When you first meet someone, within fractions of a second, your brain has already created a series of unconscious biases and assumptions about this person that you’re not even aware of.  These biases are now going to strongly affect your relationship and communication with this person and this behaviour will be 100% unconscious.  These biases can shape either negatively or positively.  Perhaps this person reminds you of your favourite aunt.  Or maybe they remind you of your neighbour whose dog never stops barking.    There are many people who view biases as being a negative aspect of the human brain, however having biases is what makes us human.  To not have these would be completely unnatural.  The true task is to understand our biases and be aware when they are happening.

However, before we discuss that, it’s important to understand where our biases come from.  In our daily lives, we are constantly exposed to situations that are going to create biases in both a conscious and an unconscious way.  These range from how we were raised, to the person who messed up our lunch order, to television & media.  For example, the media plays a large role in the inputs that our brain receives.  Magazines and tabloids tell women that they have to look a certain way and must have a husband or partner in order to be happy.  They also tell men that they have to be strong and showing or expressing emotions will make them look weak.  Continual exposure to these messages will affect our subconscious even though many of us like to think that it won’t.

In addition, our biases affect how we see the world.  Many of us like to think (and need to think) that we see the world as it really is.  However, we do not see things as they really are, we see things as we are.  This means that our biases affect our interpretations based off the different experiences we have in life.  In other words, we may all see how a tennis ball looks.  However, our understanding of a tennis ball and all its various uses will not be the same.

It’s important to understand what effect our unconscious biases are going to have in our everyday lives.  Perhaps, like our members at AceTech Ontario, you’re a leader at a technology company and you meet new people every day and have several business opportunities come your way.  Your unconscious biases are going to affect who you hire, which idea you invest in and who you take Venture Capital from.  What if our biases encourage us to make the wrong deal or hire the wrong candidate?

Metacognition, by Google’s definition, is the “awareness and understanding of one’s own thought processes”.  As mentioned earlier, to not have biases would be un-humanly (not to mention, impossible).  However, we can work to understand our thought process better, even if we do not always know where our biases originate.  This is the ability to observe ourselves from the outside and raise awareness of how we react in different situations.  To do this, you must challenge your first impressions of people.  Explore the situations that make you awkward or uncomfortable.  Have a conversation with yourself about why you reacted in a certain way.  It’s important to note that you cannot avoid the initial reaction, but you can check in with yourself later in order to be aware of a bias and explore it.  Our emotional intelligence is a great tool to help us do this.

If you’re leading a team at a company, discuss with this them.  You will be able to help members of your team uncover their own biases and they will be able to help each other do the same.  Doing this will help you uncover the diversity of thought you have amongst your team and surrounding yourself with people who have different perspectives will only make your company more successful. As Fiona MacFarlane at Ernst & Young once said, “in a complete, knowledge – driven economy, there are no longer solutions to problems, there are perspectives on dilemmas”.

Whether you’re a rookie or veteran tech executive, having the right leadership team is the difference between being stuck on first base or hitting home runs.

So how do you attract and retain the right executives? Here are some key steps I have learned in my 30 years managing executive searches for tech companies:

Hire an Experienced Search Firm

Can you dedicate an average of 300 hours and several staff to recruit the CFO you need? If you’re a start-up, do you have the experience and capacity to build a solid leadership team straight out of the gate? Then don’t waste precious time and resources. This is a multi-million dollar decision. The cost of an executive mis-hire is up to 30 times compensation. Focus on what you do best and hire professionals to find your key executives.

Scout the Competition & Their Talent

To start, you need a Talent Management expert to scout your competition.  For example, we’re working with a tech firm that needs to triple in size in the next five years. We are analyzing their competitors in Europe and North America. That means building profiles on individuals in 100 companies, investigating their respective skills, experience and accomplishments, and culture fit, as well as looking at how these companies are structured.

Define Role Specific Leadership Competencies and Link them to Business Goals

A CEO needs to determine what leadership competencies are required for each role and how each executive will contribute to the business.

At Bedford, we have a unique toolkit to facilitate this process. It’s a deck of 60 leadership cards, each of which features a specific leadership competency with a detailed explanation. For example, one card’s title says ‘Dealmaker’; another says ‘Hungry for Results.’ We put these cards in front of our clients’ interviewing team and guide them towards establishing which leadership competencies are non-negotiable. In the end, eight core competencies are finalized and equally important, the hiring team has reached consensus.

Now we link each competency to specific business outcomes. For example, we had a tech company choose ‘Hungry for Results’ and I asked them to define what ‘results’ they were looking for. They agreed on an annual increase of 40% in revenue. Now we have a core competency tied to results and this is communicated clearly to candidates.

Define the Culture of your Organization

Most executive failures are directly tied to a lack of fit with the culture of the organization. You are hired for your skills, but you are fired for your lack of fit. To put it another way, “We hired your resume, but what we got is you.” We have a process for examining the Culture of Today and the required Culture of Tomorrow. This is immensely useful in determining candidate fit.

The Search

It typically takes six-eight weeks for a search firm to produce a qualified short list of candidates. This includes developing a detailed job description, target list of companies to recruit from, short list candidate written self-evaluations, resumes, customized score cards, working with the client hiring team and participating in the client/candidate interviews, references, offer negotiations and an integration program.

‘Right’ vs. ‘Best’ Candidate

I recently worked with the Founder & CEO of an early stage tech company that received private equity backing. The Founder felt the ‘best’ candidates had to come from a big brand tech firm. But that’s not what this Founder’s company is. We discussed the importance of recruiting a candidate who had worked in big brand tech, but had also been successful at several early stage firms, and a track record working with Founders. The successful candidate wasn’t from the ‘best’ tech firm, but he had the right experience and was the ‘right’ fit.


The all white male executive team does not reflect the global economy. Moreover, studies show diverse executive teams outperform homogenous ones. Many tech firms choose to enlist the expertise of search firms because we have the experience and resources to manage a much broader search with respect to diversity.

You’ve Hired Someone: Now what?

The right search firm shouldn’t just sit into the stands to observe how the game plays out after a candidate is hired. At Bedford, we provide new executives and their new firm with an integration program including a workbook. We also meet throughout the first year with the executive and the CEO or Board to provide coaching and feedback.

Searching for the right executive team is like building a World Series winning club. I have seen tech companies with the best technology, but led by the wrong CEO, burn through tens of millions of dollars and not make the playoffs. I have also seen tech companies with average technology win the World Series because they had better executive teams that executed better than the competition.

You don’t want to strike out and waste loads of money. You need to score runs when you have players on base. When a search is completed well and the right executives are hired, you stand a much better chance of being a World Series champion.

Steven Pezim specializes in the Technology sector and is Co-Founder and Managing Director of Bedford Group TRANSEARCH, Canada’s largest privately-held executive search firm.

As a CEO or Senior Executive, there will be many moments in your career where your success will be determined, at least in part, by your presentation skills.  Whether you’re interviewing for a new job, trying to close a big deal, speaking at a conference or inspiring your team, your vocal, verbal and non-verbal skill could make all the difference.


Recently, many of our members participated in a Presenting with Impact workshop with the President of Corporate Speech Consultants, Melanie Novis.  Melanie took our members through several exercises to pinpoint individual areas of improvement as well as tips that covered several areas of a presentation.  For those who couldn’t make it, here are some of Melanie’s presentation dos and don’ts:


First Impressions Are Everything

  • Walk in with energy
  • Before you speak, make eye contact (that’s your non-verbal hello). If you have a large audience, do a z-sweep across the room with your eyes.
  • When you say your name, pause between your first and last. A good exercise to practice this is to punch the air once at your first name, then at your last.



  • When you start planning your presentation, ask yourself three questions:
    1. What is my purpose (To inform, persuade, or entertain?)
    2. What is my key message? (What do I want my audience to see, think & feel when I leave the room?)
    3. Who is the audience? (Tailor your content to who is in the room.)
  • Divide your talk into three sections – if you cannot do this then your presentation is too long.
  • Outline these three areas at the beginning of your presentation. That way, people know what’s ahead, what you’re going to cover and which section you’re in.
  • A strong way to kick off your presentation is by starting with a question.
  • Incorporating stories and painting a picture are both very powerful.
  • Never start or end your point with a negative – that is what people will walk away with.
  • If you have to do impromptu speaking, follow the PREW structure:
    • Point of View
    • Reason
    • Example
    • Wrap-Up
  • When you’re speaking, use connective phrases between thoughts. Alternatively, take a pause (silence is punctuation for the ears).  These are great ways to avoid “ums” and to gather your thoughts.  Remember to breathe in & out in these moments.


Presentation Slides

  • Don’t put all your content on the slides
  • If your bullet point exceed three lines, it is too long
  • Use font size ranging from 28-32 for the body of your content and 44-50 for headlines
  • If you’re using graphs or pie charts:
    • Don’t use three-dimensional – they’re too busy.
    • Explain to your audience what they’re looking at so they’re following with you. Otherwise, everyone will be looking at a different section
    • Don’t put red & green beside each other as many people have a red/green colour blindness. Avoid purple and blue side by side as well. 
  • Royal blue background with white font is the easiest to read.
  • San serif fonts are easier to read than serif fonts.


Non-Verbal Skills

  • Before you present, go to the washroom, look in the mirror and smile. Adjust anything necessary so you avoid fidgeting on stage. 
  • Make eye contact with your audience. Find a few friendly faces that you keep using.
  • When you first walk onto stage, don’t put your hands on your hips as it comes off confrontational. At first, treat your arms like coat sleeves to keep them neutral.
  • Keep hand gestures above the waist.
  • Avoid elbow lock
  • If you’re on TV, don’t use big gestures
  • If you’re on a stage, walk to either side of the stage and stay there for a minute, make eye contact with those people, then walk to the other side


Q&A Session

  • In the beginning of your presentation, inform your audience that there will be a Q&A period at the end. This way you can maintain your flow without interruptions.
  • If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t pretend that you do. Say you’ll get back to them on a later date.  To help with these scenarios, write a list of 20 questions you wouldn’t want to be asked and write the answers to those.
  • If you’re asked a question with multiple parts to it, ask them to split it up. Or you can repeat it back to them.
  • If you have a person dominating this session, say you’ll be happy to speak with them at the end of the Q&A, but you want to give opportunity to other people to ask questions. It’s important that you keep control in this session.
  • For the instances when no one asks a question, come prepared with a question you’re often asked to spark some conversation.
  • At the end of the session, summarize the 3 highlights in your presentation (one sentence per point). This way, if the Q&A session has been difficult, that’s not the last thing in people’s minds.
  • Remember to walk off as strongly as you walked in.


Finally, when you’re practicing, record your talk and listen back to it.  This will help identify areas of improvement. While these tips do not cover every detail in a presentation, we hope that they will bring you success when preparing for your next presentation. 

The Information and Communications Technology Council of Canada (ICTC) found that 182,000 new skilled workers will be needed across Canada by 2019. This includes the creation of 84,000 new jobs and the replacement of 98,000 due to retirements and employees leaving the sector.

Now, more than ever, Canadian tech companies must excel in workforce development. Companies need to have a dynamic recruitment strategy and must constantly train their employees to develop new skills and increase the organization’s innovative capacity. On top of that, employers must also have a plan to retain employees in an ultra-competitive job market.

Luckily, government grants and loans can be accessed by almost all tech sector businesses for workforce development projects. With increased access to funding, forward-thinking business owners and executives can expand their human resources budget and have increased access to new, ambitious tech sector employees.

Why Use Government Grants to Develop Your Workforce?

Successfully developing a dynamic, innovative, and growth-oriented workforce relies on two factors (1) the strategy and (2) the financing behind your recruiting and employee development plans.

The simple reality for most technology companies is that human resources budgets are minimized to expand R&D and cover other important expenses. Most employers feel there isn’t enough money to continuously invest in their workforce.

Government grants are an essential way to extend your payroll and training budgets. There are several government funding programs available on the national and provincial levels that can help tech businesses:

  • Hire recent post-secondary tech sector graduates; and
  • Train employees to receive new skills.

When used strategically, these funding programs can transform your workforce into an innovation powerhouse. Hiring and training grants can be used to reduce most project expenses by up to 50-83%.

Solve Staffing Challenges with Hiring Grants

To grow and harness the skills of a larger workforce, employers must be willing to hire recent post-secondary graduates.

Canadian government investments have expanded scientific studies at colleges and universities across the country. Because of this, tech businesses can expect an influx of recent graduates who are competent with advanced technologies and can make an immediate and sustained organizational impact.

Government Funding to Hire a Recent Post-Secondary Graduate

One way employers can reduce their payroll costs in 2017 is by accessing grants to hire a recent post-secondary graduate. For most programs, Canadian SMEs can save up to 50% of a recent college or university graduate’s wages for a period of 4-12 months. During this time, businesses may access up to $20,000 to reduce the cost of labour while they provide training and onboarding to the new employee.

Some hiring grants are available specifically for the technology sector.

Upon completion of the funding program, it’s expected (but not required) that the recent graduate received skills to become a valuable member of the organization. This can assist tech employers to shape young tech graduates into the ideal tech sector employee.

Employers can begin applying for most hiring grants in the second quarter of each calendar year. Funding is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so employers should be prepared to submit applications for potential job candidates soon after classes end in the spring.

Discover hiring grants that apply to your job candidates.

Develop and Retain a More Knowledgeable Workforce with Training Grants

To understand new technologies and push innovative capacity, employers must be willing to provide employee training programs.

When technological advancements happen at such a rapid pace, keeping the skills of IT-sector employees up-to-date can be a struggle. Skilled workforces need training; it’s essential to remaining innovative and keeping a competitive advantage over competitors. Specialized training programs for tech employees can be costly to implement on an organization-wide level, but this shouldn’t deter businesses from making the investment.

Government Grants for Third-Party Training

Canadian government funding is available to Ontario businesses who use third-party training programs to improve the skillsets of their employees. Most businesses will qualify for the Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG), offering up to 66% of eligible expenses to a maximum $10,000 per trainee.

This includes product vendor training and college/university courses.

There is an even greater opportunity for small technology businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Companies may receive an increased contribution of up to 83% for their training program and include employee wages as an eligible expense.

Training is not only a workforce development tool, but it’s also a way to retain top talent. Employees who receive training are more engaged and ultimately more loyal. If there are sufficient opportunities to apply these skills and advance their careers, employees are much less likely to leave a business.

Training grants are typically accessible year-round, however availability changes throughout the year as funding organizations become depleted, then are topped-up again with funds. It is critical to form an understanding of the government funding landscape prior to application to increase your odds of success.

Learn More About Ontario Hiring and Training Grants

More information about hiring and training grants can be found by accessing Mentor Works’ range of educational materials. Their government funding blog is a top source of news for business owners and executives who wish to educate themselves about specific government funding programs.

Tech leaders may also register for a free, informative webinar detailing the process of obtaining Canadian government funding for hiring and training projects.


Mentor Works is a sponsor of AceTech Ontario.  They are a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. The Ontario-based business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via their website at www.mentorworks.ca.

Toronto, January 12, 2017 – Ranked the city with the most female entrepreneur-focused culture in the world, Toronto will celebrate the impact of its female entrepreneurs next week at an event aimed at the local tech community.
The inaugural Move the Dial event, part of the Women’s Founder’s Night Series, will spotlight successful women entrepreneurs and examine how women can be equally represented in Canadian tech.
The 2016 Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index that saw Toronto take the top spot as the city with the most female entrepreneur-focused culture was based on a number of criteria, including the prevalence of relevant mentors, networks and role models, and the existence of policies that enable women to achieve business success.
Today, women are occupying more leadership roles in technology. In early 2016, over 32 per cent of tech startups in Ontario had women founders, up from 26 per cent the previous year, according to a survey by MaRS Data Catalyst.
Despite these gains, women still face unequal barriers. The Move the Dial event will feature a panel of accomplished women founders and investors addressing these challenges, including the fact that women-led businesses receive only 4 per cent of venture capital funding, according to Toronto-based SheEO.
Over 400 people are expected to attend the sold-out event, with representation from top Canadian startups and venture capital funds, and over 100 female founders. The event will take place at MaRS Discovery District on Monday, January 16 starting at 6:00 p.m.
“I am very proud to participate in Move the Dial to find immediate, practical steps to help entrepreneurs build connections across the industry. A major contributing factor to our business’s success was driven by building connections with strong advisors, mentors, and investors. They’ve helped guide and support us on our path to serving global retail brands with our mobile-first team performance software”. – Lindsey Goodchild, Co-Founder and CEO, Nudge Rewards
“Move the Dial is exactly the kind of initiative that the City of Toronto aims to support and encourage. As part of our strategy for the high tech and knowledge sector, we need to encourage coordination and collaboration; help Toronto attract and retain talent; and champion diversity within this sector, including better representation of women.” – Michelle Holland, Toronto City Councillor, Mayor’s Advocate for the Innovation Economy
“Move the Dial came out of a real need to help the Canadian tech industry promote greater connectivity to leaders, founders and investors. Tonight’s event in Toronto is just the start of what will be a national drive to promote real change for the benefit of the entire tech sector and the economy.” – Jodi Kovitz, CEO, AceTech Ontario
“Toronto has an incredible support network for women leaders, and can continue to set an example for other cities the world over. Engaging women equally in our tech talent pool is more than just an issue of equality. When companies embrace diverse voices, they adopt the type of competitive mindset required to thrive globally.” – Daneal Charney, Talent Lead, MaRS Venture Services
“RBC is proud to be a sponsor of the Toronto’s Women Founders Night Series. Our Knowledge Based Industries (KBI) Group is well aware of the opportunities and need for female entrepreneurs in the tech space. Diversity & Inclusion is one of RBC’s five core values. We believe in promoting gender equality in the world of technology entrepreneurship and are pleased to play a role in supporting this ecosystem.” – Eric Leblanc, Vice-President – KBI GTR, RBC
For more information, contact:
Jodi Kovitz
CEO, AceTech Ontario
Daneal Charney
Talent Lead, MaRS Venture Services

Happy New Year.  I hope that you have had a nourishing holiday season.  Welcome to 2017.
Any time to rest and read is sacred, I thought lots about what book to take on a long-awaited vacation last week with my daughter.  Single mom to a 7-year old = not that much reading time on vacation. So I had to choose wisely!
While I typically love a great novel or biography – my new role has me thinking lots about scaling up and technology icon success stories.  I have a list of 20 recommended reads in that genre (including suggestions by many of you – thank you and keep them coming).  Though I will get to each (stay tuned for my synopsis of a great book once a month on this blog) none of those books felt just right for what I was looking for in this first precious week off after my first 90 days as a first time CEO.
I wanted to get inspired to use the calendar as an excuse to set for 2017 – to maximize my own performance and think about how I might best motivate and support my team and our members in doing the same.
As it happened, we interviewed some incredible candidates to join our AceTech team in a BD role to help us grow our organization smartly and amaze & delight our members, right before going away (Cinthia who has been with us this year, is moving to Vancouver in March).
I asked each candidate in their final interview to provide a bit of recommended reading for my trip (to see if they had been listening to who I am in the interview and what moves me).  One of the candidates purchased Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans for me (amongst providing a fabulous collection of vacation-related creative materials, I was both amazed & delighted and she really modelled the “white glove service” I told her that I aim to implement at AceTech for 2017! Welcome to Stacy – who you will all meet soon.
I devoured it (all 675 pages) and it both inspired me, and brought me joy (as her inscription suggested it would). I will share lots of ideas I garnered from it, here. This piece turned out a bit more of an essay than a blog post. It’s long.
We all agree that there are some basic ingredients to entrepreneurial success: Have a great idea to solve a real & big problem + innovate + vision + fire in the belly + move fast + build a world class team + execute with dogged focus + grit to go the extra mile, to name a few.   Or as Elon Musk might put it, refuse to take no for an answer, dare to be a dreamer, and then be a doer.
It’s easy in the hyper connected world we live in to think we always need to keep going. Never turn off.  We work late nights, early mornings and manage the incoming at 1000 miles an hour to make the big plan happen.
We convince ourselves that we don’t have one hour a day to take care of ourselves (for a total of 7) + 9 extra hours a week to invest in ourselves, so 16 out of a total of 112 waking hours (14%) if you assume we are or should be sleeping for 56, or 8 hours a night. That all of those 112 hours (or even dipping into our we-should-be-sleeping-hours), would be better spent “scaling up” aggressively, working, working, working. We have all been there.  Getting lost in the pursuit of success, and the pressure of NOW – at the cost of drifting from being our best total selves through thoughtful and consistent self-care.
It happened to me right before the holidays. I got so excited about the exciting Move the Dial Women’s event we are co-hosting with MaRS, DMZ, Communitech & the City of Toronto on January 16th (aside: register here if you have not yet, over 350 people have registered thus far and it is a great c-level crew of amazing founders, investors, influencers, leaders and up and coming talent – that all care deeply about advancing women in technology on the global stage, together) and determined to get the invitation out before Christmas, that I worked 20 hours a day to get it over the line.  Thinking that was something to celebrate, e-mailing people on the team at 2 or 3 am as though that is a sane thing to do. I lost perspective – I was tired. With some rest under my belt, I can see that and laugh at myself. But it is a great example of why building rest, and self-care in is important. So we don’t get to that frenzied state. And bring the people around us there with us.  I resolve not to do that again in 2017.
To be successful (and happy) and be in the best condition to operate from calm, thoughtful and mindful every day, steering the ship strategically versus reactively:  you also have to fuel your mind, body and soul every day. The greats do, which enables them to achieve maximum performance, and the long-term healthy state required to enjoy the fruits of their work. And most importantly, to enjoy the journey and find peace and happiness along the way.
I would encourage and challenge you to spend a few minutes today, leveraging this new calendar opportunity to re-set.
To commit at the highest level, with gusto, to taking care of you. Investing in YOURSELF as PART of your scale up (and life) plan.  Then take the time to build your commitment into your calendar RIGHT NOW, before it gets filled up incorporating a few daily and weekly tactics.  If the commitment is made once, in a clear, simple and non-negotiable way – that single decision can be the most powerful tool you have in your toolbox. You will save enormous energy by not having to make small decision after small decision, (should I get up at 5 or not? Should I work out or not?) – if you just stay the course.
And, why? Because, if you don’t take care of you Ms./Mr. CEO, your chance of being the unicorn is less than zero. You can’t be a top CEO unless you are on top of your game. (And what’s the point anyway, if you are not healthy and around to enjoy the fruit later with those you love or are super cranky along the way?). But this is for YOU. Not your team. Your investors. Your shareholders. Your kids. Or your partner. It is for YOU (everyone else benefits from the who you become as a result, but the point is to gift this investment to yourself, first).
I have found that writing down my commitment to my self-care + each tactic I choose to use in a single “note” on my phone, (an added sticky note on my mirror never hurt) AND putting the plan in the calendar, makes it happen.
Shay Carl, who sold Maker Studios to Disney for almost a billion believes that the secrets to life are in the simplest of cliché’s. Things like eat more vegetables. Drink more water. That we hear these things millions of times, and ignore them because they sound too simple. But simple, is often best.
So here is a collection of tried and true (not super original, BUT hopefully helpful), simple ideas to get you thinking about your own plan – some low hanging fruit with immediate returns –  to get your mind, body and spirit into shape for a successful January – and 2017.
#1: Join the 5 am club – How you start your day sets the tone for how you’ll live that day. It’s a fact that the most productive achievers in the world actually use the hours from 5-8 am to set up their days for success, just a few examples: Tim Cook, Apple CEO and Richard Branson, Virgin Group CEO. I learned this from reading the Greatness Guide (my favourite book of all times, which is my go to “gift it” book) and watching videos by global leadership expert Robin Sharma.
Robin created the 5 am club, a morning ritual that I live by and love.  Like Robin says, while the rest of the world is sleeping, you already have an edge because you’re preparing your mind, body, and heart for the day.  When you walk out the door, you’re already unstoppable.  I use these early hours to exercise, journal about my intentions/plans for the day and for meditation and reflection, or learning. These “golden hours” get me in the zone for the day and empower me to be my best SELF. For his blog or his podcasts, which I often share with CEOS looking for some rituals and inspiration – click here.
While we all might think that if we are up, early morning time is best spent clearing e-mail or doing “focus required work” (and admittedly I do both at times) – I try hard to think about it as “prep time”. Ferriss wisely points out that whacking trees with a blunt axe is no way to go through life. “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I’ll spend the first hour sharpening the axe”. Abraham Lincoln
#2: Move (I like how that sounds better than saying “exercise”, but I do mean exercise). If you have stopped, just start again. It’s actually not harder than that.  We waste a lot of energy beating ourselves up for being or getting out of shape. Better energy spent just starting. And sitting is the new smoking. It is bad for you.
  • Ferriss suggests that you can do 5-10 reps of something when you wake up to get into your body and your blood flowing (he likes push ups).
  • Get out and walk. At a minimum – just walk. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Try getting off the subway a few stops early. Take a break in the middle of the day and get some music going and = just walk.
For the real work:
  • If you want your butt kicked into high gear, try my strength trainer & lifestyle coach Wayne Williams whose motto is difficult, but not impossible. He motivates me and pushes me. Texting me daily to check in, often calling to support me in achieving my goals.  His own life story incredible: janitor to uber successful training & coaching business owner who trains some of our AceTech CEOs and many media/tv personalities.  He will be speaking at an event we have coming up in February all about how to be your best self as CEO.   Alison Beder Solway is also one of my incredibly inspiring trainers. She has never taken “I can’t” as an answer and I attribute much of my current good fortune to her belief in me and pushing me to be my best self.  I always have her “yes you can”, “you have a little more” with me.  I am happy to connect you to either if you want to get going!
  • If you are looking for a fabulous hour of both psychical and mental inspiration in a group setting, try Rocket Cycle. Founder and friend Dana Rocket is hugely inspiring. When she reminds me to put “victory in my pocket” and “keep climbing, the only way over the mountain, is over it” at 6 AM, my day just goes better, as I bring my A game. Seeing her 4 x per week gives me strength, mentally. The physical is just a side benefit. She has inspired strength and confidence in me when I needed it most in my life, and I just love and admire her. If if you would like to try a class but don’t want to go alone – ping me. I will go with you, at 6 AM and set you up on the bike myself.
  • If you want to use an App and not need a gym, I like Sworkit. I love it and often use it when I am on my own.
#3: Journal.  Many successful people swear by journaling, but not a “dear diary” situation (says Ferriss).  The purposes of journaling include: getting unstuck, problem solving, prioritizing, finding gratitude and cleansing the brain.  Some ideas:
  • Get your thoughts out onto morning pages right when you wake up so you can face your day with clearer eyes and get your priorities clear (Julia Cameron). They changed my life.
  • The 5-Minute Journal (Intelligent Change)– suggested by my dear friend Reva Seth, 5 minutes in the morning and the evening, using prompts like, “I am grateful for 1.___ 2.____ 3.______. What would make today great? 1._____ 2._____ 3. ______. Daily affirmations I am 1._______ 2. ________ 3.__________” and in the evening: “ 3 amazing things that happened today…. 1.________ 2._______ 3.________
  • Keep a “pride” journal. A wonderful executive coach I worked with about 2 years ago Rachel Weinstein encouraged me to do this, and it stuck with me (she is fantastic, by the way!). Keep track of things you accomplish that you are proud of, ranging from getting your workout in, to a big work win, to an act of kindness that made someone’s day, to achieving a big life goal… or making a change you are proud of. This tactic significantly enhanced my life.  I keep it in my phone.  And read it when I need a hit of self-love.  My daughter’s teacher loved this idea so much she implanted it in her grade 2 class.
  • Richard Wiseman’s 59 Seconds: Change your Life in Under a Minute offers an excellent journaling framework (this is one of the world’s leading strength coaches, Charles Poliquin’s, favourite books).
#4: Drink lots of water – When I say lots, I’m talking 3 litres per day. This is a thank you to Wayne Williams, who stays on top of me on this all day by texting -how much water have you had today Jodi? All that fluid keeps YOU fluid, helping everything flow through you properly, from your blood, to what you eat to your ideas and focus. And that’s not all. Water helps to energize your muscles, and let’s your kidneys cleanse you.  From experience, I can tell you all that water makes ALL the difference. I moved from lots of coffee to LOTS water – and my work is 1 million times better. If you hate drinking water, put lemon or cucumber slices in it.
#5: Do not forget to eat. And eat smart – Food is fuel. It arms you with the energy you need to lead, think and create at your absolute best. So while your day is packed with meetings, emails, texts and the like, you MUST make time to eat and make smart food choices. Sometimes when I am busy, I end up eating “easy” instead of “eating smart”.  Here are some tips on healthy foods to eat each day (and many small meals is healthy!):
  • Fruit – Apple: Loaded with antioxidants and tastes awesome
  • Nuts – Almonds: Full of rich nutrients like iron, calcium fibre and magnesium.
  • Vegetables – try Broccoli, raw or steamed or any which way: Packed with potassium, folate and vitamin C
  • Fish – Salmon: Salmon and other oily fish like sardines are all about heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids
  • Carbs – Oatmeal: Cut oats have been shown to cut the risk of cardiovascular disease (and you can even grab it at Starbucks – with some great toppings, though avoiding the sugar is a good thing).
    #6: Practice mindfulness – It’s a buzzword, but it’s true that being MINDFUL, which means living in and appreciating the moment, is key to both professional and personal success. I would strongly encourage you to try meditating (even if you think it sounds crazy), even for just 5 minutes per day, for a week – and observe if it makes a difference for you. 80% of the successful people Tim profiled in his book have a daily mindfulness practice of some kind.   It helps us channel drive toward the few things that matter, rather than always “reacting” to the incoming. Not responding to all that can trigger us and take us off course.  According to Ferriss, daily meditation or mindfulness practice are both thought of as “cultivating a present-state awareness that helps you be nonreactive”, and a “meta-skill” that improves everything else.
An extensive buffet of meditation options exists.  Just a few to consider (thank you Tim Ferriss):
  • Use an app like Headspace (free Take10 will guide you for ten minutes per day for 10 days) or Calm.
  • Use a guided meditation (try Sam Harris or Deepak Chopra & Oprah, or Tara Brach’s Smile Guided Meditation recordings).
  • Take a TM course.
  • Mantra based meditation (2-syllable word for 5-20 minutes in the morning). You can hold something in your hands to touch if you find that easier. This is the meditation practice that I have found easiest, when I am working hard to turn off the noise and focus on my mantra: FO-CUS, with my own theme of 2017 being to find laser-like focus on the things that matter most and will have the greatest impact.
    #7:  Sleep tight. Long days and nights working can cut into your sleep time, but sleep is ESSENTIAL. It’s not necessarily quantity, but the quality that matters – though trying to get enough is a good idea. As the most decorated Olympic swimmer in history Michael Phelps told Men’s Fitness, “Sleep is a big part of my recovery. It’s really important that my body gets enough rest so that I’m ready to go for my next race or training session.”  
    Thoreau says, “Ours is a culture where we wear our ability to get by on very little sleep as a kind of badge of honour that symbolizes work ethic, or toughness, or some other virtue  but really, it’s a total profound failure of priorities and of self-respect”.  Can’t really say it better than that – so, I encourage you to focus on getting more and better sleep. A few of Ferriss’ ideas to improve your sleep:
  • The ChiliPad – a sheet that circulates water to your ideal temperature under you while you sleep – many of his Silicon Valley friends have said this one tip has had the greatest impact on their quality of life.
  • Honey & ACV before bed: 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar + 1 TBSP honey, into 1 cup hot water.
  • REAL Dark and quiet! Try an eye mask or ear plugs to get there if you need it, or a sound machine if you need to block out noise.
Weekly Tips 
#1:  Book Self-Care Time – 3 HOURS – As Robin Sharma says, “things that get scheduled, get done.” This means if your calendar holds sacred time each week to devote to self-care, you will actually use this time appropriately and work on getting yourself prepared to achieve clear goals. My advice is to make this time slot RED – if it stays WHITE, it’s like a welcome sign to get booked up by other things! Your RED time is YOURS. Whether this time is to get a massage, or go to a yoga class, or see a coach, or be in nature like a ravine or park, or simply getting a pedicure with a great mindless magazine – whatever nourishes you, but it is NOT about work. BOOK IT. EVERY WEEK.
#2: Keep learning – Every week, outside of my “Self-Care” time – I make one evening that is just mine to read, listen to podcasts and do anything I can to learn. Whether it’s reading an autobiography about someone who developed a world-class product or listening to a podcast about positive thinking, I keep on learning. This kind of learning will help you see you really can achieve ANYTHING you believe in. And you will share your energy, focus and vision with the people who work with you, so that they too will be motivated and inspired by the same goals.  AND if you block a night for it once a week, you force yourself to have a quiet night to rest, and recover.  Some great ideas:
  • Read: Psych (Biasiotto) – how to manage your on and off switch, Deep Survival (Gonzales) – on dealing with fear (from a Sillicon Valley CEO book club), On the Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather than Loving Long (Seneca), Henry David Thoreau’s diaries or Autobiography of a Yogi (Yogananda) – which Steve Jobs had passed out at his funeral.
  • Watch anything TED (also a go-to can’t sleep get me out of my own head tactic for me)
  • Read anything Alan Watt
  • Devour the Sunday New York Times (I have ordered myself a hard copy subscription – happy almost birthday self – and will save it for my learning/relaxing nights, I can’t wait!)
  • Read Maria Popova’s https://www.brainpickings.org – her one woman labor of love is a inquiry into how to live and what it means to lead a good life. She often reads a book daily, and distills the most timeless wisdom into her posts.
#3: Grateful time – It’s easy to look at your workload and be overwhelmed. The litany of emails. Challenging colleagues or clients. Not enough time to get things done. But there are plenty of good things that get ignored easily and they shouldn’t. Each week, take some moments to think or journal about what you are GRATEFUL for. It could be big things like your career success or your home. But it could be things we often take for granted, like being grateful for a good friend, or something cute your kid says. The more you think or talk about what you’re grateful for, the better you’ll feel. And that positivity will make you a happier, healthier and better CEO.
#4: Stay social – When you’re immersed in work, your social life can take a real hit. I believe and the studies show that staying connected to your friends and family, especially when work is seemingly out of control, is vital. You can talk to them about your problems and they can offer good advice. Or you can simply have some fun time with friends to feel good again.
#5: Book your “No time” – Book some time with yourself each week to reflect deeply on your big goals (work and personal). One of my incredible mentors who is the first female CEO of the Canadian operation of a public company with over 7000 employees, and one of the most admirable people I have ever met – encouraged me to create 3 hours of time in my calendar to do this every week.
To reflect, and ask myself, what do I need to say to say NO to, in order to say YES to what I have already decided matters most? Do you need to say no to media interviews? No to speaking invitations? No to coffee dates? No to requests for advice?  No to meetings to explore new opportunities? We all like to be nice, and accommodate and explore every opportunity that comes our way – and YES is easier than no.
But taking care of yourself includes protecting the very work people want to talk to you about getting done well, and you achieving your own goals FIRST.  Remember the oxygen mask analogy?  Do you ever feel like you run around like a chicken with your head cut off after saying “yes’ to too many meetings, to advance other people’s agendas, at their preferred locations? I do.  Some of that is important, all I am suggesting here – is to be mindful.
I learned a great trick from an incredible leader who runs the Canadian operation of an MNC.  I met him last year, when I was just starting to think through my career transition and I respect of my Sick Kids Foundation board aspiration for some advice. He is generous with his time, in that he takes the meeting. But, he books meetings like the one he had with me (i.e. where the purpose was about me getting some of his advice/brain once a week on Tuesday afternoons, in 30 minute increments). When the Tuesday slots on a given day are gone, the people have to wait.  I waited 6 weeks.
This is an uncomfortable system for me to implement in my own life – as I have always seen myself as a “yes” sort of gal – generous with my energy, time and advice as part of my constitution and core identity.  Not entitled to ask people to “wait” to see me when they “want” to see me now.  But the truth is, what I have learned, is that I can’t continue to be generous at the expense of achieving my own goals. SO, I am implementing my “NO” time in 2017 and the “Tuesday” happy to give you my time meeting rule. Wish me luck. It will NOT be easy for me.  I might have to tattoo NO!!! on my arm (because saying yes is like breathing for me).
Wishing you the very best of success, joy and mindfulness.  Stay tuned for some new and exciting AceTech programming to come this year on this topic!  Welcome any and all feedback and suggestions!  Happy 2017.


There is an old adage that says ‘seeing is believing’.  After venturing with AceTech members Michael Benadiba, President of MBC Managed IT Services, Sheetal Jaitly, Founder & CEO of TribalScale and Vuk Magdelinic, Co-Founder & CEO of Overbond, on a whirlwind innovation trade mission to Israel led by Toronto Mayor John Tory, I saw a genuinely thriving, tech-savvy economy.   I firmly believe Canada can learn so much from Israel’s example and I’m going to share with you exactly how and why.


Michael Benadiba and Mayor Tory


Jodi Kovitz and Sheetal Jaitly


Vuk Magdelinic and Jodi Kovitz

First, a little background. Mayor Tory invited 50 business, technology and investment leaders to Israel to “learn how government interventions have facilitated the rapid growth of Israel’s technology sector, learn from their innovations and connect Toronto (and Canada) businesses with opportunities,” in Israel.For me, as a leader of a non-profit organization that supports start-up founders in scaling their businesses on the world stage, my own goal was to learn how, just like Israel, we can build global connections and relationships, as well as foster innovation and collaborate as a tech-community.Why Israel?  As investment guru Warren Buffet has said, “Israel is the most promising investment hub outside of the U.S.” I was aware that Israel is rocking the world tech stage partly as a result of reading a fascinating book called Start-Up Nation. The book maps out why Israel, a tiny country, with no natural resources and a litany of challenges, has the largest density of tech start-ups in the world!But reading isn’t the same as seeing.  Mayor Tory said this throughout our trip, and he was right.  When we visited five cities in Israel & the West Bank and saw their innovation eco-system, and the amazing people behind it in action, all the lessons in the book came to life for me. Here are the four key lessons I believe we must learn:


  • Cultivate a culture and mindset that embraces guts

The way Israelis think and act is the perfect formula for innovation. For instance, Israelis have the guts and persistence to take risks. Even when risk results in failure, their society doesn’t see failure as a negative. In fact, their culture gives people the permission to fail – it’s an acceptable option and that inherently breeds innovation and resilience.These unique attitudes make a difference. To that end, in 2015, $4.5 billion USD was invested in Israeli start-ups, whereas in Canada, the number was half that.From seeing this mindset first-hand and the results it leads to, I believe we need to teach our own Toronto entrepreneurs and the broader population – especially our children – to take risks and to not fear failure.  As a mom of a 7-year-old, I am often reminding my daughter of the importance of her effort and reinforcing that failure is okay… actually, it’s better than okay. It’s necessary.


  • Galvanize GRIT, commitment and a Get It Done Well & NOW work ethic

During the trip, I met the incredible founders of iAngels, who offer accredited investors from around the globe the opportunity to co-invest with prominent angel investors in Israeli startup companies through an innovative crowdfunding platform.  As we spoke, I mentioned that we should follow-up. This was a classic Canadian casual invitation to connect at some point after I was back. But that’s not how things work in Israel. Right after I said it, they immediately responded with, “when and what time” and we talked the next day. As a result, we now have a plan on the books for January for an event in Toronto. They don’t set up a meeting in two months; they talk tomorrow. It’s just their way and we can learn from them to get things done well and NOW.This business approach is very much shaped by compulsory army service in Israel. When you’re on a military mission, it’s not like you can say, “I’ll try and get that done by week’s end”.  Military missions require staying the course and being committed every day. They orient people towards success. It’s the real-world example of “grit” psychologist Angela Duckworth writes about in her book Grit, which she describes as “a combination of passion and perseverance for a singularly important goal.” Duckworth says these qualities are hallmarks of high achievers. I believe that is why the army in Israel is a breeding ground for successful and innovative entrepreneurs.In addition, while in the military, Israelis receive high levels of technical training and are armed with enormous amounts of responsibility, which requires being highly motivated, creative and adaptive. This environment nurtures not just everyday entrepreneurs, but ones who establish a vast array of cutting-edge start-ups.To shine some light on that, I learned Israel has the highest number of engineers per capita in the world and that a staggering 1,400 start-ups formed in 2015.I’m not saying we need conscription to produce a more robust tech ecosystem. However, if we arm the 4,100 startups, 200,000 developers and 50 incubators and accelerators in Toronto with the same kinds of mindset and opportunity to develop these skills through the extensive programming we provide in the eco-system, we will be setting ourselves up collectively, for excellence.


  •  Start early with STEM focus in our education system:  It is no longer a “nice to have” for our kids to participate in the new world economy

It is all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education early on in Israel. They get it and are pioneering and proactively developing a STEM education system for youth, throughout all stages of their development, that has set the stage for its success on the world stage in innovation.It amazed me to see that even in tiny cities in Israel like Sderot, with a population of only 25,000 (a western Negev city located less than a mile from Gaza that is subjected to constant attack) – STEM education is the focus, creating opportunities for curious young minds.  Israel gets that creating a new generation of STEM excellence is essential in order to drive Israel’s high-tech industry and economy through the coming decades.  Michael Benadiba observed, “What amazed me the most was the education system’s ability to identify technical talent in grade-school children. Those pupils were moved through the system in order to encourage and enrich their interests. You then have the best of the best beginning a meaningful career in the IDF, where their enrichment is supercharged.  The result is a nation of bright and capable entrepreneurs coming out of their national military and education system.”   Michael Eisenberg, the Co-Founder of one of Israel’s top venture capitalists, Aleph, shared his experience and views on the role of the Israeli education system in their successful eco-system. What stood out to me, was when he shared the astounding fact that high school graduates are already highly skilled future high-tech talent and business leaders with serious expertise in engineering – before they even enter the army, where many of them get an unequaled education in cyber security and other STEM skills. There is much we can learn from Israel about how they are preparing their young for the new world economy.


  • Encourage the government to help foster innovation in the private sector – and collaborate

In Israel, I didn’t only see people from the private sector contributing to the tech boom – I also saw government support and collaboration at all levels of government. For instance, Israeli government ministries offer a variety of support programs for R&D totaling $400 million.  That means 4.3% of Israel’s GDP goes to R&D. Just imagine the places we could go if various levels of government were dedicated to that kind of spending on R&D and innovation? Even a municipal library has an incubator/accelerator built in!What’s more, tax laws and government investment policies in Israel are very friendly to foreign companies. For example, foreign companies benefit from a corporate tax rate of only 10% and investment grants of up to 24%. These pro-investment initiatives have translated into a bevy of multi-national corporations setting up shop in Israel.To that end, there are over 7,000 companies, 250 R&D incubators and 80+ Fortune Global 500 companies that have an R&D centre in Israel. The presence of multi-national corporations and government support is critical, it enables tech professionals to have a place to ply their trade and to engage in experiential, hands-on learning. It also sets up an ecosystem where entrepreneurs can smartly design their companies to provide the best solutions.  There are other numerous and constantly evolving government supported opportunities and programs related to capital and talent – key drivers of success in this industry.What has evolved from all of this is a community of tech experts often collaborating and constantly advancing together. That’s precisely the kind of community Mayor Tory articulated that he is committed to creating in the Toronto/Waterloo corridor, and more broadly, in partnership with our provincial and federal governments across Canada.  But we, as leaders in the non-profit segment of the eco-system, in addition to our own booming tech corporate industry players, all have a role to play. Let’s look to Israel as a shining example to follow, and together we can make that happen.Jodi Kovitz is the CEO of AceTech Ontario, a non-profit member-based community organization for technology leaders to network, seek guidance and offer advice.

You’re the CEO of a software company looking to grow faster and smarter. There is great opportunity before you, but also more decisions on how to achieve that growth than ever before.
“I think what you have seen over the past two years is this obsession with growth in software companies,” states Hasan Askari, Managing Partner at K1 Investment Management and AceTech Ontario Sponsor. “But it is growth at all costs – let’s just take a bunch of money and throw it at Sales and Marketing and assume it is going to have some results.”
In this growth-obsessed market, many companies will inevitably seek funding as money continues to be one of the cheapest commodity available. However, a large number of these businesses that have raised capital on their search for growth have come up short and have found themselves in a weakened, confused state wondering what went wrong. As an increasing number of fallen unicorns make the headlines, selecting the right capital partner is more important now than it’s ever been before.
There are two important principles to keep in mind when selecting considering a capital raise.
Primarily, not all money is the same. You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into making your company grow. Now you’re at the point where you’re going to think about raising money to continue to fuel that growth. You have a budget in place as to how every dollar will be spent and it’s just about execution at this point. So ultimately, it doesn’t matter who you raise money from, right? Wrong. Raising capital gives you the unique opportunity to bring in additional know-how without increasing your payroll. It’s important to view a raise as a partnership, not a transaction. Is that partner a “technology tourist,” dipping its toe into the industry with an investment in your company? Has that partner worked with companies of a similar size and growth rate? Can that partner help you predict future speedbumps and provide resources to avoid them?
K1’s Intelligent Operations (“iOps”) group recognized the necessity of post-investment value-add and was established with the mission of helping make great companies better. With a core focus on adding value across People, Process and Systems for B2B software companies, K1 seeks to do much more than simply write cheques. Having entered into these partnerships with over 40 software companies over the last few years, it has developed an extensive library of best practices and know-how to help its companies succeed.
Additionally, more money doesn’t necessarily lead to more growth. Money affords companies the ability to take a number of different strategic actions including building out Sales and Marketing, developing more products, expanding into new offices or exploring acquisitions. These are all exciting (and necessary) steps in a company’s lifecycle that require focus and attention to carry out successfully. While sensible on the surface, these initiatives require one very important factor: timing. And unfortunately, money has a funny way of interfering with timing. Imperatives that may not be appropriate to pursue today can be accelerated solely because the company now has the financial capability to do so. K1 is a firm believer in raising the least amount of money that makes the biggest difference for your business.
At the end of the day no matter who you raise capital from, ensure that you’re taking smart money and that you’re able to maintain your sense of capital efficiency. It’s what allowed you to succeed up to this point and what will enable you to continue that growth going forward.

Contribution by AceTech Ontario CEO Member Mark Miller of Volaris Group.
You have worked hard to grow and develop your software company. Perhaps your success has attracted some attention; or maybe you are feeling that it’s time to move on. One way or the other, selling is on your radar.
Of course, you’re ready for this next step.
But there are several things you probably didn’t expect – unforeseen factors that could affect you and the acquisition process. (more…)

Recently, AceTech Ontario sponsor KPMG in Canada partnered with the C100 Association to compile a research report that dives into the minds of several Canadian technology company founders to gain their insights on the Canadian ecosystem and the biggest challenges they are facing with their companies.  This report, Entrepreneur Rising, surveyed a select group of 52 Canadian entrepreneurs to discuss their experience, their tips and what keeps them up at night. In this blog, we will provide an overview of some of the items discussed in this research report.
Many of us have heard Toronto referred to as “Silicon Valley North”.  While we may not yet have the opportunities that Silicon Valley does, several Canadian entrepreneurs believe that Canada’s technology ecosystem has a lot to offer business owners.  In fact, 86% of founders surveyed agree that the Canadian growth company/innovation ecosystem has improved significantly over the last 5 years.
Not only have we seen a shift in Canada’s ecosystem, but we have also seen a shift in the Canadian entrepreneur.  “What we are seeing is the emergence of a new class of serial entrepreneurs; they know how to bring a great idea to market and they are using those skills and resources to build more companies,” notes Terry Doyle, Co-Chair of the C100.  There has also been a belief in the past that Canadian entrepreneurs are willing to sell their companies prematurely.  However, Entrepreneur Rising reports that almost all entrepreneurs plan to grow their company with a long-term view to be the best in the world. David Wilson, an independent board advisor, notes that in cases where founders are looking for an exit plan, it is due to having too much of their own capital wrapped up in the company.  What is the reason behind this new class of entrepreneur? 48% said that they saw a need in the market that was not being solved.  Vince Mifsud, CEO of ScribbleLive and AceTech Ontario CEO member notes: “I’ve had the opportunity to work with some very successful entrepreneurs and business leaders and what I’ve found is that they all have a tremendous attention to detail.  I think sometimes people think that when they delegate a job they don’t need to think about it anymore – …but the really successful Canadian entrepreneurs are the ones that are on top of their business in every way”.
What are the challenges that these entrepreneurs are facing?  Almost a third of respondents have said that one the biggest challenges their company is going to be tackling over the next two years is the shortage of talent.  At AceTech events, we have often heard that many of our CEO members struggle to hire the right sales professionals.  While this rings true for many founders surveyed, 52% have found that the most difficult talent to recruit for is within their key management team (C-level executives).  “The priority has to be on recruiting, retaining and inspiring great people because you can always scale up a finance system or procurement model but it’s much harder to scale up culture, to keep your ‘A’ players and motivate them and align them to the vision of the company”, says Razor Suleman, founder of Achievers and Partner at Alignvest.  Many others agreed that a cultural fit is more important than having someone on the team who checks all the “job requirement boxes”.  In fact, 87% of respondents agreed that cultural fit is the most important consideration when hiring the right talent.
Another challenge that many of these entrepreneurs face is fundraising.  62% of respondents experience struggles when attempting to access the right sources of capital, while 50% feel they do not have access to enough capital.  However, Chris Chapman, National Leader, Growth Companies (TMT) at KPMG in Canada, believes that there is enough capital if you have the right metrics and are at the right stage, “the problem for Canadian start-ups is knowing what those metrics are and trying to ensure they are continuously aligning their business plan and objectives against those metrics”.  Many others share Chris’ sentiment and believe that if you are having trouble raising capital, that may be a sign that you need to make some changes to your business plan or operating model in order to attract investors.
Lastly, many people have heard the stereotype that if you are going to be a successful technology company, do you need to be in Silicon Valley; however, only 6% of respondents agree with this.  So as a Canadian founder, what should your presence in SV be, if any?  51% of respondents said that their ideal strategy is to be based in Canada while maintaining a SV presence through a local office or locally-based personnel.  When asked this question, Entrepreneur Rising states “85% of our respondents say that spending time in Silicon Valley has helped them change the way they think about their company”.  How do Canadian entrepreneurs tap into Silicon Valley? 71% of respondents note that their involvement through a C100 program has given them access to resources and provided them avenues to formulate relationships that they could not acquire otherwise.
One founder states: “you don’t know what you don’t know. It is important for Canadian founders and CEOs to get out of the office and see how the rest of the entrepreneurial world operates.  The face and perspective is just different”.  This is why several founders and CEOs of technology companies have found companies like KPMG in Canada, C100 and AceTech Ontario vital to the growth of their company.
For more insight on this research, please click here for the full report.

Peerscale is the preeminent leadership organization for Toronto technology CEOs, COOs and executives.

Quick Links

Copyright © 2023 Peerscale. All Rights Reserved.