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UberPITCH comes to Toronto

Depending on a day, Uber can be counted on to bring food, kittens, or roses to your doorstep. On April 7th, Uber is taking Canada’s entrepreneurs and some of the most famous investors on a ride with UberPITCH, a one-day experiment that grants hopeful entrepreneurs those highly coveted 15 minutes of pitching time

UberPITCH will be available to riders in seven cities across Canada including Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo, Montreal (English and French), Calgary and Vancouver, on April 7th between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

In order to participate, riders simply have to open their profile in the app and choose Promotions. Once selected, choose the Pitch option on April 7th between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If connected, a car will arrive at their location with an investor. Each rider will have fifteen minutes with the investor to pitch their business idea or startup. Rides will be free and will end after fifteen minutes at the rider’s pickup location.

According to Michael Hyatt, Executive Chairman with Bluecat and a Dragon on the CBC miniseries, Next Gen Den, this kind of innovation is exactly what the Canadian tech sector needs.

“For our country to get better, we have to push entrepreneurship. We have to encourage it. I’m part of it because I care,” said Hyatt.

In addition to Hyatt, several other investors are participating in Toronto’s edition of UberPITCH, including Tim Jackson, EVP Corporate and Community Development at MaRSDD; Startup Canada founder Victoria Lennox; Joe Fresh founder and Dragon on CBC’s Dragon’s Den Joe Mimran; and SnapSaves co-founder and Dragon on CBC’s Dragon’s Den Michelle Romanow.

Hyatt explains that Canada should want more people to start business in part, to create job opportunities in unexplored sectors.

“We need more people to start businesses in Canada. We should be doing everything possible to push entrepreneurship - this is where real job and wage growth comes from,” said Hyatt.

He argues that if Canada doesn’t nurture its entrepreneurial spirit, companies like the ones that build the economy will be in short supply in the years to come.  

“It wasn't long ago that Uber was a small startup,” he said. “Think about how many jobs they've created. In fact, an entire new economy of sorts. I speak to many happy drivers that have a better life because of it.”

Canada takes second place among G7 countries for entrepreneurial activity, according to Centre for Innovation Studies in Calgary, which released its Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report on the state of entrepreneurship in Canada last year.

The report states that approximately 13 per cent of Canadians are entrepreneurial, but that Canada lags behind in financing new idea.

Hyatt’s not only looking forward to hearing some fresh ideas, but says he’s open to investing in some new ventures.  

“UberPITCH is a really fun way to get people thinking about starting something. I'm excited to listen to a bunch of pitches on the 7th- hopefully I can offer some good feedback and maybe even invest.”

Who is Hiring? Facebook Canada, Idea Couture, MaRSDD and SOCAN

Who’s Hiring in Toronto this week? Facebook Canada, Idea Couture, MaRSDD and SOCAN! Take a look the the roles below, and let us know if you see something you like! Good luck.

Facebook Canada

Facebook Canada is looking to hire a Creative Strategist in Toronto. The company is looking for someone with eight years of experience in brand marketing and advertising and a strong passion for people. Day-to-day responsibilities include inspiring clients with Facebook’s brand vision, driving branding strategy by uncovering business needs, and working with Product and Engineering to refine ideas for maximum execution on the platform. Interested applicants should apply through this link: 

SOCAN (Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada)

For the music junkie, SOCAN is looking to fill a Digital Business Development Manager role in their Toronto office. The company is looking for an individual ready to take a business and technology approach to maintaining the distribution and ownership rights of the music industry. Some day-to-day tasks include the definition and planning of products that will strengthen the digital music community.

MaRS Discovery District

One of Toronto’s most well-known innovation hubs, the MaRs Discovery District is currently on the hunt for a smart, humble, dynamic Managing Director of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and Venture Services. This role involves managing the day-to-day operation of the ICT practice. They will lead and facilitate investor relationships and international partnerships and will manage the performance of the ICT practice while promoting the MaRs brand. Interested applicants can apply through this link.

Idea Couture

Idea Couture, the strategy innovation and experience and design firm is hiring an Innovation strategist for its Toronto office. The requirements of the role include 4 years of related experience in strategy consulting and a working knowledge of user-centred design. The responsibilities include leading innovation engagements across a range of industries and building innovation strategies to sell through concepts and solutions. 

MaRSDD Steps in to Help Regulate Sharing Economy

The sharing economy has become intertwined with Torontonians’ everyday life. With the growing popularity of services such as Uber and Airbnb, public policy makers have been forced to consider the role of technology in shaping our cities and struggled to come up with proactive policy.

The MaRS Discovery District shed much-needed light and brought deeper understanding into the raging sharing economy debate, and released its Redesigning Regulation for the Sharing Economy Public Report put together by Joeri van den Steenhoven, director of the MaRS Solutions Lab and the project team Idil Burale, Vanessa Toye and Claire Buré. The report summarizes findings and methodology and outlines the framework to welcome new business models, nurture the existing operators, and shape our city’s future in the way that would work best for all involved.

The report comes out at a time when tensions that arose between taxi drivers and Uber manifested themselves in bitter court battles and large street protests, effectively locking down Toronto’s downtown core, while government seems to be playing endless catch-up, struggling to respond to these new challenges.

“Technology is always bound to move faster than regulatory structures can change,” said Black, the general manager of Uber Canada. "This process allows governments to open their minds to innovation and allow consumers the benefits that come from innovation.” According to Black, playing catch-up with technology can’t be helped. “We’re seeing great commitment on behalf of governments to understand. We’re getting very close in Canada to our first set of regulations in regards to ride sharing.”

Airbnb also faced conflicts similar to that of Uber when the travel platform was introduced and even received a €30,000 fine for violating local tourism laws in Barcelona.

The Sharing Economy Public Design project, a partnership between MaRS Solutions Lab, the Province of Ontario and the City of Toronto, focused on approaching regulation and policy from the perspective of users. Hundreds of interviews were conducted to thoroughly map out the user experience and come up with possible solutions, tapping into the experience of taxi drivers, UberX drivers, Airbnb hosts, hotel managers and stakeholders impacted by the regulations.

Since disruptive technologies have begun to infiltrate existing economies, there has been active debate about how technology will reshape our cities. Breather, a smartphone service that allows users to reserve meeting spaces with as little as 15 minutes notice is one of several companies currently operating in Toronto tapping into the sharing economy trend. Julian Smith, co-founder and CEO of Breather has always been an astute observer of technological trends and saw the sharing economy pattern coming from a mile away.

“We had a very strong sense of what trends were going to happen. I had a sense that Breather would be something people would use, but no one believed us,” said Smith.

Breather is currently operating in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto.

According to Joeri van den Steenhoven, the suggestions represents a newfound partnership between technology and the tech space.

“The economy is in an exciting and important new phenomenon which is not only disrupting markets but also forcing governments to rethink regulation.”

As the Director of the MaRS Solutions Lab, he hopes the suggestions outlined in “Shifting Perspectives” will be heeded, but there are no guarantees. However, next week the City of Toronto will pilot legislation next week that better regulates ride-sharing.

Steenhoven concludes that any level of government involved in regulating the sharing economy “need to think about this regulation in terms of who is actually subject to these changes.”

D[congestant] Hackathon, a new initiative by Toronto's South Core Innovation Hub takes on traffic

Feeling congested? You might be inadvertently reacting to Toronto’s permanent state of gridlock. Concerned with the traffic issues and economic impact on the downtown core, the South Core Innovation Hub will be hosting their first ever hackathon to tackle the beast. The event, aptly named D[congestant] Hackathon will be held on April 1st to 3rd, 2016, at at the new Cisco Innovation Centre. Teams will take on the ambitious challenge to solve Toronto’s gridlock problem, in particular the issues that impact businesses in the downtown core, in just 48 hours. Traffic congestion is responsible for countless productive hours lost in every day, and so the hackathon aims to rally nearly 200 minds and attack the problem head-on. 
The South Core Innovation Hub is made up of organizations that occupy the area and are directly impacted by the congestion issues, including Uber and PwC. The group gets together every month to discuss areas of improvement for their hub at the Maple Leaf Square area. In the past, the group has conducted tours and have hosted knowledge sharing sessions - but this is their first ever hackathon. 

“PwC recognized that many of their employees were spending a lot of time in traffic getting to and from the area,” Oz Nazilli, lead organizer of the hackathon told YongeStreet. says as he reflects on how the focus of traffic congestion for the hackathon came to be. 

Technology companies like Twitter and Google are on board to support the event. However, this hackathon is not just for technologists; this kind of challenge requires a diverse crowd at the table.

With the help of the community, South Core Innovation Hub hopes to uncover realistic solutions to reduce time spent in traffic with material impact that would be feasible to implement. Prizes to the winning teams include cash rewards, a chance to work with Cisco to further develop the idea, a handful of community memberships to Centre for Social Innovation, and arguably the most exciting prize of all – an opportunity to pilot the winning idea with the help from PwC and the Mayor’s office. Judging panel will include Jim Orlando, OMERS Ventures managing director; Stephen Buckley, head of City of Toronto Transportation and Urban Planning, who has been very vocal on the issue of congestion and has been involved with similar hackathons like TrafficJam in the past; and Dr. Raktim Mitra of Ryerson University, an urban planner with expertise and interests in land use-transportation planning and healthy communities planning.

Who is Hiring? Toronto Board of Trade, Onboardly, Heart and Stroke Foundation and more

Quickplay is hiring a Data Architect 
QuickPlay Media Inc. is the premier provider of solutions to manage the business of mobile video. They are looking for a Data Architect to join and support their rapidly growing organization. Key responsibilities include mitigating risk in data modelling; defining vision and standards for data management and being the liaison between customers and implementation teams. 

Ontario Institute for Cancer Research seeking a Research Associate 
The Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) is seeking a Research Associate with expertise in sequencing technologies and methods for the new Translational Genomics Laboratory; a partnership between Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and OICR.  As part of a growing team, the incumbent will join a collaborative work environment focused on clinically related research initiatives using genomics technologies.

Toronto Board of Trade is looking for an Executive Director 
Toronto Region Board of Trade is the chamber of commerce for Canada’s largest urban region. TBOT connects 12,000 Members and more than 250,000 business professionals and influencers throughout the Toronto region. The Executive Director will be responsible for the successful relaunch and development of the World Trade Center, Toronto franchise. They will develop and execute business plans to raise the Center’s profile, activate the business community in international trade and become a sought after asset by Toronto municipal, regional and provincial economic development efforts.

Onboardly is hiring a Digital Media Specialist
Onboardly is a demand marketing agency that helps small and medium companies fast-track visibility, brand awareness and lead generation. They are seeking a qualified, fun, and enthusiastic Digital Media Specialist to join their team. Responsibilities include leading the development of social media strategies, influencer relations and client campaigns. While the head office is located in Moncton New Brunswick, Onboardly is open to more remote workers as long as the ability to work remotely has been clearly demonstrated.

Heart and Stroke Foundation is seeking a Philanthropy Advisor
The Heart and Stroke Foundation has invested more than $1.39 billion in heart and stroke research, which makes them the largest contributor in Canada after the federal government. They are seeking a Philanthropy Advisor to work in the the development department directly with the Chief Development Officer, and manage key Foundation accounts. This is an exciting opportunity to work with the VP or Director of Philanthropy in each province to manage major gifts activities across Canada.

Who is Hiring? Sago Sago, Brainstation, YMCA, FinanceIt, and MaRSDD.

Who is hiring in Toronto, right now? Each week we find and highlight some of the most awesome jobs out there. Check out the roundup for this week, featuring Sago Sago, Brainstation, YMCA, FinanceIt, and MaRSDD.

Sago Sago is seeking a Marketing Coordinator
Sago Sago creates educational applications for preschoolers. They are looking for a zealous Marketing Coordinator to support the Marketing department in its primary and administrative duties. Key responsibilities include smoothing out operations of the department to help reach its goals, as well as contribute to the long-term growth of the company.

Brainstation is hiring a General Manager
Brainstation is a progressive education institution that aims to power the next generation of creators. They are looking for a General Manager that will embody and foster all aspects of the BrainStation culture and core values. Responsibilities of this role include overseeing all aspects of campus performance, developing a multi-channel business, owning big picture strategy and ensuring that BrainStation operating principles are followed.

YMCA is looking to hire a Youth Job Specialist
YMCA of Greater Toronto’s Employment and Community Programs provide a variety of employment and counselling programs to youth and adults throughout the GTA. The Youth Job Specialist provides and prepares youth for employment through the facilitation of workshops, counselling, referral to resources and consultation with employers to secure employment opportunities, as well as provide continuous follow up to ensure successful outcomes.  

FinanceIt is seeking a Director, Lender Development
Financeit builds tools to help companies to offer their customers financing options. They are looking for a hand’s-on, results-driven leader to take on the role of our new Director of Lender Development. Responsibilities include being the key point-person for helping Financeit establish new lending relationships with different sources of capital, manage existing lending programs to improve profitability and come up with new strategies to enhance overall corporate profitability.

MaRS is looking for an Associate of CleanTech and Physical Sciences
MaRS Discovery District is an urban innovation centres, cultivating high-impact ventures and equipping innovators to drive economic and social prosperity in Canada. They are seeking an Associate, Cleantech and Physical Sciences who will will be the primary point of contact for a high volume of early stage entrepreneurs/startups looking for information on how to engage with MaRS. The associate will be responsible for screening, onboarding and monitoring the progress of startups accessing MaRS resources and programming.

OCAD sLAB and Waterloo Region hosts DesignJam to tackle homelessness

In a joint effort to tackle homelessness, Communitech’s Accelerating Social Cause Entrepreneurs (ASCEnt) and St. Paul’s GreenHouse partnered with and the Ontario College of Art and Design’s sLab (Strategic Innovation Lab) to bringing together 90 students and 30 community leaders for DesignJam.

This day-long event, held in February, shed light on the pressing local problem with designing solutions for food security and appropriate housing at the forefront. “We picked hunger and homelessness was because we wanted to focus on a local pressing problem and the Region of Waterloo (local government)had identified it as a strategic priority. There are over 30000 people in Waterloo Region that access emergency food programs” said Tania Del Matto, director of St. Paul’s GreenHouse. 

Solving problems by design 
Solving big problems requires a great attention to detail in the design of the design process itself. DesignJam brought together students from a wide variety of backgrounds, motivations, and post-secondary institutions including Ryerson University, Laurier University and Conestoga College. 

“The diversity was something that was important to us,” said Greg Van Alstyne, associate design professor at OCAD, director of sLab and co-founder of DesignJam.

An exercise centred around the sLab model of design from Patrick Robinson, student at OCAD University's Strategic Foresight and Innovation Masters program allowed students to see and understand the problem with different perspectives, biases, and frames to help them to consider multiple scenarios and potential solutions free from assumptions and preconceived notions. 
“Part of our role is to help people begin to access the mindset,” said Van Alstyne, who works on adaptable learning. “Strategic Innovation Lab (sLab) at OCAD University looks forward to bringing the DesignJam mindset, skill set and toolset to communities and situations where wicked problems and unprecedented social and cultural innovation opportunities co-exist.”   

Considering first-hand experiences with homelessness 
Those who would be directly impacted by solutions coming out of the DesignJam centred around homelessness were also involved in this day-long jam.
Colin Plant of Step Home Participant Advisory Group delivered one of the talks to participants on his first hand experience with “revolving door homelessness”. He shared the complexity of issues around housing, food and health and overcoming his own belief system of what was and wasn’t possible which provided the participants with some insights into the problems that needed solving along with inspiration to innovate and create without self imposed constraints.

“Students left with a greater sense of empathy and also built skills using design thinking tools. Municipal staff got exposure to thinking differently about the issue” Del Matto said. “We're in the process of evaluating the outcomes which will inform the next event. Some students are continuing to work on the ideas that were uncovered at the event." 

The award winning, TIFF digiPlaySpace returns just in time for March break

The award winning, TIFF digiPlaySpace is back! The exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox brings together kids for an interactive adventure with interactive installations, multiplayer video games, virtual reality, and a DIY makerspace, with an impeccable March Break timing! Kids and kids-at-heart can enjoy this exhibit for seven weeks from March 5th to April 24th.

Collaborating with global artists, technologists and designers

Many of the installations at digiPlaySpace this year are made in Canada, like the fluffy interactive cloud-shaped light sculptures change colour and float over top the lobby of TIFF Bell Lightbox. That’s whimsical Marshmallow Clouds created by Vancouver’s Tangible Interaction, and there’s a lot more to see at this year’s exhibit.

“There are so many great interactive media arts projects from all over the world - but it’s important that we support the amazing work coming out of Canada” said Nicholas Pagee, Curator of the digiPlaySpace exhibit. The range and diversity of work showcased at digiPlaySpace has grown to represent more international talent as TIFF continues to be regarded as a powerful and significant content hub.

“In film industry, there are already strong communities that are part of the process and you know who to go to,” Pagee said. “With digiPlaySpace, we have used Twitter, other social networks and we built relationships with those [organizations] who are doing great work in interactive media arts.” Pagee said that partners like Ryerson University are playing a significant role in shaping the exhibit experience.

Kids learning through play, experimentation and satisfying curiosity   

TIFF Kids digiPlaySpace brings together game designers, interactive media artists and content creators, and filmmakers. “The landscape is changing when it comes to content,” Pagee explained, stressing that exhibits like digiPlaySpace are important for TIFF. “Media literacy (for kids) is important.”

And so, while kids brush up on their digital media literacy knowledge and skills through the mobile game apps they play, video content they consume and computer programming languages they learn - having a local organization like TIFF be a part of that journey makes Toronto proud.

Exhibits like the Augmented Reality Sandbox, where kids can dig, sculpt and sift through real sand to create a topographic environment augmented in real time by an elevation colour map, show that interactive media can extend beyond the screen.

“When we started off, we had more workshops and lesson-based learning experiences. But then we realized that kids just wanted to play,” Pagee said. “It’s important that we include many forms of interactive art.” Accessibility and diversity of installations and experiences have also been a key consideration. The Sensory Imaging installation engages children, including those with sensory processing challenges in an immersive experience that encourages sensory exploration by providing interactive feedback. Other notable installations worth checking out: Keylight, Elements, Flippaper, Line Wobbler, Happy Hockey and The BluVR. 

For kids (and adults) with an appetite for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) behind the installation experiences showcased at the exhibit, TIFF provides a listing of local resources to further their curiosity. This list includes local educational resources and facilities like Kids Learning Code technology camp for kids, and makerspaces like Site 3 coLaboratory and STEAMLabs.

The digiPlaySpace exhibit runs until April 24th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox at 350 King Street West.

How Community Drives Innovation: Uber, Wattpad, JWT and 500px weigh in

Companies that put communities at the very core of their product and business, like 500px, Airbnb, Wattpad, Rover and Uber, came together for a panel discussion on technology and community’s role in driving innovation.

Power of Community: How Innovation is Driven from Community Sourcing event, hosted at 500px HQ in Toronto last week, was moderated by Daryna Kulya of Deloitte Innovation, who also runs Product Hunt Toronto, one of the biggest and most popular meetups in the city. The evening kicked off with an introduction of the panelists: Rebecca Brown, group chief creative and strategy officer, JWT; Bowie Cheung, general manager, UberEverything; Andy Yang, CEO of 500px; and Allen Lau, CEO and co-founder of Wattpad.

What exactly is community sourcing and how does it differ from other models?

“It’s about using technology to connect people and their communities,” said Bowie, who is managing UberEverything, the division at the online app taxi dispatch company, Uber that is focusing on expanding on the core product to serve other community needs. “Let’s take Hawker Bar, which isn’t located in an area with a lot of foot traffic. UberEats brings them 100 extra orders per day,” Bowie said. “It’s changing the way people think about business.”

Lau said the new technology means more flexibility: “You can now do things in discrete buckets of time. You can be more flexible and choose your own lifestyle,” said Lau. “Successful disruptors do not automate. They liberate.” In Wattpad’s case, the product liberated writers from jumping through endless hoops and help them figure out a way to work around heavily regulated systems, work from the bottom up, according to Lau. “It’s not easy to make the decision between what is at the best interest of the company versus what is at the best interest of the community. We’ve learned that our community comes first. They can move on to another platform within a matter of seconds."

Yang shared a story to emphasize the importance of “over-communicating” of when the 500px community became upset after a logo change. “We’ve learned that we cannot communicate to the community enough. Even though we feel we are saying enough. We aren’t. Be proactive and be transparent.” 500px has been user-obsessed in the best possible way, and that attitude has positioned the company for success.

Community sourcing practices apply across industries, and more disruption is underway.

“The heavily regulated industries, such as transportation, healthcare and education. These are good areas for investment. There are lots of opportunities here. And there is a lot of pressure for change,” said Lau. “The barriers for entry for the industries that we are in now were high once, too. Now, those barriers are gone.” Lau needed only to point out that the companies on the panel, including his own, who compete with large established companies like Getty Images, big publishing houses and taxi companies.“We are just scratching the surface.”

The opportunities to leverage technology to meet the changing needs of customers and their communities seem more endless than ever before.

Who is Hiring? 500px, EventMobi, United Way, and more

United Way Toronto/York Region is looking for a Director, Neighbourhood Initiatives
United Way is dedicated to creating the opportunities people need to improve their lives and build a better future. Reporting to the Senior Vice President, Community Impact, the Director, Neighbourhood Initiatives would be responsible for providing leadership and oversight of the Building Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy (BSNS). 

Format is on the hunt for an Interactive Web Designer
Format creates online portfolios so that artists can showcase photography, design, illustration, art,  and style, professionally. They are on the hunt for an Interactive / Web Designer. If you have a strong understanding of how design translates to web and the coding ability to make it happen, consider applying and you might just end up working for Format and making its prodcut and site even better, if that's even possible.

EventMobi is looking for a Content Manager 
EventMobi is an event app platform reaching thousands of event planners and millions of attendees in over 40 countries. The Content Manager would oversee all marketing content initiatives, across multiple platforms to drive sales, engagement, retention and positive behaviour.

500px is looking for a Data Engineer
500px is a photo community and marketplace for discovering, sharing, buying, and selling inspiring photography powered by creative people around the world. They are looking for a performance-driven Data Engineer who can help bring 500px to the next level and focus on scale, speed, and user experience.

G Adventures is hiring The Solutionator
G Adventures is an adventure travel pioneer offering the planet's most awe-inspiring selection of affordable small-group tours, safaris and expeditions. They have an immediate opening at our Toronto office for an IT Support Specialist, aka The Solutionator. They are seeking enthusiastic customer service oriented people who have mad computer skills and want to change people’s lives.

What fighting in the woods for $500,000 taught me about supporting female entrepreneurship.

Just two weeks ago, Ilana Ben-Ari, founder and CEO of Twenty One Toys spent the weekend with four other female CEOs, in the woods, negotiating for her portion of half a million dollars. Ben-Ari emerged as one of the five winners of the SheEO Radical Generosity Fund, which meant access to a $500,000 interest-free loan, spearheaded by serial entrepreneur Vicki Saunders, and funded by 500 women from across Canada who contributed $1,000 each to the fund.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day and hear about extraordinary women making a dent in the world, here’s a first-person account of what it takes to be an entrepreneur, build a company, and access the resources you need: mentorship, capital, and support. Ilana Ben-Ari agreed to share her thoughts on female entrepreneurship and fighting in the woods for $500,000.

By: Ilana Ben-Ari, special to YongeStreet

I went into this weekend in the woods with a bit of hope, a lot of pessimism, and my guard up. What kind of strange social experiment was this? After finding out that we were one of the winners of SheEO Radical Generosity back in December, I had two months to prepare for what I assumed would be a battle. I was told I’d be going to the woods for three days in February, meet the other winners, get to know them and negotiate. The twist? We would have to decide how the funds would be divided. It couldn’t be split evenly, and it couldn’t all go to one venture.

Each person I spoke to about this looked at me, confused. Friends asked me, “Why would they make you do that?!” I was equally worried about the possible cage-match that could ensue.

What happened that weekend, and since, has completely changed my outlook towards what negotiation, collaboration, and empowerment can look like.

My weekend in the woods

I met the other winners, Abeego, LunaPads, Skipper Otto, and MagnusMode, in the car ride to the beautiful heritage farm we would be sleeping, eating, and negotiating in. It was a huge relief to get to know the other women, all intelligent, passionate people building companies with missions to make the world a better place, and making money doing it. These were my kind of entrepreneurs. We were also sharing rooms. Terrifying.

When we arrived at the farm we were introduced to Vicki, and our venture coaches, Loren Walsh and MJ Ryan, who would facilitate our weekend and help prepare for our Sunday negotiations. They brought experience, respect, and a wonderful calmness to the process.

The following Saturday, Loren and MJ ran us through exercises that investigated our leadership styles, business models, and current challenges. We even had a session on negotiating, that included a chart listing our unique negotiation styles based on a survey we had taken weeks before.

Collaboration is the New Competition

We entered into that negotiation room Sunday morning, nervous, optimistic, ready to listen, and prepared to make our case. We opened up our financial statements, revealed our vulnerabilities, and, to my surprise, instead of fighting, we collaborated. Instead of vying for winner-takes-all, we advocated for each other. Instead of taking advantage of each other’s perceived weaknesses, we worked hard to make sure that everyone got what they needed.

When we made our initial asks, the total came to almost $900,000. We paused and one of the entrepreneurs in the room said, “Okay, what is the one thing that would change your business? How much would that cost and what would that bring in?” We ran our numbers again and our total came to under $500,000. In contrast, we also asked one of the participants if she had been completely honest with the total she needed during the follow-up ask. We didn’t take advantage; we pushed her to ask for what she really needed, and she upped her ask.

This negotiation by collaboration completely shook my perception of what competition could look like. We worked hard for our own businesses, but for each other’s as well. This was not a grant, or a charity. This was a serious loan, an investment, and a promise. A promise that we would make ourselves, and those 500 women, proud.

With that money, the projected increased revenues for our five businesses came to 2.5 million dollars in just 12 months. With that money, the ventures will be able able to hire new team members, go into production, launch new products, equip their factories, and reach new markets.

For my company, Twenty One Toys, we were able to get the investment we needed to take our Empathy Toy -- already in 43 countries, over 1000 schools, and over 30 post-secondary institutions, -- and stabilize our manufacturing, move our contractors to full-time payroll, hire, and start a global initiative to train 1000 educators and corporate facilitators around the world in play-based empathy education, teaching others how to teach empathy, even in boardrooms.

Why My Mother is Proud

I grew up in a very empowered home. Our house was a Barbie-free zone. Both my parents referred to themselves as feminists, my mother kept a “female heroes” scrapbook for me and my sister. She also edited and re-wrote the endings to most of our kids books -- In Goldilocks Papa Bear was cooking and Mama Bear was fixing the broken chair. In Beauty and the Beast, Belle recognized she was in an abusive relationship, and instead of fixing the Beast with her “love,” she left.

All of these rewrites gave me and my sister the impression that we could, and were allowed to, do anything. It wasn’t until I started a business, just over three years ago that I realized what being a “woman” in the business world meant. From early meetings, where people assumed any male standing next to me was the founder of my company, or at the very least that we were married. To going to the bank and having the teller flirtatiously comment on the amount of money in my account. These still seemed minor to my own internal struggles. The constant balance of pushing for what I wanted, while still trying to be likeable, respected. As the business grew, I noticed moments where I gave up my power; hints given - small and big - that I should concede:
‘Don’t come off as too pushy. Be sweet.’
‘You’re not experienced enough to speak to business. You’re just being asked because you’re a woman’
Don’t let them see you cry’

It wasn’t until I met with other female entrepreneurs that I realized it wasn’t me that needed fixing.


The SheEO Radical Generosity Fund is not a charity, it’s a new model of funding female entrepreneurs. We live in a “speculation economy” where the VC model is to invest in 10 “unicorn” companies, and if one succeeds it’s considered a success. While women are starting businesses at twice the pace of men, venture capital funds less than seven per cent of female-led ventures.

It’s not about changing women’s behaviour, it’s about creating a new way to fund women-led businesses, by using peer-based, collaborative, crowdfunding models. SheEO’s initiative is just the beginning. Vicki has a favourite quote by Buckminster Fuller on this kind of change: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”. Hopefully one day soon we can create and access alternative funding options, for many marginalized communities, regardless of gender.

The single most powerful moment for me came after the weekend. Not only were we receiving this incredible fund, we were now connected to an incredible network of hundreds of women.

The day after the negotiations, we sat in a room with 80 activators, including SheEO partner BMO bank, talking about how we can best support more female-led businesses. We spent our evening at the SheEO gala, where women from across Canada flew in to celebrate and support each other. The weekend culminated with an unconference held at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone with over 100 women, from every sector, discussing how we can better support other entrepreneurs, not just the five SheEO winners. These women put in their money, time, and brainpower to come up with more ways we could all help each other. Women helping women.

As I sat in that room on the last day of this event sprint, I felt so proud of my mother and all of the work that she did so that I could be in that room. These women, like my mother, are re-writing all the books. They’re rewriting history.

If you’re interested in joining SheEO, please consider becoming an Activator. If you run your own business, please consider applying for the next round of funding.

You might just regain your optimism.

OCE and Government of Ontario team up to focus on CleanTech innovation

Kathleen Wynne recently announced plans to allocate $74M of Ontario’s $325M Green Investment Fund to fight climate change while driving the development of the economy through creating jobs, products, services, technologies and businesses.

The government partnered with the Ontario Centre of Excellence (OCE) whose mission to commercialize innovation across many industries, including CleanTech, attracts entrepreneurs, startups, academia and investors alike. This new fund will give a fighting chance to innovative startups like OTI Lumionics, a Toronto-based company that has developed technologies to cheaply and effectively manufacture Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDS). Such companies will increasingly play a bigger role in solving environmental issues, locally and globally.

“We need good product designers, help with scaling - and we need to take technological innovation beyond academic environments and into companies,” Michael mentions as he describes some of the things that would be helpful in getting solutions developed by Ontario startups to market and to play a more significant role in cleantech at large.

OTI Lumionics leaned on the OCE in it’s early days through their Market Readiness program. “It was timely support - and we wouldn’t have gotten to where we have without them,” Michael G. Helander, Co-founder of OTI Lumionics told YongeStreet.

Ontario’s ambitious Climate Change Strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2015, and build a new, low-carbon economy.

“By 2050, we envision Ontarians will be using less energy and the energy we do use will be from low-carbon sources. Communities will be climate-resilient, complete and compact. More people will choose electric or other zero-emission vehicles and transit to get swiftly and efficiently where they need to go. Agricultural lands, natural areas and ecosystems will be better protected for the benefit and enjoyment of all, including First Nations and Métis peoples who rely on our shared natural environment for sustainment and spiritual benefit,” said Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.

Supporting innovative companies could go a long way to help the Province meet its targets, and for the new low-carbon economy to take shape.

Uber for X with Ted Graham of PwC

Ted Graham, the Innovation Leader at PwC and a co-author of a book called The Uber of Everything, shared his quest to learn from Uber’s innovative model with a crowd at Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators last night.

Ted Graham has been an Uber driver for 14 months, driving strangers around the city and spotting trends on how Uber onboards new partners, deals with regulations mostly by ignoring them at first and then moving into a more mature lobbying strategy, and makes its way into other industries. Here are four examples: 

1. Onboarding new drivers
The onboarding process for UberX drivers involves submitting a driver’s licence, snapping photos of the car for approval and waiting on the background check status, all of the steps Graham went through first-hand. The onboarding for drivers served as source of inspiration when Graham looked at designing a simple yet diligent process for onboarding new consultants at PwC. There’s also a well designed training program for Uber drivers, complete with videos and ongoing support on taking optimal routes and customer service delivery.

2. Understanding the balance of risk and reward
Incidents have put UberX drivers in situations where taxi drivers borderline harassed them, while driving customers, and then proceed to tweet out photos of cars (license plates included) to insurance bureau companies. These tactics have been a problem for UberX drivers, who carefully assess their risks.

3. What does Toronto need to continue to support and grow shared economies?
When looking at other places in the world who rank high on successful shared economies, such as Amsterdam, Singapore and South Korea - part of what gets them there is taking the “Empty The Box” approach to regulation, according to Graham. In other words, starting with a clean slate when trying to implement a solution in a model, and keeping intact only provisions that are necessary and relevant today.

4. Uber for X model makes its way to healthcare, insurance, retail, and other industries.
There’s an “Uber for parking” app called Rover. A “landlord” of his parking spot at Yonge and Eglinton, Ted charges under $2.00/hour for customers to rent out his parking spot when it is not in use.

In this new sharing economy, it comes down to balancing the give and take.

Who is Hiring? Polar, Artscape Launchpad, Evergreen Brickworks and more

Who’s hiring in Toronto this week? YongeStreet has your back. Take a look at the jobs below, and let us know if you decide to apply!

Red Hat needs a Consulting Software Developer
Red Hat offers an open stack of trusted, high performing solutions including cloud, Linux, middleware, storage, and virtualization technologies. They are seeking a Consulting Software Developer to design, develop, test, and deploy open source software solutions with our enterprise customers.

Artscape Launchpad is searching for a Director of Creative Entrepreneurship
Artscape Launchpad is Artscape’s major new capital project and they are looking for a Director of Creative Entrepreneurship to lead the development and delivery of business and entrepreneurship training targeted specifically at creative and cultural sector workers. This is an opportunity to play a critical role in shaping the development of this ground-breaking cultural sector project in Toronto.

Polar is looking for a Digital Marketing Manager
Publishes turn to Polar (Formally Polar MObile) to power, monetize and scale their digital content. They are seeking an experienced Digital Marketing Manager. This manager will develop, implement, track and optimize our digital marketing campaigns across all digital channels. Experience should include strong B2B Marketing experience, familiarity with SaaS, native advertising/display advertising, publishers, IoT, and other modern trends is highly desired.

Camp Leader in Training  and more roles opened up at Evergreen Brickworks
Evergreen solves urban environmental issues through their robust programming and resources assembled by a group of diverse and passionate people. They are currently seeking a qualified, mature, responsible and dynamic Camp Leader in Training to work in their Evergreen Adventure Camp.

Localize needs a Producer Relations Manager
Localize is an award-winning initiative that brings better information about where food has come from to shoppers. Localize operates in nearly 300 grocery stores across Canada and works with over 800 food producers. They are looking for a Producer Relations Manager to help them work with food producers (a.k.a. vendors) to translate their stories and data into digital content for grocers and consumers.

Who is hiring? Shopify, OpenCare, Flipp and more

Pixel Dreams is looking for a Developer Ninja
Pixel Dreams is a collective of designers, technologists, artists and philosophers who are working towards a goal of raising the intelligence and consciousness of 1+ billion people. And so, they are looking for a Developer Ninja who has some serious development muscles to flex, to lead and take part in strategy sessions, push R&D efforts and study and learn new skills to help them get there. A leader that can shape this role and create a path to significance towards a CTO role with company options is ideal.

Shopify is looking for an E-Commerce Manager for their General Store
Shopify is a commerce platform that helps merchants sell online, in-person and everywhere in between. The E-Commerce Manager is responsible for building and growing the online store for entrepreneurs. They will find, create and develop products that will help entrepreneurs succeed and figure out how to sell them. Products can be anything from books, art, housewares - and more. An ideal role for entrepreneurs (or entrepreneurial-types) - as this is an incredible opportunity to own a project from start to finish.

Canopy Labs is looking for a Data Scientist
Canopy Labs is a predictive analytics company that that helps companies personalize and optimize their customer journeys. They are seeking a Data Scientist who can work with existing data, science tools and machine learning. An integral role, as the core of Canopy Labs is being able to analyze data and make predictions.

Flipp is looking for a Project Coordinator (Operations)
Flipp aims to revolutionize the shopping experience by building better relationships between retailers and consumers. And they are looking for a Project Coordinator to help them do so. Project Coordinators at Flipp have two very important roles. They make sure all retail flyer projects are delivered successfully and act as the point of contact for all day to day communications with their retail partners.

Open Care is looking for a Business Operations Manager
Opencare’s mission is to transform healthcare through their data-driven doctor recommendation engine. They are seeking a Business Operations Manager to support their rapid growth. A diverse role within the company, the Business Operations Manager will be leading all sorts of projects to help keep the company moving forward, including building recruiting processes and helping the executive team prepare for board meetings.
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