A podcast featuring interviews with startup founders and tech community leaders discussing what it is like to build a startup – and a startup ecosystem – in a small city.
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The world is now in the process of going through one of its largest pivots many of us have seen in our lifetimes. So in true startup fashion, we’re going to pivot right along with it.
In the coming weeks, instead of our normal interview format, we’ll be having conversations with tech leaders on how they’re facing the COVID-19 crisis head on, how startups and tech companies can approach the challenges ahead, and how the world changing before our eyes will present unique opportunities for startups and innovators.
We’ll be posting these conversations the day after they’re recorded, so they will be up-to-date with a world that is changing daily.
with Jeff Tomlin of Vendasta
discussing the trends coming out of the pandemic
"There was this incredible acceleration that happened in e‑commerce. The adoption of e‑commerce in two months, mapped the amount of growth that the e‑commerce sector had in the last ten years."
- Jeff Tomlin
We talked with Jeff Tomlin, the Chief Marketing Officer of Vendasta. Vendasta is a platform for selling digital solutions for local businesses and is one of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies.
Last summer, Vendasta closed a $40 million dollar round of fundraising, the largest venture capital raise in the history of Saskatchewan tech. So needless to say, they were on a tear, fueling massive growth coming into 2020
And then a global economic crisis happened. So we talked with Jeff about how this impacted the Vendasta rocketship, and how they’ve positioned themselves to continue growing. Vendasta sells digital solutions to small businesses in an age where small businesses are moving online faster than ever. So Jeff shared some incredible insights from their team on some of the trends that will emerge from the pandemic, and how they are working hard to help small businesses not only survive but thrive in 2020.
Special Episode 9
A Golden Age of Innovation
with Jeff Dyck of Mentor, a Siemens Company
"I’ve never seen so many early-stage companies do so many cool new things and bringing them to market in record time. I’ve never seen a period where people are innovating this quickly and bringing new products to market."
– Jeff Dyck
We talked with Jeff Dyck, Director of Engineering with Mentor, a Siemens Company. He was involved in the largest tech acquisition in province history when their startup Solido was acquired by Mentor in late 2017, and since then they have continued to grow their team. Jeff has been an invaluable mentor and thought leader for early-stage startups in the Saskatchewan tech community.
We had a great conversation with Jeff about many things. Like breaking down the last half year from pre-pandemic, to the massive shift to working from home in March, and on to what he describes as a new “golden age” of tech and innovation, spurred on by the pandemic. We also talked about some local examples of startups that have stepped up to the challenge, and he gave his thoughts on how the acceleration toward more globalized, decentralized workforces can impact both employees, and employers.
Special Episode 8
Ready, Set, Andgo
with Tom Ross of Andgo Systems
"Now this is reflected in our messaging. [Saying] when we emerge from this, whatever that looks like, this is the new world, and these are the new rules. And here’s how we can help you with that."
– Tom Ross
We talked with Tom Ross, CEO of Andgo Systems, who make smart absence management software, creating efficiencies and improving the lives of everyone involved.
Andgo is focused on helping essential industries like healthcare manage their staff scheduling in a time where this is more important than ever. So we talked more about how they’ve adapted to serve an industry moving headlong toward digital transformation, and what this has meant for their own strategic direction. We also talked about their recent decision to invest in re-branding and positioning the company for success moving forward.
Special Episode 7
This Ain’t Her First Rodeo
with Monique Simair of Maven Water and Environment
"It’s not about why can’t I do it, but why don’t I do it. If you have a list of every reason it’s not going to work, or why you can’t do it, well you’ve just developed your to-do list."
– Monique Simair
Today we’re talking with Monique Simair, Founder & CEO of Maven Water and Environment, her second clean-tech startup in Saskatoon that’s applying the best of modern technology to water treatment in industrial sectors.
We talked with Monique about her journey in founding, building, and selling her first startup, and how she’s taken everything she’s learned into building her next company. Monique has flipped conventional norms on their head multiple times, so we talked more about her thoughts on disruption, how she’s has brought her innovations to market, and how her team has been working through the new normal to continue their growth.
Special Episode 6
Closing the Training Gap
with Pablo Listingart of ComIT
"A lot of people think that you have to be a nerd or a special person to work in IT or any other job. The real answer is that you have to be passionate, in order to go and research and find new things and find new problems, and solve them. It’s a very creative process."
– Pablo Listingart
Today we talked with Pablo Listingart, Founder and Executive Director of ComIT, a charity that is helping solve the tech labour gap by teaching the software development and soft skills that are needed by Canada’s growing tech sector, at no cost to the student.
We talked with Pablo about his journey to start ComIT to help improve access to careers in tech in South America, and how he has grown their programs both in South America, and now in eight Canadian cities. We also talked about how the COVID crisis has impacted the employment market, and how Pablo and ComIT are working to help give more people access to successful careers in tech, where talent is still in high demand.
Special Episode 5
Tech That’s Increasing Access to Healthcare
with Shawn Hazen of Lumeca Health
"The pandemic hit, and we had to re-pivot and we were like 'hey, we need to deploy this, even more so now than we were before, in our own backyard right now, today.' Because we’ve got a product that can keep people safe and secure, and offer them an essential service which is healthcare, and [enable] them to reach doctors for care."
– Shawn Hazen
Today we talked with Shawn Hazen, Founder and CEO of Lumeca a virtual healthcare startup based in Regina. In the face of the COVID crisis, Lumeca made a bold pivot to alleviate strain on the healthcare system and provide people with safe and convenient access to care.
We talked with Shawn about how Lumeca is playing this crucial role during the COVID crisis, and how virtual healthcare can serve an important role in the overall healthcare system moving forward. We also talked about how they have built a solid foundation for their startup, assembling an impressive team of healthcare professionals, as well as seasoned tech veterans.
Special Episode 4
Cultivating Early-Stage Startups
with Jordan McFarlen of Cultivator
"What we’ve been hearing from either investors [or] customers, is answering that question of ‘why now.’ So why is this important now, and what’s the compelling need that you’re solving. And I think it’s caused founders, in a really good way, to reflect and look at their business model and [ask] ‘what’s the compelling need that we’re solving?"
– Jordan McFarlen
Today we talked with Jordan McFarlen, Business Incubator Manager with the Cultivator tech incubator in Regina. The Cultivator’s mission is to help founders launch, grow, and scale innovative high-growth companies in the province of Saskatchewan, and it has quickly become a major hub of activity in the burgeoning Regina tech scene.
We talked with Jordan about the challenges the sector is facing, and how they’re continuing to support tech startups through the crisis, including running a fully virtual program, complete with the large startup events that the Saskatchewan tech scene is known for.
Special Episode 3
Quantifying Growth & Measuring the Recovery
with Darcy McLane of SaskInteractive
"There’s a future that we need to look forward to, and I think that if we even took a bird's-eye view of that and take a look at the growth in the tech sector, it looks very promising."
– Darcy McLane
Today we talked with Darcy McLane, Executive Director of SaskInteractive, an industry association that represents the interactive and digital media sectors, a big part of the overall tech sector. SaskInteractive recently completed a Labour Market and Economic Impact study, in order to quantify the recent growth in the Saskatchewan tech sector, and set a baseline measurement for future growth.
The study’s results will be released very soon, so we talked about some of the implications of this information, and how the tech sector can continue to move forward in the months ahead.
Special Episode 2
The Tech Behind Our Resilient Food Supply
with Ag-West Bio
"I’m really optimistic that this awareness of scientists working for the greater good, is finally going to start spilling over a little bit into agriculture."
– Karen Churchill
Today, we talked with Karen Churchill, Bev Stangeland, and Brad Bly of Ag-West Bio, Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry association and bioeconomy catalyst. In their role helping to move research to market and growing biobusiness in the province, they have a close connection to the bioscience startup community.
We talked with them about how the COVID crisis has impacted the bioscience and agri-food sectors, and how investment in bioscience over the decades has helped build the resilient food supply chain that has been largely unaffected through all of this.
Special Episode 1
Breaking It All Down
with Jordan Dutchak of Co.Labs
"People are changing. And I think the global economy, and tech’s role in that global economy too, will change."
– Jordan Dutchak
Today, we’re talking with Jordan Dutchak from Co.Labs, Saskatoon’s tech incubator, about the implications of the new paradigm we’re now entering, and the opportunities that presents.
Dan Gold MPRCA, hails from the south of England where he started out in the IT industry, although media was his first love.
In the ‘90s, he made the leap into broadcasting, working for Europe’s largest radio network. In 2007, Dan was enticed to London to work for a firm which would become a part of The Economist Group, producing strategic content for global brands in fashion and luxury, automotive, sports, finance, aviation, tech, health, and education.
While in London, Dan worked on campaigns that engaged millions of people worldwide on TV, radio, and online. After more than 4,440 productions and content on every major news and entertainment network, Dan made the move to North America to continue his storytelling journey with Martin Charlton Communications.
Mike is a born-and-raised small city advocate from Saskatoon, Canada.
With a background in building communities, as Collaboration Specialist with Innovation Place he works closely with the tech community from startup founders, students, firms and support systems to connect the dots and the people that need connecting.
Mike is a strong believer that a lot of big fish working together can turn a small pond into a blue ocean.