, with regards to IT, innovations are the technological improvements that translate to a smoother business process, more efficient operations, and a greater bottom line.

An improved change in the way something is done today. It doesn’t have to be life altering, and can simply be an incremental shift or improvement - all transformations have to start somewhere. This can be internal at an existing company, or powerful enough to be the reason behind starting a new one. In the case of a small business, innovation could be as simple as a unique way that you personalize/package your product. In an enterprise, it might be exposing data/insights/value to a net-new industry that you haven’t explored before.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Traditionally, we think of business in binary terms: either a success or a failure. However, there is a third type – a zombie organization: one which somehow sustains itself without being significantly profitable and without having a significant growth potential or trajectory. More and more organizations are falling in this category, faced with increasingly complex challenges of globalization, skilled labour shortage, and stiff competition. Innovation, as a successful outcome of RnD, is one of the key differentiators between a successful organization and a zombie one. Technology innovations have levelled the playing field between SME and large conglomerates, lowering barriers to entry and allowing SMEs to gain access to a market share which otherwise would not have been possible. Studies have clearly shown that a major reason for the widening gap between large enterprises and SME’s is the growing RnD investments of large enterprises. Hence, it is important for SME’s to continue to innovate and invest in modern technologies, including VoIP, Cloud service, or Fiber. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? There is a widening gap between where most organizations are today and where they will need to be to succeed in the coming decade. The companies that win in the 2020s will need to constantly learn and adapt: to new combinations of artificial and human intelligence and new ways of harnessing the benefits of broader business ecosystems. A significant answer for Canadian SMEs lies in being able to predict the future state and chart a course towards it by balancing strategic and tactical measures. This will primarily involve, increasing awareness about global innovations in technology and business processes, learning to identify and adopt, sometimes aggressively, newer technologies which can significantly improve their competitive positioning vis-à-vis other global companies.

Elaine Kunda Founder, Managing Partner at Disruption Ventures

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is applying a new method to do something more effectively. It is not to be confused with technological advancement, which is advancing the understanding of technology. The two can go hand-in-hand, but not exclusively. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Successful companies are efficient and continually adapting to satisfy

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? There seems to be a common misconception that technology giants are always able to build solutions that are one size fits all, and will work for everyone, and unfortunately that just isn’t the case. Continuous analysis, customization, and adapting are important parts of evolving any business product or service; whether you’re small or gigantic. Staying in a continuous state of ‘business as usual’ limits your growth capacity, so always be prepared to step out of your comfort zone. In your personal life, you don’t raise your children to strive towards mediocrity, so why would you take that approach in your business life? Whether you are a business owner or an individual contributor, the company that you work at contributes to paying your bills. Every effort you put in now pays dividends down the road, remember that. Raise your business to the next level, just like you’d raise your own children. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Actively monitor your ecosystem, competitors, customers, and be aware of thought leaders in those spaces. Create a stable of trusted peers outside of your ‘business as usual’ in order to stay in touch with the world around you and your business. You don’t always have to be tech savvy, but you should at least know what you don’t know, then carve out a few hours a week in an attempt to properly understand it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone in order to ask for help or educate yourself. If you don’t try, you never know where advice and assistance can come from. You are not alone out there.

consumer demand. Technology often leads to capital efficiencies and can provide better consumer experiences. We have evolved to expect an on-demand user-friendly world, so it is important for companies to rise to the call. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Understand the problem you are solving and how to answer why you are solving it. Technology does not solve every problem and not all technology is created equally. Business leaders who do not prioritize technical proficiency are more likely to make decisions that lead to a costly or problematic outcome. Take the time to do your homework and train your staff to understand the problem and how it is being solved. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



Joel Sears Co-founder, Branderos

Kash Ahmad

Managing Director, President at Bibby Financial Services

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

“Innovation is one of the most overused words in marketing today. It has eroded the meaning and the value of the word. I actually try to keep away from it because when it’s real innovation, the word undersells what’s actually going on, as in crying wolf too many times. For me, real innovation is doing something that hasn’t been done before. This may mean adapting a principle to a new area, but it doesn’t mean copying someone else who actually innovated. Now I’m using terms like “breakthrough” to replace what used to be “innovation”.

Innovation is anything new that adds value for your people, your clients or your business. This includes adding or creating value at a micro or macro level.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Working in the small and medium-sized enterprise space, we know how reluctant many smaller businesses are to take on risk. And they can go an unbelievably long way squeezing the most out of existing technology. We’ve worked with a client who has stretched one spreadsheet into more than 1000 fields. But we also have clients who have invested an enormous amount in new equipment and have the stomach and the patience to put in the hard work of gradually paying it off. There really isn’t a substitute for these investments. But it does require a leap of faith. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Spend more time figuring out how to make the economics work, instead of time spent shoring up your existing outdated technology. While the more conservative and defensive posture makes sense in the short term for profit and loss, it can end up painting your company into a corner by falling far enough behind that it becomes impossible to catch up. This is the toughest hurdle for smaller businesses – financing the same level of technology that their larger competitors can more easily fund. It’s all a question of picking the moment when growth can justify these investments.

Nancy Wilson

CEO, Founder Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce

What is your definition of “innovation”? My definition of innovation is broad and includes the development and use of new methods, processes, products and services; basically, new means and methods to do things. When we talk about innovation, the focus is usually on the development of new tools and technology. I think it’s equally important to include the adoption and adaptation of tools in the conversation. 38


Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? There are four business objectives most innovations fall under: 1) Retention. This is both the retention of talented colleagues' knowledge and skills or retention of clients as client sophistication and demands increase. 2) Sustainable Growth and Legacy. Innovation can help grow your business in a sustainable way, long term, and create something people remember and know you by. A Legacy. 3) Differentiation. When I talk to small businesses, many claim to have Unique Selling Points (USPs). Are they genuinely unique selling points? Few are. Companies that innovate are typically the ones that stand out from the competition. 4) Impact on society. Your innovation may seem great for your business and customers but may be applicable in a much wider sense than you initially envision. Initially, the Apple watch was designed as a wearable technology with some apps and things that made life more convenient or even tracked your steps. Apps and innovation have now led to an era of wearables that can monitor your health and provide early medical interventions in emergencies. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Having spent more than 25 years talking to SMEs, companies need to make sure they innovate because the project adds value to the business and not because you feel under pressure to 'keep up with the Jones’. Always be clear of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ and the real challenges of implementing new technology, products or processes. Have a clear picture of your whole business, and how new innovation will touch and engage with each aspect of the company. If there isn’t a clear business need that you can identify now or in the future don’t fix what isn’t broken.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Investment in innovation and technology is the best, and often the only, way to scale operations. Automation of business processes, data management and analysis, and information sharing across organizations can eliminate bottlenecks and information silos within the company and provide a better customer experience. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? First, take the time to map out all of your business processes and the technology your business uses before making a significant investment. Identify where the bottlenecks exist and spend your money there. Make sure that any new technology integrates with the rest of your processes and systems or you will risk creating a new bottleneck. Second, make sure to build set-up and training costs into your budget.


Hilary Zaborski

Director of SMB Microsoft

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is more than a buzzword, it’s an action that businesses – big and small – need to take to thrive in today’s digital economy. It’s not one size fits all. Innovation can be the efficiency with which you deliver a service or how you’re able to help a customer digitally transform. It may be a new idea or an accessibility tool that helps break down barriers for those in need. Or it’s simply adopting new technology that helps create a more collaborative and inclusive workplace that inspires your team to put their best foot forward every day. Today, with innovative technology such as artificial intelligence and mixed reality, we have more power at our fingertips than entire generations that came before us. Yet, technology is just a tool and a tool is only as useful as the person who wields it. As business leaders, it is incumbent upon us to think outside the four walls of our office. Engage your network, collaborate with new partners, innovate in the fundamental work that you do, and then have excellence in execution. Keep your customers in mind, listen to them and be agile to their feedback.

new innovative apps like Soundscape, which aims to help 500,000 Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Just do it! The best advice I can give is to not be afraid to innovate. There are a lot of businesses out there stuck in neutral because “they’ve always done it that way” or “it works, don’t mess with it” when they could really be making significant gains by looking closer at those processes and technologies and seeing what they could do to improve them. Even a small investment can drive big improvements.

Lance Miller

CEO and Co-Founder of Surex

Matt Alston

COO and Co-Founder of Surex

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? To stay competitive in today’s digital landscape, businesses across industries need to see themselves as technology companies. Digital transformation is no longer just for traditional tech companies. Whether you’re in retail, manufacturing, healthcare or financial services, you must continue to proactively invest in modern technology to stay relevant, drive productivity and meet the evolving needs of your customers. Ultimately, it’s a ‘transform or be transformed’ scenario. Canadian businesses are starting to realize how digital technologies can optimize their operations and unlock new opportunities for employee productivity and new customer acquisition. However, studies show they aren’t moving at a fast-enough pace. Despite local investments and a proliferation of AI incubators and research centres in places such as Toronto, Edmonton and Montreal, Canadian businesses are not taking advantage of the incredible opportunities made possible by AI and other modern technologies. On top of this challenge, Canadian employers are facing an enormous skills gap in the digital labour force. Our CEO very rightly said “Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation”. It is essential for every business today to look to the future with an optimistic and inclusive eye. At Microsoft, we strive for meaningful innovation with products and services that both improve our lives on a daily basis and have the potential to change the world. Whether it’s our $3.5 million investment in Canada’s startup ecosystem through partnerships with Le Camp, MaRS + Founders Fuel; the $7 million in grants with McGill University and University of Montreal for research and innovation; or our partnership with BC Cancer to eliminate cancer, we are investing in Canada’s future. We’re also breaking down accessibility barriers with our adaptive controller, live captions and subtitles in PowerPoint, and

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is bigger than just being creative or coming up with fresh ideas; at its core is executing and doing something new that produces results. If you can't turn an idea into something actionable and measurable, you are not innovating. Many factors contribute to a company's ability to innovate, including culture, leadership and execution. At Surex, we have focused on building a company that facilitates & rewards innovation. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Our attitude towards innovating and investing in technology is that if we want Surex to be relevant, we don't have a choice. One of our core values at Surex is "Embrace Change" no matter what industry you are in. Change is the name of the game. With factors such as regulation, distribution, technology, big data, and constantly changing customer expectations, no business can thrive without constantly innovating and investing in the future. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Don't swing for a home run at the start. Sometimes getting a quick win for your organization and team can build confidence and help improve the culture. As the leader of your organization, realize that your job is to facilitate the process and provide support. We believe every company already has innovative ideas within the organization - you will find them if you allow your people to bring them to life. Make sure you have a clear business goal that your investment and innovation will help support.




Charlie Regan

Jas Saraw

CEO Nerds On Site

VP Canada at Procore Technologies

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

At the low end of the spectrum it would be a "better in class" ideas or processes or products of some sort inside an enterprise or organization. At the top end of the spectrum it would be "market disrupter" of same (idea/process/ product) inside an enterprise or organization. This applies to an individual or family in day to day living, all the way to enterprises of all sorts, including massive corporate entities. "Better done than Perfect" attitudes and cultures fuel true enterprise innovation... thinking & planning are not enough - it's the "doing & done" that delivers the learning, and eventually the psychic & physical pay-check or benefit of innovation of any sort.

In construction, it’s about rethinking very old processes that haven’t changed for a very long time. It’s a tricky balance – you need to build digital tools that make sense to young people, and attract them to our industry, while making sure those tools are also intuitive for experienced professionals. Striking that balance itself requires innovative thinking. You can’t just chase “the new,” you need to consider everyone involved in an industry to truly move it forward. It’s also important to consider that innovation does not always need to mean a big bang or overnight market shaping change. It can also be incremental innovations that are accretive to the overall business over time. Thus, innovation needs to be baked into the framework of every meeting that you hold in the business, and needs to be a recurrent theme that permeates the organization. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Someone, somewhere, right now, is hungrier and smarter than we are. And they're focused on market disruption of our comfortable and stable enterprise scenarios. It's not being paranoid today to admit that we're all at risk from 'good actors' like competitors and wanna-be competitors from anywhere in the world! So we must find ways to be faster, better & economical using new technology. It has historically been the most effective tool for implementing innovation.

Innovation that is coupled with investment in innovative modern technology allows companies to do more with less. For small companies that are looking to grow at scale, having a scalable platform that grows with the business and incorporates best practices and workflows, while also being easy to use, is a great way to scale at speed while allowing you to compete with traditional incumbent and established players. And for larger organizations, it makes sense to disrupt existing silos of information, consolidate on a single platform that becomes the repository for actionable business insights and allows you to better manage your business while remaining agile in the face of increased competition. As the modern technology continues to involve it becomes imperative for small and large alike to rely on data driven insights in order to remain competitive.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

There are 'bad actors' out there who treat individuals and enterprises of all sizes as prey! We read daily now of companies, institutions and governments large and small being hit with business interruption, intrusions or costly ransomeware events by these 'bad actors'. Our data is at risk now - no matter who you are, IF you connect to the internet.

Approach innovation as a collaboration with your partners and stakeholders. Any construction project involves different teams and specialties that need to find ways to work together and communicate with each other. It can be tempting to default to the “standard” way of doing things for the sake of everyone’s comfort. But introducing your partners to new methods and working through the challenges together makes the whole industry better – and it’s fun! And ensure that you drive a culture of innovation within the four walls of your company, bring the broader team into the conversation around innovation, data driven insights and how you can all leverage technological innovation to build better, faster, profitably and safely.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Make network security your #1 innovation project... today. Have a 3rd party run a full CyberCrime Security Audit.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies?

Rashay Jethalal

President at Purpose Investments

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation to me is two things: the creation of novel solutions to enduring challenges and unexpected leaps forward for existing solutions. It’s new solutions and much better versions of current solutions.



First, it separates the leaders from the followers. Second, clients take notice of the firms that are leading with thought. It forces you to be disciplined in knowing your clients, their challenges and therefor your own biggest gaps. And third, innovation attracts better talent. It provides meaning and a sense of pride to think on behalf of clients to solve their problems. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Innovation requires both focus and process. The idea is often the easiest part. To be consistently innovative, you have to build a structure around it. A thoughtful follow-through is what turns a eureka moment into a real-world solution. Having the conviction to discard mediocre ideas and the courage to invest the time, money and effort into great ones is hard, but necessary.


Jason Wright

Rick Moore

Managing Director myWorld Canada

Group of One Executive Training Systems Inc.

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Continuously developing new ways of looking at things, and making strategic choices, to stay relevant and evolve in business.

Incremental improvements to existing products or services that improve the user experience but more importantly matter to that end user.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? I view Technology as only one area in the broader concept of innovation. Ensuring you are up to date with modern technology is essential to ensure you have the most effective method of delivering the customer experience you envision. Real innovation comes when ideas, culture, and evolving perspectives can work WITH the technology needed to bring those elements to life. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Realize that innovation comes from many areas, and invest intelligently. Invest not only in the technologies to keep your business relevant but also the right people to develop innovative concepts, vision and direction. I would also advise being very focused in the areas of your business where innovation can drive the most value. Don’t only keep up with the trends, innovate in fewer areas, but innovate in a profound and meaningful way.

Randall Smallbone

CEO and President, Astron Connect

If the innovation is new , remember that innovation for the sake of innovation is useless if the end user/customer does not see value in it. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? The key to innovation for any business is not just to keep up with the crowd, but rather to separate your business from the pack. Creating a Category of One should be the goal of any investment in innovation. The ROI will be evident if the innovation matters to its intended audience enough that they are willing to purchase it, thus making the reward validate the risk and investment. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Do not try to get too cute or try to hit the home run straight out of the gate. Be thoughtful and spend time collaborating with employees and customers on what their true needs are. The innovation must matter to the end user. If not, you are left with a very expensive new toy that will not provide a return on the investment you made in it.

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? There are a few points that I think are important. 1. Be bold and contrarian. This goes with the idea of being innovative and always pushing boundaries.

What is your definition of “innovation”? Innovation is a term that is used quite broadly today, almost to the point that it has become something of a catch-all. To me, being innovative means thinking outside the box and coming up with new and creative solutions to an existing function or solution. You need to be willing to push the limits of current standards in order to move industries forward. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? It’s important for companies to innovate and invest in new technologies to maintain a competitive edge in today’s tight economic market. Technologies and industries are changing at such a remarkable speed that if you don’t stay up-to-date or push ahead, your company may end up falling behind..

2. Failure is not a bad word. Continuing to pursue your goal even after you’ve suffered a setback shows strength of character. 3. You must create a corporate culture that encourages, motivates and rewards innovative thinking. Innovative thinking is not easy. Employees must be given the right tools and environment to push themselves beyond the ordinary. 4. Connect to local accelerators and incubators as a source of innovation that can help you acquire both new talent and technologies. This is something we recognized as a key lever for company growth and innovation at Burlington Economic Development when we launched TechPlace. I encourage Canadian businesses to look to the startup communities and local resources like TechPlace to leverage their investments in innovation. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



Stuart Lister VP Marketing & Communications MacLean Engineering

Maarten Wensveen Chief Technology Officer - Vistaprint

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Bringing something to market that others either don’t have the creativity or risk tolerance for. This is the prerequisite for pioneering design. You have to be willing to be a pioneer and the structure to pursue it.

I like to think of innovation as the process of creating value by subverting expectations. It’s common for companies, especially the more established ones, to settle into preconceived notions about what they should be doing, how they should be working, what their customers want, where their industries are headed. Innovation happens when companies apply their creative energies towards testing and often invalidating those assumptions.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? In our industry, underground mining, it’s literally about survival, or to put it in a more technocratic way, to ensure long-term sustainability of our business. Our entire industry is constantly looking to find ways to do things more efficient and always safer. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? I think this is one where each organization will have a unique culture, history, and capability etc., that will frame their set of innovation risks and opportunities. Companies need to have the unique combination of vision, courage and followthrough to innovate.

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Innovation is going to happen. If your company doesn’t do it, another one will. Don’t you want to be the one who reaps the benefits? There are countless stories of companies that have attempted to maintain the status quo, only to be disrupted by nimbler competitors. Modern technologies are critical for innovation because they vastly accelerate the implementation and validation of new ideas. It’s practically impossible to keep up, let alone take the lead, without them. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Innovation should be a state of mind that everyone in the company should embrace. That’s not something that a company can mandate from the top, but there are actions that senior executives can take to promote it. There’s a quote attributed to Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, which I love: “Want to increase innovation? Lower the cost of failure.” If a company can reduce the financial, organizational, and cultural costs of failure using modern technologies, empowered teams, and supportive leadership, then employees will feel freer to advance their own bold ideas.

Victoria Lennox

President and C0-Founder of Startup Canada

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Companies that innovate and invest in advanced technologies are more productive, resilient, competitive and have a higher propensity to scale. .

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

For us, innovation is about the application. Innovation is about creating value by translating an idea or invention into a good or service.

Ensuring diverse perspectives, and especially those of women, are brought to the table and unleashed in the organization, will lead to exponential leaps in collective intelligence and innovation.




Harry Sharma Director, Innovation and Technology, Conference Board of Canada

What is your definition of “innovation”? Our definition is quite simple: innovation is when knowledge is leveraged to create a new or improved product/service that is adopted by existing and/or new users.

Anne Toner Fung Executive Director at Innovation Guelph

Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Continuous innovation by companies is the only definite way for them to stay competitive in a globalized economy. By investing in modern technology solutions, companies get a head-start versus their competitors. It is important to point out that simply investing in modern technologies is not enough; companies must also invest equally in human resource and market development. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Companies must, firstly and most importantly, identify tangible business objectives to be met by investments in innovation. It is also important for companies to differentiate between “technologies” and “solutions”. Companies can only extract economic gains by their innovation investments if they are acquiring “solutions” to meet identified business objectives and not just technology to solve a vague problem.

Jeff King Chief Operating & Corporate Development Officer at SOCAN

What is your definition of “innovation”? The strategic execution of creativity that delivers clear value and effects change in a positive way. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Now more than ever before, it is essential for key players in every industry to find ways to grow and stay ahead of the ever-moving innovation curve. Technological advancements, especially in areas such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are changing commerce and culture, and how we best serve our clients and customers. In order to compete and succeed in the coming decade, businesses need to be prepared for this new connectivity and the incredible amounts of data being mined. Fifteen years ago, SOCAN processed around 5 million transactions a year, we are now processing 130 million a day! We’ve transitioned with a new enterprise resource planning and master data management ecosystem to accommodate the new reality. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation?

What is your definition of “innovation”? In the context of our work here at Innovation Guelph, innovation requires a combination of creativity, development and commercialization. Effective innovation involves surfacing new ideas in response to (or in anticipation of) needs, wants, gaps and challenges in the market—and then executing on those ideas to create value. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Innovation and new technology adoption are important to companies because customer expectations and the marketplace are continually evolving. Customer-centred innovation of products, services, business models and processes will help a business stay aligned with its customers and remain competitive in the face of disruptive change. Companies must innovate or they will stagnate because global connectivity and competition leave no room for complacency. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Don’t leave innovation to chance. Develop an innovation strategy and define the internal activities and processes needed to make it happen. Integrate those activities and processes into daily workflows and resource them appropriately. Most importantly, create an environment that fosters experimentation, continuous learning and failing forward. When it comes to investing in a new technology, first make sure the decision is driven by a strategic business goal; then research the best option for achieving that goal. Finally, invest the time and resources needed to ensure broad adoption of the new technology so it generates the desired results.

While we live in a competitive business culture, don’t shy away from looking to leaders outside of your industry for inspiration. We took learnings from large financial institutions, car manufacturers and online retailers to help us lead the disruption that is happening in the music industry. Technology crosses business categories, as do the solutions it provides. If you stay category specific, you may miss the insight that will drive your next innovative solution. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



Jason Furlano VP of sales, MiQ Digital

Brian Cookson President and Managing Director of RDP Associates

What is your definition of “innovation”?

What is your definition of “innovation”?

Innovation, at its core, is creating a solution to a problem. There’s a common misconception that innovation always means inventing something brand-new -- but it can mean something as simple as ‘reinventing’ a tool to make it better or stronger.

Many people confuse innovation with invention. Invention is creating something new like a product, whereas Innovation is having market acceptance of that invention. In other words, if that new product doesn’t have sufficient sales or a sustainable market, it is not an innovation.

For example, it wasn’t long ago that traditional forms of media dominated the advertisement space. When we used to plan out-of-home (OOH) campaigns we would have to call the reps, get availabilities, book it into a GRP model, send it back to the reps, print an actual billboard and then finally post it for a four-week flight. But now that’s all consolidated into programmatic – digital out-of-home (DOOH), which is both time and cost efficient. A lot of clients get stuck on a new ad format online, but that’s not what I consider to be innovative. We need to continue to use programmatic and data capabilities together to provide smarter ways to enhance user experience, discard the age-old advertising gimmicks and actually connect with people. Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? Emerging technologies are shaking up every industry, and you need to invest to stay ahead of the ever-changing tech curve. In today’s retail market, insolvency is a huge issue for traditional businesses because they’re not agile enough. We’re seeing it in the media everyday: businesses closing brick and mortar stores, retail companies providing free shipping to incentivize online users, and so on. But the reason a business like Amazon is succeeding in retail capabilities is because it’s focused on user convivence and invested in the tech to deliver that. Our industry has to learn from this so we can move past antiquated ways of measuring media and focus on aligning with the core business challenges for our partners. That means measuring using business metrics rather than merely click-through rates. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? Be open to embracing and investing in innovation. There is a constant fear in the Canadian market around technologies that share and use data – fear of a breach making headlines. Though caution is understandable and a good thing in a lot of ways -you have to make sure it’s not debilitating. Some failures along the way are inevitable and it shouldn’t be deterring you, but instead motivating you to find a solution. You have to be willing to fail and learn so you do better next time. It’s also important to have open and honest discussions about innovation, and seek support when planning and strategizing the future. There are agile partners in the ad-tech space in Canada that can help make the most of your investments. Always keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all partner. You need a unique strategy that aligns with your business. 44


Why is it important for companies to innovate and invest in modern technologies? We have always heard the quote “ innovate or die”. This is very true in most industries. However, at some point all industries will be affected by innovation. Businesses, at a minimum, need to use proper judgement in undertaking innovation. This requires a qualitative and quantitative analysis. Just saying “that sounds too risky or that is going to cost too much” is not giving an idea sound consideration. What advice can you give to Canadian businesses looking to make the most out of their investments in innovation? For most companies, innovation is about risk and how to allocate scarce resources. For many businesses one area of deficiency is their knowledge about government funding programs that can mitigate their financial risks. There are numerous grant programs totalling billions of dollars in government funding. Typically, grants will cover up to 50% of eligible project costs. There are funding programs for R&D/ innovation, hiring and training technical staff and exporting new products. Funding ranges from a few thousand dollars to millions. A company can take on more risk if it covers (via government grants) a substantial part of the costs of an innovation project.

Pacific Trade Show Conference & Exhibition is an international event to be held in Toronto that connects professionals, companies, and organizations to support international trade with SMEs from Canada and the South Pacific Region. It brings together an opportunity for participants to network, learn and discover new markets trends in products and services, promoting diversity and inclusion, where attendees can meet and build up long-term relationships and generate more business leads and networking opportunities.

October 31, 2019

Join us on October 31 for a day featuring keynotes and panel presentations, their advice for tackling challenges and leveraging new business opportunities.


We will open-up the general conference with a “Breakfast with Industry Leaders� and multiple panel sessions filled with speakers on a wide variety of topics about industry trends, key challenges, and opportunities in the market. Plan to come out to network to share strategies with other entrepreneurs from Canada and the international delegation from the South Pacific Region and do not miss the exhibition of entrepreneurs, community partners, sponsors and more!

Location: Lennox Hall Toronto Region Board of Trade 77 Adelaide St. West First Canadian Place, Suite 350 Toronto, ON, M5X 1C1

More customers. More benefit.

Take your business to the next level in customer loyalty. The Cashback World Partner Programs enable you to effectively engage and reward your customers while generating incremental revenue for your business. Become a Partner and gain immediate access to a global Shopping Community of 13 million members who collect Cashback and Shopping Points whenever they shop. When they shop and benefit, so do you.

Contact us at today to discover how to take your business to the next level. CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I




Derek Luke CEO at Muse® by Interaxon Inc.

Derek Luke brings more than two decades of experience in executive leadership at multinational corporations, including Blackberry and Seagate, to his role at Muse®. Drawing from his years of experience in the highly competitive technology industry, Derek has helped strengthen Muse®’s execution across design, development, sales and marketing to position the company for aggressive growth and success. Prior to joining Muse®, Derek served as EVP and COO for Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a $1.5B nonfor-profit Canadian Government Fund with a portfolio of 245+ clean tech companies. At Blackberry, Derek served as senior vice president of Manufacturing Excellence, Supply Chain Quality and Global Repair Services. Today, Derek is passionate about equal opportunity and equal pay in the STEM landscape — something he has worked hard to integrate into the company’s corporate culture. He is a true believer in creating a workplace that breeds innovation, creativity and collaboration. He brings his knowledge of connecting design, development, manufacturing, supply chain, government relations, sales and marketing to the team.




As the head of a large growing company, what would you say is the most challenging part of being a leader that everyone looks up too?

and everyday life. Some key skills learned through the practice include active listening, resilience building and managing stress to name a few.

Leaders have to put themselves second. No matter what challenges or conflicts arise, I take a step back from emotional reactions and approach all situations with a present and calm mind. This allows me to be a recurring positive force for the entire team. You’re a firm supporter of creating a workplace that incorporates innovation, creativity and collaboration. How do you believe these three aspects can contribute to the success of a company? Muse® has led the way for people to live happier, healthier and more connected lives through neurotechnology. The company created the first widely available consumer tool that helps people learn meditation through real-time feedback on their brain state, and has revolutionized the field of electroencephalography (EEG) research. This success stems from how we’ve fostered innovation, creativity and collaboration within the workplace since day 1. It’s what allows us to drive greater creativity and insights, and retain the best employees. Can you tell us about some of the strategies you use to integrate innovation, creativity and collaboration within your employees? Muse® has a barrier-free workplace, where all departments are encouraged to co-collaborate in order to nurture creativity and offer new perspectives. Both the Toronto and Denver offices are open concept and all employees (including the leadership team) co-collaborate beside each other. Additionally, the company holds weekly meetings focused on group meditation and opening the floor to the entire team to discuss updates, concerns, and company news in order to foster inclusion, transparency and sharing. Interaxon is an application that provides resources and services that address health and wellness issues. What do you believe is the number one benefit that Interaxon can have on employees and their leaders? Working at Muse® has helped our employees understand the importance of adopting a meditation practice in both corporate settings

You have several years of experience in leadership roles. In your expert opinion, what makes a leader a great leader? Emotional intelligence and resilience are key leadership skills that have the ability to create a company that fearlessly progresses. Throughout my time at Muse®, I’ve found that listening, and being self-aware of my emotions and of those around me have helped us persevere as leaders in the neurotech and meditation space. What would you say is the biggest mistake that leaders make and how can it impact the success of a company? Not listening to those who surround you. We are a community of people who want to do good and as we take on many challenges to create innovative products, we need the perspectives of all talent to troubleshoot everyday challenges, and to drive greater creativity and insights. That is why listening to those around you (investors, employees & the Muse® community), is important. How would you describe yourself as a leader? I am an inclusive and supportive leader. I believe in empowering individuals and teams by removing barriers and always rewarding collaboration - something that I have seen overcome some of the most complex problems. Equal pay and equal opportunities are topics that you’re very passionate about. Can you further explain why you’re very passionate about these issues? Inequality needs to be addressed at every level and equal opportunities need to be available for all. It is up to leaders in the space to recruit, retain and promote diversity and inclusion, and foster a collaborative environment where everyone can openly discuss challenges and ideas. What does the future of Interaxon look like? What are you hoping to accomplish in the next 5-10 years? We acquired the Meditation Studio App in July 2018 and have shifted from hardware to

"We are a community of people who want to do good and as we take on many challenges to create innovative products, we need the perspectives of all talent to troubleshoot everyday challenges, and to drive greater creativity and insights." hardware enabled SaaS. Now, we’re focused on providing new content, new tools and new challenges on an ongoing basis to help our users deepen their meditation practice. In addition, we are consistently working on bringing innovative products to our consumers. Our next project is a new, flexible/fabric form factor that can be worn while meditating. This new form factor is great for meditating before sleep, while traveling and has new advantages in both fit and comfort. Technology integrated into the softband will allow us to roll out new features and data, and will open new avenues for EEG that are beyond meditation. On a final note, what has been the biggest accomplishment of your professional career? What are you most proud of? I am most proud of our company’s culture and paving the way for inclusion and diversity. If you create a diverse culture from day one (like we did), and you have leaders who believe in equality, this naturally becomes a part of the ingrained core values of the organization. By having that, you don't need metrics or campaigns, it is a living and breathing part of the company.




Business Woman of the Month

SERENA HOLMES President & CEO at Tigris Events

Serena Holmes is the President & CEO of Tigris Events, a multi award-winning brand experience agency specializing in dynamic personnel, promotions, marketing, and events. She's been awarded Canadian Events Professional of the Year by CV Magazine and has worked with major brands such as Apple, Facebook, and Burt's Bees. Over the last 15 years, Serena has executed over 12,000 successful brand-building events. She first started her career in event marketing in 2000. In 2004, she joined Tigris and bought out the founder 4 years later. She now manages over 9 full-time employees and 2,000 part-time staff across the country. Outside of her career, Serena is passionate about travel, wildlife, sustainability, and philanthropy.




Tigris has been recognized as one of the top event planning agencies and has won several awards. What sets Tigris apart from other agencies? It’s not what we do that matters but how. We offer our clients quick and clear communication (our goal is an hour or less to reply!) and go above and beyond to deliver their needs and meet/exceed their expectations. We are in the people business and are great at people. We want working with us to be easy and excellent! You initially started working at Tigris and then made the decision to buy out the founder four years later. What brought on this decision? Looking back, we had already invested so much time and built a great reputation for ourselves. I was confident I’d be able to build on the foundation we’d started and be successful. I also wasn’t sure what else I’d do with myself if I wasn’t in this industry. While I work hard, I also really love the flexibility that comes with running your own business. Tigris has a focus on brand marketing and promoting businesses through event planning. What can you tell us about the importance of brand and business marketing that can contribute to the success of a company? Every business is different and what we do for other businesses varies a bit from what we for ourselves. For and food/beverage, consumer packages goods and technology, getting your product in the hands of your consumer is pivotal to drive awareness, sales and growth. For us, as a service based business, we benefit more from digital marketing, namely organic SEO. Our efforts in this area have more than quadrupled our business in recent years by being available for businesses looking for our services. What are some of the strategies you use when it comes to helping companies plan events that can promote their business and brand? It honestly depends on where we come into the equation. Event staffing is still a huge part of our business. On that front, we are still “planning” events but doing so in tandem with brands, businesses or other agencies. We strive to secure staff who meet the brand profile – both personality and presentation – so we can execute the events. On the planning side, we have been involved in product launches, grand openings, street festivals and special events. It’s important to incorporate innovative ideas to interact with your consumers to create

long lasting unforgettable experiences. The more emotion you can provoke from a brand experience, the better. What would you say is the biggest challenge when it comes to planning events that focus on brand building? Some of the biggest challenges can stem from budget limitations. Creating unique experiences is not inexpensive and depending on how far you want to scale the event, you could face restrictions if your budget is not flexible enough. In addition, there is a lot of competition especially in environments like a street festival or trade show so you have to work that much harder to try to stand out In your expert opinion, what is the number one benefit that brand building and business promoting events can have on an entrepreneur? How can it contribute to their success? Brand building and promotion is all about creating awareness and credibility. The more familiar people become with your brand, who you are and what you stand for – the easier it is to build trust and ultimately, attract the kinds of opportunities that will contribute to success. As a dynamic leader who has built a successful award-winning business, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs? Entrepreneurs can significantly benefit from mentors or coaches who can help them get to their goals faster rather than struggling to figure things out for themselves and often times, making costly mistakes. I’ve had 4-5 mentors over the past several years and my only regret is not finding them sooner. On a final note, what has been the biggest accomplishment of your professional career? What are you most proud of? Great question! There are many things – but I think I am most proud of being recognized as a business clients and team members alike can depend on. When I worked as a brand ambassador in the early days of my career, it was easy to be taken advantage of or see the same of others. A company could promise you one thing then do another. At Tigris, we have offered hundreds of thousands of hours of work to young adults – and pride ourselves on paying them well/quickly and being true to our word with anything we intend to deliver. Integrity and trust should be a given but unfortunately, this isn’t consistently the case.

Entrepreneurs can significantly benefit from mentors or coaches who can help them get to their goals faster rather than struggling to figure things out for themselves and often times, making costly mistakes. I’ve had 4-5 mentors over the past several years and my only regret is not finding them sooner.




Peace Collective's Secret to Marketing Success

Yanal Dhailieh Founder of Peace Collective

Yanal Dhailieh Yanal Dhailieh is the founder of Peace Collective, Peace Collective was born after Founder, Yanal Dhailieh wore his first Toronto vs. Everybody t-shirt to a Raptors game back in 2014. Since then, Peace Collective has become a go-to destination, allowing individuals to celebrate and express their authentic selves. Being proudly Canadian, Peace Collective focuses their efforts on empowering those around us to chase their passion by providing the support and resources necessary to do so. The business gives back to the community through donating a portion of certain item sales and through their Canadian ambassador program. For the ambassador program they use Instagram to assess their applicants and accepted ambassadors to promote their brand and test new products via Instagram. Tell me why you started Peace Collective and what inspired you to be an entrepreneur? Peace Collective was something that I started while I was in university studying biomedical science. During school I found If I wasn't passionate about something, then I wasn't able to give it 100 per cent of my attention. As I went through school, I realized it wasn't going to be a long-term option for me and that I had to find something I actually loved. Fashion was something that I was always interested in and giving back is something that is important to me, so I combined the two and started Peace Collective. For every garment sold 5 school meals are donated to a child in need through our partnership with Mary's Meals. What is the number one benefit for small business owners to use Facebook for their business? The number one benefit for small business owners to use Facebook for their business is the ability to create a community around their product/business/idea. It allows them to connect with all the people around the world that care about what they care about. It's a platform that lets them create meaningful one-on-one connections with potential customers. Can you tell our readers how you believe Facebook marketing can help towards the growth of small businesses? 50


When you're just starting out, resources are hard to come by so it's very important to be able to maximize the amount of organic growth that you can achieve without having to invest too much capital. With tools like Facebook and Instagram, you can showcase your product and business and find a community of people who are interested in by utilizing tools such as hashtags. Social media marketing is very popular at the moment and seems to be helping several entrepreneurs grow their brand. Why do you believe that is? It allows you to cut through the noise and having to go through a middle man. You are in direct contact with your end consumer and you are able to forge long lasting, impactful relationships. This lets you know your customer better as well as grow the lifetime value of your customers. You’ve used Instagram and Facebook marketing for your business. How have they helped you grow your brand? 100 per cent of our marketing budget is spent on Facebook and Instagram. It allows us to scale our business by putting our products in front of the people we've identified are most likely to be engaged. It has also allowed us to build an impactful community of people who believe in the same things that we do. What would you say has been the biggest impact you’ve noticed on your business since using Facebook and Instagram to promote your company? We have been able to double our revenue growth in the last fiscal year all through our efforts on Instagram and Facebook. Can you tell us about some of the features of Facebook and Instagram you’ve used that have helped you in growing your brand? Features such as Facebook Pixels allow us to track how are customers are interacting with our website and allows us to retarget them if they leave the website without making a purchase. On Instagram, hashtags allow us to find people who are going to align well with our brand. The stories feature allows us to showcase another side of the brand by allowing us to create introspective content. On a final note, what advice can you give to small business owners when it comes to growing their brand through social media? Every minute they spend learning how to use the platform will pay off in the end. In 2019, regardless of what industry you are in, your customers are on Facebook and Instagram so that means you should be as well.

Tech talk with


Karl Swannie CEO and Co-Founder of Echosec Systems Ltd.

As the Chief Executive Officer of Echosec Systems Inc., Karl Swannie oversees all aspects of the operation including product direction, corporate development and partner relations. The Victoria, B.C.-based company is the developer of Echosec, an award-winning SaaS-based global real-time information discovery and intelligence platform built on proprietary and sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities.

What was the inspiration behind the founding of Echosec Systems Ltd.? On our evenings and weekends, we built a data discovery tool (search engine) that was unlike anything on the market. Honestly, it was a passion project. We were excited to look at data around the world. Areas like North Korea have an amazing assortment of information streaming out daily. However, after we started using the tool we noticed so much intelligence coming from different locations and organizations that we became concerned. We saw the data leaking, as a significant threat to their companies, staff and clients. We approached several of the companies, who purchased the product; and that was when the business started. Now we are a mission critical component for security and intelligence organizations around the world. Can you tell us about some of the resources and services that the company provides to help SME owners succeed and grow their business? We provide two Software as a Service platforms for data discovery. These two platforms actively review over a billion digital assets daily and alert on data that is valuable to the clients. We search on the clear and dark web. Our goal is to let our clients know if there is a threat to your business in the space that no one looks at. For instance, are your staff breaking their nondisclosure agreement and posting online? Have you been hacked? Is your customer data on the dark web? Our premise is: “If you have a fence, you need a digital fence’.

What are some of the strategies you use to keep Echosec Systems Ltd. innovative and competitive compared to other similar businesses in its industry?

Platform. Much of the nefarious communication and sale of illegal goods are on the move from the social sphere to the dark web. Our clients need to know an easy way to quickly review what is happening on the dark web.

We are always looking for the very best talent from around the world. We select only people with incredible skills, but most importantly, incredible passion. The passion makes us the leaders in our space. Simply because our space is constantly evolving. For instance; information that was being sold on the clear web last year has now moved to the dark web. The Threat Intelligence space is constantly evolving, which makes it very exciting, but it does take amazing resources and desire to keep up. Echosec has quite the success story of being one of the world's leading providers of geographically mapped social media data. What do you believe has contributed to its success? Since we launched our platform, our growth has been amazing. We have always looked at data differently. Mapping it just seemed obvious, as it is the easiest way for security professionals to visualize what is going on and make plans to react.

Currently there is no search engine on the dark web, so we created our own. It is invaluable to our clients. It doesn’t put their infrastructure at risk, and actively prioritizes threats to their organizations. Do you believe that technology and innovation go hand in hand? Why? Innovation is driven by dreams. Technology is simply a pallet which is drawn from. They have to be held separately for paradigm shifts to occur, rather than just iterating on the same ideas. Technology changes all the time without notice, but when innovation happens, it can be technological, social or economic, and it changes the world. Can you tell us of any upcoming projects you have planned for Echosec Systems Ltd.? What does the future of the company look like? We have an idea that will change the way we look at the world.

The client's ability to see the data is the most valuable part of our interface and has always been key to our success. Our clients are usually responsible for a vast amount of assets that are spread across a massive geographic area. We work with teams that need to know what is happening right now, anywhere in the world.

But, we have to enjoy the path as much as the destination. In the near future I see a massive social shift as our clients use our tools to see and experience the world in new ways.

You recently launched Beacon, a dark web search engine that assemblies and filters the complex world of the dark web without putting a user’s computer infrastructure at risk. What brought on this program?

Start in a very small room, with very good friends, and do not leave there until you start to understand your customers. Understanding your customers is the foundation of every business.

What is your piece of advice for Canadian entrepreneurs who have just started?

Beacon was a natural extension of the Echosec CANADIANSME MAGAZINE I SEPTEMBER 2019 I



It’s time to rethink how we prepare young people for the workplace


Ryan Mallough is a Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.


n addition to being blamed for the demise of various industries, from diamonds to cereal (don’t even get us started on avocado toast), young people are often featured in stories about our struggles in the job market. Over the past two decades, there has been virtually no closing the gap between the youth unemployment rate and the general unemployment rate. Too often our governments focus on the “jobs of tomorrow” when looking at the youth employment issue; from hackathons to superclusters, too many policy decisions are being driven by “what do we need next?” instead of “what do we need now?”

It is time for our educational institutions and governments to step up.

While youth are struggling to find jobs, small businesses are currently going through a significant labour shortage across the country, with 429,000 jobs left unfilled. It’s no surprise that small business owners say this is the top reason they can’t grow their business.

To get there, the business community has to be involved in the creation and implementation of curriculums.

The worry around labour shortages is particularly significant in the skilled trades. Our own data shows that half of construction businesses are already concerned about the availability of labour. On top of an already bad situation, the Canadian Construction Association is predicting that Canada is due to lose nearly a quarter-million construction workers in the next decade due to retirement. The workforce coming up to replace them is less than half that number.

Part of the problem could be solved through a greater emphasis on Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programs, where students get real onthe-job experience as part of their education. Small businesses that have participated in WIL programs are largely positive about the experience – nearly half have hired the student full time after the program was completed.

Governments at every level have made significant political hay of the country’s crumbling infrastructure and promised billions of dollars in upgrades from new housing projects and transit systems to bridge, road and sewer repairs. But who will be there to build it? And that’s just one sector of our economy. According to CFIB’s latest data, job vacancies are on the rise in agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, hospitality and personal services like plumbing, mechanics and electricians.


Emilie Hayes is a Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.


Part of the problem is that these career paths aren’t promoted to high school students, or worse, they are presented as somehow being less prestigious than white collar work. The truth is, these are often well-paying, middle-class jobs and our schools do us all a disservice by overlooking them. Looking back to our own days in high school, not too long ago, students who did well academically were pushed towards getting a university degree. No one really told us that colleges are an excellent option or that you could have a meaningful, challenging career in the skilled trades. Academic knowledge is only part of the equation. In fact, employers actually rate it last in terms of what they look for when hiring young people, far behind soft skills, such as motivation, attitude, communication skills, professionalism and problem solving.


More than half of small business owners are unsatisfied with the job high schools are doing in preparing young people for employment, and only 37 per cent have a positive view of the job universities are doing. Curriculums need to be updated to reflect the realities of the workplace, which sectors are doing the hiring, and to emphasize soft skills as well as the basic skills necessary to finding employment, including interviewing, networking, and writing a resume or cover letter.

After all, who knows what is needed from the workforce better than employers?

However, small business participation in WIL tends to be the exception, rather than the norm, with universities pushing more students towards public sector or big business placements. Educational institutions need to do more to engage the small business community, especially in those sectors with pronounced labour shortages, to help get more young workers where they are needed and can have opportunities for growth. We are also looking to governments to consider the costs of training when introducing new employment policies and payroll costs. New hires are already a difficult find. Pricing out young people with drastic minimum wage hikes or the ongoing CPP expansions will delay their entry into the workforce and hurt our economy in the long run. At the federal level the government could help to offset some of the cost by introducing an EI holiday for hiring youth or implementing a training tax credit that recognizes informal training, which can run small businesses as much as $1,900 per employee. CFIB is asking all parties to include these measures in their platforms for the upcoming federal election. With the baby boomer generation retiring over the next decade, the labour issue is likely to get worse before it gets better. Bringing more young people into the workforce is a solution, both in the near- and long-term, but governments, businesses and educational institutions need to come together first.






Don’t wait for the next election to get governments’ attention. We make sure they hear from you every time their policies affect your business.

As a business owner, there are situations – like compliance and HR issues – where you need expert advice. That’s why our business counsellors are here.

We’ve taken the stress out of choosing providers for services like banking and shipping. Save with our exclusive discounts.


Ablii by nan op ay Ablii by nanopay, is a self-service online payments platform for businesses. Introduced in early 2019, Ablii aims to provide small businesses the same access to game-changing payment technology as the ‘big guys’. Ablii is owned by nanopay Corporation, a business that was founded in 2013, and typically works with multinational corporations and big banks. nanopay has developed a proprietary payment's engine that lets businesses send payments that are fast, cheap, transparent and secure, and now with Ablii small businesses can enjoy the same benefits.

The need for SME payment options As a technology startup, nanopay was faced with the same challenges as other North American small businesses–limited payment options (checks or credit cards), manual invoice management, small budgets, and limited options provided by banks. Small businesses are typically underserved by banks, so nanopay launched Ablii recognizing these problems had gone unsolved for too long.

Ablii’s core features 1. Send and request payments: Ablii’s simple interface enables users to send money directly from bank account to bank account, so you never have to worry about a cheque bouncing again. 2. Pay any business in Canada: Ablii works for all businesses with an active bank account. 3. Sync with accounting software: SME’s can now import and pay invoices from Quickbooks Online and your records will update automatically. 4. Streamline your workflow: Delegate payables processing by adding your employees and setting access controls.

The most significant benefits of Ablii 1. Save money: Ablii has no sign-up fees, no monthly fees, and you only pay when you use the platform. Ablii also charges the same amount for all domestic payments, whether you send a $10 or a $1 million payment. 2. Save time: No more trips to the bank, no more writing cheques, and no more reconciling invoices on a spreadsheet. Online access to Ablii is available 24/7. 3. Increase visibility: Payments are digital and trackable with Ablii, so they never get lost in the mail and you receive real-time status updates. 4. Simplify processes: Improve the audit process, whether internal or external, by making invoices searchable.

Up next, say goodbye to wire transfers

It’s time to upgrade from paper cheques

SMEs are still the backbone of the Canadian economy, and nanopay is proud to offer a new, simpler, cheaper payment option to those who need it most. Ablii is now fully operational in Canada, and will soon offer crossborder payments in the U.S., helping improve another critical sticking point for small businesses in North America. Goodbye wire transfer fees, hello Ablii.

Business payments have not improved in North America and as a result, small businesses have suffered tremendously. Cheques, which continue to be the go-to method of payment for businesses, are slow, manual, untrackable, and difficult to reconcile. Cheques are also surprisingly expensive, given the resources needed to write them, cash them, and reconcile them, which is time and money better spent on the core functions of any small business.

Ablii is a trademark of nanopay Corporation ©



CANADIANSME BUSINESS MAGAZINE Canadian SME magazine understands the need of providing a helping a hand to new businesses. We’ve developed the idea of educating, encouraging and enhancing young businesses through influential writings presented by experts from various business fields.

Toronto Digitize. Grow. Repeat. Take your business to the next level with insights from the entrepreneurs and business owners who’ve done it. Reserve your seat today at:


+ +

October 30th, 2019 Toronto Congress Center

Presented by:



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.