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10
Jan 2018

Abbey Gilhula was the Chief of Staff for both BlackBerry and Quantum Valley Investments, and Head of Ops for a startup that had a successful exit. She’s lived many lives and been a true witness to the evolving tech landscape in the region. She’s the co-founder of 1989 Creative Co. - a boutique brand that specializes in executing the vision and ideas for tech startups that are starting to scale.

What is it about the business of tech that most excites you?

I started my career in semiconductors and we had chips in the very first RIM product called the “Bullfrog” or Inter@active Pager.  This idea/invention was groundbreaking back then and changed all our lives.  Every day I see parallels between the start of my career at BlackBerry and early stage startups. The ideas that are being generated from this Region, ideas that make companies more efficient and people’s lives better, make your head spin.  Being around these visionaries truly excites me - not only for their ideas but watching them successfully scale themselves and their dreams into a profitable business.

You're part of the exec team at ApplyBoard - what drew you to this business and team?

I met ApplyBoard through the Communitech Rev program and their product intrigued me.  The education industry is a seemingly untapped market when it comes to international students applying for school in North America. I was born and educated in Canada so I was unfamiliar with the difficulty that international students have accessing best in class education. The co-founders of ApplyBoard experienced those struggles first hand as students trying to apply to schools in North America using the existing system. They turned those struggles into a solution and their software has made the application process easy, accurate and fast (I mean 60 seconds fast!) for both the student and the university.  With 40+ people and huge plans to scale in 2018, ApplyBoard’s CEO Martin Basiri decided he needed some help getting to the next stage in the game so I was happy to join. I believe in their mission to give people the power to access education around the world. Their platform is the only one of its kind in the industry so the possibilities are endless.

You spent years at BlackBerry through some big transitions in the business. What were the most significant learnings that you're now bringing to the start-up community?

Working at BlackBerry was a very rewarding period in my life. I had a demanding role with high expectations at a company that was scaling fast. Today, I like to help start-ups ‘bump up their game’.  One of the most important takeaways was how to position an exec to sell themselves. There’s actually a ‘magic sauce’ to coaching an exec to be the best CEO or leader they can be, while also helping them grow their business and hire the right people. I enjoy helping leaders of tech startups develop strategic partnerships that will allow them to compete at a global level, and of course, show them how to ‘keep the trains running on time’ by building lightweight processes that can adjust as they scale. Through the process of scaling, a good CEO should realize that great ideas are not the only thing needed for a startup to be successful – it’s all about the execution.
  • Can your team get things done?
  • Can you post a consistent stream of wins to the board?
  • Can you keep focused, and keep selling your product?
It’s become a cliché, but execution really is everything.  And good execution for a startup is all about the ops team. They keep the business focused and get shit done.

Working in the startup world is very demanding, what do you do to maintain high energy?

I believe that work life balance is critical to the success of a startup but striking that balance between the demanding needs of a startup and family can be tough.  Bottom line, you need happy and engaged employees if you want to compete. Creating a culture where your team is proud of where they work and they talk about those successes with their loved ones at home means you are doing something right. You want employees to be able to say “I love what I do and I have been lucky to be able to work at XYZ - so when I come home and I’m excited and energized by something that happened at the office or by a win, I share that with my partner”.

Tell us about your latest venture 1989 Creative Co.

1989 Creative Co originally started as a brand and marketing firm for small projects but since moving back to the Region its expanded into helping startups like ApplyBoard use fractional services for their business operations. Most startups can’t afford full-time department experts as they don't always have the funding or the department to manage. As they scale, they do need to start thinking and acting bigger, so offering C-level type services part time allows them to gain the experience and guidance needed at certain stages. Whether its helping a CEO prepare for an investor pitch or launching a new product, or its time to start hiring the right people and motivating their teams, 1989 Creative is a local firm that is passionate about the startup community.

What are the most positive changes you've seen in the KW Tech Community over the last 20 years?

The growth is just astounding. The evolution of Communitech and Hub, that scale and growth, is a true indicator of what is happening here. Kitchener-Waterloo is the fastest growing tech community in the country and it shows. Not only do we have hundreds of startups born here each year, but we have the largest tech companies in the world opening up shop right here in our own backyard wanting to help build and invest in our tech community and hire our people.

Why Waterloo? What is it about this region that made you stay here as opposed to moving to the Valley?

I have worked in other communities and I think they struggle with the philosophy of work life balance and support. You get both here in the KW region which allows you to enjoy this amazing community and all that it has to offer. We might not have an ocean or mountains like the Valley,  but we have a community where you can start a great career AND start a family. We have space to build homes and businesses ($1.2 billion in building permits expected for downtown Kitchener alone by 2019); we have the new LRT expected to launch this spring (everyone cross their fingers); we have an explosion of restaurants and bars; we have the best schools; and, we have the most supportive tech Hub that exists in the world today. More and more students graduating from our universities are looking to stay to be a part of the enormous success in the Kitchener-Waterloo startup tech industry rather than leave. It’s the ‘vibe’ and the people here that make it great.  Smart people attract other smart people.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs looking to hire leaders and establish a sustainable culture?

Hire ‘doers’.  You need those leaders that still understand what it’s like to push a broom but bring the experience and the drive to want to help build your company and execute your vision.  Look outside your own organization and use fractional C-level help from time to time at each stage in the game. If you want to create a sustainable culture you need everyone’s buy-in.  Talk to your team, communicate your vision and strategies, get input and make sure everyone is on board. People are your most important commodity. The more your people are aligned, the faster you will succeed.

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07
Nov 2017

Sherryl Tarnaske is the Chief Experience Officer at Focus21, a young Waterloo-based tech company that combines deep experience in human and animal health and data science, developing custom solutions that provide rich experiences and insights. Do you think storytelling has evolved in the digital age and what role do you think design innovation has to play in it? Storytelling is the art of engaging a group of people. It is increasingly relevant to modern business.  A customer's first introduction to any brand is most likely a digital one.  In the absence of the charismatic sales executive - the digital experience tells the story of your company brand and product. Tell us about an exciting project that you've worked on. I'm very excited about a Case Management and Decision Support Platform that we will launch with a client in 2018.  By leveraging a huge disease treatment database, algorithms and AI help suggest optimal treatments. Starting with a treatment simulator, we've added our perspectives in experience design, engineering, and data sciences to their expertise in treatment technologies and statistical analysis. Together, we deliver software with a purpose that will support the present and inform the future an important health challenge. But why stop there?! We look forward to more opportunities to obliterate the boondoggles and beaurocracy hampering healthcare today. What qualities do you look for while hiring for the Focus21 team? As an experience design professional, I’m always looking for team members who demonstrate an understanding of how to design an experience for the intended audience. In the application process that audience is likely to be, me.  Is the resume called resume.pdf like 12 others in my inbox? Can I quickly review of that PDF on my phone in-between other meetings? When I meet people I observe through conversation,  listen for examples that show communication skills to learn and vet assumptions. People with restaurant or tourism experience - typically nail this. The skills to respond to “I’d love a beer,” followed by “Surprise me with whatever you recommend.” A skilled server will immediately ask a few questions about your preferences, before making a suggestion based on their own preferences.  THAT is experience design in a single moment. Currently, there is a lot of talk around diversity in tech, do you have any recommendations for creating a company culture that is inclusive? Oh my, that’s a blog unto itself! As a designer in digital, I’ve often been in the gender minority.  You name it, I’ve seen it, heard it or been asked about it.  I’ve worked several 36 hour days to meet a deadline, over-indulged in celebration of the release, held the keys to the office mini-keg for Friday afternoon rounds of networked Quake, shut down inappropriate advances, and met some great men and women who break stereotypes and support gender diversity. ALL of my most memorable team accomplishments were diverse in age, gender, professional experience, and culture. Bros and brews culture is NOT new. In fact, it’s outdated and lazy. Young organizations need to resist defaulting to the temptation of simply handing out a corporate card to fund an endless stream of alcohol. Step out of the box and get more creative with reward systems for diverse, high-performance teams. Understand what drives engagement on these teams, then hire for it, build the company culture around it and develop a rewards system that aligns with that culture. Not easy - but breaking out of the pack never is. An innovative team will look for opportunities to innovate within their own culture. What do you do outside of work to fill your energy reserves and keep you sane? Outside of work I find the edge of my comfort zone and lean up against it daily. Sometimes I’m creating visual art to explore an idea, leading a yoga class to reflect on something I’m avoiding. Other times I'm practicing martial arts to work out negative energy I might be carrying around. I keep a small monthly kindness budget. At least once a month I find that moment where I can offer help to someone else. Someone who needs it but never asked for it. As a native introvert functioning in an extrovert role, anonymous gifts, and introspective practices are foundational to my personal success.

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Go Away Door Mat
02
Nov 2017

The Waterloo Region has been gaining momentum as a destination for both talent and for global companies looking to tap into our entrepreneurial culture, university research and highly capable workforce. But as a community full of people with small town roots, and with a dedication to the success of our home-grown companies, corporate newcomers will only be embraced if they demonstrate shared values. Amazon’s call for bids to build out a second HQ has sparked passionate opinions about whether this would be really good or really bad news for our community. With our unique view on the talent pool, I have some thoughts on how Amazon, or any newcomer, can ensure a welcome and become a valuable corporate citizen. 1) Offer great experiences for employees to learn and grow. We know you're coming to hire some of our great people, and this is a good thing IF they emerge from the experience with new and valuable learnings and skills. Invest in the development of the talent pool and we all win. 2) Participate actively in our community. With volunteers, donations, sponsorships and other levels of participation, enrich the social and cultural aspects of our community so that it continues to be a great place to live and work. 3) Build the broader tech ecosystem. Companies with global offices, whether big or small, also have opportunity to share advice, insights and learnings with the whole tech community, so that our start-ups can learn from experience gained in other markets and accelerate their own journey.. 4) BYOT (Bring Your Own Talent) - when a foreign company brings along leaders and other professionals who are excited to live in the region, this signals a great level of commitment. These companies can also take advantage of favourable immigration policies and can make a positive long term impact by attracting top talent from outside Canada, to further grow the local economy and the talent pool. A global company can either come in like a parasite, suck up our talent and siphon out our best ideas and IP - OR - they can invest in making our community a better place to live and work, and create long term economic growth. Those that show a commitment to the community should be welcomed and recognized for the positive impact they can make.

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03
Oct 2017

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Vancouver based competitor intelligence platform Klue launches with 4 million in funding in a round led by Omers Ventures.

Toronto-based Ritual has raised $53 million CAD ($43.5 million USD) in a Series B round led by Insight Venture Partners

Chat app Kik  raised nearly $100 million from more than 10,000 people in its Initial Coin Offering. The amount raised falls short of an initially stated goal by the Kin Foundation to sell 1 trillion Kin tokens for $125 million. Canadians couldn’t participate because Kik didn’t file for an exemption with Canadian regulators

Waterloo-based companies shone in the Canadian Business’ Profit 500 list with Sortable (#12), Axonify (#25), Magnet Forensics (#27), and Dejero (#53).  Swift Labs made the Startup list.

According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Women’s entrepreneurial activity is on the rise globally thanks in part to improvements in Canada with Entrepreneurial intentions increasing in North America by as much as 30%.

CIX has revealed its top 20 most innovative tech companies for 2017 featuring companies like CloudDX and Integrate.ai.

Element AI has announced a partnership with Montreal-based Automat, a conversational marketing platform that leverages AI to help companies talk to their customers.

The Toronto-Montreal Hyperloop plan is considered among the top 10 in the world and is the only Canadian winner. The proposal says a trip from Toronto to Ottawa would take 27 minutes, and an Ottawa-Montreal trip would take another 12 minutes.

To collect data that will help tech diversity efforts, Women in Tech World (WinTech) is launching a Canada-wide fact-finding tour by conducting Community Conversations with women in tech all over Canada.

WHO'S ON THE MOVE

Tulip Retail expands their leadership team on the delivery side of their business by bringing on Craig Walford as the SVP Customer and Jeff Kischuk as VP Delivery.

Elaine Samis joined Bridgit as their Director of Customer Experience.

MaRS Discovery District’s board of directors announced that Yung Wu will be the entrepreneurship hub’s new CEO.

The Toronto-based Vector Institute has named its first CEO Dr. Garth Gibson.

HUMANS OF TECH

Katarina Illic is the Co-Founder and Head of Research and Development at Voltera - she and her team have developed a disruptive additive manufacturing technology that will change hardware innovation. With customers that include NASA, Intel, and Apple, this team is starting to see their hard work pay off. Kat graduated  from the University of Waterloo with an Honors Nanotechnology Engineering degree and worked with international establishments including the Federal Materials Institute of France, IBM Germany and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). Read up on it here.
The Artemis Canada Connect program is a confidential and curated introduction service aimed at connecting returning tech talent with innovative tech companies in Canada. By flipping traditional recruiting upside down, we help individuals return to great jobs in Canada by giving our partners a first look at the best returning talent. Here's a preview of the senior talent looking to come home. Sign up to be a part of our hotlist and subscribe to candidate profiles! Check out our latest Canada Connect video where we talk about how the program works.

#1 This Sales leader has a track record of driving growth through business development, marketing & partnerships across North America and globally. He has expertise in the mobile and technology ecosystem and has a unique blend of startup and enterprise experience. He has led teams to consistently exceed quotas. I'd like to learn more

#2 This Product Management leader has leveraged a deep knowledge of various industries like property management, cloud computing (IaaS, SaaS), cloud cost economics, and online gaming into compelling products. He has experience helping B2B software companies deliver as much value as possible to their customers by understanding market trends, customer needs, and where the business is trying to go. I'd like to learn more #3 This Data Scientist has a PHD in high performance computing and a Masters in Mathematics. He has experience coordinating research groups and building data science solutions, taking research from raw data to production and obtaining the best solution for the particular data and quality metrics. I'd like to learn more #4 This Chief Product Officer has 25 years of experience in the high-tech industry commercializing products focused on hardware and software development, new product introduction and manufacturing. Internationally experienced with a network and partnerships in Asia enabling rapid growth and product delivery. I'd like to learn more

ACTIVE ARTEMIS SEARCHES

Here are a handful of the roles we're currently working on:

Research Scientist – Computer Vision & Machine Learning Learn More

Mobile Team Lead - Wireless Learn More Principal Consultant - Embedded Security, IoT Learn More Director of Sales Learn More Head of Demand Generation Learn More

LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER

At Artemis we're always looking to ensure that we consider the entire, diverse population when we conduct a search. Each of our clients asks us to ‘do everything we can to find' candidates from under-represented groups - especially women. So we work extra hard, and challenge ourselves and our assumptions.

The question was then turned around when I was asked, “how can you be sure that the tech companies that you work with are a good place for a woman to work?” I had to pause. Shouldn't a diverse group of individuals have an equally diverse definition of an ‘ideal employer’?

Defining fit is complex. Your ideal employer is a combination of values, environment, work and management styles, technologies, purpose and more. Across these measures, there is no universal checkmark for women.

So what should we look for? And what should you look create as you grow your companies? In this great BetaKit piece from Axonify’s Carol Leaman she gives insights and examples. A celebration of diversity needs to be built into the foundation of your business with actions, language, and behaviour that authentically demonstrates that everyone is valued.

As we work with companies that are genuinely concerned about building diverse teams, we need to push them to challenge their assumptions of what ideal talent will look like. While it may be harder to deliver candidates who both possess a scarce skillset and who also bring diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, the impact on these businesses, their customers and our tech community will be immeasurable.

Kristina McDougall Founder, Artemis Canada

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workplace
03
Oct 2017

At Artemis we're always looking to ensure that we consider the entire, diverse population when we conduct a search. Each of our clients asks us to ‘do everything we can to find' candidates from under-represented groups - especially women. So we work extra hard, and challenge ourselves and our assumptions.

The question was then turned around when I was asked, “how can you be sure that the tech companies that you work with are a good place for a woman to work?” I had to pause. Shouldn't a diverse group of individuals have an equally diverse definition of an ‘ideal employer’?

Defining fit is complex. Your ideal employer is a combination of values, environment, work and management styles, technologies, purpose and more. Across these measures, there is no universal checkmark for women.

So what should we look for? And what should you look create as you grow your companies? In this great BetaKit piece from Axonify’s Carol Leaman she gives insights and examples. A celebration of diversity needs to be built into the foundation of your business with actions, language, and behaviour that authentically demonstrates that everyone is valued.

As we work with companies that are genuinely concerned about building diverse teams, we need to push them to challenge their assumptions of what ideal talent will look like. While it may be harder to deliver candidates who both possess a scarce skillset and who also bring diverse backgrounds and viewpoints, the impact on these businesses, their customers and our tech community will be immeasurable.

Read More...
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02
Oct 2017

Katarina Illic is the Co-Founder and Head of Research and Development at Voltera - she and her team have developed a disruptive additive manufacturing technology that will change hardware innovation. With customers that include NASA, Intel, and Apple, this team is starting to see their hard work pay off. Kat graduated  from the University of Waterloo with an Honors Nanotechnology Engineering degree and worked with international establishments including the Federal Materials Institute of France, IBM Germany and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). You're the Co-Founder of a startup called Voltera. Could you tell us a bit about your product and how the idea came about? Voltera is a continuation of a 4th year design project that myself and my engineering colleagues started. We were constantly running into this problem where we couldn't build hardware products fast enough. When you’re building an electronic product it's not like building software where you can see if it works at the click of a button. You have to iterate on it multiple times and each time you do that there is an entire development process involved. You’re essentially creating your design files, sending them off overseas, waiting a couple of weeks, paying minimum order quantity fees just to get the product back and find out another iteration is required. This jarring development process can repeat itself up to a dozen times. We realized that hardware developers needed a faster way to get their product to market and that's when we created the Voltera V-One. It is a printer for electronically functional devices. This was at the height of 3D printing where you could go from having a CAD on the screen to a physical product in your hands in matter of minutes. We thought if you have the same thing but electronically functional you could build the product in a matter of hours. Could you tell us a client success story where Voltera helped make a difference? One thing we’ve shown throughout history is that innovation can give you a competitive advantage over the global economy. The issue is that not everybody has access to the tools and infrastructure to innovate and build quickly. They’re usually stunted by two things - agility and costs. The whole motivation behind Voltera was to give everybody the equipment and products they need to help bring their novelties to the marketplace faster. One day I got a phone call from a couple of guys who wanted a demo. These three Amish gentlemen showed up. The amazement on their faces when they saw the product running really makes my job so worth it. They were like “Wow it printed that in an hour. That would have taken us 3 weeks and we would have been $300 out”. It turns out they’re 3 engineers working and living out of St. Jacobs and they’re building a thermal incubation device for making maple syrup. I guess there’s quite a few “success stories” because we have everybody from Apple to Intel to NASA using the product for their prototyping applications, but these types of stories are my favourite. These are real problems faced by somebody within the community and we get the opportunity to change how they think about manufacturing and product development. We like to think we’re making the process faster, more economical, accessible and not letting any factories on the other side of the planet interfere with their development time. What qualities do you specifically look for while choosing the initial hires for your start-up? We look for individuals who are eager to learn and to hustle - someone motivated. I have a theory that people really have the ability to learn whatever they choose to. What’s difficult to often find is that internal hunger. That’s a quality that is difficult to teach because it’s usually intrinsically within somebody. I look for somebody who is resourceful. They may not have all the tools in their toolbox to solve a problem but they know how to get those tools and go above and beyond to make it happen. In a smaller company you need to be adaptive and be able to gather new skill sets as your role is constantly evolving. What are you looking forward to as the company grows? We’re in a phase right now where we’re really ready to grow. Keep in mind that we started this from ground up. It started with just 4 people working in a garage trying to put together a scrappy prototype and since then we’ve seen the life cycle of the product. We’ve gone from R&D to prototyping, to industrial design, to manufacturing, to taking it to the market. Now that we've done that once, I’m looking forward to doing it again and again. We’re entering a phase right now where we’re expanding quite a bit and hiring a lot of technical talent so we can continue to develop new products. Learning how to expand our global reach is another thing I’m excited about. Right now we ship the Voltera V1 to over 60 countries. That’s getting hard to keep up with, so I’m looking forward to having global distributors and global partners all around the world that can make the product more accessible. How do you propose creating a culture and environment that is inclusive of diverse sets of people? A lot of companies might find themselves in a position where they've already established a culture that's very homogeneous, and by that point its very difficult to manipulate that culture. So I think it's important that from early on you establish a culture that is open and diverse, where communication is very important. We really think it's imperative to have a diverse group of employees because we sell internationally. If you’re looking to have a global reach it’s important to have different perspectives and people who can break the language and culture barrier with clients. What do you do outside of work to fill your energy reserves and keep you sane? I like to run, I like to rock climb, I like to stay active - basically just doing something that is physically exhausting because it takes any pressure off the mental exhaustion. Another thing that keeps me motivated is the stories from our customers - like the team out of St. Jacobs or an awesome research group at Oxford University that’s using Voltera to build all sorts of novel devices and using the machine to print on bio-compatible films for medical diagnostic applications. One of our first publications just came out, a medical research paper out of King’s College, London - also along the lines of medical diagnostic tools where they cited us because they used the product so much. It’s stories like that where you feel like you’re actually making an impact - that’s what motivates me. If it's not doing what we intended it to do - making lives easier and helping people to innovate and if it's not accessible to everybody - then what’s the point. You could build Voltera anywhere in the world. Why Waterloo and why Canada? This community has been huge for getting us off the ground and I don’t think we could have started it from scratch anywhere else in the world. When we started and needed a place to work - we had Velocity and we had Communitech - an infrastructure that was built for helping small companies succeed. You can’t find that everywhere. I thought this was standard when I started out but now I realize that free space and mentorship and access to information is truly unique to this region. I have some founder friends in Toronto who are trying to start a company. They’re having a really hard time, they don’t have this sort of support. Velocity was huge in helping us get off the ground and, not only that, this is a very expensive project to kickstart. We’re a hardware company doing a lot of R&D, and we were working with expensive chemicals, expensive equipment and we needed funding to do that. We went to multiple pitch competitions and ended up taking home 9 out of 12 of the prizes we pitched for. There funding from the Government of Canada and grants that don’t exist everywhere. The University of Waterloo was really helpful in giving us access to their laboratory space. The tech talent that we get from UW is another huge factor. Our very first co-op student is still with us today as our Lead Product Developer. It’s a great space to build an agile business. Where else would you find a unification of all these elements - the funding aspect, the institutions, mentorship, young talent, and the ability to have a factory close by. What are a couple of key learnings that you'd like to pass along to people working in startups?

  1. Be resourceful.
  2. If you’re looking constantly at the big problem you’ll never get there. Start from square one, go one step at a time, set milestones for yourself and figure out how to solve the immediate problem before you get to the next one.

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05
Sep 2017

Joseph Fung is the CEO of Kiite Inc., a Waterloo-based startup with an AI platform set to transform the workforce. A seasoned entrepreneur with a passion for harnessing tech to realize the best human experience, Joseph’s former company, TribeHR, sold to Netsuite in 2013. Now, as he guides Kiite on a trajectory toward transforming the way we work, Joseph took some time to connect with us to dive a bit deeper into the details of his vision and Kiite’s AI platform. You've recently announced that you're launching a startup called Kiite. What is your mission? And why do you think this is important? Kiite’s mission is: we’re trying to supercharge the workforce. If you take a look at workforce demographics and trends, all of the data shows that we need to reshape the way we do people management. We’re also going to face a future where our most experienced and expensive resources aren’t our most productive. We’re building a platform to automate all of the routine parts of people management thus giving employees a more autonomous and engaging experience and making managers dramatically more productive. You've grown several tech companies before Kiite. What is most important as you look to make the first hires? What qualities do you specifically look for while choosing leadership within the company? Some of the mental characteristics are the same regardless of it’s an individual contributor or a leader. We’re looking for diversity of thought and background. In the very, very early days you need to imagine all of the potential customers and partners that you will work with, and the more diverse your team is the better equipped you are to imagine those thoughts and beliefs. We also look for diversity of demographics and education - for us that means pulling in people who have engineering degrees, business degrees, arts degrees, no degree... We look in all roles for very strong empathy - the ability to truly put yourself in the shoes of others not only makes your team dynamics significantly better but it allows you to connect with your customers in a very profound way. Specifically to leaders, we look for a healthy understanding of servant leadership, who realize that there are roles out there in the team that move more quickly. We tend to look for people that are smarter than the founding team - if we always emphasize the idea of bringing on people who are more skilled and more capable than the original team members then we’re going to continue to improve and grow. You left a great job to do another startup. We know it's really hard work. What keeps you energized and motivated to do it again? I find that having a really good challenging problem to work on, something you really feel like you can sink your teeth into, is extremely satisfying and as you make progress on it it's extremely rewarding. The complexity and intensity of the challenge is always very profound - I like to look to solve problems that tackle very large populations - often the problem and solution are not obvious and your team really has to think differently and challenge assumptions to make something work. That’s where you can deliver a solution that no one has ever thought of before and that’s a lot of fun - to do it first and to do it better when it's a really tough environment is incredibly energizing. What do you do outside work to fill your energy reserves and keep you sane? Finding the right ways to re-energize is always really tough. When you’re running an early stage company all you really want to do is work on it in every waking moment, so pulling yourself out of it is always hard. I try to spend a lot of time with other founders and other startups - those I’ve invested in or those I’m working with or those who are mentoring and coaching me. Sharing problems they’re working on and discussing ways they’re tackling them is always inspiring and helps keeps the bar really high for how I execute. I find it a great way to keep going and keep my eye on the ball. What are a couple of key learnings that you'd like to pass along to people working in startups? Depending on their stage the answer varies - I find that mostly people are working on their first company - so for them, the first thing I’ve taken to heart through my experiences are - I try to make sure I think about the tough questions before I get there. I would advise people to think through the really terrible/difficult situations and how you would react to the problems you’re going to have and the decisions you’re going to make in those situations. You have to ask yourself “What happens if my co-founders quit?”, “What happens if we suddenly run out of money?”... Think through those situations first and plan how you’re going to react, because you can do it way better when you're in a rational state of mind. In a start-up it often feels like a never ending list of crises so it’s helpful to list some of them out and tackle them up front. The second thing I always suggest that people keep in mind is that it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon. It feels like you’re running fast and running hard but it’s always going to take longer than you think and very often success isn’t about ingenuity but about staying power and being able to keep working at it. It’s important for people to remember that they need to keep their eye on the long term goal. You could build Kiite anywhere in the world. Why Waterloo and why Canada? We’re looking at building tools and products for customers that help them deliver and get a much better work experience relationship with their employers. When I think about building that in Canada, the diversity of the workforce population that we have, the positive and inclusive culture that we have - and specifically when I think of Waterloo - I think of the brilliant engineering, psychology, entrepreneurial ecosystem here. All of those things make it absolutely perfect for Kiite. We’ve been able to create a workforce that is half women, has more data scientists than engineers and half of the team are immigrants so it’s a very diverse workforce. It is one of the few ecosystems in the world that have all of the ingredients that we need and I don’t think we could have done it as quickly as we have anywhere else.

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01
Aug 2017

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

Sandvine Corp. has accepted a takeover bid of $562-million with Francisco Partners(FP). FP intends to combine the Waterloo, Ont.based company with Procera Networks, Inc. of Fremont, Calif.

League - the company disrupting the employee insurance space - recently partnered with Dialogue to launch a personalized consumer health concierge.

CEO of League, Michael Serbinis, talks about the impact he hopes to make, diversity and AI based economic growth in Canada.

Toronto is set to host Elevate Toronto, a new technology festival aimed at celebrating the city’s thriving tech ecosystem this September.

Montreal hosted a successful StartUpFest earlier this month. In a memorable keynote address, Pando’s Sarah Lacy ripped the lid off Silicon Valley’s epidemic of “Toxic Masculinity"

Toronto’s Freshbooks continues to be a dominant player in SMB finance and has raised $57M fuel further NA expansion.

Wondering how AI will impact job creation? A recent report shows that, over the past year, AI job opportunities (as a share of all job opp) have grown by nearly 500%.  The success of the Government of Canada’s Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy is thought to be a key factor in this growth.

Wealthsimple, a Toronto fintech start-up that is shaking up the personal investment world, cracked the international market earlier this year and hit 1 billion in assets.

TextNow, a Waterloo-based company that offers low-cost, cloud-based, mobile phone and Internet service is offering a $13k bonus for the employee making the referral plus another $13k to the newly acquired employee - giving us a sense of the shortage of tech talent in the region.

WHO'S ON THE MOVE

Former Director of Talent at Vidyard Caryn Petker recently joined Sortable as VP Human Resources.

Former Nokia, Microsoft VP Jari Niemela joins Thalmic as VP of Engineering.

Bill Brunson formerly VP Inside Sales at eSentire recently made the move to VP of Growth and Opportunity Development at Axonify.

Vision Critical recently appointed Marco Bussadori as its chief revenue officer (CRO) for North America.

Jennifer Fields, who was formerly the head of national agency sales at Kijiji, is joining as Sortable’s Head of Strategic Partnerships.

MISSION ARTEMIS

Check out our fancy new "Mission Artemis video" See why we love what we do and how we're making a difference. Share it with your friends!

ARTEMIS CANADA CONNECT

The Artemis Canada Connect program is a confidential and curated introduction service aimed at connecting returning tech talent with innovative tech companies in Canada. By flipping traditional recruiting upside down, we help individuals return to great jobs in Canada by giving our partners a first look at the best returning talent.

Here's a preview of the senior talent looking to come home. Sign up to be a part of our hotlist and subscribe to candidate profiles!

#1 This highly technical Data Science Director has extensive experience building out enterprise data applications leveraging cloud, big data, IoT and large scale systems to help drive innovation I'd like to learn more

#2 This Senior Director of Technology - IoT/AI - has a Multimedia and User Experience background leading a team focused on IoT, Wearables, Sensors/AI, Automotive, Mobile and Augmented Reality. He has 10+ years of experience in design, implementation and evaluation of mobile multimedia systems. I'd like to learn more

#3 This VP has led Customer Success/Professional Services at high growth software companies, and at large established companies (via acquisitions). He's a leader in Enterprise B2B customer success, customer and partner enablement and training/education. He's been successful in establishing structure/process in the delivery organization to facilitate renewals, expansion, growth and increase customer satisfaction. I'd like to learn more

#4 This VP of Architecture - Cloud & Big Data is known for putting in place the sophisticated infrastructure and processes that enable companies to scale globally. His experience includes the development of highly scalable, mission critical cloud systems across many industries. He has led very large teams, and can tackle a role that demands technical strength, strategic thinking and leadership. I'd like to learn more

#5 This Senior Data Scientist/Machine Learning Executive  has 15+ years of experience in machine learning, data modelling, software development, and data mining. He has expertise in Aerospace, GPS, applied Machine Learning algorithms, Predictive Analytics and is looking for interesting problems to solve. I'd like to learn more

ACTIVE ARTEMIS SEARCHES

Here are a handful of the roles we're currently working on:

Engineering Leader - GTA SaaS Learn More

VP Delivery/Professional Services Learn More Senior Account Executive - SaaS Cyber Security Learn More Technical Lead - Telecom Developer Learn More

LETTER FROM THE FOUNDER

Have you ever noticed how some people are just luckier than others. They always find great deals,meet interesting people who open doors on cool opportunities and come up with the brilliant, game changing ideas.

In this blog post, I explore how to find luck for yourself, and how and why to hire lucky people for your team. http://artemiscanada.com/lucky-hire/

As you read through this month’s newsletter, I encourage your to look for opportunities for yourself and your business. Open up yourself to luck and you may be surprised what you find.

Have a wonderful week!

Kristina McDougall Founder, Artemis Canada

Subscribe to future lists here!

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26
Jul 2017

Have you ever noticed how some people are just luckier than others. They always find great deals, meet interesting people who open doors on cool opportunities and come up with the brilliant, game changing ideas. I’m practical and don’t believe that some people are just born under the right alignment of stars. Luck is something real to be sure, but maybe it's something that we can develop in ourselves - and it’s definitely something that we can look for when we hire for our teams. The theme of the 2017 StartUp Fest in Montreal earlier this month was Luck. There was an incredible line-up of keynote speakers, many of whom spoke about their experience with luck. Here are some thoughts that stuck with me, and that relate directly to how we can build our teams. Luck isn’t just about being in the right place at the right time. It’s about being open to the opportunities that are presented to us in the everyday. That right place and time? The lucky people weren’t there alone, but they were the ones to see the opportunity. Lucky people will engage in interesting conversations, and will pay attention to things that are not always relevant to the task at hand. They are positive and curious. Opportunities will be presented to everyone, but the lucky person will recognize it and will have the courage to change course and grab it. The lucky person says yes more than they say no. They will abandon routine to try a new way, and will risk failure. And if they fail, they’ll try again. If you don’t expose yourself to chance, you can’t possibly be lucky. Which doesn’t mean that you should take your paycheque to the casino. But it does mean that you will only be lucky if you sometimes take your focus off a task, consider a different and better way and a new destination. There are some really interesting lessons here for all companies. If you want your business to be lucky, just hire people who show the characteristics of the lucky. Sounds too simple to be true? Even without any science, it’s just logical that if you only hire lucky people that they will bring that luck to your team. We can all think of companies that were set on a specific outcome and route, that had so much focus on the task and destination that they missed market signals that were obvious to others. Jobs with these (usually big) companies seemed safe and predictable, but in hindsight we know that having one of these jobs was most unlucky. If you want to hire and inspire the lucky, you need to create an environment that enables your lucky people to see opportunity and change their path. You need to allow risk and failure, and listen up when they hear a signal from the market. You need to foster positivity, be open to alternate ways of working and new ideas, and you need to encourage and seek different perspectives. Now get out there and get lucky!

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08
Jun 2017

Letter from Kristina - Founder, Artemis Canada

In today's blogpost I talk about how values-based organizations are winning the war for talent. As tech leaders focus on speed to market, increasing valuations and wooing investors, it can be tempting to sacrifice the best interests of great employees for short term delivery goals. We Canadians have a reputation for being nice - polite to a fault. In markets where customer and employee experience are critical, our inclusive and caring nature is starting to set our tech companies apart. When companies that proudly uphold values, it is this that motivates employees to delivery truly exception results. This month our update is filled with stories of these great Canadian tech companies and the leaders who are making a difference. Enjoy! Kristina McDougall Founder, Artemis Canada

WHO'S ON THE MOVE

Bart Piwowar formerly a Product & Innovation Lead at the Deloitte Innovation Lab recently moved to post of Director, Analytics at the CIBC Innovation Outpost. Oliver Fisher previously Director of Engineering at Shopify recently moved to the post of VP Engineering at Freshbooks. Ian McDonald former AVP at the TD Innovation Lab is now the Managing Director, Strategy & Marketing at InFlight. Simwave announced that Steven McCartney, former VP of Strategic Growth at Communitech, will be joining the company as President. Greg Barratt, former strategic sales leader at Miovision will fill in McCartney’s role at Communitech. Barratt formerly served as president of Communitech between 2000 to 2003, and has acted as an entrepreneur in residence.

INDUSTRY UPDATE

Congratulations to our partner companies that are featured on the Top 250 Canadian ICT Companies of the Branham Group Inc! Waterloo health tech company Medicalis has been acquired by the health-care unit of Siemens. Thalmic labs recently expanded into a former furniture store and has grown from 40 people in 2013 to over 200. They are working on products that "reinvent how humans interact with technology". After a “record-breaking year of growth,” VarageSale has added Kijiji founder Janet Bannister—now a partner at venture capital firm Real Ventures—to its board. SweetTooth has rebranded to Smile.io and has added a new dimension of rewards to the existing point based loyalty solution. Microsoft has announced a partnership with Waterloo's GainX to deliver a platform so that large enterprises can monitor and manage their innovation investments. Messaging app Kik will be the first mainstream application to integrate a Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency. Shopify announced that it is bringing “A Day with Shopify” to five cities in five countries later this year including Vancouver. The company is looking for speakers who want to share advice and insights with other Shopify Partners about industry related topics. Vector Capital is set to acquire Sandvine for $483 million. In March 2016, Sandvine received $15 million from the Ontario government, which it used to expand R&D and grow the team. Shortly after, Sandvine partnered with TextNow to power the company’s wireless services in the US. SaaS North is returning for the second year in a row to celebrate all things SaaS on 29-30th November.

MEET THE LEADER

Brad Bierman is the Manager of Security Engineering at Arctic Wolf Networks. As a technical security consultant with deep experience in the industry, Brad is now responsible for a team of 11 security engineers at this California and Waterloo-based startup. We caught up with Brad recently to hear about their growth and the ever-evolving security industry…which is top of mind for everyone these days! Read about it here  

ARTEMIS CANADA CONNECT

The Artemis Canada Connect program is a confidential and curated introduction service aimed at connecting returning tech talent with innovative tech companies in Canada. By flipping traditional recruiting upside down, we help individuals return to great jobs in Canada by giving our partners a first look at the best returning talent.

Here's a preview of the senior talent looking to come home. Sign up to be a part of our hotlist and subscribe to candidate profiles!

#1 This VP, SaaS Operations led the AWS migration strategy, drove product automation and managed 30 engineers internationally. He has previous experience as Director of Data Operations for an online gaming platform with 1M simultaneous users. Strong in scaling data systems, analytics redesign and managing teams. I'd like to learn more

#2 This Group Product Manager has grown his career at a software company (web and mobile based) in the financial space that sells into the SMB segment. He’s played a pivotal role in helping them define their go-to-market strategy for new markets to shift from a US-centric company to a major global player. He currently manages a team of 4-7 product managers. I'd like to learn more

#3 An accomplished Senior VP, Sales & Business Development who has experience raising over $75M from VCs and strategic investors and is familiar with creating partnerships and managing complex ecosystems. He’s been the CEO of a startup, and has experience across ecommerce, IoT, financial technology, media & entertainment and security. I'd like to learn more

#4 SVP Engineering/Product who has built and managed distributed engineering teams of 125, budgets of $25M and grew operations of a yearly run rate of $200M. He has been through IPOs/acquisitions and has experience across content delivery, media and telecom. I'd like to learn more

ACTIVE ARTEMIS SEARCHES

Here are a handful of the roles we're currently working on:

Head of Marketing – Enterprise Messaging Learn More

Director of Customer Experience Learn More Engineering Leader – GTA Scale-up Learn More Data Savvy Marketing Manager – Toronto Learn More If you have any updates or insights you'd like to share with us, e-mail us at update@artemiscanada.com You can Subscribe to future monthly newsletters here.

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Artemis Canada – Executive Search

We are a boutique executive search firm exclusively serving Canada’s Innovation Economy.

Our partners are the inventors, builders and leaders who are changing our world, enriching the lives of their teams, strengthening their communities and delivering valuable innovations to global marketplaces.

Testimonials

"I have worked closely with Kristina for approximately 15 years, reaching out to her whenever we are searching for the hardest to find skills. She understands the industry, she’s smart, she listens to exactly what we need, and she never wastes our time. Kristina, and the Artemis team, deliver time and time again. When we need an external recruiter, I find it hard to work with anyone else!"

Pete Devenyi, VP Global Software Dematic

Contact Artemis

  • 22 Regina St. N
    Waterloo N2J 3A1
  • 519-594-0913
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