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Float or Founder: Toronto Startup Business Stories
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Float or Founder: Toronto Startup Business Stories

Author: Float or Founder

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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.
68 Episodes
Ryan Shupak is the co-founder of Jiffy, a service that allows you to get on-demand contractors to your home. Building a marketplace always comes with its own set of challenges. The supply side, the contractors, are already doing the work so building up this marketplace was a bit easier and more unique than others.The early day grind of getting sign ups took this former investment banker and his co-founders door-to-door. Scaling and finding early customers happened through all types of channels: Facebook groups, emailing potential users from people they knew, encouraging word-of-mouth marketing with yard signs, and more.75rYAfSp9btxzvlvVQaySupport the show (
What does it take to launch a business in Canada? Kayla Isabelle has had the pleasure of seeing companies from launch through success many times as Executive Director of Startup Canada. She takes us through the joy of coaching and mentoring startups and the similarities she sees between leaders. What does every entrepreneur need? Passion and grit.Kayla takes us through how COVID-19 has reshaped companies or inspired new companies to launch. She tells us her opinion on whether you should launch your ideas now or wait for greener pastures.Support the show (
Diana Goodwin launched Aquamobile eight years ago - a business enabling swim instructors to do at-home lessons on-the-go. Their internal management tool of these instructors and customers/lessons led her to launching Marketbox to other companies facing labour deployment and management challenges. In essense, Aquamobile became a customer of Marketbox!The journey of balancing two companies isn't simple but Diana knew she wanted to focus on the software business. She discusses how she spent time searching for the right person to become the General Manager of Aquamobile and how her amazing team has stepped up to the challenge.  She shares the experience of feeling excited about running a new company and specifically a tech startup. Diana also gives her best advice to all other solo founders out there.Support the show (
Many people think marketing is fluffy but (especially in the tech industry) it's anything but. Marketing is creative, experimental, and data-driven. How do you write copy that connects? How do you create ads that converts? You need to test a hypothesis and see the data to build the most successful marketing strategies.Sarah Stockdale takes us on her decade-long career in the startup industry and why she started Growclass so that other startup entrepreneurs could better understand marketing and customer acquisition in the early days. Sarah goes into details about different strategies to attract customers. We also discuss her newsletter, We Need To Talk About This and how her supportive friends encouraged her to actually launch it to the public. She also opens up about what wasn't working with Valkerie that led to the rebrand!Support the show (
David Lloyd recorded this episode with James Novak 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.James Novak is the CEO of Fiix. Fiix is in the asset maintenance industry within software... an industry not necessarily thought of often! James discusses growing Fiix, how he moved from consumer tech in RIM to this role, and how Fiix has grown to a big, global company.Support the show (
Running a textile factory is challenging but Kathy Cheng of WS & Co. and Redwood Classics Apparel takes us into the world of vertical integration. She shares how her family moved to Canada and started this company to promote made-in-Canada goods. She discusses how they're making fashion accessible through their Redwood Classics Apparel brand and the importance of sustainability and supporting makers in the fashion industry. Support the show (
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 (
Shawna Stewart is the VP of People and Operations at PostBeyond, a tech startup in Toronto. Being in charge of the operations and people part of any company is a tall order. Shawna's favourite task is to create inclusive and positive policies. In light of Black Lives Matter especially, she believes it is important to take another look at policies and revamp those that have biases. Shawna discusses the misconceptions around what human resources is and which paths to pursue in your career if you're interested in heading up people or operations. Shawna also shares the questions to ask recruitment firms to find out if you align on values and to ensure you hire a diverse team. She says that continuing anti-racist initiatives in the workplace is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have to normalize talking about what is right.Support the show (
David Lloyd recorded this episode with Neil Wainright 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.Neil Wainright is the founder and CEO of UpHabit. UpHabit is an app that's a personal CRM for super connectors. Neil discusses growing UpHabit for the past 11 years and David takes us on a journey through his exits and past startup growth stories. Neil discusses what first inspired him to launch UpHabit by seeing a gap at a previous company he worked at. He talks honestly about how the pace of business impacts a young founder's mental health.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 (
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Paja Storec


Jan 15th
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