Daniel Beach and Neetu Godara Rai are the CEO and CGO of SoCIAL Lite Vodka, the best vodka soda in Canada (in our opinion)! They are two of three co-founders, along with COO Kevin Folk, of the wildly popular brand.
Sounding something like a campfire tale, the idea for the company was born while mixing drinks in Kevin’s home kitchen. After spending countless summer nights mixing drinks with different fruits and flavours to accommodate the tastes of their friends, the trio realized that they were onto something special.
With 80 calories per can and simple ingredients, SoCIAL Lite drinks were the first pre-mixed vodka sodas in North America to contain no sugar! It was an instant hit!
We talk to Dan and Neetu about their motivations behind creating their own business, how a new product goes from an idea to the shelf, and their core strategies to scale the company.
This was a truly inspirational conversation with two genuine individuals. So crack open a cold can and enjoy the show! As a tip, we recommend the Pineapple Mango flavour and if you’re a fan of the podcast you understand why.
Timestamps: 2:30 - The story behind SoCIAL Lite Vodka 6:55 - How the name “SoCIAL Lite” was chosen 10:40 - How to take a product from idea to store shelves 16:45 - How the LCBO chooses its products 22:35 - Being a minority female founder in the alcohol industry 29:57 - Entrepreneurship is overly glorified 33:15 - Setbacks in the early days of the company 36:15 - Competition in the industry 39:57 - The future of hard seltzers 51:50 - Dan and Neetu on choosing the entrepreneurial path 1:00:20 - Lightning Round
Greg is the Founder & Head Coach at The 1440, an online, personal coaching fitness program. His journey began as a varsity football athlete at Wilfred Laurier University where he discovered his love for training.
From here, he transitioned from varsity athlete, to strength coach, to working full time at a tech startup, before branching out on his own with The 1440. The one habit that remained consistent throughout all these changes was training.
Greg preaches the importance of prioritizing fitness, showcased in the name which serves as a reminder that we all have the same 1440 minutes in a day. The onus is on us to use them wisely.
We talk to Greg about the science and psychology behind dieting and working out, and his experiences from the tech world that has helped him succeed with his fitness venture.
To quote Greg: “Your best is yet to come. Get what you came for.” So click play and get what you came for!
3:50 - The Story Behind “The 1440”
7:00 - How People Tend to Approach Fitness
14:45 - How To Be a Good Trainer
16:30 - Diet Trends & Why Most Diets Fail
29:00 - Working at a Tech Start-Up (Vidyard)
35:00 - What would you tell your younger self about quitting your job?
41:05 - Tech & the future of fitness
52:30 - Supplements & PEDs
1:02:00 - Transitioning away from being a varsity athlete
1:10:08 - Best story from the gridiron
1:13:00 - Lightning Round
Ben Feferman is the CEO of Amuka Esports, Canada’s leader in esports venues, online leagues, and tournaments. If you’re asking, “What are esports?” then this episode is for you!
Online gaming has been around for awhile, however the industry of gaming has radically shifted in the last decade. With the rise of online gaming communities and competitive leagues, the esports industry boasts more active viewers than every major sports league in America besides the National Football League (NFL). In fact, it is estimated that by 2022, the industry will be worth an estimated $1.8B! And Ben intends to have Amuka at the forefront of this growth.
Featuring two arenas in Toronto and Windsor and having organized over 300 events in esports, Amuka is determined to build a billion dollar gaming empire.
We speak to Ben about how he transitioned his career from investment banking to online gaming, his journey in the industry, how to scale gaming communities, and the possibility of esports holding a spot on ESPN. Before you quit your job and start up the Playstation, have a listen to Ben’s story!
Akosua Asare is the founder and CEO of Essence Luxe Couture, a luxury wig brand powered by AI that uses ethically sourced hair to create meticulously handcrafted wigs. The company mission is to help those who suffer from hair loss, while breaking down the traditional barriers to entry for minorities in the beauty industry.
At the age of 21, Akosua developed alopecia, a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Akosua immediately recognized the disconnect in the industry - custom wigs are expensive and limited to standard styles, colours, and head sizes, with no “trying on” process so to speak. So Akosua channeled her experience into an opportunity.
Today, Essence Luxe Couture creates custom wigs based on your specifications and is looking to expand this function with proprietary AI-technology. The end goal is to create an immersive experience in which you can virtually try on wigs of all shapes and colours, all from the comfort of your home.
We talk to Akosua about her journey building the company, her experience as a female, black founder in the tech space and the future capabilities of artificial intelligence in the beauty industry.
3:24 - Akosua’s story and the beginning of Essence Luxe Couture 12:39 - Disrupting the beauty industry with Artificial Intelligence 18:21 - Future opportunities for expansion 22:07 - Impact of the global pandemic 25:30 - Winning the Schulich People’s Choice Award 27:08 - Using E-Commerce Platforms (Etsy & Shopify) 32:00 - Online Growth Strategy 37:30 - Exposing Shopify gurus 44:38 - Entrepreneurship & Empowerment 48:15 - The Power of Regret 50:00 - Resources for Female Entrepreneurs 54:08 - Venture Funds vs. Black Founders 1:02:56 - Lightning Round
Andre is a partner at Fasken, a leading international law firm where he maintains a broad corporate law practice. Andre advises venture capital firms and emerging, high-growth companies all across Canada. As Co-Chair of the Emerging Companies Group at the firm, he is a recognized leader in Ontario’s tech ecosystem and a tireless advocate for his clients.
Andre acts as the go-to external counsel for all legal matters to companies and venture capital investors around the world, regularly speaking at legal tech conferences and events.
We ask Andre everything we need to know before taking a company public. He details the importance of intellectual property, common mistakes made by investors and founders, and how to set up your company for success.
We learned so much from this episode that we’re still expecting to receive an invoice of billable hours from the firm. Good thing you can listen to this for free!
2:30 - Intro to Technology & Law 9:50 - Common mistakes made by start-ups 17:40 - Critical factors to consider before fundraising (due diligence) 20:15 - Liquidation preference (Important!) 24:00 - Equity vs. Debt Financing 26:50 - Common mistakes made by Investors 30:38 - An interesting deal handled by Andre (litigation to M&A) 36:40 - Tech Conferences 38:58 - IPO vs. Staying Private 43:50 - Advice for future tech lawyers 46:34 - Lightning Round
As the Vice President of Institutional Sales at Horizons ETFs, Emerson Baker is responsible for communicating the various ways ETFs are shaping the global capital markets. He has dedicated his entire career to the ETF industry, having spent four years at BMO ETFs before joining Horizons.
Emerson understands the importance of wealth management and how to utilize the capital markets for these goals. Whether that’s investing into stocks and bonds, or ETFs and mutual funds, the investing strategy differs based on each individual, however the goal is the same - create wealth through sound investment decisions. However, not everyone has the financial literacy to take on such risks.
So we talk to Emerson about the capital markets, what we need to know before beginning to invest, and the steps we should be taking to become a successful investor. He also details the various traps along the way that we may fall into if we are not careful - such as crypto and forex pyramid schemes.
We hope you enjoy this informative conversation!
3:00 - Entering a career in capital markets 5:50 - What is the difference between an ETF and a stock? 8:30 - How to pick which ETFs to invest into 10:45 - What is the future market? 15:00 - Cryptocurrency and Forex "gurus" 19:55 - Building financial literacy 28:10 - How do each generation view the stock market? 31:20 - Why are stocks rallying during a pandemic when businesses are closed? 35:38 - Millennials and investing 46:25 - How to invest your first $1,000 54:15 - Lightning Round
Born and raised in Windsor, Ontario, Miah-Marie started playing basketball by chance. She picked up the sport so she wouldn’t be on the sidelines watching her siblings play and it slowly became more than that. Her mother’s philosophy: “Keep playing if the doors continued to open.” And the doors kept opening.
Miah-Marie led the Windsor Lancers to four consecutive CIS National Championships, winning the CIS Final Eight Tournament MVP and CIS All-Canadian Defensive Player of the Year honours three times. She then went onto to lead the Canadian National Women’s team to gold at the 2015 Pan American Games and the 2015 FIBA Americas World Championship, which qualified the team for the Olympics at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Miah-Marie now plays in the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League while spending her off time as a mentor and coach for the youth. We talk to Miah-Marie about her professional, what it takes to be an athlete, female empowerment and the importance of diversity and equality in sports.
We hope you enjoy this insightful conversation with such a genuine individual and true Canadian star!
2:00 - Intro to Basketball 11:39 - The grind of developing your game 16:20 - FIBA Americas Women's Championship 20:34 - Pan American Games & Winning Gold 23:14 - Female empowerment 27:25 - Equality in sports 37:18 - Mental toughness and preparation 43:55 - Diversity in sports 50:50 - Lightning Round
Adam is the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at Luminari, a professional community for CPAs. Their flagship product is LumiQ, a mobile podcast app where you can get verifiable professional development hours for listening to engaging conversations with business leaders on their experiences and areas of expertise. After gaining experience in the industry as a marketing professional, Adam realized that the growing podcast market could solve a common issue faced by industry professionals that hold designations - professional development hours. Earning these hours each year usually meant attending conferences or workshops that not everyone is keen on. So Adam decided, instead of going to workshops for these hours, why not bring the hours to ourselves through podcast listening that brings industry expertise to our fingertips? Just like that, the idea for Luminari was born! We talk to Adam about his journey of building a reputable professional development platforms, how his corporate experience helped him scale the company, and the ins and outs of working with a start-up. We hope you enjoy this conversation!
Show sponsored by Podcorn - visit podcorn.com today!
2:00 - Transition from the corporate world to the start-up world 4:10 - Negotiating a new position at the same workplace 8:20 - How to become more marketable 14:01 - The value of your network 24:09 - The story of Luminari 32:04 - Branding and the importance of trust 36:35 - Automation in the Finance/Accounting industry 41:49 - Advice to new graduates 47:35 - How to switch careers 50:48 - The story of John 58:12 - Lightning Round
Rishawn is an MD & MBA candidate at Tulane University. He is also the Founder & CEO of Memoryz, a company committed to redefining family-focused dementia care. They are developing an AI-powered chat bot that serves as almost a virtual person support worker that can keep tabs on patients in the absence of family or friends. The aim is to foster greater independence and reduce isolation for those living with dementia, while improving caregiver bandwidth.
The Canadian government estimates that by 2030, seniors aged 65 and older will make up 25% of the population while almost a quarter of the population aged 15 or older already serve as caregivers. Rishawn recognized the need for additional support as a caregiver for his grandfather, a senior living with dementia. He realized that the caregiver experience can be facilitated with technology and this sparked the idea for Memoryz.
We talk to Rishawn about the AI technology behind Memoryz, the future capabilities of his company, and how he manages a medical degree and MBA while working on his venture. We also explore the capabilities of the healthcare systems in North America as it pertains to this demographic.
We hope you enjoy this insightful conversation!
Swish is the CEO and Co-Founder of Trufan, a UN Youth Ambassador, 3x TEDx Speaker, LinkedIn Youth Editor, consultant to Fortune 500 brands and venture capitalists, and the list goes on. A true jack of all trades, he has built a multi-hyphenate career across the board with many roles with an emphasis on social capital. Trufan serves as a social intelligence platform that helps brands activate grassroots communities made up of super fans and micro-influencers. Their mission is to convert consumers from people who just buy to advocates who buy in. We talk to Swish about how he built his personal brand from the ground up, the power of networking and how it led him to meeting his idol (and many of ours) in Gary Vee. We also lean in on his experience as a serial entrepreneur to understand how brands can leverage social audience to grow and scale. We hope you enjoy this conversation! Get ready to get motivated!
Tobi is the CEO of The3Skills, a company founded on the mission to develop the most marketable people in the world by equipping them with the skills they need to understand and communicate their true value. He also works as Merchant Success Manager at Shopify.
At 15 years old, Tobi came to Canada to attend an international high school and quickly realized how big of a minefield unemployment is for this demographic of graduates. Driven by the struggles of his sister and friends to land jobs, he posted a simple message on LinkedIn:
“I want to help 5 people get jobs this year."
He received 50 messages. The idea for 3Skills was born. In one year, they helped 36 people land full time roles with a combined income of over $1.7M.
Today, the company has expanded to offer various courses, group coaching, and a referral program from a vast network of partners.
We talk to Tobi about his journey to Canada, building this company, how he landed his dream job in just 12 days, and becoming the best version of yourself.
Check the first comment below for links to this episode and we hope you enjoy his truly unique story!
Jimmy is the founder and CEO at Propel, Inc., a Brooklyn based company dedicated to helping low income Americans improve their financial health with technology. Their Fresh EBT app helps over 3 million households manage and budget food stamp benefits by providing an integrated platform to check their balance, view transaction history, and receive local deals. The app also provides savings tips and goals in order to improve the financial literacy of their users. The company is backed by the likes of Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, and Andreessen Horowitz. Poverty is not a particularly new issue; it is estimated that approximately 38 million people live under the poverty line in the USA as of 2019. The intersection of tech and poverty aims to foster technological innovation that will allow people and nations to lift themselves out of poverty. However, many companies do not invest into helping those less fortunate due to monetary motivations and the fact that most founders are not in a position to understand the fundamental drivers of poverty. We talk to Jimmy about how innovation in tech can continue to help those in need and how his own financial hardships led him to building Propel. Jimmy also explores the capitalist system today and how it can be leveraged to support companies that are aligned with your own personal values. We hope this conversation inspires you and teaches you more about a topic that tends to get overlooked.
Michael is Chief Legal Officer at YUM! Brands, the conglomerate that owns and operates the KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza Hut banners. With almost ten years of industry experience and an executive position at one of the world's most recognized CPG-brands, it can be easily assumed that he made the right career decisions. However, this is not exactly the case.
Back in 2006, Michael completed a Bachelor of Life Sciences, expecting to enter the medical industry and suddenly realized that he did not want to go through medical school. So he consulted with family and friends on what he should do and shifted to business. He entered an MBA program and graduated in 2008... just as the market crashed. Instead of getting down, he pivoted again and applied for law school and graduated from the Osgoode School of Law. Third time seemed to be the charm! Fast forward ten years and multiple stints at various positions and he now serves as the chief legal officer at KFC Global and as legal counsel for Pizza Hut International.
Michael’s story is one of true determination and will that led to him being a Swiss Army knife of sorts in education. Instead of succumbing to social norms and accepting an unfulfilling position, or allowing external factors to decide his fate, he was able to adjust, pivot, and re-learn in order to succeed. So we talked to him about how he managed all the changes in his career direction, the stress that came with all these changes, and his insights on chasing passion for success. This conversation was insightful and eye-opening and will definitely resonate with any age group!
Since the tech boom, the use of smartphones and other gadgets have skyrocketed while the valuations of these companies have reached record highs. Technology has created some of our most valuable inventions and, arguably the most wealthiest individuals history has ever seen. However, many of us still do not understand how these companies operate.
Shruti is a seasoned journalist who has covered a wide range of topics from political culture, lobbying, telecom and technology, to the diplomatic community. Her roles have spanned from segment production for CTV News, reporter/editor at The Hill Times, to senior reporter at MobileSyrup. Currently, she spends her time in the tech and telecom sphere as a reporter for Yahoo Finance.
We talk to Shruti about the future of journalism, being a woman in the industry, and how millennials are shifting the use and distribution of content. With her unique perspective in tech and politics, Shruti explains how these two worlds collide and its diplomatic implications as we explore the controversy around 5G and China.
This was a truly riveting conversation that had us on the edge of our seats! We hope you enjoy!
Brendan Herjavec is an experienced business strategy and development professional with a background that spans seed funded startups to multinational corporations. Brendan has been a part of some of Canada’s fastest growing companies with a deep love for entrepreneurship. He had the opportunity to take his creativity around the globe ranging from working in a traditional Japanese Bonsai Nursery, to helping create business plans in England through the EY Young Entrepreneurship program, to assessing blockchain viability in Hong Kong for GeoSwift.
He is currently involved in the intersection of the tech and mental health space, all while completing his MBA at UBC. Brendan is a Client Manager for Inkblot Therapy, a company that helps match mental health practitioners to clients through multiple channels. He also serves as an Advisor for Memoryz, an AI based company that developed a chatbot to help dementia patients and their caregivers stay organized, connected and engaged.
We talk to Brandon about his experience growing up in an entrepreneurial family, the cross-cultural lessons he has learned from around the world, and what steps we can take to hack growth in B2B and B2C companies to help with scaling up. We hope you enjoy this conversation!
Brendan Rogers is the co-founder of Wag, the mobile dog walking app that disrupted the global pet service space, matching dog-walkers and dog-parents with a simple swipe. Wag raised over $360 million in venture capital, most recently $300 million from Softbank's Vision Fund.
He is currently the founder and managing partner of 2AM Talent and Ventures - a pre-seed, industry agnostic, micro fund investing in ambitious founders. Brendan is an active advisor and mentors many companies, accelerators and universities in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley and South Korea. Being a true people person, Brendan looks beyond the formalities and focusses on the individuals that he is investing into.
We talk to Brendan about his entrepreneurial journey and how he successfully scaled his businesses, his experience as a mentor and angel investor, and what makes individuals great leaders. He also expands on the importance of personal branding as it pertains to the digital era that we are in today. We hope you enjoy this truly insightful conversation!
Anthony Zhang is a serial entrepreneur, fellow at the prestigious Thiel foundation, and an active angel investor. He built his first business as a freshman at USC which he successfully pitched to the likes of Mark Cuban.