Advisors & Mentors

Advisors & Mentors

Entrepreneurship Advisors


Andrew is the Founder and CEO of Clearbanc and was previously the President of Bionym, makers of the Nymi – the heartwave sensing wristband used for seamless authentication. In this role, he was responsible for all aspects of go-to-market including platform, business development, marketing and fundraising.

Prior to joining Bionym, Andrew was the Chief Operating Officer of Toronto-based Top Hat, the leading mobile learning platform for the classroom. In his 2 years with the company, Andrew led the efforts to raise over $10M in financing, opened offices in San Francisco and Chicago, grew the organization to over 80 employees, and secured strategic partnerships with the world’s largest education companies.

Andrew began his career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company’s media practice after studying Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Andrew left McKinsey to enter the startup world, leading the sales, marketing and business development efforts of Andreessen-Horowitz-backed Top Prospect – a referral-based social recruitment startup based in San Francisco. He is a frequent contributor on entrepreneurship and technology to publications including VentureBeat, Mashable, Business Insider, VC Journal, The Globe & Mail, Techvibes and the Toronto Standard.

Founder and President

Chaz has had a successful career as an entrepreneur, most notably as Founder and President of Standing 8 Productions, one of Canada’s foremost boutique feature film companies. In this role he created, financed and produced numerous award-winning movies (Poor Boy’s Game, Just Buried, Whirligig). Presently, Chaz is President of Nile Fiber Canada, an agricultural biomass company with a low-cost patented feedstock that is a 100% hardwood replacement. Academically, Chaz studied as a classical actor at the National Theatre School of Canada and received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and Schulich School of Business. He also proudly serves on the board of directors for Feed Nova Scotia.

Innovation Leader

I execute on new human-centered initiatives by translating stakeholder needs into desirable, feasible, and viable products and services. By combining my experiences working in design, business development, and public-private partnerships, I deliver context-tailored experiences that draw upon global best practices.

Before joining The Moment as an Innovation Leader, I co-founded Journey CX, an entrepreneurial consultancy focused on building exceptional customer and citizen experiences. My work there has received numerous international awards, including Best of CES and the Consumer Electronics Association Innovation Award. In 2014, I was also named one of Canada’s Next 36 Leaders.

When I’m not at the studio, I’m often collaborating with my fellow innovators on #sidehustles such as The Prosper Lab, to make community-led change happen in the city. You can also find me people-watching at coffee shops, backpacking with friends, and attempting to recall my highly stubborn Shiba Inu.

Community Engagement Lead

Danielle is a passionate community builder and master connector. With over a decade of experience building intersections across a range of stakeholders in tech-startup, corporate, nonprofit, public service, and higher education spheres, she’s dedicated to championing and supporting people and initiatives working to drive serious impact in the world.

As the Community Engagement Lead at The DMZ at Ryerson University, North America’s top-ranked business incubator, Danielle’s role interfaces with an in-house roster of ~75 startups, as well as a wider community of 200+ alumni companies, 80+ advisors and mentors, a global network of incubation partners, and hundreds of investors and service providers. Danielle works to identify the best external opportunities for DMZ’s entrepreneurs – from conferences, to pitch opportunities, business development leads, key investors and influencers – to help grow their companies as rapidly and successfully as possible.

Danielle is passionate about supporting entrepreneurs in all stages of their success, and is dedicated to further building Canada’s reputation as a leader in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem.


David is a repeat tech and marketing startup entrepreneur, cofounder of Brilliant Labs, volunteer advisor to NB’s Strategic Program Review, KIRA Award’s Industry Champion for 2015, a Forbes top 50 CMO in social media, co-winner of a 2014 EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Atlantic Canada, 2015 winner of Entrepreneur of the Year and co-winner of Enterprise Promotion for the Atlantic Region from Startup Canada, an advisor to many startups in the Atlantic region, Radian6’s former CMO,’s former Marketing Cloud Chief Adoption Officer and currently the Chief Innovation Officer at Introhive. David sits on the executive committee of LivingSJ, a movement to support and create a path for all those living in poverty in his home city, and is a board member with his regional United Way. David has been involved recently with two social impact documentaries, Code Kids, which followed the journey to get coding back in the classroom, and The Millennial Dream, a documentary questioning whether the values of “The American Dream” have now been replaced by those more aligned with the passions of the Millennial generation.


David is the Fund Manager of the RBC Generator; an early stage impact investment venture capital fund raised as part of the RBC Social Finance Initiative. Prior to joining RBC, David worked with TrilogyGrowth, LP; an early stage venture capital firm. He is on the Advisory Board of Venture for Canada, and serves as a Mentor and Advisor to MaRS JOLT Accelerator, OCADU Imagination Lab and the Brown University Entrepreneurship Program.

David attended graduate school at Brown University, earning an MPH in Health Economics, and spent time at Harvard University Graduate School as a Visiting Graduate Scholar. During his time at Brown, David was a Cherrystone Angel Group Venture Fellow and an Ocean State Angels Venture Fellow, as well as an Advisor to the Brown University Technology Transfer and Ventures Office. He also holds an HBA from Wilfrid Laurier University. David is a Board Observer for RBC Generator portfolio companies, Endurance Wind Power and Nudge Rewards.

In his previous role as Director of Business Development at OMERS Ventures, David Crow was responsible for advocating OMERS Ventures within the technology community, assist in running OMERS Ventures related programs and initiatives, and participate in technical and business due diligence.

Prior to joining OMERS Ventures, David has held roles in product development and more recently in marketing & business development. David has extensive experience working with growth technology companies to acquire early customers, refine product designs and search for a scalable business model.

David is the Editor and Community Animator for StartupNorth, which he founded with Jonas Brandon and Jevon MacDonald. David currently serves on the board of Lymbix, and is an advisor to Hacker You, Bunch, PrintChomp and TribeHR.

David was named Toronto’s Best Web and Tech Evangelist in 2008. He has a Master’s degree, Human-Computer Interaction from the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Waterloo.

Entrepreneur in Residence

Haroon F. Mirza is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence of OneEleven. OneEleven is focused on building a community of high potential, data-driven entrepreneurs, by providing them with the resources and support to scale their technologies.

Haroon joined from OMERS Ventures, where he served as Entrepreneur in Residence. Prior to OMERS Ventures, Haroon was Director of Business Development – Anonymous Viewer Analytics at Intel. Before that, he was the Co-founder & CEO of CognoVision, named Canada’s Most Innovative Company in 2009, which was acquired by Intel in 2010.

An accomplished entrepreneur, Haroon’s skills and experience include leading all stages of the commercialization process including idea development, fund raising, product launches, obtaining reference customers, and revenue generation. His deep commitment to the advancement of entrepreneurship includes serving on the Board of TiE Toronto, the Sector Advisory Board – Information, Communication and Digital Media of Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the Advisory Board of Venture for Canada.

Haroon graduated from Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business with a Bachelor of Commerce, and completed Harvard Business School’s Program for Leadership Development (PLD).

Founder & CEO
Harpaul Sambhi is the founder and CEO of Careerify. Careerify is an intelligent recruiting automation platform powered by data from social networks, helping employers drive referrals and internal mobility. Harpaul is considered by many as a pioneer in the development of social recruitment applications. He has led Careerify in becoming one of the hottest HR tech start-ups in North America winning such awards like Microsoft’s BizSparkOne award, as a top 100 technology start-up globally, Blue Sky Award for Innovation, to IDC’s top 10 Cloud Computing Companies to Watch and Top 25 Start-Ups awards. Harpaul is also the author of Social_HR which sheds insights in how social media is impacting Human Resources, speaking at such events like the CIO Forum in New York, to the HRPA. During his free time, Harpaul loves to dabble into extreme, and unusual sports.

Head of Growth & Partnerships

Hassan Bhatti is the Head of Growth & Partnerships at Iris Automation – a Silicon Valley backed Industrial Drone Company, a founding team member at WifiGen – Leading mobile advertising start-up in Pakistan, and a board member & adviser of several global organizations, and a frequent speaker on topics of 4th Industrial revolution and start-ups.

As a strong believer in working across cultures, countries, and sectors, he is committed to pursuing a global path and creating connections between sectors and cultures to solve the problems society faces. This commitment has taken him to more than 15 countries and led him to work across the private, government, and non-profit sector.

He has previously worked with a diverse set of organizations including Schlumberger, Procter & Gamble,  KPMG – Infrastructure Investments, and Quantius. Hassan’s community interests are very broad; he is a board member of the Muslim Urban Professional Organization, advisory council member of Century 21st Initiative, mentor at Nest I/O, Launch Academy Vancouver, & [email protected], and Curator of Global Shapers Vancouver at World Economic Forum.

Born and raised in Rawalpindi, Hassan Bhatti pursued BSc in Physics and Economics as an International Scholar at the University of British Columbia, where he received UBC’s highest leadership and community awards – Nestor Korchinsky and Margaret Fulton award.

Founder & Principal 

Heidi is Founder and Principal at SalesAccelerator. Sales Accelerator is a sales performance firm that works with startups and growing companies to build sales teams, sell products and track towards success. SalesAccelerator was founded in 2016 and has thus far raised over 300K in earned revenue for local companies.

Heidi has a passion for sales and a track record of success at Fortune 500 brands like IBM and FedEx as well as leading sales efforts at Square Canada. She joined Venture for Canada as a judge in 2015 and contributes to the sales bootcamp at Queens yearly. With her broad experience Heidi shares why sales is a great starting point for any career and how those skills can be translatable to all aspects of life and entrepreneurship.


Jane is a high-energy entrepreneur who is passionate about channeling the innovation from clinical trial management of patients into practical applications in proactive health care and preventive risk reduction for the average office-potatoes. She co-founded Optimity Inc. after spending 8 years in data-analytics roles across hospitals, pharmaceutical & healthcare consulting. Her leadership team at Optimity has deep industry expertise in health management, cost analytics, and software/hardware technologies.


Co-founder and Executive Director

Jaxson is the co-founder and Executive Director of Young Diplomats of Canada, a national non-profit organization that engages the country’s top young professionals in global governance summits. He is an Associate at Prospect Madison, a cross-sector leadership advisory firm aimed at enhancing collaboration across the business, government and non-profit sectors to address society’s most pressing issues. Jaxson was named one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 young leaders, is a 3M National Student Fellow, and a Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.

Previously, Jaxson worked as a project coordinator in business operations with Microsoft and co-chaired a corporate social responsibility board with AstraZeneca Canada. He assisted in the operations and research of international projects with TakingITGlobal and in digital media for the Living Arts Centre. In public education, Jaxson served as chief student representative to the Ontario Ministry of Education, and co-founded the national Student Voice Initiative. He has written for The Globe and Mail, and co-founded their student advisory council. Jaxson represented Canada at the United Nations in New York City and at the Global Forum on Youth Policies in Azerbaijan, served on a human rights delegation to Rwanda, and coordinated the first Canadian youth delegation to the World Bank Annual General Meeting in Washington, DC.

Jaxson has spoken at TEDxEdmonton, the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs, Microsoft’s New York City offices, and the Summit for the Coalition for Children and Youth Mental Health, and been published in The Globe and Mail, TeachThought,, and Dell Education. Jaxson studied global development at Huron University College, Western University, and served as a Program Coordinator to the Public Humanities project of the Advanced Arts and Humanities Faculty. He began university at the Bader International Study Centre, participating in field studies and research across the UK and continental Europe.

Co-founder/Marketing Director

Jeremy Shaki is a co-founder and Marketing Director of Lighthouse Labs, a Vancouver developer bootcamp that uses efficient education practices to take beginner level students to the level of entry level developers and connects them with jobs in the technology industry. Prior to building Lighthouse Labs, Jeremy was a Marketing Executive for 6 years with Sugar Media, an experiential marketing agency based in Toronto and received his BA from Concordia University.

Director of Partnerships

From building startups, to strategy consulting at Fortune 500s, to his personal relationships, Justin simplifies the complex so that others can be inspired to move confidently in new directions. He believes in the power of purpose, the importance of happiness, and that empathy underlies every success.

He has maintained a beginner’s mind, always focused on the bigger picture.

Analyst – Community & Ventures

Kate is passionate about community building, entrepreneurship and showcasing Canada as an innovation and technology leader.

In her role at Information Venture Partners, she is charged with helping build the FinTech community in North America by working closely with incubators, accelerators, and startups to ensure the ecosystem flourishes and to align information venture partners with relevant companies.

Kate loves connecting like-minded individuals, is an active member of Toronto’s tech community and is currently a director at Community Builders, an organization that helps connect individuals who are building communities both inside and outside of the tech space.

Having lived in both English and French Canada, Kate has a good understanding of both ecosystems and her professional experience includes: community building, marketing, communications, partner relations and business development.

Board Member

Layan is the ex-President and current member of the Board of Directors of Nspire Innovation Network, a non-profit dedicated to building the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in the business and technology space. Originally from Jordan, she has competed as a member of Jordan’s national karate team and is an international award winner for her invention of a unit to decrease the pollution caused by residential chimneys.

Layan is a graduate of the Next36, Canada’s largest entrepreneurship and leadership development program and is the co-founder of the You’re Next Career Network, a professional development hub that connects students with industry professionals. Layan has her Master of Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Toronto, and is the holder of numerous awards for excellence in leadership and academics, including University of Toronto’s Cressy Award. She is joining McKinsey & Co. as a Business Analyst next fall.


Mark has nearly a decade of combined consulting, operating, and early stage investing experience across multiple technology sectors. Before joining the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, Mark worked with Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) where he supported investment in early stage cleantech companies. Prior to SDTC, Mark held consulting and operating roles with Hatch and ENERCON GmbH, respectively, where he was primarily focused on renewable energy technologies and projects.

Venture Partner
Omar is a Venture Partner with Real Ventures, a seed-stage Venture Capital firm based in Montreal that has recently closed it’s third fund as it expands its presence in Canada. Omar’s role is to contribute to the growth of the firms operations in Toronto/Waterloo, and he is the first person on the ground in the region.

Prior to joining Real Ventures, Omar built a Canadian digital media company, where he opened the firm’s headquarters in Toronto, secured content partnerships with large Canadian media brands, and led efforts to secure venture financing and international hardware/software licensing. His career began in management consulting, where he worked with Accenture & McKinsey & Company, developing deep industry experience in Media/Retail/Health Care while focusing primarily on strategy & organizational transformation.

Omar holds an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business at Western Ontario and a B.Comm from the University of British Columbia (UBC). He is also an Adjunct Professor in UBC’s EMBA program, teaching corporate problem solving using management consulting tools & tactics.


Patrick has over 15 years of highly relevant investment and entrepreneurial experience. As vice president of investment at Innovacorp, Patrick oversaw the organization’s seed and early-stage venture capital activities. He worked hands-on with Innovacorp’s portfolio companies to assist them in accelerating their growth, achieving milestones and securing additional financing. In 2004, Patrick founded CVAI to launch Starbucks Coffee in Atlantic Canada, securing an exclusive license to operate. Starbucks Corporation acquired CVAI in 2008.

Previously, Patrick held senior positions with Boston-based venture capital firm Atlas Venture and the Boston Consulting Group, which provides strategic advisory services for leading companies around the world. Patrick holds an M.Phil from Oxford University and an MBA (Distinction) from Harvard Business School.

Director of Programs

Preston Aitken is the Director of Programs at Enactus Canada (formerly ACE), a national charitable organization that brings together student, academic and industry leaders to enable progress through entrepreneurial action. It is the largest leadership and entrepreneurship-based program for post-secondary students in Canada.

Preston attended Memorial University of Newfoundland, completing a degree in International Bachelor of Business Administration, graduating in 2010 with honours. While in school, Preston was heavily involved in community-based initiatives as an Enactus student and other student groups that improved the quality of life and standard of living for people in need. As a part of this involvement, he helped launch Based in Business (now known as Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur), which is a national program for transitioning Canadian Forces members interested in starting their own business.

He was also a lead contributing member of Team Canada twice at the Enactus World Cup in Singapore and Berlin, placing 1st and 3rd in the world respectively out of more than 1,600 teams. In his four years at Enactus Canada, Preston has served in different capacities, from Manager of Program Development to Director of Strategic Programming. In May 2013, he was named Director of Programs where he leads his team of dedicated staff to help grow and develop the Enactus program across the country. Enactus Canada is one of 36 countries part of the Enactus global network.

Program Director
Sergio is the Managing Director for Silicon Valley early stage accelerator Founder Institute in Montreal, acts as Program Director for the pre-accelerator Startup NEXT designed by Steve Blank in partnership with Google and the Global Accelerator Network, plus acts as Global Facilitator for Startup Weekend in Canada and Latin America. Sergio has launched startups (eCommerce, Mobile Payments) and agri-food smb’s in the last 10 years with equity investments coming from angel investors and family offices. He was also lead for the Anges Quebec incubator initiative Angel Investors Challenge. Sergio acts as mentor for different programs such as Lean Startup Machine, Hacking Health, Momentum Accelerator and many more.

Founder & Board Chair

Susan is the Founder and Board Chair of Metrix Group Inc., a Toronto-based consultancy firm that focuses on building capability through the design, development, and implementation of performance-based learning systems on all platforms: digital, classroom and performance support. These performance-based learning systems have focused on four major verticals: pharmaceutical and biotech, financial services, retail, and government/Crown corporations. Susan started her career at Ernst and Young where she was a consultant working with both internal and external customers. As a part of the Educational Services Group, she designed, developed and delivered training programs for both the consulting and accounting arms of the firm.
Susan then moved on to become the Director of Training and Development for Royal Trust/Royal Bank where she led a team of over 30 professionals, overseeing all training for the company.

Global Head

Vanessa Serra Iarocci is currently the global head of high net worth brand at RBC Wealth and an Executive-in-Residence at the Rotman School of Management.

Vanessa has spent close to two-decades in progressively senior roles spanning corporate finance, strategy, and operations at PwC and TD Bank Financial Group. She also recently spent a one year sabbatical leading design-thinking, strategy and innovation initiatives for global companies on behalf of Fresh Squeezed Ideas, an award winning predictive analytics, behavioural economics & culture consultancy as well as directly for a number of private companies and innovation hubs.

Vanessa is active in her community and participates in a number of organizations that support the advancement of women and girls including: Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, Trust 15 Youth Community Support Organization, Women Moving Millions and Ignite Capital.

Vanessa holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto and a Chartered Accountant designation. She recently spent over one year working with senior executives from 54 countries to earn a certificate in Corporate Innovation from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Associate Professor

Professor Yuval Deutsch is an Associate professor at the Schulich School of Business. He is the winner of the Schulich Fellowship for Excellence in Research 2014, 2005. His research is published in top journals such as Management Science, Strategic Management Journal, and MIT Sloan Management Review. He has taught courses in corporate governance, strategic management, consulting, and entrepreneurship in North America, Europe, and the Middle East, and was nominated for the Seymour Schulich award for teaching excellence in 2012-2013, 2011-2012, 2004–2005 and 2003–2004. Yuval has extensive industry experience as a manager, consultant, and accountant. He co-founded an accounting and consulting firm that specialized in the IPO market, and provided services to a range of firms including the five big banks in Israel. He also founded the first open sea fish farm in Israel, which exported its products to Europe. Yuval holds a B.A. in Accounting & Economics and an M.A. (cum laude) in Finance & Banking from the Hebrew University. His Ph.D. in Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship is from the University of British Columbia.


Afraj Gill is a technology entrepreneur. Previously, he worked at Google’s global headquarters on a pre-launch project, co-founded and led two technology companies, and was elected as Senator and standing committee member of Queen’s University, where he determined matters of academic character affecting 23,000+ students. Afraj campaigned with Canada’s former Prime Minister, Federal Health Minister, and many Canadian Members of Parliament. At age 17, he was awarded his private flight wings by the President of Canada’s Space Agency and former Chief of the Defence Staff, General Walter Natynczyk.

Afraj’s work on technology and education has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Business Insider, and the Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. As part of his work on education, Afraj led a research initiative through which he interviewed notable technologists, including Dr. Ray Kurzweil (Singularity University), Sal Khan (Khan Academy), Aaron Levie (Box), Mike Cassidy (Google), and others. He has also given a TED Talk for TEDxQueensU which can be viewed here.

He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and Queen’s University Chancellor’s Scholarship. In 2013, he was named the youngest recipient of British Columbia’s Community Achievement Award. In 2008, he was presented a Medal of Merit by the late Douglas (Duke) Warren, a World War II Ace Pilot, on behalf of Canada’s Army, Navy, and Air Force Veterans.

Afraj was born in Chandigarh, India, and immigrated to Canada at age 8. He grew up in Surrey, British Columbia, where he was a paperboy and landscaper for four years. In his spare time, he enjoys helping friends who start technology companies.

Talent Program Manager

Andrea Gilbrook has spent the past decade helping business find great people and build amazing teams. In her role as Talent Program Manager at Communitech, Andrea works every day to help tech companies – from startups to global brands – start, grow and succeed.

Andrea has based her career in one of the world’s fastest-growing tech ecosystems; a University of Waterloo grad, her resume includes tech giants like Open Text and BlackBerry. In her role at Communitech, Andrea is focused on growing Waterloo Region tech further by developing talent attraction programs, consulting with companies and sharing best practices.

Manager of Research & Partnerships

Armed with a passion for the environment and a strong understanding of corporate practices, Andrea has built her career around mobilizing the private sector for positive community impact.

Andrea has contributed to both the Corporate Sustainability group as well as the newly formed Social Impact team since joining RBC in 2014. Andrea currently manages the RBC Social Finance initiative, which aims to increase awareness of how private capital and financial markets can affect social and environmental change.

Andrea holds a Masters in Environment and Sustainability from Western University and a Bachelor of Arts, Honours from Queen’s University. She was named one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 Sustainability Leaders by Corporate Knights in 2015.

Head, Retail Solutions

Avi Pollock has more than 20 years of experience as both an entrepreneur and intrapreneur. He has a track record of successfully building early-stage companies and implementing transformational initiatives in large, complex, multi-stakeholder organizations. Currently he is Head, Retail Solutions at D+H and is responsible for the P&L for D+H’s consumer facing division encompassing 3 lines of business. Avi was previously VP, Innovation and Strategic Planning at RBC leading the enterprise Innovation and Digital Social Collaboration teams as well as strategy for the global Technology & Operations department.

He is a frequent speaker on a number of topics including: Building an innovative culture, creating a social enterprise, mobile commerce, the future of the CIO
Avi is also active in charitable and community causes, including: Public Service Advisory Board for Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence, Ted Rogers School of Management MBA Advisory Council and RBC’s Social Finance initiative. Avi has served on the JVS Board for one year and is the incoming Secretary of the Board at JVS Toronto and Chair of the Governance Committee.

Avi is a graduate of the joint LL.B-MBA program at Osgoode Hall/ Schulich School of Business


Brennan Foo is a tech entrepreneur, startup generalist, and former competitive gamer with a focus on product, people, and growth. He currently leads growth, sales, talent success (including hiring, onboarding), and wears several other hats at the Techstars- and venture-backed 3D printing technology company, Mosaic Manufacturing.
Previously, Brennan co-founded 2 technology companies in the EdTech and SME SaaS spaces, co-founded a marketing consultancy, and taught himself to build web applications. While studying business at Queen’s, he was recognized as the Queen’s Commerce Society’s assembly member of the year for his contributions as a Senator, where he served on the university’s body that governs all of its academic affairs. He was awarded the Beverly M. Blackwell Memorial Prize for his contributions as his class’s President, and led an initiative selected as the Queen’s Commerce program’s top event of 2011–2012: a career exploration event that exposed students to different career paths.
Brennan was formerly ranked in the top 0.04% of players in the world’s most popular online game, League of Legends, where he competed against the world’s top professional eSports players. In 2008, he created the world’s most valuable item in Maplestory, one of the world’s most popular online games (50 million+ players). 

Managing Partner

Chris has been in the software tech space for over 15 years with a focus on sales and executing successful revenue generation plans. She has a talent and passion for growing companies through collaborative and innovative go-to- market strategies. Maximizing the people around her, strategy and creativity are the tools she uses to enable change. She’s an evangelist for smart,
nimble processes and great culture to generate revenue growth across customer facing teams. Chris is a qualified Master Coach, and her leadership is centred around enabling you to be the best you can be!At huerdo, she offer’s Management Consulting and Coaching in corporate growth strategies with an emphasis on Enterprise Sales. She has developed the Growth Acceleration Framework (GAF) to enable technology companies to bring the customer facing resources together efficiently, to understand the “why of a sales”, and to help them focus their activities to grow their revenue. True Growth Acceleration is achieved by thinking differently, behaving differently, with a plan to solve larger business problems, which leads to expanding your relevance and value to existing customers and prospects.Chris holds a BSc in Mathematics from Portsmouth University, and MSc in Management Science and Operational Research from Warwick University, and a Leadership Certification from Queen’s University. Chris is a qualified Master Coach from the Graduate School of Master Coaches under Dr. Skiffington.

Human Resource Leader

Daneal is a sought out Human Resource business leader to tech founders and leadership teams. She has provided stage-appropriate HR advisory services to many of GTA’s tech starts ups. Most recently she was the head of HR for NexJ Systems where she built an impressive employer brand, positively impacting retention and the attraction of new talent. She was a finalist in the category of the Best Employment Branding at the Canadian HR Awards 2016.

Daneal is the co-author of a career survival guide for millennials. “Hitting Stryde is a must read for an Millennials as they enter the workforce.” – David Stein, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Leaders Fund. She is a speaker & moderator at forums including HRPA Conferences, Achiever’s Customer Experience Conference, Orion Summit hosted at MaRS, IMPACT99, MaRs Entrepreneurship 101 series, ACETech Roundtables, to name a few.

People Manager

Daniela is the People Manager at Uken Games, an innovative cross platform mobile game studio and was previously the Talent Acquisition Manager at Spin Master Ltd., a leading global, multi-platform, innovative children’s entertainment company.

Prior to joining Spin Master, Daniela spent 10 years working in the adult education field, specifically job skills training and co-operative education for internationally trained professionals (ITPs). Daniela has assisted hundreds of ITPs find work in Canada and has tirelessly advocated for their integration to the Canadian workplace.

Daniela began her career in financial services as a Personal Banking Officer and Corporate Trainer for (then) Canada Trust after studying Economics at York University. Daniela left the financial sector to travel, explore the world and find a new career path which ultimately led her to education and human resources. Daniela is a Certified Human Resources Leader and is active in the HR and Tech community. In her spare time Daniela enjoys travelling and culinary adventures.

Account Executive 

Dan Fergusson has been in the technology industry for almost a decade, driving sales for various applications in video messaging, business intelligence, fan engagement and customer research. Currently at Helpful, Dan was hired pre-revenue, pre-market/fit, to build out and execute the go to market strategy for a high potential startup. He is actively working with major brands to disrupt their text communications with a more engaging and human medium – video. Prior to this, Dan was a key member at Vision Critical for 7 years, directly contributing to the growth from $20m – $100m in annual revenue, as the company became a Canadian success story. He trained and led sales hubs in Toronto, NYC and Australia, opened an expansion office in Melbourne, signed over 100 enterprise brands and returned to Canada to lead key account sales across North America. 

Dan also has experience with early stage businesses, acting as a mentor for the University of Melbourne’s Accelerator. Following this he joined a computer vision startup,, as an advisor as they grew from inception to a $4m valuation. He is also active in the Toronto startup community, as an advisor for Next Canada.

With experience launching new solutions, Dan is skilled at finding product/market fit, creating buyer journey frameworks, developing strategic sales methodologies and scaling across departmental, industry and global boundaries. For later stage companies, Dan has a keen sense of finding ways to increase the sales velocity, focused on raising deal size, win rates and reducing cycle. Dan holds an Honors Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University and a Professional Certificate in Strategic Marketing Management from the Schulich School of Business.

Managing Director

Erin is the Managing Director at 88 Creative, a Toronto-based creative communications agency. Prior to 88 Creative she was the Managing Editor at startup publication BetaKit, and director of communications at Sprouter, which was acquired by Postmedia in 2011.

Erin is a frequent speaker with the National Speakers Bureau, writes a monthly column for the Financial Post, and is a tech commentator on CTV News. She has appeared in publications including The New York Times, Forbes, CNN, and Canadian Business, and was named one of Marketing Magazine’s top 30 Under 30 marketers. Her claim to fame is being retweeted by Oprah – twice.

Managing Director

Faraz is a trained economist, and brings over 10 years of experience working in the public service, currently as a senior economist with Finance Canada.

Over the years, Faraz has helped shape a variety of key policy initiatives with a focus on youth engagement and support for innovative businesses, including fostering greater innovation-focused collaboration between firms and student researchers, developing programming to help promising young startups acquire investment capital and mentorship services, and exploring the potential of financial technology companies to disrupt traditional business models.

Faraz has also taken an active role in helping recent graduates and new recruits develop their careers, including through one-on-one mentorship services, and helping design corporate job shadowing and mentorship initiatives between new employees and senior executives.

Faraz holds an M.A. in Economics and a B.A. (Honours) in Economics from Carleton University. He loves to travel, take part in long distance running races, and engage in a variety of community outreach initiatives. Faraz lives in Ottawa, Ontario with his wife.

Manager, Business Development

Geoff Osborne has performed several key functions at NRStor since joining the company shortly after it was founded in 2012. He is primarily focused on managing day-to-day operations, identifying business development opportunities, managing project development and construction, strategic planning, evaluating new technologies and business models, coordinating technical proposals, and conducting market research and analysis. Geoff has also worked with public and private sector stakeholders to help advance regulatory policy and enable the increased adoption of energy storage in Ontario (ESO) and Alberta (ASA).

Geoff holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Queen’s University and is completing a part-time Master’s of Law from York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School (energy & infrastructure specialization). Prior to joining NRStor, Geoff held positions with a major Canadian hospital and private legal practice.”

Principal & Chief People Strategist

Glenn Nishimura is the Principal and Chief People Strategist at Nishimura Consulting. He helps entrepreneurs, startups and small business owners across North America and Europe to build strong company cultures and smart people practices. He also mentors young entrepreneurs, and writes about performance management as a columnist for PROFITguide/Canadian Business.

VP Marketing

Greg is Vice President Marketing, Product Management & Strategy at 4Finance North America, a global fintech leader specializing in alternative finance. In this role he works with senior leadership to drive new and scalable revenue opportunities, innovative customer experiences through technology and customer acquisition strategies.

Prior to joining 4Finance Greg has been part of product management and marketing groups with large multi-national organizations, including IBM Global Services and LexisNexis as well as with mobile and internet startups such as Tucows, and Diversinet.

Vice President

Janice Sousa is an experienced, results driven sales and operations leader with over 15 years experience. She has a specialization in the travel, tourism and education sectors.  Janice has held various senior positions over her career most notably with the social enterprise We with responsibility for the initial development of Me to We Tours over a decade ago, more recently as Director of Canadian Sales for EF and currently the Vice President, Business Development for Merit Travel Group.
In addition to advising a number of start-ups and social impact groups in Canada and the US, Janice is proud to be an active member of her local community helping to support newcomer programs and Dress for Success. Janice holds an MBA from the Rotman School of Business, at University of Toronto.

Business Coach

In the past 6 years and in her current role as a Business Coach and Strategist, she has helped several entrepreneurs from multiple sectors sharpen their vision, pinpoint their goals, improve their leadership skills, and achieve remarkable results.

In addition to her business coaching practice, she is keen on working and supporting initiatives in innovation with a strong, meaningful social impact. She enjoys a great game of squash, running a slow but steady 5k, rock-climbing in and outdoors, and travelling to remote and curious places.


Talent Aquisition

Jordan is one of the Lead Recruiters & Account Managers at Gurulink, a top firm known for sourcing, recruiting, hiring and adding a talent strategy with some of the fastest growing companies and startups in North America.

He joined Gurulink in 2013 after finishing university where he has grown an extremely strong passion for the recruitment industry. He takes every step needed to help connect amazing talent with the right opportunities and in turn helping companies scale in an effective way.


Featured on ABC News, the Huffington Post, Financial Post, Globe and Mail and AlphaGamma, Jessica Lui has been published/interviewed by numerous international media outlets for her entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavors.

As a startup founder, Jessica was invited to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by President Barack Obama at Stanford University in recognition of her work as CEO of Global Professionals Practicum (GPP), a professional coaching firm dedicated to helping clients build influence in a competitive global environment.

Additionally, Jessica is passionate about humanitarian issues and is involved in a number of philanthropic endeavors. She serves as a member of the UN International Youth Council and recently represented Canada at the United Nations Youth Assembly. She was granted lifetime membership by the Obama administration to U.S. Department of State International Exchange Alumni, whose members include Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunnus and former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Jessica shares her stories in entrepreneurship and philanthropy as a featured contributor at Huffington Post, where her writing has been shared by organizations such as Cornell University. She is also an experienced speaker and has spoken at 20+ conferences including the United Nations General Assembly (New York), the World Business Dialogue (Berlin) and the World Economic Forum Global Shapers (San Francisco).

Jessica Lui is currently a management consultant in the risk advisory practice at Deloitte; which assists Fortune 500 clients in challenges ranging from financial risk in the aftermath of Brexit to strengthening cyber security practices.

Associate Director

JP Shearer is Associate Director of the Queen’s Centre for Business Venturing (QCBV) at Smith School of Business, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Creating a vision to be a global leader in educating and accelerating the success of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, and innovators, JP works closely with the Associate Dean to develop and execute on the overall strategic direction, planning, and budgeting towards the success of QCBV.

JP has spent much of his time at Smith School of Business dedicated to the development of excellence in people through coaching and mentoring.  In addition to his current role, he is an academic advisor to the Full Time MBA, MBA Americas and Executive MBA programs (New Venture Creation, Management Consulting projects, and Global Business Strategy teams) as well Lead Mentor to the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.  JP leads the Queen’s Venture Network team, a group dedicated to bringing Queen’s students and alumni together in the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation, with a focus on knowledge sharing, collaboration, and idea generation.  JP continues to be a business advisor to the Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Rehabilitation Therapy program, and a volunteer mentor to many other community groups in Kingston.

Prior to moving to Canada from his native Scotland, JP was Assistant Director (Academic Support Services) at the University of Glasgow where he designed and developed Strategy and Programming across a number of business units.  Before taking a position at Queen’s University, JP spent 6 years with Kingston Economic Development Corporation (KEDCO) as Director of Business Development. In his role at KEDCO, he led a dedicated team responsible for developing a 5-year Strategic Plan around business attraction, retention, and expansion within the City of Kingston.  During his time at KEDCO, JP led the development and execution of strategies for innovation and entrepreneurship, labour market development, and family physician recruitment/retention.  This involved working with senior levels of municipal, provincial, and federal Government to develop relationships and initiate funding support for Kingston businesses and capital development projects.

JP has sat on many boards and committees including City of Kingston Affordable Housing, Sustainable Kingston, Board Director of SWITCH (clean teach and alternative energy group), and the Leadership Board for Town/Gown relations.

JP holds an Executive MBA (2003) from the Univeristy of Glasgow, Scotland.

Director, People & Community

Karel is an entrepreneur, connector, community- and company-builder working to build and showcase Canada as a global economic and innovation leader.

As a Director, People & Community and first hire at Diagram, a venture launchpad building the next generation of Canadian-based global companies, Karel works to build world-class teams and manages people operations, partnerships, community relations, investor relations, PR, and GR for Diagram and its portfolio companies. Focused on financial and insurance technology, Diagram aims to deliver wellness for all. They are backed by leading angel investors, three of Canada’s largest financial institutions, and a VC from Silicon Valley.

He is the founder of Spaces, a platform that showcases where Canadian innovation and creativity comes to life, writes for BetaKit, sits on the editorial advisory board for StartUP HERE Toronto, and advises university organizations including Hack the North, Startup Laurier, and Hack Western to encourage and cultivate Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

Customer Success

Kaylin has been involved with Customer Success at Canadian Technology and Retail companies for over 5 years. Currently at Interaxon, Kaylin is a key member of the growing customer success team, working with customers and professionals to ensure they are getting the most value out of the wearable technology, Muse. In this role, Kaylin is driving a program of onboarding, expanding and ensuring the satisfaction of key clients. Previously Kaylin worked in Customer Success at Vision Critical, where she was responsible for ensuring customers were getting value from six-figure investments in marketing technology. Originally based in Toronto, she was moved to Australia to lead up a multi-million dollar portfolio of key international accounts including Nestle, Colgate and Target. Building on this, Kaylin moved to Melbourne to establish an expansion office – enabling a local service model that is still in place, which led to a 3x increase in our local client base. Prior to this, Kaylin worked on the client side for TJX and Renfro Corporation, working on the buying and merchandising teams to plan, deliver and analyze the products to bring to market.

With experience across a number of different products, markets and industries, Kaylin is skilled at developing effective engagement models that lead to increased revenue and satisfaction. With a degree in Business Management and a background in Psychology, she is well positioned to truly meet and understand stakeholder needs. Kaylin also is a certified yoga instructor, allowing her to bring a level of calm and mindfulness into her client interactions, while also providing her depth to working at a wearable meditation company.

VP of Product Development

Lisa holds a JD from Osgoode Hall Law School and an HBMSc from the University of Western Ontario. She is currently VP of Product Development at Diligen, a legal technology startup applying machine learning technology to contract analysis. Prior to joining the startup world, she practiced law in Toronto and interned at the World Health Organization in Switzerland. She currently volunteers for Start Proud and Lesbians Who Tech Toronto.

Executive Director

Luc Lalande is a seasoned professional specializing in the design, development and execution of innovation programs for communities seeking to enhance economic and social development. He has recently joined the University of Ottawa as the first Executive Director of the new Entrepreneurship Hub. His primary responsibility will be to develop and grow the university’s array of programs and services across all faculties to support student entrepreneurship and innovation.

Luc is at the forefront of establishing novel economic development initiatives that link the global maker movement, the tools of the digital fabrication revolution (i.e, 3D printing, open source hardware, etc) and local talent to drive indigenous innovation and design, skills development and entrepreneurship. He is co-founder of Young Maker, a community social innovation project focused on introducing 3D printing to vulnerable youth in Ottawa.


A former management consultant who has found his passion in helping others reach their potential. He focused his energy in developing the “Career Guidance System” that takes his SIWIKE (“Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier” – you know, that stuff you wished someone told you yesterday/last year/5 years ago/10 years ago… that would have changed your life) to help others turn their jobs into careers and ultimately their calling.


Nicole Almond is the President of Enactus Canada, a national charitable organization that is shaping generations of entrepreneurial leaders who are passionate about advancing the economic, social and environmental health of Canada.

Nicole attended Wilfrid Laurier University, completing an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration (Co-op), graduating in 2006. While in school she developed a passion for community development, creating and implementing educational outreach projects in Egypt, Grenada and Canada as an Enactus student, with the goal of improving the livelihoods of others through entrepreneurial action.

Upon graduation, Nicole joined the Enactus Canada National Office. In her ten years at Enactus Canada, Nicole has served in many different capacities from Director of Program Development to Vice President. In the fall of 2012, she was named President of the organization and now leads a team of 12 dedicated staff and serves as an officer of the corporation, working with the Board of Directors to set the course for the organization. Enactus Canada is one of 36 countries part of the Enactus global network.

Community Builder

Nirvana Champion holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning from Ryerson University and is also a graduate of the Master of Applied Environmental Studies – Local Economic Development program at the University of Waterloo. She has travelled the world pursuing her goal of creating more sustainable communities. Champion parlayed her education and work experience in the public and private sector into her current position as an Economic Development Officer (EDO) with the City of Toronto joining the Entrepreneurship Services team as the youngest EDO in the division.

Prior to starting her career, she was selected as the only Canadian to intern at the United Nations’ Economic Cooperation and Integration division in Geneva, where she helped build a Toolkit on public- private partnerships. She later worked as a Senior Development Analyst with Canada’s top economic development consulting firm, MDB Insight. She also created and implemented innovative strategies for community change, running a one-woman economic development office in the Town of Whitchurch- Stouffville. Currently, at the City of Toronto, she helps foster a climate for entrepreneurial success, and authored the City’s first Startup Eco-System Strategy, endorsed by City Council.

She established a Young Professionals Network for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO- YPN), and served as its first President. Under her leadership the network grew to more than 200 members, hosted numerous mentorship and networking events and has recognized rising talent through a Young Professional of the Year award.

For her contribution to the practice of economic development, Champion was recognized in 2012 with the EDCO President’s Award. She was recently the recipient of the 2016 University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environment Young Alumni Award for outstanding achievement in her career to date and is currently a 2017 Urban Land Institute Urban Leadership Program Fellow.

Senior Manager of Innovation Partnerships

Nora is on the Innovation team at RBC as Senior Manager of Innovation Partnerships. Her main objective is to manage a portfolio of innovation partnerships that consists of accelerators, incubators and organizations that have a strong technology and innovation mandate across North America. In her role, Nora actively engages with Canada’s tech ecosystem and seeks to align startups with business opportunities at RBC.

Before joining RBC, Nora was OneEleven’s Community Manager. Her core focus was to build and manage OneEleven’s community of Canada’s most promising tech startups. In her role, Nora helped to strengthen OneEleven’s presence in the wider Toronto tech startup ecosystem. She managed the organization’s marketing channels, liaised with OneEleven’s corporate sponsors and identified valuable opportunities for OneEleven’s portfolio founders and their teams.

Nora is passionate about connecting people as an active member of Toronto’s tech startup community. She is currently a Director at Canadian Community Builders and an organizing member at DesignX and Move The Dial.

Having lived and worked in Germany, the Netherlands, India and Canada, Nora considers herself a global citizen. Her professional experience includes community management, partner relations, and business development.

Nora graduated from Erasmus University in Rotterdam with a Master’s Degree in Media and Journalism.


Paloma is just your garden-variety Canadian-Scorpio Redheaded-Twenty-Something Entrepreneur-Communication Coach for Professionals. Having earned a prestigious MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto and an Honours BA in English, Writing & Rhetoric, she teaches her clients how to communicate with confidence, live without asking for permission and negotiate a life that excites them!

Being the founder of Impress Your Profs ( and The Negotiation Program (, she bridges the gap between technical skills and communication skills, coaching her clients (professionals in fields from medicine to banking to engineering) to get more of the stuff they want and influence others with killer confidence, power and chutzpah!

Account Executive

With a passion for sales and strong business acumen, Omar has helped various organizations generate leads and hit sales targets. He is obsessed with building sales processes that are repeatable, predictable and scalable. He has positively impacted sales organizations serving financial services, advertising technology and maintenance management software.

Omar completed his degree at York University. His major was in Psychology and he conducted various studies in the area of emotional intelligence and attention under the supervision of faculty. After graduating from York University on the Dean’s Honour Roll he decided to pursue a full time career in sales. 

Global Head of People Operations and Culture

Rann serves as the Global Head of People Operations and Culture for We. We is We Day, Free The Children and Me to We. She has worked with staff across Canada, India, Kenya and most recently, expanding to the US and the UK. She has ensured the recognition of Free The Children as Canada’s Top Employer for Young People and Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2013.

Rann has been awarded admission into the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) Wisdom II Mentorship Program featuring Canada’s most influential female audience. She serves on the University of Toronto’s Career Centre Advisory Board and has contributed as a speaker panelist. Passionate about organizational culture, Rann has been appointed to Waterstone Capital’s Board of Governors where she responsible for identifying organizations with top corporate cultures.

In 2015, Rann was invited as a judge at Venture for Canada’s National Fellow Selection Day encouraging the development of entrepreneurial skills for young people.

Rann holds master’s degrees from Lancaster University and Trent University. She has worked on the Japan Exchange Teaching Programme held in partnership through the Japanese and Canadian governments and has the global perspective of travel to over 20 plus countries. Rann has been profiled in Maclean’s magazine University Rankings Edition, Education Today, Charity Village, The National Post and Canadian HR Reporter.

Head of Marketing

Ria Lupton is the Head of Marketing at RIGHTSLEEVE and the Founder of Canadian Community Builders.

Over the course of past five years, she has helped launch and build several communities – Vinetta Project, Inspiring Fifty Canada, Women Who Code Toronto, SheWorx, Startup Open House, and Girls in Tech Toronto (to name a few). Ria is an Information Sciences graduate with a background in Computer Engineering. She moved to Canada about six years ago from Singapore and has valuable insights into what it is like to build your network from scratch or completely change the trajectory of your career.

She was also named one of Betakit’s top 30 women in Canadian tech to follow and is a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion in technology.


Sabrina was the Atlantic Program Director for Venture for Canada from 2015-2017 and is now the founder and lead consultant with O2 Consulting, where she combines her experience, skills, and network to help businesses grow successfully.

Over the past 17 years, Sabrina has proven herself to be a highly driven, entrepreneurial, empathetic and resilient leader with a proven track record of successful project and people management.

She has designed, organized and facilitated close to 500 workshops and training sessions, and has also coached hundreds of clients to address personal and professional challenges, navigate difficult situations and overcome adversity at home and at work.


Sarah Stockdale is the growth manager at Tilt, the easy way to collect money from a group for free. She’s also the Director of Speakers for TedXDistilleryDistrictWomen.

With a background in the financial tech industry, Sarah shares why she decided to start her career in the tech industry, how she approaches growth in this fast growing market, how optimizing everything you do for learning can help you get ahead, and much more!

Revenue Engineer

Scott is passionate about working with emerging innovative companies to drive value, principally through Revenue Management.

Scott is experienced at Strategy, Business Development and Revenue Management. He connects enterprise SaaS companies with partnerships, channels and capital to accelerate revenue growth. Converting business strategy into a predictable revenue engine that is multi-factor, not just sales. Scott believes Customer Success is critical to revenue growth.

Scott has been a part of the Toronto Startup community since 2007, actively connecting entrepreneurs with opportunity. At Coral CEA he championed funding and supported over 40 early stage companies generating more than $45m of value.

Scott lives in Toronto with his wife and two young daughters. Scott grew up in Halifax and graduated High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Scott earned a BA in Political Science & History from the University of Western Ontario, as well as a Project Management Certificate from the University of Toronto.

Business Lawyer

Vandana Taxali is a legal professional and business lawyer (media, technology, software, and entertainment) with over a decade of experience in intellectual property (copyright, trademark), licensing, contracts, and entertainment law practicing through her firm Entcounsel.

She is a mentor for various incubators including OCADU’s Imagination Catalyst, George Brown’s digiFest, The Community Innovation Lab, and others. She is also a speaker on legal issues for entrepreneurs and teaches intellectual property for creatives at OCAD University.

Partnership Advisors


Alex Gill is a social entrepreneur who founded and leads Mendicant Group, a Toronto-based consulting agency that works with a range of social issues and the organizations that are trying to solve them. In the past seven years, he and the Mendicant team have brought new thinking to such issues as foster care reform, newcomer settlement, military-civilian transition, youth entrepreneurship, community mental health services and arts education. He has worked with the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance since its inception in 2010, planning and facilitating summits in several countries around the world.

Alex holds an appointment in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Toronto’s Ryerson University, where he teaches courses in Corporate Citizenship, Nonprofit Management and Advocacy. He is co-author of the book AIM: The powerful 10-step personal and career success program. When he isn’t traveling the world or learning from social activists, he spends his downtime on the Bay of Exploits on the northeastern coast of Newfoundland.

Manager, Partnerships

Amanda Filipe is the Manager of Partnerships at Futurpreneur Canada, a national non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. She joined the organization in 2009 and has managed multiple national and international initiatives to advance youth entrepreneurship. She believes strongly in the power of collaboration and is proud to partner with young entrepreneurs, mentors and public and private sector leaders to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada and around the world. Amanda holds an Honourable Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto and is passionate about supporting young people and reading good books.

Managing Director

Amrita Bhalla is the Managing Director of A.B Consulting, bringing a practical and commercial approach to HR in helping organizations improve performance, employee engagement and profitability. Amrita is an accomplished senior HR executive with over 15 years of experience.

In the last decade, she has specialized in senior HR roles in the luxury hospitality with brands such as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts and Belmond Group. She has lived and worked in Canada, Bermuda,
United Kingdom, Thailand and India. Amrita is a member of the People Development Committee for the Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Association (CHTA). Amrita is actively involved in the entrepreneurial community through her roles as a Mentor with Futurpreneurs Canada and as an HR Advisor with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Amrita has a Masters in Industrial Relations (MIR) and a BAH from Queen’s University. 

Business Analyst

Ananya Tandon-Verma is a partnerships advisor at Venture for Canada, and serves on the Board of Directors for Nspire Innovation Network. As former President of Nspire, she led a team of 85 executives across 15 universities bringing cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship training and leadership development education to innovative youth. Ananya is the former Chair of the National Business and Technology Conference, aimed at fostering the next generation of innovative Canadian founders and CEOs, and has also served on the leadership team of Social Spark (non-profit social venture incubator) among other organizations. As a Business Analyst in McKinsey & Company’s San Francisco office, Ananya serves a range of clients across infrastructure, social sector and technology practices, working on projects such as the McKinsey and LeanIn.Org partnership, Women in the Workplace, a study of 132 companies representing 4.6 million employees to examine the state of women in corporate America.


With a background in the life science industry, Barb brings a wealth of experience in scientific research, product development, product management, and marketing communications to Venn. While her primary responsibility as COO is development and delivery of business programming for their members, Barb truly is the tie that binds it all together. From client services to managing the day to day operations, Barb is at the heart of the Venn experience.

Director of Programs

Beth Dea has held the role of Director, Programs at the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) since June, 2010. In her role, Beth is responsible for ensuring that CYBF’s program offerings are designed to provide meaningful, measurable impact to CYBF’s stakeholders and that CYBF works efficiently through strategic partnering. Beth manages CYBF Mentor Engagement, Education and Recognition programs. She was formerly the Executive Director of a registered Canadian charity in Toronto and holds an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the Schulich School of Business.


Chris is highly active in the Atlantic Canadian start up eco-system. He has over 12 years experience in venture investing and currently is the lead for Pelorus Venture Capital on the Venture Newfoundland and Labrador Limited Partnership. Chris has mentored companies alongside regional accelerators and local incubators across all four provinces. He has a finance and accounting background starting his career in the accounting field in the non profirt and construction industries. He has an MBA from Saint Mary’s University, a B.Comm from Dalhousie University and a CPA designation.

Ed is an experienced entrepreneur and his interest in working with entrepreneurs has continued since joining Dalhousie University where he has mentored lead entrepreneurs during the start-up phase of their technology businesses including two IPO’s. Ed is an award winning professor who together with Dr. Mary Kilfoil co-authored the best-selling text book Management10th Canadian edition. Ed is the director of the Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship, a past president of the Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE), past chapter chair for the Young President’s Organization (YPO), Atlantic Canada Chapter.


Heather Lalonde is the Chief Executive Officer for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. She has held this position since 1997. Prior to joining EDCO, Heather was employed with the City of Peterborough as the Economic Development Officer for Peterborough.

Ms. Lalonde holds a diploma from Fleming College in Peterborough – Tourism & Transportation, a certificate from the University of Waterloo Economic Development Program, and is a certified Economic Developer. She also holds her CEcD professional designation with the International Economic Development Council. She also spent time at the University of Quebec studying language and culture.

Helen’s role as Director at the University of Toronto’s Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab – DCSIL is to foster creativity, innovation and commercialization. She Co-founded the lab in 2015 to support entrepreneurship, tech transfer and increase industry collaborations. DCSIL has been ranked in the TOP 10 tech accelerator’s in Toronto.

She is a lecturer at the University of Toronto, in the Department of Computer Science (St.George campus) and Department of Computer and Mathematical Sciences (Scarborough Campus), where she teaches product development and design, lean startup methodologies, entrepreneurship, and business model innovation.

Helen is the Co-founder and Executive Director of RED2i, a not-for-profit cooperative which integrates research, education, design, development and innovation to drive technological advancement in Canada and worldwide. One of RED2i’s most successful events includes, GLOBAL SMARTWEEK, an Internet of Things and machine learning conference based in Toronto.

Founder of one of the largest User Experience Design Meetup groups in Toronto, bringing in local and international speakers to present their UX, UI, Design Thinking and Design knowledge.

Senior Advisor

Imanzi is a senior advisor for the Government of Canada; Employment and Social Development Canada, focusing on promoting skills development, labour market participation and ensuring labour market efficiency across Canada.

His love for public service and community city building has led him to become involved in several community initiatives that align his passion for mentorship, social innovation and skills development. Imanzi is co-founder of a grassroots youth organization in Toronto that aims to strengthen and develop youth leadership and empowerment initiatives within the GTHA. He is also involved on various not-for profit Boards in Toronto through workforce development planning, co-operative housing and education. Imanzi is a graduate of Concordia University in Montréal, Quebec with a BA in Economics and Public Administration.

Co-founderMarketing Director
Jeremy Shaki is a co-founder and Marketing Director of Lighthouse Labs, a Vancouver developer bootcamp that uses efficient education practices to take beginner level students to the level of entry level developers and connects them with jobs in the technology industry. Prior to building Lighthouse Labs, Jeremy was a Marketing Executive for 6 years with Sugar Media, an experiential marketing agency based in Toronto and received his BA from Concordia University.

Partner / Chief Financial Officer

Joe McKenna is Partner and Chief Financial Officer at Killick Capital Inc. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Mckenna was the CFO at the Research and Development Corporation, a provincial Crown Corporation, and was previously with the audit and assurance group of Deloitte. Mr. McKenna is responsible for the financial functions of Killick Capital along with supporting Killick’s portfolio investments on the finance side as required. In his role, Joe also supports with the investment evaluation, pre-investment due diligence work and continued investment monitoring.

Director, Marketing & Communications

Jon joined The Next 36 (now NEXT Canada) in April 2011 and is responsible for marketing, communications and recruitment with an emphasis on attracting high potential entrepreneurs to the organization’s three programs. Jon manages relationships with prospective applicants, student organizations, national partners, university representatives and members of the start-up community. Prior to joining NEXT Canada, Jon was Associate Director, Career Information with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario (ICAO) where he spent almost ten years promoting the CA designation to students across Ontario.

He has been actively involved with the Canadian Association of Career Educators & Employers, where he sat on the National Board of Directors from 2007-2010. Most recently, Jon has joined the Advisory Boards for Venture for Canada and the MLSE Foundation: 3TO6 Team. Jon has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University, a BBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and an International Business Diploma from Vaxjo University in Sweden.

Co-founder / Partner

With over 15 years experience as a leader in technology centric businesses, Keith has accelerated the growth of both small and large companies, launched new products, and raised over $20m in angel investment and venture capital. He has an unparalleled ability to collaborate with entrepreneurs, employees, and investors to deliver amazing products to the market. Keith is passionate about creating opportunities that previously did not exist for people and co-founded Spring to bring that into the social venture space. Spring is a Vancouver based, global startup school that helps entrepreneurs change the world. Spring runs a comprehensive set of programs from idea to growth stages of the journey. It’s the only global entrepreneurship program based in Vancouver, with programs running in over 25 cities on 5 continents, and with over 250 entrepreneurs launching 160+ businesses and creating 130+ jobs in Vancouver alone.  

Board Member

Layan is the ex-President and current member of the Board of Directors of Nspire Innovation Network, a non-profit dedicated to building the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs in the business and technology space. Originally from Jordan, she has competed as a member of Jordan’s national karate team and is an international award winner for her invention of a unit to decrease the pollution caused by residential chimneys.

Layan is a graduate of the Next36, Canada’s largest entrepreneurship and leadership development program and is the co-founder of the You’re Next Career Network, a professional development hub that connects students with industry professionals. Layan has her Master of Industrial Engineering degree from the University of Toronto, and is the holder of numerous awards for excellence in leadership and academics, including University of Toronto’s Cressy Award. She is joining McKinsey & Co. as a Business Analyst next fall.

Director of Research Partnership

Mark Patterson is an expert in the career development and placement of young professionals from diverse educational backgrounds. In his current role, as Director of Research Partnerships at Ryerson University’s Office of Research and Innovation, Mark provides leadership in the strategic direction of developing new sources of research funding from industrial, government, and community partners to advance the University’s research strategy, with a focus on large grants, donations, and contract research.

Passionate about addressing youth unemployment and underemployment, Mark is also the Executive Director of Magnet, a breakthrough network powered by the technology platform WhoPlusYou that connects individuals, organizations, and employers to the right opportunities. Mark often presents at conferences and webcasts about career leadership and development for young professionals who are transitioning into the workforce.


Melody Pardoe is the Chief Operating Officer of Volta, and has over 13 years of combined business management and entrepreneurial experience and studied business management at Dalhousie University. Melody was named a 2015 Agent of Change by Business Voice Magazine for her contributions to the provincial economic ecosystem. Melody launched Women Taking over the World with Tech, a provincial women in technology program, and is the Atlantic Canada Co-Chapter Lead of the SheEO movement to promote investment in female-led ventures. She is also the Co-founder of Hoist, a monthly tech club that teaches teens about coding, design and entrepreneurship.

President and CEO

Michelle joined the Genesis Centre in 2002 as a business analyst and was promoted to vice president in 2015.  She assumed the role of President and CEO in August of 2016.  With more than a decade of experience advising technology companies, Michelle is passionate about entrepreneurs and advancing the technology sector of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Michelle’s passion for technology has led to her involvement with several national organizations. She is a member of the board of directors for Oceans Advance and the CDMN Advisory Board and for two years was the Newfoundland Chapter Lead of Ladies Learning Code, a national non-profit established to teach technical skills to women.  She has served on the board of directors for the Canadian Association of Business Incubation, and is the St. John’s hub lead for the Canadian Digital Media Network and the Genesis Centre’s Women in Technology Peer Group.

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) from Memorial University.


As a startup advisor and mentor for several businesses, Patrick has helped launch and foster several social startups, leading efforts in raising millions in financing. Attending Jonkoping International Business School in Sweden, the top school in the world for research on Family Business and Entrepreneurship, Patrick conducted research on developing long-standing businesses.

His experience and love for start-ups pull him towards other ventures that bring added value to the Canadian economy through business creation and employment. Drawing on startup experiences, he’s inspired to enhance the support and training of ambitious entrepreneurs.

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Professor of Enduring Entrepreneurship

Peter Jaskiewicz is a Full Professor at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa where he is part of vibrant team that teaches and researches innovation and entrepreneurship, in addition to reaching out to entrepreneurs and the larger community. The innovation and entrepreneurship team at the Telfer School of Management offers a vibrant and interdisciplinary program for entrepreneurial Bachelor, Master of Science and MBA students and spearheads numerous events for entrepreneurs and business owners in the community each year.

Beyond his role in the innovation and entrepreneurship team of the University of Ottawa, Peter sits on the editorial review boards of two leading academic journals Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice and Family Business Review. He was also named a Distinguished Reviewer of Entrepreneurship Division of the Academy of Management Conference – the largest management conference in the world – in 2012. In his own research, Peter analyzes how entrepreneurial behaviors can be sustained over time. In order to remain at the edge in the long-term and create a legacy, individuals and organizations need to engage in what he refers to as enduring entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining the University of Ottawa in 2017, Peter worked as a faculty member at Concordia University, where he coordinated the main entrepreneurship course with 1,600 students per year, and at the University of Alberta, where he started and led the Next Generation Leadership Program and ran an Entrepreneurship and Family Business Study Tour to Europe.

Peter holds Master of Science and PhD degrees from the European Business School in Wiesbaden Germany. He spent part of his Master studies at The University of Queensland in Australia and the University Adolfo Ibanez in Chile. Moreover, he spent parts of his PhD at the IESE Business School in Spain and at INSEAD in France. Born in Poland, Peter grew up in Germany before moving to Canada.

Executive Director

Sally is the Executive Director at Planet Hatch. Planet Hatch helps startups and early stage companies by accelerating, colliding and fusing all resources in order to help build them into successful companies. Planet hatch works with a number of partners from across the region in order to elevate resources for entrepreneurs to the next level. Sally and her team strived to create Planet Hatch as an entrepreneurial hub not only for startups but also for anyone interested in business and entrepreneurship.

Sally has been deeply involved with Up Global and Startup Weekend organization. She has been traveling around the world facilitating Startup Weekend events everywhere from Shanghai, Los Angeles, Waterloo, Toronto to her home province of New Brunswick. She is thrilled to use her global experiences to build a centre geared toward what our region needs for startups and entrepreneurs.

Previously, Sally worked with Clarity and Tech South East (Now Venn Centre), she is passionate about seeing the tech sector develop in her own backyard. Sally completed the 21Inc Leaders 10 month program and was named an Emerging Leader at the 4Front Atlantic Conference 2012 and spoke on the “Young Leaders” Panel. She was named one of the Top 50 Emerging Leaders in Atlantic Canada by 21inc in 2010. She was a member of the ChemGreen Innovation Team who won the 2009 New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) BreakThru Business Plan Competition.

Sally was featured on the cover of Progress Magazine as one of top 20 “People we love” who represent the spirit of Progress (Vol.16 No. 3). Recognized as a post-secondary activist and business innovator, Sally’s entrepreneurial spirit and dynamic background will bring forth new initiatives to engage community. Sally holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Mount Allison University and her Commercial Pilot’s License from Moncton Flight College.

Head of Sponsorships & Partnerships

Stefan Palios is the national head of sponsorships and partnerships for Start Proud, Canada’s largest LGBT millennial nonprofit organization. He’s also a co-founder of Venture Out, Canada’s first summit for LGBTQ+ inclusion in tech and entrepreneurship. Concurrently with Start Proud, Stefan works in customer success, contributes to BetaKit, and is an advisor to HackerNest, a global tech community focused on getting more people into technology so they can afford to be happier and healthier. Prior to that, Stefan founded two tech companies and received his BA in Sociology from Yale University.


Steve Nicolle is a seasoned venture technology executive and was previously CEO of the innovative healthcare IT company, STI Technologies Limited. His other prior roles include: CEO of Tatara Systems, CEO of Sigma Systems, COO at March Networks, and Chairman of Searidge Technologies. Steve is a computer science graduate of the University of Western Ontario and started his career at Bell Northern Research as a software developer before smarter minds realized he was much less dangerous as a manager than a programmer. Steve is a dual, Canadian-American citizen and now resides in Halifax after over 10 years in Boston and before that, Ottawa, London England, and Toronto. He is still hoping to be drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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