MBT Voice Winter 2017

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Winter Issue P UB L I S H E D B Y:

Big Gifts and a Beautiful Company: Honouring


NANJI pg 4

Welcome to the Age of


How to Sell Yourself in the Digital World pg 10

Vacation Gadgets You Can’t Do Without pg 12

The Inside Scoop from the Man Who Helped Make Delta Hotels a Top 50 Employer pg 16


IN THIS ISSUE Publisher Richard Cunningham President & CEO



Editor Kathryn Willms Colborne Communications


Marketing & Distribution Sharon Clark-Koufis Marketing & Events Manager 289-844-3025 Publications & Communications Coordinator Sara Sterling Your comments are always welcome. Please email markhamvoice@markhamboard.com Advertising information CR Marketing – Christine Rogers 289-844-3019

Big Gifts and a Beautiful Company: Honouring Pyarali Nanji

Cover and Feature Story Design: CS-Graphic Design Inc.

Welcome to the Age of Crowdfunding


Design: Lisa Mervin, L.J. Sales


Printing: CanMark Communications Circulation – 12,000 © November 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or copied in parts, or as a whole, without prior written permission of the Markham Board of Trade Publication Agreement Number 41245573

Published by:

How to Sell Yourself in the Digital World

The Inside Scoop from the Man Who Helped Make Delta Hotels a Top 50 Employer

www.markhamboard.com 3600 Steeles Avenue E. C1 – Suite 105 Markham, ON L3R 9Z7 T: 905-474-0730 • F: 905-474-0685 markhamvoice@markhamboard.com

How Your Business Can Benefit From Influencer Marketing


Vacation Gadgets You Can’t Do Without


Not All Backups Are Created Equal


Recommended Reading on Crowdfunding 14

Coach’s Corner – Stannah


Seneca HELIX Summer Institute


Celebrating Markham’s Young Business Leaders


Markham Marketplace


Markham Board of Trade’s Newest Members


Markham VOICE Winter 2017



PYARALI NANJI by Kathryn Willms


he first thing one notices walking into the headquarters of Belle-Pak Packaging Inc. is the sign above the company name declaring it to be one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. Then you notice that the walls of the reception area are covered in plaques. A set of shelves displays awards and framed pictures. Look closer and you see that those photographs include a premier, a governor general, His Highness the Aga Khan, and more than one prime minister. What kind of packaging company is this? you think.


Photography: Katherine Pomykacz Markham VOICE Winter 2017 2017

Then you realize that in the middle of each of those photographs is the same smiling face. The crinkled eyes behind the smile belong to Pyarali Nanji. CEO of Belle-Pak. Renowned philanthropist. One of Canada’s Top 25 Immigrants in 2011. Recognized with the Positive Aging Award in 2015. The IndoCanada Chamber of Commerce’s Male Entrepreneur of the Year in 2010. Previously the recipient of two Business Excellence Awards, Nanji is again being honoured by the Markham Board of Trade, this time as the winner of the Anthony Roman Award. This latest award to grace the Belle-Pak mantle recognizes Nanji for his talent for business, his dedication to philanthropy, and his leadership in the Markham community and beyond. “Mr. Nanji is certainly a deserving recipient,” says Richard Cunningham, president of the Markham Board of Trade. “He and his wife have been generous benefactors to hospitals and universities across the GTA. And with Belle-Pak, Mr. Nanji has created a successful and growing international business that is particularly notable for how well it treats its employees. It’s a wonderful story.”

A “beautiful” company Nanji and his family emigrated from Uganda when the dictator Idi Amin gave the country’s 60,000 South Asians six months to leave. They settled in Montreal and became highly successful in the warehousing industry. When Nanji and his wife, Gulshan, moved to Ontario, the plan was to retire. But then the bank approached Nanji and his business partners with an interesting opportunity, a packaging company struggling in the economic downturn. Incorporated in 1991, they renamed it Belle-Pak because it was a beautiful company. The company grew through a series of strategic acquisitions. Today,

it employs over 250 people in a 150,000 square foot facility and is a leading manufacturer of flexible polyethylene packaging with a diverse clientele that includes hospitals, banks, retail companies, and hotels across North America. “It’s not been easy,” says Nanji. “We’ve got a lot of competition. But we continue to invest in more advanced machinery, and the good part is that we are still growing.” One of the things that sets Belle-Pak apart is the investment it makes in its employees, many of whom have been with the company for more than 15 years. The company has created a university scholarship program for children of employees, and provides interest-free loans for first-time home buyers, as well as for employees going through a family emergency. “We have such loyal employees. They are excellent,” says Nanji. “We’re like the United Nations here. We have every community, every country,

Mr. Nanji (centre) with Belle-Pak Branch Manager Rob Ramsunear (right), and Markham Board of Trade President Richard Cunningham (left).

hospital a state-of-the-art MRI machine. They are supporting eye care initiatives at the University of Toronto that see ophthalmologists travel to countries around the world to restore people’s sight and teach local surgeons to do the operations themselves. (“I want everyone to have their eyes,” says

“We’re like the United Nations here [at Belle-Pak]. We have every community, every country, and no issues ever come up. They know if they need anything, Papa Nanji’s here.” and no issues ever come up. They know if they need anything Papa Nanji’s here.” His eyes disappear as he laughs.

Saying thank you When they came to Canada, the Nanjis vowed that if they had the opportunity, they would give back to the country that gave them a second chance. One glimpse at Nanji’s office at BellePak confirms they have made good on this promise and more. A sideboard is covered in thankyou letters, article clippings, and commemorative books. The Nanjis have contributed to the renovation and expansion of the Sunnybrook emergency department and bought the

Nanji.) Their contributions are apparent at North York General Hospital, which features the Gulshan and Pyrali G. Nanji Ultrasound, CT and Radiography Center and the Gulshan and Pyarali G. Nanji Orthopaedic and Plastics Centre. A comprehensive list of their myriad contributions to various hospitals and educational institutes is far too long for this article. Suzette Strong worked for Sunnybrook when the Nanjis’ first major donation arrived almost 15 years ago. Now as CEO of the Markham-Stouffville Hospital Foundation, another recipient of their generosity, she can attest to what makes the Nanjis so special. “They believe very strongly in helping others,

in healthcare, in education,” she says. “They’re very proactive. They pick causes close to their heart, but they also want to know where they can make the biggest difference.” Strong says that all previous Anthony Roman recipients have had a meaningful connection to the hospital, and she is thrilled that the Nanjis are being recognized. “Mr. Nanji, with his philanthropic efforts, is inspiring other immigrants to give back.” Given the accolades he has received, one would think Nanji would be used to compliments, but he lowers his eyes modestly when commended on his philanthropic efforts. When pressed on what drives these efforts, he gestures towards the letters, photos, and plaques before him. “When you read something, when you hear something, that’s one thing,” he says. “When you see something, you understand the truth.” At 88 years old, Nanji still walks his factory floor most days, consulting and joking with the staff, many of whom he knows by name. “What’s happening?” he calls out. “Work hard.” He’s a diminutive man in the vast space, but there’s nothing small about his vision or generosity. When asked if retirement is on the horizon, a staff member overhears. “He’s not allowed to retire,” she says, affectionately. Nanji grins and shrugs. “I’ll keep punching my card.”

Markham Markham VOICE VOICE Winter Winter 2017 2017



Businesses and individuals are catching onto crowdfunding faster than regulators can keep up By Carolyn Camilleri


October 2016, Markham resident Chris Prendergast spent a lot of time at ventureLAB, Markham’s regional innovation centre, attending business workshops and looking for guidance on how to proceed with his brainchild: JamStack, a guitar amplifier that attaches to a smartphone. Chris Cory, senior analyst in venture services at ventureLAB, directed Prendergast to Cortex Design to get a prototype made. To pay for the prototype, Prendergast crowdfunded on Kickstarter, which brought in more than $80,000 in 30 days, as well as a following and publicity. After making some adjustments to his approach,


Markham VOICE Winter 2017 2017

a second campaign, this time on Indiegogo, raised US$200,000 in 30 days, and pre-orders on InDemand – for people who missed the campaigns – brought in almost another US$200,000. Then, in November 2017, Prendergast pitched JamStack on Dragon’s Den and got what he wanted: $200,000 at 20 percent equity. Other than a small businessplan loan, Prendergast never even tried getting funding from a conventional bank. “People told me there’s no way,” he says. And that is why more people are turning to crowdfunding. “Small businesses and startups face significant fundraising challenges,” says Cory. “In the absence of positive

operations history, banks are usually reluctant to lend to startups without personal guarantees. As a result, personal savings and investment from friends and family are the most common source of funds in the early days of the technology companies we see at ventureLAB.” Another option is to find investors, but that has challenges, too. “Many companies seeking expansion capital approach angel investors or small venture capitalists who typically demand some evidence that their product is attractive to customers at the price suggested in their business model,” says Cory. When Prendergast pitched to the Dragons, he had that

evidence — the support he gained through crowdfunding.

How the crowd grows As its name suggests, crowdfunding gathers small amounts of capital from a crowd of supporters. It was first used most successfully by non-profits. Campaigns are conducted entirely online using dedicated platforms that provide project web pages and serve as intermediaries between the crowd and the projects. Two of the most popular platforms are Indiegogo and Kickstarter. But they are just two of many. The number of niche platforms has increased to serve

people looking for funding for specific purposes and to gain access to specific crowds. For example, PubLaunch is a Toronto platform for people who want to publish books. “Authors were often being forced to choose between affordability and a good quality book, and PubLaunch allows them to do both,” says Meghan Behse, PubLaunch president. With successful crowdfunding, authors can cover editing and production costs and test the market for interest, promote their book, and gain a following. But that’s just one type of crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding models Crowdfunding is loosely categorized into models: donation, reward, lending, and equity. Donation-based crowdfunding is used by non-profits to support causes. Reward-based crowdfunding offers something (products, services, discounts) in exchange. “The most popular kind of crowdfunding — and the one most people will recognize — is reward-based crowdfunding, where new products, such as the Pebble watch — $30 million raised — or the game “Exploding Kittens” — $9 million raised —

can be pre-sold to consumers,” says Cory. For technology companies developing consumer products, reward-based crowdfunding presents an opportunity to validate products with consumers. “You get all kinds of good things when your product is out there crowdfunding,” Cory says. “Investors always want to know: will the dog eat the dog food? This is proof positive that your product has some traction.” Like JamStack’s success with the Dragons, companies can leverage that traction into successful angel or venture capital funding. “There’s a very short line now often between a successful crowdfunding campaign and follow-on funding. That’s the big deal,” says Cory. And with reward-based crowdfunding, you don’t have to file a prospectus, which is expensive for a young company. By comparison, the other lending and equity crowdfunding models are more complicated and far, far less developed here. “In Canada, equity and lending crowdfunding remain in their infancy due to regulatory constraints that limit the participation of small investors,” says Cory. “This is not the case for large or accredited investors,

Prendergast pitched JamStack on Dragon’s Den and got what he wanted: $200,000 at 20 percent equity. however, who can invest in the shares or debt of companies listed on several crowdfunding platforms such as AngelList and Crowdmatrix.” The lending model, which provides opportunities to borrow and lend money at attractive interest rates, must follow all the same regulations and underwriting guidelines as their bank and lender counterparts that govern financial transactions with consumers and may also be subject to rules and regulations governing banks and other lenders.1 Meanwhile, in Europe, Cory says crowd lending is the biggest area of growth. “If you look at the U.K., crowd lending is a wonderful thing for businesses because they’re able to crowd source loans at better rates, and it’s a very efficient system. They do a better job often than banks are able to do.” The equity model, which means company shares are given in exchange for investment,

Chris Prendergast’s invention, JamStack, is the world’s first attachable guitar amplifier. It connects directly to the base of an electric guitar and integrates a smartphone to allow for effects, loops, and the ability to play along with songs.

is mostly available only to “accredited investors” — basically, people with a lot of money. And therein lies one of the key reasons Canada is behind with equity and lending crowdfunding. “The delay in the US and in Canada with crowdfunding has been the focus of the regulators, not on big investors, but on the mom-and-pops, on the small investors,” says Cory. “The regulators have a difficult job, because they always have to be seen to be protecting the small investor. It’s a bit of a tug of war between momentum in the marketplace that wants more crowdfunding, and the tug of regulators trying to ensure people are protected.” And there is risk: “Investment in either the equity or products of early-stage companies is always risky,” says Cory. “Kickstarter reports that only 36 percent of projects were successful in meeting their fundraising targets. Only 20 percent of technology projects met their targets, and only 18 percent of all funded campaigns raised more than $20,000.” However, there are also some impressive success stories. Chris Charlesworth, an advisor for the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and the CEO and co-founder of HiveWire, says the regulators’ protective role has become more challenging because, over the past five years, there are so many examples in other markets of activity that has been safe for consumers. Moreover, the regulatory focus on risk at an individual level is creating delays with implications on a much larger

Markham Markham VOICE VOICE Winter Winter 2017 2017


scale. “One of the primary hindrances we have is that we do not have a national securities regulator in Canada that has overarching authority for all of our different provincial jurisdictions,” says Charlesworth. Instead, minor regulation amendments have been made on a province-by-province basis. For example, Ontario’s Multilateral Instrument 45-108 Crowdfunding, which came into effect January 14, 2016, introduces a crowdfunding prospectus exemption for issuers as well as a registration framework for funding portals.2 Charlesworth says that while securities administrators are working to harmonize regulations, there are significant differences. “Instead of it being a Canadian capital-raising marketplace harmonized across the entire country, we have a fractured environment where there are differing rules and a

“There is a lot of great innovation in Markham... companies need a good way to raise money to attract risk capital from their local community.” lack of clarity as to exactly how people can raise money within the Canadian marketplace.” The pressure on regulators is magnified by the emergence of even newer technology that hasn’t yet been approved, such as crypto currency. Meanwhile, capital is becoming increasingly mobile, and because it doesn’t matter which jurisdiction your website is based in, it is making less and less sense to base capital-raising activities — and the technologies that unlock that capital — in the Canadian marketplace when you can access global investors

by being based in another jurisdiction. “At the core of this is the fear that the regulators in our market and those setting the rules don’t understand the magnitude of the technological changes,” says Charlesworth. That fear is very tangible within the startup and crowdfunding community, he adds. Charlesworth, who grew up in Markham, calls it “a hyperlocal issue.” “There is a lot of great innovation in Markham,” he says. “There are great companies and incubator spaces and the regional innovation

centre. Those companies in Markham need a good way to raise money to attract risk capital from their local community.” And, of course, the local communities in Markham have international roots. “Having a regulated way for our local startups to get the capital they need — right here in their backyard and then have those roots extend internationally — has a meaningful impact on the kinds of business that happens: the startups that will allow us to have good Canadian jobs and to have those companies scale and grow.” “It matters at the local level, because that’s where the businesses are,” he says. 1 National Crowdfunding Association of Canada: NCFA 2016 Alternative Finance Crowdfunding in Canada, page 32. 2 Ontario Securities Commission. Multilateral Instrument 45-108 Crowdfunding. www.osc.gov.on.ca/ en/SecuritiesLaw_45-108.htm

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017 2017

Mariani focuses his efforts on

empathy for businesses that have been

unde conti

How Your Business Can Benefit From

Influencer Marketing


By Daniella Postavsky

• • • • •


no secret that influencer marketing has become a major way to convert traditionally hard-to-reach audiences into customers. In fact, according to a Tomoson survey, a business can make $6.50 for every dollar they spend on influencer marketing. Influencer marketing works because it emphasizes engagement over sales pitches and capitalizes on the trust that an influencer has built over time with their audience to sell a product. With today’s consumers avoiding commercials and demanding authenticity, influencer marketing has become practically mandatory for companies who want to stand out. So how does a local business take advantage of influencer marketing? Research, research, and more research! First, you need to find your ideal influencers: bloggers, YouTubers, or other social-media-savvy personalities who are a contextual match for your company and have followers within your target audience. Look into hashtags that prospective customers and competitors use and see who contributes to them actively, or set up Google Alerts to find blog posts about topics of interest to your target audience – the people who produce this content might be potential influencers. And make sure to pay attention to those who already love your product! It’s not all about numbers; passionate influencers with small audiences are able to engage with their followers more actively, and their recommendations often lead to more sales than ones by influencers with larger but less-engaged followings. Once you’ve found the influencers you’d like to target, reach out and suggest a partnership. Common deals include sponsoring a post in exchange for mentions or coverage, or supplying free samples in exchange for a review. Influencer marketing can be a great way for you to make efficient use of your small business’s marketing resources, as long as you’re willing to do your homework and reach out!


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Markham VOICE Winter 2017


Marketing Guru Bill Sharpe Talks about

Going Digital By Karina Sinclair


the beginning of his career, when he was still a lowly copywriter writing about technology, Bill Sharpe, cofounder of the marketing firm Simmons Sharpe, was taken down to Cupertino and shown the Macintosh before it was introduced to the public. It was the beginning of a career that saw him build the first analytics engine for Dell Computer, work

for clients like Microsoft, Xerox, IBM and PayPal, and sell two advertising agencies to global holding companies. Today, Sharpe is helping businesses adapt to the new reality that was spawned by that first Macintosh. The digital age is upon us, and it has radically changed consumer behaviour across all demographics. Companies can no longer afford to ignore the digital space, but with so many

options and limited resources, how is a company to maximize the ROI of their marketing dollars and thrive in this competitive environment? Sharpe suggests starting with an audit of your business’s current marketing plan to find weak spots. “When we look at business strategy, we look at how your competition has changed. Your best customers. Have you kept up with the changes in digital?

At the beginning of his career, Bill Sharpe was taken down to Cupertino and shown the Macintosh before it was introduced to the public. 10

Markham VOICE Winter 2017

Has Amazon moved into your neighbourhood?” Once you determine the key drivers of your business, you’ll have a clearer picture of where to focus your marketing efforts.

Telling stories that sell Instead of traditional television, radio, or newspaper ads that focus on the hard sell, savvy companies now fight for attention through content marketing. You can develop a better relationship with your customers by sharing fun or useful stories about how your products or services can improve

“If you get it right, advertising or marketing stops being a cost and starts being an investment.” Bill Sharpe, co-founder of the marketing firm Simmons Sharpe

their lives. A garden centre might offer a step-by-step guide for assembling winter planters to boost curb appeal. The harrowing tale of a rock climber dangling from a cliff until rescued makes that brand of carabineer a must-have. Listen to your customers and learn where they struggle. Then share stories to help them adopt your solutions. Even better, ask them to share their stories of success with you. “Content marketing is actually a better version of advertising,” insists Sharpe. “It’s more informative, more educational. It gives something back. That’s one of the major shifts. Advertising is no longer a one-way street.”

Mobile millennials It’s also important to consider where people consume these stories. Your messaging must now fit in the palm of a hand. Millennials “don’t read the newspaper. Don’t watch conventional television. Everything is on the phone,” says Sharpe. Simplicity and authenticity is critical for this cohort. “They’ve grown up very media savvy and their nose for bullsh*t is unbelievable.” He encourages his clients to consider mobile-optimized video on social media as the go-to channel for reaching this demographic. If you incorporate social media into your marketing plan (and you really should), be ready to pay attention to feedback from millennials,

especially complaints. “If they don’t get a response from that company then they immediately take to tech and tell 20 people. And the company doesn’t even know its reputation is getting hurt because it doesn’t respond or is slow to respond.” With so many social platforms (and new ones starting up all the time), the challenge is knowing which ones to pursue. Define where your customers are most likely to be instead of trying to tackle all the platforms at once. However, be aware that this might change over time. A year ago, Snapchat and Instagram showed impressive growth. Sharpe would have advised a business to put marketing dollars into both. After following the industry closely, he’s seen how Snapchat’s growth has stopped, and Instagram has forged ahead. “Now, I’d say put your money into Instagram.” Change is rapid. That’s why being able to measure and watch for those changes means you can be more nimble with your messaging.

Measuring The real value of digital marketing comes from the ability to measure key performance indicators. Using Google Analytics, you can determine which pages on your website are most visited, where the traffic is coming from, and whether people stay on your site or bounce away quickly. “If you’re not measuring, then you’re not

running your marketing the way it can be run,” says Sharpe. Once you can see the trends, you can use this information to test and refine your approach. By using test-and-refine cycles, you can track the success of your efforts. If something’s not paying off, you now have the data to decide when to reinvest in other methods, such as Google AdWords, pay-per-click marketing (PPC), or local print advertising. Sharpe assures “if you get it right, advertising or marketing stops being a cost and

starts being an investment. You want to be able to say ‘we spent $5,000 but it drove $19,000 in sales, so if we scale that and spend $50,000 and earn $190,000 then we’ve got a business.’” By working with experts and defining your marketing priorities, you’ll stay relevant for your customers. If you show customers they matter to you by delivering messages they care about on the platform they prefer to use, your advertising efforts will go further. That means more money in the bank.

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017



By Jennifer Albert

Whether you’re looking to escape the winter weather or travelling for the holidays, you’ll want to plan ahead for this season’s jaunt. These travel-geared gadgets will help you travel safer, smarter, and more stress-free at this hectic time of year. Smarter Luggage Bluesmart is kicking off the future of travel with their line of smart suitcases. They come equipped with GPS tracking and a 30-day battery life, so you’ll never have to worry about losing your luggage. Additional features, like remote locks, weight sensors, and a portable device charger, will help make your travels more carefree. The price point is high, upwards of 500 dollars, but for the avid traveller, it might just be worth the investment. bluesmart.com

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Better Pictures Moment Gear’s line of attachable lenses for smartphone cameras will help you take your photography to the next level while still travelling light. Their specialized phone cases allow you to mount one of four lenses to your phone’s camera: a wide lens for fuller landscapes, a macro lens for the small stuff, a fisheye lens for ultra-wide shots, or a telephoto lens to get you closer to the action. The lenses and cases are available for most new smartphones, including the iPhone (6, 7, and 8), the Google Pixel, and soon for the Samsung Galaxy S8. shopmoment.com

Safer Storage Arden Cove’s line of theft-proof handbags are waterproof, cut resistant, and equipped with zipper locks and RFID-blocking technology to help protect your RFIDenabled cards. The bags are also highly attractive and come in a variety of colours, giving you style and peace of mind next time you play tourist. ardencove.com

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017

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Not All


Are Created Equal By Alex Lachine


wenty years ago, choosing a data backup was simple. You could copy files to a disc or back up to tape, and that was it. Today, we have a lot more data, and as businesses learn to better analyze and use that data, it becomes a lot more valuable. This increase in data has yielded more ways to back it up. But beware: not all backup solutions are created equal. Here’s a quick look at today’s backup options and how they could affect your business. With file-based backups, specific files or folders are saved as needed. File-based backups allow you to restore individual files. Full restores are possible, but because restoration software handles only one file at a time, the process is time consuming. Do you have time to wait? Image-based backups take a picture of entire machines, including applications and operating systems. Using imagebased backups, you can restore individual files, do bare metal restores, verify images, boot up virtual machines, and even run remote offices. Because they contain a more complete data picture, full restores using image-based backups are faster and more reliable than those using a file-based solution.

Most traditional backup solutions are tested just once or twice a year. However, on any given day, a few corrupt bytes could make a daily backup, and those subsequent, unrecoverable. Alternatively, if you have an intelligent backup with inverse chain technology, each successive snapshot is independent. A recovery can start from any point. Lost or corrupt data can be recovered without any need for a full restore. Each snapshot is examined automatically to ensure everything checks out. For peace of mind, some solutions even send you screenshots of your backups via email so you can verify at a glance that all is well. Local backup solutions save data to an onsite device. While a local-only backup can be quick and easy, relying solely on it can be dangerous. For example, if your office is flooded, there goes your only backup. Direct to cloud backup solutions send data to a secure offsite location. Transferring data to and from the cloud is dependent on bandwidth speed, so it can be slower than local data backups. However, having your backup in the cloud can be your salvation in a disaster. A hybrid cloud solution combines the best of both worlds: local and cloud. It is less

dependent on bandwidth speed than a cloud-only solution, and it can schedule transfers without the risk of having no backup data. With a hybrid cloud solution, you can be up and running from a local backup in seconds and you can also count on an offsite backup should the need arise.

Ask your IT services provider if they offer a backup that ticks all of these boxes: image-based, inverse chain technology, screenshot verification, and hybrid cloud. If they don’t, you might want to consider moving on to one that does.

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017


BUSINESS READING Bold: How to Go Big, Create Success, and Impact the World

Equity Crowdfunding for Investors: A Guide to Risks, Returns, Regulations, Funding Portals, Due Diligence, and Deal Terms

By Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler Bold: How to Go Big, Create Success, and Impact the World describes how crowd-operated and exponential technologies work and how they can help business owners. A large part of the book is dedicated to crowdfunding, offering practical advice to would-be entrepreneurs about how to leverage popular crowdfunding platforms and launch million-dollar campaigns. The book also provides insight into the power of communities, showing how entrepreneurs can build up communities of individuals eager to help them realize their goals.

Evelyn Fok is the Community Librarian – Business & Employment at the Markham Public Library. You can email her at efok@markham.library.on.ca, or see the library’s website, markhampubliclibrary.ca.

By David M. Freedman and Matthew R. Nutting Instead of focusing on how to launch crowdfunding campaigns, this book provides guidance to contributors – individuals who want to invest wisely in equity crowdfunding campaigns. The book urges excited would-be investors to take a step back and think practically about their investments. It explains how such campaigns work and details investor limits and requirements, portfolio strategy, deal terms, and much more. Readers will learn how to make informed decisions about crowdfunding and understand best practices for finding, researching, evaluating, and buying into potentially profitable startups.

To download eBooks from the Markham Public Library, download the OverDrive app, then go to markham.bibliocommons.com, select “eBooks,” and click “Overdrive.” T:7.5”


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Markham VOICE Winter 2017

BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MARKHAM PUBLIC LIBRARY Crowdfunding Intelligence: The No-Nonsense Guide to Raising Investment Funds on the Internet By Chris Buckingham Crowdfunding Intelligence provides any entrepreneur or business with the tools and information they need to launch and execute a successful crowdfunding campaign. Featuring insights and advice from crowdfunding experts and from the creators of crowdfunding platforms themselves, this book shows you how crowdfunding success can be achieved and how your dream project can become a reality.

Crowdfunding 101

The Crowdfunding Handbook: Raise Money for Your Small Business or Start-Up with Equity Funding Portals By Cliff Ennico An expert in small business and law, Cliff Ennico is well versed in the world of equity crowdfunding. In The Crowdfunding Handbook, he shares this knowledge, outlining a clear set of do’s and don’ts for entrepreneurs and smallbusiness owners who want to fund a startup. Though much of this book focuses on equity crowdfunding of American businesses, it also offers practical advice to guide business owners in Canada, showing how to choose between the various platforms, how to set up a successful campaign, and much more.

Monday, January 15, 2018. 7–8:30PM at Aaniin Library Thinking of funding your venture through crowdfunding? Come hear some basic tips and tricks about how to prepare a successful crowdfunding campaign from expert Khierstyn Ross. Learn what products are a good fit for crowdfunding, how to market your crowdfunding campaign, and much more!

Markham VOICE Winter 2017


The Inside Scoop from the Man Who Helped Make Delta Hotels a Top 50 Employer

By Kathryn Willms


hen a management team sets out to build a corporate brand, it considers many things. Its customers. Its mission. Its opportunities for growth. These become the basis for a strategic plan to build and communicate the brand. When human resources guru William Pallett works with companies, he finds that they are often quick to offer up these plans. “Oh my gosh, they’re so detailed,” says Pallett. Then he asks: What is your strategy for talent? “If anything, they give you a page.” It is a critical oversight. Gone are the days when companies could sit back and wait for skilled workers to walk through the door. In fact, Pallett says that companies are starting to realize the truth: there is a talent shortage affecting the G7 countries. They are receiving fewer resumes; getting turned down more often. Pallett has heard of a company offering a job to a person who said they would attend orientation and then make their decision. This is putting the onus on employers to attract and recruit talent. And while Pallett says a lot of big companies “get it” and are aggressively recruiting online and through universities and colleges, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are at risk of being left behind, especially in places like Markham where they have to compete in an international marketplace. In this environment, corporate culture has never been more important. “You have to have a great workplace that has a


Markham VOICE Winter 2017

strategy of how you want to build your brand and your organizational culture,” says Pallett. “Without that, you’re dead in the water.” Pallett was Director of Management Development at Four Seasons as it grew into an international brand in the early 90s. Then, he moved to Delta Hotels where he introduced a systematic approach to HR that saw the hotel chain recognized as one of the 50 Best Employers in Canada. Today, through his company WJ Pallett & Associates, he helps SMEs develop their corporate culture through human resources.

Having a talent strategy is as important as having a marketing strategy. For Pallett, a talent strategy is as important as a marketing strategy, and it can be a key differentiator for companies, regardless of size. No matter the business, the people who work there are responsible for developing or employing the products or services. They are the brand ambassadors. Therefore, a talent strategy should consider the key components of the employee life cycle – from attracting them, to recruiting them, to training them, to retaining them. Pallett recommends employers start with analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. “Do it with the

vigour that you use with your customers,” he says. You can use employee engagement surveys, monitor social media sites, and take advantage of online tools like Glassdoor, where employee review companies. Then create a strategy around each part of the life cycle that is integrated into the overall business strategy. To attract and recruit employees, consider what employees are looking for in a workplace. The good news for SMEs is that money is not the be-all, end-all for most people. “You have to be competitive, but it’s not going to win the day for you,” says Pallett. Instead, people are looking for training and development beyond the initial orientation period. They want to work for companies with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility, and be rewarded and recognized for their work. A strategy should recognize that not all employees have the same wants or motivations. Pallett mentions a strategy that Tim Hortons used when they couldn’t find talent in Atlantic Canada. They tailored their shift times to recruit mothers who only wanted to work when their kids were in school. It was a resounding success. Pallett makes it clear that, in our current employment environment, a comprehensive talent strategy linked to every aspect of a company’s strategic and brand planning is vital to success.

COACH’S CORNER! This advertorial is supplied by Stannah

A Stairlift… Really?

Why Stannah?

There are no “RSPs” (Registered Stairlift Plans) – nobody ever saves for a stairlift. It isn’t exactly the dream purchase for your retirement. But once you’ve made the realization that you need some help navigating the stairs in your home, you will need to ensure you are making an informed decision.

Our reliability and safety allow a Stannah stairlift to simply become a part of everyday life. Globally recognized stairlift quality and unparalleled service set us apart. It is fulfilling for us at Stannah as each day we witness new clients smile when they take their first ride, often to a long-forgotten floor in their home.

Do I Move or Stay in My Home? When weighing the costs of moving versus remaining in your home, there are several factors to consider and to compare. The cost of moving may include land transfer taxes, agent commissions, HST, movers, legal fees, utility hookups, renovating your new home, and more. Add to that the emotional side of wanting to stay in the home that you love, and all the sudden, a stairlift makes sense!

What’s the Difference? There are differences in every category of consumer goods, from product design and manufacturing to support, service, and warranty. At Stannah, we believe there is no compromise for quality, safety, and service, and that is why we hold ourselves to the highest of standards. Although some may feel stairlifts are all the same, we have demonstrated around the world that we are second to none when it comes to safety and customer satisfaction.

Stannah is the world leader in stairlifts with over 600,000 installed around the globe helping people remain independent and in their home. We are here for when you need us. Contact us for a free in-home consultation.

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR STAIRS Built on 150 years of quality craftsmanship, a Stannah stairlift can fit any straight, curved, or narrow staircase and allow you to safely navigate the stairs in the home you love. Stannah is a 150 year old family-owned company and Canada is celebrating its 150th anniversary of Confederation. Let’s celebrate our sesquicentennial. #150Together

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017


The Seneca HELIX Summer Institute

Students tackle problem on behalf of Markham Stouffville Hospital By Sophia Reuss


everal years ago, Dr. George Arnold, chief of innovation at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH), met Chris Dudley, director of HELIX, Seneca College’s entrepreneurship incubator, in the lobby outside an event hosted by Markham’s mayor. With Dudley were three students who were planning to showcase HELIX at the event. Under Dudley’s mentorship, each of the students had developed a health-related app. The students were eager to share their ideas with Arnold. After a brief chat, Arnold found that the students had come up with great ideas, but that certain “logistical issues and a failure to understand how a medical system really works” would prevent the apps from ever succeeding. But the encounter left Arnold wondering, what if the students had an inside look at the medical system? With the necessary knowledge, could the students help tackle some of MSH’s trickiest challenges? A similar lightbulb went off for Dudley, who alongside HELIX developer Kelly Parke was in the midst of creating a HELIX summer program to help students around the world develop the entrepreneurial mindset necessary to generate sustainable, scalable solutions to real-life problems. Why not pair up HELIX’s nascent Summer Institute with the hospital? The first HELIX Summer Institute brought together 42 students – 26 Canadian and 16 international – for ten days of immersive critical thinking, brainstorming, and problem solving. The problem? How to address the cognitive decline observed in MSH’s Alternative Level of Care (ALC) ward and improve the overall ALC patient experience. Patients in the ALC no longer need the services of their current setting and are waiting to be transferred or returned home. Arnold explains that many ALC patients suffer from mental health issues and that the lack of stimulation and attention in the ward often exacerbates certain behavioural issues.


Markham VOICE Winter 2017

“They’re kind of trapped because no one really wants them,” says Arnold. “It’s not a great place to find yourself.” Students participated in sessions with 31 mentors and presenters and over 12 MSH stakeholders, including patients, patients’ loved ones, nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators. Parke, who acted as lead mentor for the students, started by asking them to spend time exploring and understanding the problem from multiple perspectives – the “divergent” step in the process. Students were placed into small groups and began approaching the problem through various exercises, activities, and sessions with mentors and partners. They also spent time observing the ALC ward and meeting with patients. “Everything that you do when you are in the room with all of the instructors is based on assumptions. But when we went there and talked to the stakeholders, the patients’ families, the nurses, the management staff at the hospital, everything changed,” remembers Rebeca Souza, one of the student participants. Through several days of immersion in the ward, “the students became passionate about this problem,” Dudley says. “We had a couple

of students going into the hospital at different hours — going in at midnight — just to see how people were sleeping, hear the noise level, it was incredible.” The groups eventually hit their “convergence point,” which is what Parke calls the point at which the ideas start to connect, and settled on six ideas — ranging from colour light therapy to volunteer software and a custom-built nurse station gate. The student groups then entered a rapid prototyping phase to build out their solutions, before presenting their ideas to and receiving feedback from hospital stakeholders. Souza’s team’s solution, 4Sensory, is a multi-sensory stimulation unit to support dementia patients. The unit is equipped with motion sensors and facial and voice recognition technologies to quantify the patients’ engagement and progression. It was selected by the hospital as one of the solutions their innovation team will expand on. For Dudley and Parke, the program’s success extends beyond any individual idea developed during the ten days. “We’re giving them an entrepreneurial mindset, so now they have a roadmap for how to innovate and deal with a problem. That was the big takeaway from our perspective,” Dudley says.

This advertorial is supplied by Signal Canada

Signal Canada (a.k.a. The Offisky Project), found in 2005, is a Hosted PBX Phone System and Unified Communication provider located in Markham, Ontario. We are also one of the rare providers who has in-house development on communication products within Canada. Our product lines cover Hosted PBX phone system solutions, from small to medium size call center solutions, corporate internal collaboration platform, and more. We have been serving Canadian small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for more than a decade, and throughout this period, we are happy, our service is able to help our customers grow their business much stronger and faster. When we started to design our service, we question ourselves, there are many communication technologies in the market which can help with SMBs, but because of the cost and the complexity of these technologies, most SMBs feels restricted. As a SMB telecommunication provider, what if we provide these kind of service in a simpler way with affordable price, with this service it can greatly beneficial to SMBs. This question became the fundamental into our design concept. We start designing our phone system on the cloud-based platform, which eliminates the essential overpriced physical phone system hardware, and eliminates the phone system wiring installation. We simplified the whole process, by only using plug-and-play phones to connect with the internet. Thanks to the recent development of laptops and tablets, some businesses can even install the phone into their computer to eliminate the cost of the phone, which can still manage to operate their phone system seamlessly. After we have successfully removed the physical limitation on a phone system, we start to build more useful features, which we believe will be greatly beneficial to the SMB market. For instance, our Call Center Solution no longer requires extreme costly hardware. Anyone can create their own call center in just couple of clicks. The daily business operation and collaboration system, offers each of the staff members within the company the opportunity to review and operate their daily communication in a single, multi-user platform. There are many features in the platform which is designed to ease the business daily operation into our service. Because our phone system service (Hosted PBX) is a comprehensive, cloud based phone system and unified communication platform, which no longer requires phone system installation and rewiring, our "Phone System As A Service" helps many SMBs to save a lot, especially at the start up period, where they no longer need to invest a couple thousand dollars just for the phone system. A single, very affordable monthly service charge is already sufficient to have a decent phone system in their office. And whenever they need more, there are no limitations in terms of their business size or functionalities. Everything is ready for them, for now, and for their future. We look forward to cooperating with more businesses and those interested in joining our service. Only with your continuous support, we can provide you with better, and more innovative functionalities to improve your business communications.

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Markham Board of Trade ASPIRE Awards

MARKHAM MARKETPLACE Celebrating Markham’s Young Business Leaders On

October 5th, the Markham Board of Trade’s Young Professionals Networking series (YPN) presented the 5th Annual ASPIRE (Achieving Social and Professional Ideals, Reaching Excellence) Awards to three deserving candidates. The prize honours outstanding Markham business professionals under 40. The recipients of this year’s award are not just excellent businesspersons but also community leaders and role models active in mentorship, social engagement, and charity work throughout the Markham area.

(from left to right) Chris Dudley, Founding Director, Seneca HELIX; Chris Jones, Williams and Partners LLP; Lucia Mariani, Feast Interactive; Jonathan Greenbaum, BDO Canada LLP; and Bill Hutton, Norbram & YPN Committee Chair

Chris Jones began working as a business advisor and chartered professional accountant at Williams & Partners LLP in 2015

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017

after being invited to the firm. An expert in accounting, business valuation, and corporate finance, Chris was promoted to partner at Williams & Partners LLP at only 35 years of age. Chris also does charity work, including work with Victim Services Toronto, and employs his experience and business-savvy to empower the next generation of business professionals, enthusiastically working as a part of Williams & Partners’ human resources team aiming to find promising future CPAs, helping clients with succession planning, and working with a number of mentorship programs. Lucia Mariani brings her enthusiasm, creativity, and 15 years of digital marketing experience to her work as digital director at Feast Interactive Inc.,

an award-winning digital advertising company that she co-founded in 2011. At Feast Interactive, Lucia helps clients implement interactive, efficient, and highly effective marketing strategies, allowing them to boost their companies’ profiles. Lucia is also passionate about community involvement and applies her creativity and diverse experience to worthy causes, such as working to organize an annual TEDxWomen event in Toronto and managing events for Girls in Tech Toronto, which she co-founded. Jonathan Greenbaum has accrued a wealth of knowledge and experience in accounting, tax, and related services over the last 13 years. He is currently senior manager of Assurance & Accounting Services at BDO Canada LLP, where he has worked for over ten years. Jonathan will soon be made partner at the company, effective January 1. He is also an active speaker and mentor in Markham’s business community, advising startups and small businesses on best accounting practices on a volunteer basis and giving a very popular no-fee “Tax Tip” seminar at the Markham Small Business Centre.

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Markham VOICE Winter 2017


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Markham VOICE Winter 2017





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