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Float or Founder: Toronto Startup Entrepreneur Stories
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Float or Founder: Toronto Startup Entrepreneur Stories

Author: Float or Founder Recording, Inc.

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Float or Founder is the Toronto startup podcast. Learn from the career and management experiences of local startup and business entrepreneurs, founders, executives, and venture capitalists in Toronto, Canada. Hosted by Samantha Lloyd and Lisen Kaci of Metaranx.
60 Episodes
Derek Manuge is the co-founder, Director, and CEO of - a revenue sharing and investment company. He shows us the different types of funding opportunities for businesses and how he came up with the idea of using data to make equitable and fair investment decisions. There is a lot of math that goes into the underlying software! Derek shares the importance of choosing the right team and advisory board for your company to help you move forward and scale.Support the show (
David Lloyd recorded this episode with Joel Lessem in mid-2019 but never had the opportunity to publish it... until now! David Lloyd takes over the Float or Founder podcast to discuss the "grind" it takes to run a tech startup and turn it into a solid company. David comes from an extensive background in the tech industry in Toronto and is currently the CEO of PostBeyond.Joel Lessem is the co-founder and CEO of Firmex. Firmex is rapidly becoming a standard for sharing large volumes of highly confidential and sensitive documents for corporate transactions, litigation, and compliance. Joel discusses growing Firmex but also the importance of disconnecting and some of his favourite ways to step back and take a break.Support the show (
Mark Ang, co-founder and CEO, of Second Closet joins us this week. He discusses the unscalable early days of creating their storage company and how they grinded through those challenges. If you're curious on what goes on behind-the-scenes of early day startups, Mark has incredible insights into what him and his co-founders faced!Support the show (
Starting a new business anywhere is a challenge - but especially if you need a physical space to operate in. Dr. Bryan Gelman runs Yonge & St. Clair Veterinary Hospital. He delved into the tricky world of Toronto commercial real estate, navigating a property sale, and turning the place into his ideal veterinary practice.Dr. Gelman truly values his clients and their furry family members. He shared best practices for maintaining social distancing when you have pets to keep everyone safe as well as some socialization techniques for those new furry family members!Support the show (
Eric Vardon now operates, an artificial intelligence company for digital marketers. This all grew from his many years operating a digital agency. Eric discusses marketing during COVID and beyond.Support the show (
Shrad Rao built Wagepoint from a unique perspective: seeing a strategic alignment between a product all businesses need and a desire to modernize an older industry. He took on payroll, alongside his co-founders, and they have helped small businesses handle their payroll needs in a modern way. Shrad's company has always been remote-first and he shares exactly what they do to build and maintain a positive and social remote work culture.Support the show (
Launching a marketplace can be difficult in the best times. How are Kate Dickson and Sarah Hartkorn, co-founders of Primped handling their bring-beauty-to-you app during COVID? If you need advice on managing a marketplace during challenging times, tune in! 🎙️ These former finance professionals discuss how they started the company together and how their corporate background supports the work they do.Support the show (
Jodi Kovitz, founder of #MoveTheDial takes us through the challenges her organization faced during COVID-19 and how she turned these experiences into new projects to lead. Now, Jodi has published her book Go Out Of Your Way and her podcast Joyful Sundays went live on June 14th 2020. We had a lot of fun catching up with Jodi and discuss how you can go out of your way for others during social distancing.Book: 1 episode: the show (
"At some point, you have to ask for it." Colin Hennigar is the VP of Major Gifts of SickKids Foundation. He talks about fundraising tips for non-profits and startups alike, whether during COVID-19 or not. Colin goes in-depth about how their foundation keeps investors up-to-date on where their charity goes. He shares how the charitable and giving acts of Canadians and around the globe has positively impacted SickKids Foundation. He also discusses Tech4SickKids and the foundation's new podcast!Support the show (
Float or Founder is launching season two in June 2020! We can't wait to bring you more stories from startup founders and entrepreneurs in Toronto, Canada. Beyond that, we're expanding our guests to include executives, venture capitalists, and other great people that make this city shine. See why Toronto is one of the best places to launch your new startup and build your own entrepreneurial journey here. Visit our website at for more information on our guests, our hosts, and our partners that help make our podcast possible. Support the show (
Faye Almeshaan is the Program Manager and Venture Associate of Acceleprise. Acceleprise is a B2B software accelerator program and investment firm based in San Francisco and Toronto. She talks about how companies pivoted and grew out of COVID and what the investment scene is like. If you're a B2B startup looking to join an accelerator, you can follow along with the current cohort's journey and apply for their upcoming cohort in January 2021!Support the show (
Social media marketing is a necessary component of every company. Zoe saw this a few years back when she started her agency Schmooz at a time when many didn't see social media as a serious pursuit. Zoe offers her insights on how important social media is to provide value and connect with the human side of brands, especially during COVID and Black Lives Matter. She also discusses the recent charitable children's book she has released alongside Gabriella Rackoff: ABC Stay Home With Me.As per Zoe, "You create a legacy in every action you take [on social media]." You need to align your social goals with your company values. Provide value and don't be entirely self-serving."Support the show (
Charles Bennett has been running his full-service technology management company, Triella, for 17 years as founder and CEO! Running a company for that long has given Charles insight into the industry. He shares his top security tips for any company during COVID and with remote work becoming the norm. He openly shares the challenges of hiring and mentoring new team members when switching to full remote. Charles also talks about the other business he almost chose to run at a fork in the road 17 years ago - guess what it is!Support the show (
Paula Teixeira Leite is the founder of Caju Winds, a cashew spread that is a delicious, vegan alternative to cream cheese and other dairy spreads. She started the business when her daughter started experiencing allergies and reactions to food. Paula shares insights into starting a food business - everything from the regulations, to working closely with (and relying on!) the food inspector, to choosing local versus big box stores, and so much more. She openly discusses the challenges of delivery as a niche product and small business struggles during COVID. If you're launching a packaged food business, Paula has all the insights for you!Support the show (
Back to school looks a little different in 2020 for most people. Jason Field is the Founder and CEO of Brainstation, an education centre for digital skills. He discusses how they switched to online education during COVID-19 and how they could reach additional markets due to the online switch. They offer 400 instructors - not a small team by any means. Jason explains how they handle company culture, hiring, and management with such a huge team.Support the show (
Trigger Warning: Discussions of racism, George Floyd, police brutality, racism in the workplace.Dr. Leeno Karumanchery is the co-founder and Head of Behavioural Sciences at MESH Diversity. MESH fully integrated anti-racism tool. He is a doctor of sociology and discusses the first class and professor that inspired him to pursue anti-racist work as his profession. He goes into how him and his friend built MESH using science and data as the basis for what they drive forward (and how they hire with their own metrics!). He highlights how to value people in the workplace and why the term "diversity of thought" is a cop-out for companies.Support the show (
When you face a personal pain point, what's the first thing you think to do? Alyssa Atkins of Lilia decided to turn her personal pain point into a business. Lilia is a personal online concierge that gives you clarity and confidence in options about egg security and storage - and celebration! She talks about her time in Y Combinator as it switched to virtual amidst COVID and what Y Com helped her achieve. She also shares Lilia's typical persona and how she talks to each one of her users, which is very important in early stage companies.Support the show (
Jay Rosenzweig of Rosenzweig & Company talks to us about recruiting - in a pandemic and out. He also provides insights on how you can offer your skills to achieve what you want in your career and try new paths. Fun fact: he does songwriting on the side!Support the show (
Timing is everything - or so we're told. Neel Lukka delves into why timing is so important for the success of a company. He talks about the different businesses he's built, his experience in Y Com, and what he's up to now!Support the show (
Martha Switzer is the co-founder and CEO of Sprout. Sprout enables businesses to reward their employees for healthy behaviour. She talks about wellness, how COVID-19 impacted wellness initiatives, and why she built a company around wellness and health in the workplace.Support the show (
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