Float or Founder: Toronto Startup Entrepreneur Stories

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Michelle McBane takes us through her experience as a VC in Toronto and what you can do to standout when pitching investors. She provides a ton of actionable advice surrounding your pitch deck, founding team, and company. Whether you dream of securing a big investment or becoming a VC yourself, Michelle has insights for you!Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta have years of experience in the healthcare and addiction field. They saw a trend of people only seeking help once their lives had crumbled and their stress was too much to manage. They wanted to provide a proactive solution. Out of that, Hoame was born.Hoame is a meditation studio downtown with a variety of rooms of wellness themes. Carolyn and Stephanie discuss finding a place that felt like home, transitioning from their work in nursing to running a company, and top tips for entrepreneurs to handle the stress in their lives. Carolyn and Stephanie are best friends with a well-balanced cofounder relationship who had great insights into finding a space downtown Toronto, building their team when their space wasn't complete, and partnering with McMaster University on wellness courses.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
People always tells you to create a business idea out of a personal pain point. Have you ever been running a company and been frustrated by an industry pain point and decided to solve that? That's exactly what Mark Graham of commonsku did. During his days running Rightsleeve, he faced challenges and needed a workflow management platform. That workflow management platform became what commonsku is today and it's made for the promotional products industry.Mark gives a bunch of tips on balancing two companies, going through a successful acquisition, and running the company with his wife and co-founder, Catherine. He shares how they balance and integrate work and family life and their love of bringing work home as well as sharing success and solving challenges together.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Derek Hopfner, Shane Murphy, and their CTO, Travis Houlette, met years ago while living in Calgary and playing punk rock music. Years later they would create their first business and shortly after, come up with the idea for Founded. Derek and Shane are subject matter experts in the legal profession who saw a gap for small business owners looking for inexpensive and digital legal solutions.Derek and Shane talk about the importance of being subject matter experts, the fortune of running a business with close friends, and how important it is to put your ideas into action. They learned a lot from running their first business which informed their creation of Founded. They share the process of getting investors and advisors, growing their team, and disrupting an old industry to make it accessible to business owners and entrepreneurs.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Shannon and Kris share all about the rollercoaster of entrepreneurship and being startup founders. They know the importance of continuing to push through to where things are really starting to ramp up.Both of these amazing co-founders share how they are supporting diversity in sports and sport tech through highlighting female founders and rural startups. They also discuss being a couple and how that impacts running their company. Learn how they save money when on the road, pitching their Canadian company on a global stage, working with the sports companies they once dreamed of working for, and their rabbit, Jack, who brings joy to the office!Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Justin Thouin is the co-founder and CEO of LowestRates.ca, a platform that allows you to compare insurance, mortgage, and other rates in Canada. Justin started off as the "Chief Everything Officer" and shares the process of letting go of tasks as the company grew. He knows how difficult entrepreneurship is and the time you need to dedicate to build a successful company. Justin talks about his unique perspective in funding the company slowly rather than through large raises. He also takes us inside how banks and insurance companies work and how his company is attempting to improve financial literacy, access, and convenience for all Canadians.In this podcast episode, we made an error in recording, which meant we lost the last little bit of ur rapid fire round. We wanted to record Justin's answers again, and he kindly obliged, offering great advice for any founder who makes a mistake.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
How do two former marketers go about leading an app-based company? They take their marketing skills, bring in advisors, attend (and win!) pitch competitions, and test, test, test. Their idea for Wavy started from their personal experience navigating a city while traveling. They wondered if this could apply not only to travel, but to finding hidden gems in their own cities.Shawn and Peter started with a simple survey to prove their theory, a scrappy MVP, and great low-budget acquisition strategies to lead their first year into a success. They are currently in Beta.In this episode, Shawn and Peter share the exact tools they use to manage Wavy's product development cycles, a few ideas for how they plan to monetize their app, and the anti-advertising values of their company.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
If you've ever considered getting into business with your best friends, this is the podcast for you. Sheba talks about her positive experience launching County Wine Tours, a Prince Edward County-based cycling wine tour company. Her and her two friends manage their team of more than 15 employees remote from Toronto while handling demanding day jobs of their own. Their background in communications and marketing, their honesty with one another, and their passion for the County and its burgeoning wine scene led them to create a business that was profitable near immediately.Learn from Sheba's experience on how to handle a busy and successful side hustle with two best friends.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
We sit down at home with Zack Yassin, Creative Director of Taizu’s latest album. Zack talks about the Toronto versus LA music scene, diversity in music, and how the music industry is today.Yes, you can hear our dogs in the background. Check out Taizu's new album! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpBs3XYA9Ag&app=desktopSupport the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Launching a marketplace can be difficult in the best times. How are Kate Dickson and Sarah Hartkorn, co-founders of Primped handling their bring-beauty-to-you app during COVID? If you need advice on managing a marketplace during challenging times, tune in! 🎙️ These former finance professionals discuss how they started the company together and how their corporate background supports the work they do.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Our first LIVE episode happened at Dovetail Basecamp on September 21st! For this special episode, we had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing Kelsey Ramsden. Kelsey has founded and led many eight-figure businesses and has over fifteen years of experience as an entrepreneur. Kelsey has Tallus Ridge Development, Belvedere Place Development, and SparkPlay under her belt. This multi-faceted founder shares her story and how and why she started these companies.Kelsey discusses running online versus offline companies, how to win business awards and get on the covers of magazines, and how important mentorship and community is to your success. Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Please note that this episode pertains to the cannabis industry. It is intended to be educational."New industries rarely happen in our lifetime. There is a small window of opportunity to create and be part of creating an industry." Trang Trinh, the Founding Director and CEO of TREC Brands, talks about being part of the recently-legalized cannabis industry in Canada. If you've ever wondered what it takes to shape an industry, Trang has great advice for this exciting journey.Trang talks to us about her extensive corporate background shaping her as a CEO, balancing 90 investors, and shaping culture in a fast-growing company that has seen a lot in less than a year. She shares the differences between corporate and startup world and what it takes to be part of or run a startup.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Ever faced an issue in the real world and thought "I could solve this problem" - and then done it? Kerri-Lynn McAllister takes us on her journey of launching Pawzy, a pet health and wellness marketplace designed to make the pet health industry more transparent. Kerri-Lynn has an extensive marketing background in startups and marketplaces and she has applied those skills to discover the most necessary features to launch her MVP.On this episode of Float or Founder, Kerri-Lynn tells you how you can (easily and cheaply!) do proper market research, why it's important to give some of your company up to the right people, and how you don't need to be a morning person to succeed.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
The fashion industry is a challenging one to be in. Shane Vitaly goes deep into building his punk jewelry brand from scratch and everything that entails. From factory mishaps to building a brick-and-mortar Toronto store from scratch to starting another jewelry brand with a new target audience. There are many different aspects to building a successful fashion brand and if you've ever thought of entering this industry, Shane's podcast is one to listen to.Shane talks to us about being on Dragon's Den and being offered a deal from Arlene Dickinson and Bruce Croxon. His team of dedicated individuals help him market the business as he travels between countries, discovering new trends and managing quality control. Shane shares what it takes to build brick-and-mortar shops, managing e-commerce, and creating jewelry for often-ignored markets.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Quick: what happens when some bad news gets released about your company? Do you react or not? When you have good news - how do you spread the word? All these questions and more are answered by the amazing Jodi Echakowitz of Boulevard PR.Jodi has led her PR agency for the past 18 years. She has incredible insight into running a successful B2B PR firm, managing remote teams and events, and helping companies that aren't super-sexy consumer brands get their messages out to the public. If you're looking for PR advice to watch your startup soar, Jodi has the insights for you!Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Jodi Kovitz started #movethedial with a mission: elevate all women-identified folks in technology. Change the stats for all women-identified individuals in executive and founder roles. Finally, and most important, see the day where her daughter's gender is not a determinant in her success.Jodi openly shares about women in tech, STEM in the education system, and how she created a diverse team at #movethedial. Jodi is quick to credit her team and her community and support system. She talks about the exact books she read, coaching she and her organization have gone through, and good tips and habits that any entrepreneur can use to build a thoughtful team.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
On this special #movethedial minisode, we speak with Dr. Sarah Saska of Feminuity about diversity and inclusion. Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Joanne Fedeyko of Connection Silicon Valley discusses differences between startups, funding, and opportunities in Canada versus Silicon Valley and how she bridges those gaps.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Float or Founder is launching season two in June 2020! We can't wait to bring you more stories from startup founders and entrepreneurs in Toronto, Canada. Beyond that, we're expanding our guests to include executives, venture capitalists, and other great people that make this city shine. See why Toronto is one of the best places to launch your new startup and build your own entrepreneurial journey here. Visit our website at floatorfounder.com for more information on our guests, our hosts, and our partners that help make our podcast possible. Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
What's it really like to go through an acquisition/merger? What about an aqui-hire? Farhan Thawar shares his experience going through an acquisition not once, but twice! Find out how the process goes, if it's anything like it is on TV, and what it's like to be part of the Canadian tech ecosystem.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
"Something I always suggest to founders is if you can solve one of your own problems then that's really interesting."Rebranding takes a lot of work. If you've ever pursued this difficult project at work, you know how much work and how many people are involved in the process. Juno College is the newly rebranded HackerYou and the rebrand has been widely accepted and loved!Heather shares how her entrepreneurial mindset changed after she had both of her children and how she stepped back and hired people to fill roles (and succeed in them!). She also discusses how she entered into Y Combinator, and in typical founder fashion, leapt on the last minute opportunity and changed vacation plans to attend. If you've ever considered entering into Y Com, Heather discusses the benefits of being part of it. Find out Heather's journey from Ladies Learning Code (now Canada Learning Code), to HackerYou, to officially accredited Juno College of Technology.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
There are many ways to give back through your time, financial contribution, or sharing about your favourite initiatives. While Jennifer Couldrey has given back to non-profits, she sees the Upside Foundation as a way to make a broader impact. The Upside Foundation provides tech or startup companies the ability to pledge 1% of their equity to a cause of their choice upon IPO or exit, locking in that commitment and ensuring social responsibility is part of a startup's broader strategy. Jennifer Couldrey talks about how to contribute, scale your contribution, and why it matters that companies give back.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Fatima Zaidi, CEO and Co-Founder of Quill, sits down with Samantha and Lisen of Float or Founder to discuss raising seed capital, sourcing an advisory board, finding a CTO, and swimming with the sharks.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
Fatima Zaidi sits down with Samantha and Lisen of Float or Founder to discuss raising seed capital, sourcing an advisory board, finding a CTO, and swimming with the sharks.Support the show
We've all had managers who just didn't quite know how to... manage. Melissa and Jonathan Nightingale of Raw Signal Group take us on their career paths in tech in SF all the way to promoting proper management training to the Toronto ecosystem. Learn how they encourage companies to implement proper management techniques, co-authored a book together, and so much more.Support the show (https://www.floatorfounder.com/partners)
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Podcast Details

May 26th, 2019
Latest Episode
Feb 3rd, 2020
Release Period
No. of Episodes
Avg. Episode Length
34 minutes
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