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Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh is the Inclusion & Employee Experience Lead at Shopify and has been working in the human relations space for more than five years. Shavonne believes in empowering everyone to own and impact culture to cultivate a high impact, inclusive environment. She leads a team that guides Shopify to designing and building impactful and inclusive products and employee experiences by ensuring that beliefs, attitudes, behaviours and values are a part of making business decisions. On her off time you can find her chilling with her puppy, Mason, or cheering on the Toronto Raptors.
Franco Varriano is a technologist and entrepreneur focused scaling companies through a multidisciplinary approach to product, marketing, business development, and growth. Franco is the new Executive Director of Fresh Founders, a local group of dynamic founders running amazing companies. Franco is also the Director of Growth & Partnerships at RareLogic, a company focused on accelerating ecommerce growth. In his spare time, he is also the founder and host of two podcasts – Hack To Start & Commerce Growth Lab – which have been downloaded more than 500,000 times on Apples podcasts alone and feature interviews with top leaders, CEOs, VCs and founders from companies like Tinder, Snap, Instagram, Facebook, HomeBrew Ventures, First Round Capital, Greylock Ventures, and more.
Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications with Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards, is a communications executive and management consultant with more than 19 years of leadership experience with private and public organizations. With expertise in regional, national and global technology, entrepreneurial, economic development and innovation-based organizations, she specializes in corporate and communications strategy development and execution. Sonya launched her career as the Manager of Communications and Member of the Vice-Presidential Cabinet with the 10G Organization of Optical Networks for Nortel from 1999 to 2002, and then as the Director of Marketing Communications for CMC Microsystems until 2007. Building on a decade of experience, Sonya launched her own strategy company in 2008, addressing the needs of S&T organizations, innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development agencies across Canada, and their partners around the world. She currently serves Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for Canada’s Capital, and Bayview Yards, Ottawa’s one-stop business acceleration shop. Sonya holds a Bachelor of Arts, Combined Honours in English and Political Science from Carleton University, and has won nine international awards for her work in communications.
As Vice President of Venture Development at Invest Ottawa, I lead all programming and support for start-up, early stage and growth companies alike, while supporting Ottawa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole.
Previously at CellWand, I was co-founder and CEO, where I drove all development, strategy and execution, where we pioneered the use of abbreviated dialing codes in North America with our award winning #TAXI (Pound Taxi) service and subsequently in the mobile transportation space, with The Ride app.
Highlights included raising several million in capital, closing industry first deals with every major wireless carrier in North America and architecting a marketing strategy that made #TAXI a national brand used over 15 million times (and counting), while propelling CellWand to profitability and millions in revenue.
CellWand won numerous business and innovation awards, including the 2010 Canada’s Top 10 Competition for Technology, Named one of the Hottest Innovation Companies in Canada, and one of the top 10 Wireless Companies to watch by IDC. Perhaps most proud of the kick-ass team I helped build and got to work with along the way. I continue to support CellWand as a board member.
Michael Tremblay brings more than 30 years of executive leadership experience with multinational corporations to Invest Ottawa and its stakeholders, most recently from Microsoft Canada where he served as Vice President, Public Services for over a decade. As part of this Fortune 100 company, he led and drove the growth of public sector business; collaborated extensively with employees, partners and customers; and contributed to Microsoft’s Canadian leadership team.
Prior to joining Microsoft, he served as a Senior Vice President with SAP Canada and Fujitsu Consulting, and as a Vice President with JDS Uniphase, EDS Systemhouse and Digital Equipment Corporation. An Ottawa native, Michael is also deeply engaged in the community, contributing to the Algonquin College Board of Governors and Foundation Board for more than 13 years, and audit and advocacy committees with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario for the last six years.
Emily is an Emmy-nominated science TV host. She’s featured as a correspondent on Bill Nye Saves the World and a producer and the host of FOX’s Xploration Outer Space. Her educational background is in engineering and policy. At West Virginia University she received her bachelor’s in mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and received her Masters from MIT in Aeronautics and Astronautics as well as Technology and Policy.
Increasing the level of scientific literacy among the general public is also something Emily cares deeply about. She believes that everyone, despite their educational background, can understand scientific topics. Emily hopes to convince more people of this and foster a higher level of scientific literacy in society through various projects and speaking engagements.
Lastly, Emily wants to inspire more females to pursue STEM careers. She believes most young students, especially women and minorities, don’t realize how many amazing, creative, and often free opportunities exist for students who pursue STEM majors. She plans to change that.
In her role as Associate at OMERS Ventures, Michelle Killoran is responsible for researching and executing on investment opportunities in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications sector.
Prior to joining OMERS Ventures, Michelle was a Senior Associate in Financial Advisory at Deloitte. As a part of the Valuations group, she provided valuation services to both public and private companies related to mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting, tax, and litigation.
Michelle is a Chartered Accountant (CA), Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and Chartered Business Valuator (CBV). She has a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University.
Robleh currently works on experimental products at Shopify Garage. He is the previous Founder of Tiny Hearts, an award-winning mobile product studio. (Acquired in 2016 by Shopify)
David started his career in the Canadian VC industry in early 2000s as an analyst at Desjardins Venture Capital. After playing different investment roles at Desjardins, David joined JLA Ventures and the BlackBerry Partners Fund (now named Relay Ventures) as an associate, investing mostly in mobile and web startups. David left to pursue entrepreneurial roles and acted as CEO of music tech company Bandzoogle for 5 years. He recently worked with music platform Bandcamp as their Head of Strategy and Growth, before returning to VC and joining 500 Startups Canada as a partner. David has been a sought-after speaker and panelist at many tech and entertainment industry events and he acts as a mentor and advisor to many startup accelerators and incubators across Quebec and Canada.
Nicole is passionate about leveraging the talents of entrepreneurs. The founder of OMX (Offset Market Exchange) and a Dragon on CBC’s Next Gen Den, she believes in the role of entrepreneurs to grow the economy and help solve global issues. Speaking to the importance of disruptive thinking, technology, innovation, and women’s roles in business, Nicole stresses to audiences that the key to success lies in the ability to ignore being told “no” over and over again.
Prior to founding OMX, Nicole launched Tiburon in 2008, an offshore manufacturing business in the Dominican Republic, as well as the non-profit organization GlassFrog, which provided aid to the torn nation of Haiti following an earthquake. Nicole later integrated Tiburon into a family business, and became President and CEO of GMA. In 2011, she led the sale of both Tiburon and GMA to a Private Equity Firm.
Nicole received a political appointment to the Board of the Canadian Crown Corporation, CCC (Canadian Commercial Corporation) and also sits on the Board of the Peter Munk School of Global Affairs MGA. Additionally. She is the official technology columnist for Vanguard magazine and was most recently named “Canada’s 2017 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year” by StartUp Canada.
Suzy lives and breathes convergence, embracing all things technology, entertainment and culture. She is responsible for identifying/evaluating new investment opportunities, managing Atom Factory’s diverse portfolio of 70+ startups, and facilitating “artist x startup” technology partnerships.
In a prior life, Suzy led innovations and emerging platforms for Fortune 100 brands such as Warner Bros. Head of VC at OMD, she led the company’s early-stage startup/venture initiatives for collaboration, cross-education & introduction of early monetization strategies or first-to-market partnerships with brands.
Ryoo is passionate about community, diversity & mentorship and is a regular speaker, guest lecturer and advisor to organizations such as South Los Angeles non-profit Urban TXT (Teens Exploring Technology), the UCLA Riordan Programs, and the USC Marshall Career Advantage Program.
Janice McDonald is an award-winning serial entrepreneur and President and Founder of The Beacon Agency, a boutique advisory firm. She has many career achievements including driving the financial turnaround and re-branding of Women in Communications and Technology as Board Chair from 2013 to 2015; being recognized by WXN as Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; and awarded the World of Difference 100 Award from The International Alliance for Women.
Janice is the co-author of the ground-breaking national study released in 2016 called “A Force to Reckon With: Women Entrepreneurs and Their Approach to Risk.” She is also the Chair of International Women’s Forum Canada Ottawa Chapter and Board Director with Futurpreneur, Ashbury College and Ottawa Senators Foundation.
Michelle is passionate about working with amazing technology entrepreneurs. As a Director at the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, she leads investments in early-stage technology companies. Michelle is a skilled business professional with over 25 years of combined operational and venture capital experience. Her background includes 15 years of venture capital investing early-stage companies as well as sales and marketing roles in both engineering and scientific industries. Since 2010, she has led over 20 investments in her role at IAF.
She is active in the technology community and is an advisor at the Biomedical Zone at Ryerson, a volunteer with the Next 36 and CIX and an instructor in the entrepreneurship department at Ryerson University.
Eli is the Co-Founder and CEO of MindBridge Ai, a company that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to uncover errors in financial data. He is motivated by evolving and bringing recognition to Ottawa’s artificial intelligence sector, providing opportunities to those that may otherwise be overlooked and is passionate about giving back to the community. His ventures to-date have employed about 300 people, which has contributed over $500 million in salaries and other benefits.
Eli has been recognized for multiple awards, including Startup Canada 2016 Senior Entrepreneur Award for Canada and has been featured in numerous publications such as the Financial Post, Globe and Mail, and Huffington Post.
Following his belief in giving back to the community, Eli servers on several diverse not-for-profit boards, as well as a publicly traded company. He currently sits on the Board of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Start-Up Canada, C-Com and recently completed a 6-year term on the Board of the Ottawa Community Foundation.
Jennifer is a technology mentor, advisor and angel investor with over 25 years of experience in the high technology industry. She was a former executive in the information technology and services industry, with experience in Enterprise Software, SaaS, Go-to-market Strategy, and Strategic Partnerships. Jennifer is an advocate for girls and women in STEM.
Code is a Managing Director at Mistral Venture Partners, an early stage investment firm with offices in Ontario Canada, and California. Prior to Mistral, Code was the Chief Operating Officer at Zephyr Technology- a VC backed startup company based in Annapolis MD, focused on Remote Physiological Monitoring. Prior to his investing career, Code was a hardware design engineer; beginning with IBM, where he helped design mainframe computers. Code specialized as a Radio Frequency design engineer. His technical experience includes digital, analog, RF and optical circuit design.
Ryan Hoover is the founder of Product Hunt, the place to discover the latest in tech. Founded in 2013, Product Hunt has become the launchpad for makers and startups to introduce their creation to the world, backed by Y Combinator, Andreessen Horowitz, and others before being acquired by AngelList in 2016. More recently, Ryan started Weekend Fund to invest in and support early stage companies.
April Dunford is a consultant and CEO of Ambient Strategy. She is an expert in Market Strategy and Positioning with a particular focus on B2B tech companies with complex sales models. April has spent 20 years in the technology at a series of successful startups and global companies including Sprintly, Tulip Retail, IBM, and Siebel Systems. April is an angel investor, board member, and advisor to dozens of startups and is the author of the upcoming book on Positioning titled “Obviously Awesome”.
Chris Neumann is an early-stage investor and big data veteran focused on investing in big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence companies. Chris was formerly a Venture Partner at 500 Startups, where he launched the 500 Startups Data Track, a specialized program focused on accelerating enterprise data startups globally. To-date, Chris has invested in AI and data startups in more than a dozen countries around the world. Prior to joining 500 Startups, Chris was the cofounder and CEO of DataHero, the world’s first self-service cloud BI platform (acquired by Cloudability in 2016) and the first employee of Aster Data, one of the original big data pioneers (acquired by Teradata in 2011). Chris is also a member of the Advisory Board for Simon Fraser University’s Masters Degree in Big Data program. Chris holds a BS in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford University.
Andrew Waitman joined Assent Compliance as CEO in 2014, after a very successful term as CEO of Pythian from 2008 to 2014. While at Pythian, Andrew grew the company from a small services business to one of Canada’s fastest growing, and largest, global professional services companies. During its highest performing years, from 1996 to 2008, Andrew was the Managing Partner of Celtic House Venture Partners. During his tenure, one fund produced one of the world’s top ten best venture fund returns in history. Prior to that, Andrew worked at Citibank and Nortel Networks. Andrew has served on the Board of Directors of more than 30 technology businesses. He currently sits on the Fidus Systems and Assent Compliance boards, and the Advisory Board of Genesys Capital.
Chris Heivly is one of the nation’s leading experts in how to turn startups into multimillion-dollar companies and has been dubbed the “Startup Whisperer.” For over 30 years, Heivly has worked at the highest levels for some of the world’s most recognized brands, including MapQuest, Rand McNally, and Accenture. He has also personally directed over $75 million in investment capital on behalf of these and other companies. Heivly current serves as one of two managing directors of The Startup Factory, the largest seed investment firm in the Southeast and as an EIR at Techstars. Chris writes for INC.COM, his blog at heivly.com and recently published his first book about startups called Build The Fort.
Elizabeth Yin is a co-founder and General Partner at Hustle Fund, a pre-seed fund for software entrepreneurs. Previously, Elizabeth was a partner at 500 Startups where she invested in seed stage companies and ran the Mountain View accelerator. In a prior life, Elizabeth co-founded and ran an adtech company called LaunchBit (acq 2014). Elizabeth has a BSEE from Stanford and an MBA from MIT Sloan.
Hustle Fund is a pre-seed seed fund based in the San Francisco Bay Area. We invest in founders who execute with speed in the US and Canada.
Saalim Chowdhury is a Partner at 500 Startups, and works globally on the firm’s mission of investing in a diverse breadth of startups and helping them thrive through leading growth programs as well as hands-on support. A former technical founder and startup veteran he’s driven exits of over $200m, notably ScanSafe to Cisco and Skillbridge to TopTal. His interests are in applied AI/ML, SaaS, Marketplaces, Media and Behaviour Change. For his sins, his career started at BCG and he was a former senior executive at News Corp. He was educated at Oxford, Cambridge and LSE.