The Entrepreneur Podcast
The Entrepreneur Podcast

Episode · 9 months ago

Innovation is not always sexy with Nicole Verkindt of OMX

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Since graduating in 2007, Nicole Verkindt has had quite the ride. From her first job as the ‘hot walker’ at the Woodbine Racetrack, to learning sales on the fly with a Belgium firm, Verkindt founded OMX (Offset Market Exchange), a powerful procurement platform for various complex supply chain industries.

Working with major International players like Lockheed Martin and British Aerospace, Verkindt became a prominent fixture in major boards, and government discussions, as a major proponent for innovation across Canadian industries.

In this latest episode, Verkindt speaks candidly about her journey out of business school, her view of innovation, and why it is vital to Canada’s place in the global economy.


...thats new Siris of the Ivy entrepreneurpodcast. You're invited to listen in on the guest visits, my hustle and gritglass taking place virtually at the Ivey Business School. Hustling great is,of course, that we created to teach you everything that you didn't learn inbusiness school in business school. In it, we invite world class innovatorsand entrepreneurs to talk about topics like motivation, how toe learn, what toprioritize and even how to be happier. In these episodes, you'll hear liveaudio from my classes because, honestly, there's just something different aboutthe energy, excitement and honesty taking place in a live classroomenvironment. So get comfortable, grab a seat and don't worry. Unlike my realclass, I won't call Call you enjoy. Nicole has also been a dragon on CBC'snext Gen den. She was also named Woman Entrepreneurof the Year by start of Canada. In 2017. Nicole sits on the board of theCanadian Crown Corporation, Canadian Commercial Corporation and the CanadianChamber of Commerce. Nicole is a true Canadian champion for entrepreneurship,hustle and grit. Class of 2020. Please welcome Nicole Verkin E Swath, Cole.Welcome. What do you think e love the fake applause at the end. I was awesome.Yeah, they did an awesome job. Nice team. They set a high bar. So you'rethe first. You're the first one that the team had to actually do an introfor on. So I don't know. That's a pretty high bar for the other groupsliving up to those expectations. Yeah, No kidding. You know, it's a reallyhigh bar, though, like the color of your jacket and the background. Calm alot. I know it. I'm a lot. A lot. So it's so it's happening. Yeah, well, youknow, my wife Justine and I went to go downstairs to the studio and teach.You're gonna wear it. You're wearing that today? Yeah. This is what I'mgoing with. Its innovation day. It's about being different. I'm going for it.Thanks for being the stupid desk since seven o'clock this morning. So, like,I'm hoping you guys can wake me up a little bit because I'm too far awayfrom the coffee machine. Oh, they will. They will for sure. They're gonna bringit. Tons of questions rolling in, but I wanted to start with eso a handful.Maybe two or three people have heard this story on opening day, Nicole, butI loved it. Your opening Day speech to the HP ones coming in. And the reason Ithought I was so cool is because you were just open and honest about franklybeing lost and not really knowing exactly what to do out of H B A. And alot of people take here in the room. Digital. Take this course because thisis, of course, that allows them to work on themselves and try to figure outwhat they want to do, what they're all about and what's next. So I thought yousharing your story on how you chose a little bit of a non traditional pathwould be a nice way to start, if you don't mind. Sure, I mean, good on ivyand kudos to Ivy. And I'm I'm sure you're influencing this Eric on havingthese different types of courses because I remember we were the firstyear to go through the entrepreneurship certificate, and I specificallyremember it being a little more stuffy than it is now. In terms of the classeswere very structured around kind of these three tiers accounting,management, consulting and investment banking and those air three reallygreat careers. But the thing that those three careers tend to have in common isthat you get on a treadmill, right? Eso in, sent in the sense that you know, ifyou haven't done your summer internship at an accounting firm and then you'regoing to recruit for for that out of school, it's it could be very difficult.And so those were sort of the three paths that I remember thinking where myoptions at Ivy and the whole time I just felt really uncomfortable with, um,I did put on a horrible suit and interviewed twice at Ivy, both of whichjust when really badly. And so I had no idea to do in my life. I ended up, butI think the Ivy Leader program is still happening. But I went thio Moldova andRussia for the summer. In between, Thio do this entrepreneurship program, whichwas set up right after the fall of the Berlin Wall to teach Communists whatcapitalism was so really out there Definitely not a direct path to acareer by any stretch of the imagination. Um, but I was graduating.I ve everyone kind of had a job or an idea what they wanted to do, lined up.And, you know, somebody asked me what I did. And when I When I look backbecause I was in between and didn't know what to dio, I ended up working atthe racetrack. I would by being the exercise walker and my title was hotWalker. So that was the first job I had. And that was my official title. And myjob was to walk quickly with the race horses on the way to the track from thewarm up area. And so, like a war big...

...number over my head. And I deliveredthe race forced to the jockey, and I have a little ivy business cards, and Iwas a hot walker, so all to say, you can be a hot walker and then move onfrom there. But I did that. I did a bunch of kind of weird things. I endedup taking a job commission on Lee, working in sales for a company out ofBelgium that I got linked up with through an Ivy MBA. So he told me thatthis company he said. You know, there wasn't a big base salary, but it willallow you to travel, which I loved doing at the time. And so I took thisjob. The job didn't pay anything, but they gave me a $30 per diem and apercentage of sales and, uh, kind of hoofed around Europe in the Caribbean,selling these, um, advertorial that were inserted into the center of theEconomist and New York Daily Time New York Daily News. And they were likeadvertisements on countries. And so I did that for about a year, and it was areally fascinating experience, and I actually did quite well at it. But itreally taught me how to sell, which I almost feel like or felt at the timethat some of the other Ivey grads I was going through with it was almost likeif you were out making no base salary and you were, you know, calling 100people a day. It was almost it was almost like us. I was almost slummingit right, which I waas in a sense. But when I look back and then, you know, Iguess the intro video tells the story of what I did from their worked in afamily business, did a start up as a subcontractor, offshore manufacturingand company, and then eight years ago started OMX. But, you know, when I kindof go through that whole trajectory the number one most important thing when Ilook back for me, the most important skill, it was knowing how to sell andknowing what works and doesn't work. And so I mean, obviously, things makesense backwards. But I left. I ve kind of willing to do anything and then tookon that sales job, and it seemed like it didn't make sense. But when I lookback now, I was thrown off the deep end and was forced to learn how to sell.And so I'm really grateful for that for that opportunity. And I just think, youknow, I I end up now talking a lot about diversity and some of these otherthings that for innovation and big companies, and then we're gonna talkabout that a little bit today. But a lot of big companies now, you know,want to understand how to innovate, and when you look at the data points thatcontribute to innovation. You know, one of the most important elements is thisnotion of a diversity of opinions, not necessarily diversity in terms of whatyou're born with, but also experiences. And so I think that's a I think it'simportant to remind everyone on the call today in class today that I thinkthat taking on these kind of strange, unusual experiences that might not havea direct path into a career can really help contribute to an organization'sway of thinking outside the box way of, you know, growing into new markets.They would have thought that they would have grown into etcetera. So it ends upbeing a direct correlation between organization's ability to grow andexpand into new markets and new sectors, etcetera, and having a team of peoplethat have very, very different backgrounds. It could be because of thequalities that they were born with, you know, race, gender, etcetera, but couldalso just be the different experiences that you you took on and differentthings that you learned and did so, including being being taught by ateacher with a purple jacket in front of a purple wall. It is not entirelyyou know, it's not entirely what everyone else would be doing in thatscenario with the wall that purple, but it's all about this idea of justthinking a little bit differently about things and so I could get into mybackground a lot more, you know, as we chat. But I think that's what came outin my HB A one talk was just that. Like, if you just look at what I went through,I mean, the whole time I I was telling myself that my life was a shit show.And when I look back now, I think, Well, actually, some of those things werereally key building blocks to for me to learn some of these, you know, outtheir skills and gain these experiences that were different. And then I endedup building an entire company and selling it kind of based around theseidea of doing this country reports. So we automated a lot of the data intakethat was required to to estimate impacts of GDP, and so that kind oftranslates back to that very first sales job I had. So there's lots ofways to go about this, and I just think that it's really critical for anyonekind of in school now to be to be open thio, learning all sorts of new things.So, people, uh, I'm scanning some questions and I wanna related to whatyou just said. Uh, they build up the first thing out of ivy is like thething right. It's like the first thing...

...on your resume. It's your firstjustification to your parents that this was the right decision, that it wasworth spending this much money on, that it was worth their investment. Whatever.Like, should they be building up the first Does the does the first thingmatter as much to you? Who would technically be hiring these people outof school? If if someone, if someone was the hot horse hot walker and then,you know, traveled for six months, uh, you're gonna hire that to kind ofprofile it? OMX. I mean, you could spend your background into anything Youcould say that, you know, while I traveled, I learned all about thiscountry, and that's why I should be an account manager selling to that country.It doesn't. It doesn't like it's really hard to judge someone when you'rehiring them based on what they've done in the summer in between a few years ofschool. So I would say no. But also, of course, it does, too. And the extentthat if the folks today in the are we calling this in class, you know, if youwant to feel like it does, it doesn't feel like it. It doesn't if you want toget into a startup, you know, I think that interview process they're gonna belooking for something very different than obviously a larger, moreestablished company. And and so I would just say that joining a startup, thenumber one thing that people hiring are looking for is the ability to be a selfstarter more than anything. And so, like, I've hired some students who didthe camera that's called for you. It's like the franchise painting companywhere you're running around painting houses and you get a percentage and youknow, But they spent the whole interview talking to me about how theyhad to knock on doors and pitched why your house need to be repainted. And Ithought that was fantastic. So I mean, you can spend anything like to answeryour question. Yes or no? And three other thing that I think is importantis a lot of people are in a big rush, you know, which is good, because youyou don't want to be so about things, but pretty big rush to make thingshappen quickly. And, you know, a lot of the data is coming out that the bestentrepreneurs are in their mid forties, and they've done a bunch of things.They've got some battle scars and they've made a bunch of mistakes. Andso you don't You know, you don't have to be hitting it right out of theschool year after it's okay to be doing different things. So that was one ofthe questions, actually. Did you always know that eventually you'd be doingsomething entrepreneurial? I know it was in your family a bit because youdidn't read out of school. Say, I'm going to go work for myself. You youwere pursuing, wanting to work somewhere else. So did you eventuallyknow that you wanted Thio? I had no Look, Let me be. I don't know how to bemore clear. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life? Absolutelyzero. No idea. It was like this. I'm just gonna push this decision. Justkicked that can down the road and on DPI put it off and I had absolutely noidea. And it terrified me. And I think it's important for people to hear thatthat that it absolutely terrified me that I, you know, people knew what theywanted to do, and I had no idea. And the idea of joining my family businesswas not at all what I wanted to dio. I ended up doing a start up in the sector,and then our family business actually got into some pretty pretty big trouble.And I joined the business just thio help with a restructuring efforts. So Ididn't join it because I was going to take over and this thing was going tobe huge, you know, we were going from 900 to 200 employees under, you know,some stress of contract changes, and that's a whole nother class that thatcould be taught on what happened there. But it was kind of just me reactingThio. Okay, I think that I'm going to go put my effort here now and then. Idon't know Things go on, I can say that I never was able to sit still very long,and even within OMX every three years, we were kind of dramaticallyreinventing ourselves. That I've seen in a lot of people that areentrepreneurial is just every couple of years, every two or three years. Theysay you have a seven year itch just always wanting Thio continue Thioiterated and change things. So there's a lot of questions that arecoming in about sort of the personal figuring yourself out side of things.So I wanna I'm gonna come back to those I wanna love those into, ah piece. Butfirst, I want to get your perspective broadly on innovation because you seeinnovation from a bunch of different perspectives. You see it from as anentrepreneur, involved in some policy on the government side, sitting onboards, uh, as an employer, How are we doing? How's the country doing in termsof innovation? So the country's doing horribly. I don't know how else Tiu saythat, but so there's kind of two conversations. I have changed mydefinition of innovation dramatically. Now I think my definition is that it'san attitude. So to answer your question, your first question on what isinnovation? Obviously, it's a lot of things. There's lots of ways to defineit, and you google it. There's definitions, but I've come down to thisnotion. That is, it is an attitude. It...

...is a way of thinking about things. Andit's a little bit of what I described earlier about, um, you know, breakingthe box, making a bigger box. You know, look, looking outside the box atdifferent ways to do things. Um, it's a lot of tiny activities. It's smallpivots. It's a lot of grinding away, making small changes and experimentingso that that's kind of how I would define innovation. You're saying muchabout how Canada is doing. Um, so I co chaired this task force last yearcalled the uh, Canada's Task Force on oh gosh, economic, but kind of where wewere at in Canada was led by the Business Council of Canada. 100 biggestcompanies they put me on is the token small business, and we looked at allthe macroeconomic data of what is happening with businesses in Canada andthe economy. And, um, you know, our economy has done well over the lastlittle while. But when you really dig in and look at the root drivers, oveneconomy, a lot of the fear, um, around, why we've done well is because we'vehad a bull market in the US You know, Donald Trump has done a lot of badthings, but he did a lot of good things for the stock market and for GDP ingeneral growth. And and just some of those drivers were not some of thosedrivers that drove our GDP. It was scary to look at them because they werenot the things, you know, I I p um I p exports had never been lower and inrelation to other countries, we were the worst, by far the regulatory burdenthat we face in trying to get new ideas implemented and startups going andbusinesses in Canada. It was higher than most of our peers, So there wasfive or six metrics that kind of are there to tell the story of what we'regoing to see 10 years from now. And they were they were quite poor andgetting worse with regulatory burden being being very, very poor anddefinitely the I p export, which we see us, something that kind of could tell astory. A longer term story, right? So how do we build the next Nortel on thenext rim? And how do we How do we really generate new I p and not just beselling oil and commodities that that don't they have a big impact on theeconomy. So I don't think we should ignore them, but they don't have. Theydon't drive these really high margins and really high paying jobs. So throughthat study, we we kind of discovered that it is a problem in Canada. We'vegot a bit of a branch plant mentality. We have, you know, branch plants oflarge brands here, and so they don't typically have big innovation budgetshere in Canada, their innovations happening in the US or Germany orwherever their headquarters are. But on the other side of things, I've been apart of the startup community for a decade, and I've seen a huge change,and I'm sure you've noticed it too, Eric, with you and your wife, like thevibe in the startup community in the last 67 even five years has changeddramatically. There's a lot more capital for early stage. There's a lotmore interest in the space like there was no early stage seed funds eightyears ago. So I'm enthused by that. I mean, it was by, you know, Shopify andsome of these other champions that we just seen and done really well. Sothere's there's good and bad sides to the whole conversation, but we cannotrest on our laurels and just think like we've always had a good in Canada. AndI think that's part of our problem is that we don't We are experiencing thisthis urgency of We need to innovate now. I mean, we need to do it in big ways.Thio kind of ensure that we do well as a country 10 years, 20 years, 50 yearsfrom now. Yeah, we had this big versus small innovation sort of debate in thefirst half of class, So talking about old type, probably a tired example. Butthere's ah baseball team in in Savannah called the Savannah Bananas, and thisguy named Jessie Cole bought the baseball team. Baseball is boring. It'sa long game. Toe watch beer is expensive and Jesse came in and said,Things isn't a baseball game. Let's make it entertainment. Let's put 70year old people break dancing on the field. Let's make beer $2. Let's makethe first base coach line dance. All the baseball players gonna wear kiltsand suddenly ticket sales skyrocketed. So we talked about like soft innovationversus, you know, more like industry changing innovation and maybe not thebest example right now. But we talked about electric cars and Elon Musk likeThat's you know what he's doing. A multiple different ways is changingindustries, and the debate was, Is there is one better than the other,like Ben, and it came down toe that this conversation was around impact andit was one has impact more than the other that, uh, it seemed like theclass was sort of gravitating towards a zoo. Muchas you may not like him as aperson. That musk type innovation is more helpful for the country, agree,disagree, comment on that soft versus like the monumental, game changinginnovation. I love you and Musk, and I...

...want to agree that the second one has amuch bigger impact in the long term. It probably does, you know, buildinganother Nortel a rim like I gave a as an example, but we cannot ignore thefirst innovation. I mean, that is where I think that we could almost doom orbecause we've already got all these businesses here that just need to makethese little changes to be more relevant internationally. And that'sreally what we're talking about. Growing the country and GDP. That's thegame is exporting. Like I went over to Germany on this economic council and wewere interviewed by the minister of I don't know if anyone's heard thisterminology. You could do a whole class on this called the Middle STAD, Andthere's an entire economy in Germany of these medium sized family ownedbusinesses and the middle STAD in Germany. There, like $100 millionbusinesses, right? But they have a very interesting story, you know. They'reprivately held, usually by 11 founder, and they're incredibly innovative. Andwhat they like to say in Germany that the Middle STAD is is actually gainingmore margin from China than some Chinese companies because they'repowering automation and factories in China, and they're powering areas whereChinese factories air, gaining more and more margin. And so the German I Pdriven machinery from the middle stat is, is gaining a big piece of that. ButI bring that up because it's not sexy. It's not reinventing an entire industrylike electric cars. But you can be damn sure that the entire U is funded byGermany, which is Ah, lot of their growth is being driven by this very,very successful middle STAD, which is, you know, boring industrial businesses,led by founders that are willing to take risks because they're not bigcorporate that are publicly traded and taking less risk. And there there theyare innovating. But they're not. They're doing more of the seven yearold line dancing and in the in the in the example of just thes small pivotsto gain more market share as opposed to reinvention. I think that a lot ofpeople don't do innovation because they feel like they have to be an engineerand they have to completely invent something. And innovation is not avariant of the word invention, like they're very different words, right?Invention is to be a scientist and innovation is a different thing. It'sIt's to pivot and change and and and change something and experiment. Andthat can happen in a world where you could be generating revenue quickly andwhere you could be having a huge impact. So an impact not meeting like I justmean kind of. If you look back to straight business driving more marginand that example, you know, if you're just making one tooling device moreautomated for a factory that spits out 20 million T shirts a year, I meanagain, not sexy. But you could make a lot of money. Yeah, so suggestion onlike I wanna We'll wrap up the company talking that I want to get Thio more onthe personal innovation side. So what could we actually be doing? And we'regonna attack it from two ways either the company level. So, like processesor steps that maybe you've used in your own companies to b'more innovative, andthen I want to tackle it from an education perspective. So there was aquestion about I'll get to the specific question from Matt about what we couldbe doing frankly, as educators who teach entrepreneurship to be teachingit, you know better and more effectively. But start from a companyperspective. Like what did you do at Tiburon Rom X to be innovative, to staysharp? Well, I mean, we were so different because we were starting up.So we were We were all innovative. From the beginning, I would say the smartestthing I did was just hire people that were also entrepreneurs. Um, and it'skind of a different example, but I think the solution I'm saying it's adifferent example only because if you're venturing out on doing a startup like you are innovating, you just are like your There's just no way outof that. I mean, um, but there's a book that I'm going to force, or you canforce everyone to read. I'm sure. I think you have a power to do that. Youtalk about about a year ago called Loon Shots, and it starts about talkingabout the history of radar and trying to get radar introduced into themilitary. And, you know, you read the story of them trying to get radar intothe military, and we're like 20 years before the Second World War and andthey should have had it in. But every lunch, the questions loom. Shots orMoonshots, it's loom shots. Everything that happens to these peopleis what happens to innovation and large corporations. You can see the corporatebureaucracy of of trying to get some funding and all the things that gowrong in trying to get innovation to the company. So you see this story, andthen it starts to talk about models that actually work, and I'll give youthe punchline. So, actually, now you guys don't have to read the book. Thepunch line is that you need a dedicated team completely walled away from all ofthat corporate bureaucracy because that...

...stuff will kill you. So dedicated, teamwalled away. And the absolute most important thing is whoever leads theteam needs a straight shot to the CEO, to the leader with money and authority.And so they tried to innovate in the U. S. Military, they couldn't make ithappen. Finally, people are dying and we're in 1943 you know, you know, weall know what happened then during the Second World War, and finally FranklinRoosevelt wrote a letter and authorized this guy gave him straight money,straight authorization from the president of the country. And then hegot his own people and he was able to finally make things happen. But youknow, you can't bury them. They can't be within the organization. You can'tscatter them. It needs to be a dedicated team completely walled awaywith authority. That's that's, I think, the model for encouraging innovationand large companies. Of course, what we Seymour often is just acquisition. Solarge companies realize they're not being innovative. They're losing marketshare to competitors. They don't have their tech solution or whatever, sothey just acquire it. And I guess that's okay, too. We see that a lot aswell. Yeah, on the boring tactical side, what we did when I was in the thick ofit was you literally, we literally said, like when it was budget time, like ifwe were to break it down into a piece of the pie, What percentage goes tocurrent maintaining our current payment system? What percentage of our budgettime people, whatever goes towards working on stuff that we don'tcurrently sell, and at some point we just made a call. We're gonna have ourDeb team. Is this big? We're gonna have 10 people working on maintaining whatwe have today. And if we don't work on what's coming and what's next, thenwe're screwed. So we're literally gonna say 50% of our people resource is timeare walled off and they're gonna work on net new super tactical stuff on thepersonal set. That could be hard because, especially your publiclytraded. There's so much pressure to be every quarter delivering more marginand and it's expensive to be innovative. Yeah, okay, on the personals. Well,let's go to the education side. So the question is, and forgive me that Idon't see who the original question was from about entrepreneurship education.I'm scrolling here. There's many questions you could come off you to askit if you Yeah, Matt, go for it. Basically, the observation was thatCanada has the highest post secondary rate, but my impression is that youwouldn't see it as an entrepreneurial hub. So I'm wondering, do you thinkthere's a connection there and if so, how can we improve the education on ascale level so that we can build more of a pipeline for entrepreneurs inCanada. Yeah, it's a great, great question. Ithink that we are missing the practical piece in this. So what I'm seeing outof schools like Ivy is amazing because they didn't they weren't offeringcontent before, So I think that's a huge improvement in the last 10, 15years. Um, but to me, I think it's the things like it's the practical side ofbringing students into startups, you know, maybe during the summer, or justconnecting those dots a little bit more, I think would be really, really key,even just fostering startups like, I remember going through the entrepreneurcertificate Ivy and there was a guy I don't know if you remember him, Eric,or what your you were. But he was a professional baseball player, hadalways been a professional baseball player, and he always had this idea forthese underwear. That would be better for professional baseball players. And,um, so we were taking entrepreneur finance in school, and it wastheoretical. As you can imagine, we're learning how you raise capital andequity and, you know, kind of basic building blocks. But he actually hadhis start up in his mind the whole time and the teacher at the time said, Well,let's actually use his startup and we're going to teach the class in amore practical way. Let's actually take that and figure out how to help himraise capital and walk through all that well, fast forward a few years. Youknow, he sold the company a little early, in my opinion, but he did very,very well. And it's a brand. You guys probably all know Saks Saks underwear.So I sat next to him in managerial finance class, and we use that as theexample kind of throughout. And that's to me. That's great education becauseit's practical, it zits, really, and then you can actually apply in the realworld. You could have been raising money at the same time. I mean, I thinkhe did a few years later, but I think that that is the solution. The otherpiece of the coin, you know, as we started studying the Canadian economyand what's needed is there's a There's a direct correlation between attractingpeople from other countries, so having a very proactive immigration policy,the government introduced the startup visa. They've introduced other measuresto bring people from other countries who want to live in Canada but are alsovery entrepreneurial. And they tend to go through the school Canadian schoolsbefore they come, come to Canada kind of full time. And there is a muchhigher percentage. The data is showing...

...off people that are coming to Canadastarting. They're coming here starting businesses. And so there's There's thatcorrelation that we need to be mindful of as well, which I think is reallyinteresting because they come through the school's first. So now that is abroad stroke. I'm just going off the data that we found in the EconomicCouncil, but, um, anyways, it's it's obviously not a nisi answer, but Ithink that the I think the answer lives in the word practical, right, like soget out of the textbooks, and that's what the case study is, which is great.But the more we can use the rial examples, um, and work on them inschool, I think the better so now to the personal side of innovation. Havinggone through, I did the same thing as you. I think my beginning was like abunch of stutter steps and screw ups and had no idea what I wanted to do.Still, don't I think I will be teaching in some respects for the rest of mylife. But who knows in what capacity? Any advice that you might offer to helppeople navigate that early Those early phases, like self work, they could do,you know, travel personal development like journaling. Ah, strengths,assessment, like what can they do to help make that process less painful?Well, I think if people are interested in a startup, something I see a lot ispeople saying I really wanna do a startup but I don't have an idea. So Isee that a lot. And then I also see a lot of spending a year or twobrainstorming and coming up with the concepts and kind of going through thatprocess, which is which is interesting. But you see a lot of those two thingsand so I think with those two things, I would just say that the more and morepeople get an appreciation for the fact that the process to find out what youwant to dio is actually the process of being on the field and making mistakesand doing your screw ups like you have to do those things like sitting in yourbasement, coming up with the idea for six months and working on the idea, youknow, in your mind or, you know, a lot of a lot of technical people. That'swhere they go wrong is they develop a product you know, in their basement,and they're not sitting next to a customer. So I think the answer,unfortunately because it's messy, lives in doing these very, very cheapexperiments as often as possible and knowing that all the mistakes are arecritical for the process. If you're wanting to be an entrepreneur, that'sthat's to me. I think is important for people to hear. Is that like you? Butyou never hear of those those mistakes. That's why I try to highlight them,although I forgot most of them. But, you know, I I'll call up a client, sayI have this this product that I want to deliver and I won't have it built yet.This is what I would have done early on and said, you know, would you give me,um ah $1000 Thio, go and run this procurement for you and then, you know,boom, I crashed. They say no. Then they explain to me why it's no. And then Iknow Oh, don't build that technology. So, you know, it might have beenembarrassing. It might have been a stupid phone call. I might have gottena big fat No, it might have been embarrassing when I saw the guy at aconference a month later, but I found out quickly, you know, by asking. I didit before I invested in technology. Um, it was free. And it's just this notionof I mean, we're in Canada so we could say it. Although I hate hockey, butlike, you just have to be on the ice. You can't. You can't. You can't go toBali and find yourself with a journal and and think that that's going to behow you come up with your idea, right? Like you've got to be on the ice justdoing things in an industry you have an interest in. Yeah, we gotta be in it.And it, like it is inherently messy, You know, you wanna I wish there wasshortcuts to figure it out. And like we've arrived, here's the playbook, butI think it just isn't inherently messy process, for better or worse. So abunch of questions that I'm gonna start to moderate here, but tyranny yours isgetting up voted quite a bit. So I'll let you ask your question to Nicole.Sure. So in my question, Nicole, I kind of referenced a bunch. A bunch ofstatistics that prove that women entrepreneurs potentially have the oddsstacked against them. There was something like they're less likely toreach a million dollars in revenue. I think companies with male foundersreceived funding after their first round, close to 35% of the times. Butfor female founders, that's around 2%. So my question for you is, Why do youthink that is? Perhaps it is an innovation issue, Perhaps not. And whatcan we do to kind of shift those patterns? Really, Really. Good question.Um, I feel bad given the answer, because the answer kind of sucks, butI'm going to give it on based on as much data as I remember. You are rightthat the data shows that it's mostly an innovation problem that what gets lostin those stats is that a lot of women...

...entrepreneurs are starting businessesfor products that only women want that are inherently like. VCs cannot investin those companies, not all of them. But, you know, if you're opening up, uh,waxing shop downtown and if there's one shop you know it's not scalable unlessit's a brand, obviously, but a lot of the data shows and a lot of women aredoing, you know, starting companies while they're having kids as well. Andso it's a little bit part time. It can be again. This is based on data notbeing not beating them up for doing that. I'm just saying that what getslost in some of these numbers is, um, that on a whole, they're just tends tobe less innovation happening. And so it's very hard. Thio. They're notventure back herbal like there's a There's a model for providing venturecapital to a company, and it's based on unique I P. It's based on somethingthat's extremely scalable, and you just look at the stats there. There's morewomen than men in university, but there's a hell of a lot more men inengineering, and the most technically backed startups are founded by men whohave an engineering background because they understand the technology. And sothose air are way bigger things to get over than just saying what we need.More funding set aside for just women. Another big reason at the early stage,and I've seen it because I'm an early stage angel investor, have invested inabout a dozen companies. And what happened to the early stages? You don'thave a lot of data, right? You can't look at a lot of sales or churn or thekey inputs on what you would decide on it to invest in the company. So whatinvestors do is they invest entirely based on the entrepreneur. You know,they back the jockey, not the horse. So they back the entrepreneur, not theidea, and they don't realize they're doing it. But a lot of investors liketo invest in people that remind them of themselves when they were younger,right, and I've even seen it with myself. I'll come across a woman that'sexcited and hyper and kind of like me, and I'll go, Oh, yeah, I think I thinkthis. This could work and I don't do it on purpose. I'm not sexist towards menat all, but I gain. There's something in there at the studies, air startingto unravel that because, you know, 97% of a big angel on D. C. Investors aremen. That is a real staff the 97% of start ups that get backed at an earlystage. And you have to do the early stage for you to the late stage. So youknow, you have to get through that that that step. They tend to be men, maybefor that reason, but there's, you know, this is a This is not a problem that wecan solve right away, because again, it's it's rooted in culture. And ifyou're a little girl and your parents are telling you to play with the Barbieand not something I'm not giving you the same the same, I don't know. I have,ah, nieces, nephews that play Minecraft like obsessively, and it's greatbecause now the girl is playing the same s so that that's great. But, youknow, if I just think it's a very, very complicated answer, and I'm sorry thatI don't have an easy answer. You are right on the data, but a bunch of thosethings all contribute to it. But even even just growing your business andgetting sales if you can't raise money until you have sales. And half the timeI was selling two men in positions of power, they would be CEOs and they'd bein their late fifties and I'd be 20 and I'd be a young woman, and I'm lesslikely to go out for dinner with them until one in the morning to close thesale. I mean, I did anyways, but it's more intimidating, you know? So Sothere's all of these little factors that build up that all contribute to it.But we are having a moment. I think I've never seen I'm I'm on aninvestment committee for VC fund called Disruption Ventures, and we're raisinglots of funding were only investing in women led start ups, and we're seeing alot of that type of momentum happening now. The government stepped in and setaside funding just for women led companies. So we're gonna Seymour andMawr, and then we're going to see more women entrepreneurs be successful andthen mentor the next generation, and it's only going to get better. So Iknow it's a long winded answer, but its's a fascinating answer. And to justgo right back to the reason you guys are in this class. One of thecontributing factors is that their data is showing that there's less innovationand women led businesses than male lead businesses. And I think it's a bunch ofreasons. But But that is, that is, what I've understood is, on the most part,one of the reasons, And you don't have to be technical to be innovative, right?We've talked about this. You can. You can have 70 year olds doing the splitson the first base. That could be an innovation. So I think the more womenstart to see that you don't have to be an engineer or your innovation could bereaching the customer in a different way or the business model, not just thetechnology. I think the more that we see that, the more we're going to seemore companies. You're talking about sales in thebeginning, Nicole, and so I don't wanna I don't wanna pump retires too muchtyranny. She's gonna blush. But tyranny was one of the finalists for the greatCanadian sales Challenge. It started...

...with 2200 students across Canada, andshe made it to the final 16. No big deal, no big deal. You're looking for a salesperson. Uh, you may want to connect with. I am right now. I am looking fora sales person. I need a sales person who wants to sell wine rocks. Who willbe in touch? She'll be on it. She'll follow up with you. Be careful. Uh, echeck it out. I actually do. We actually do need somebody. Uh, Cyrus,you had a question that they're your cellar genius dot com. Cyrus had aquestion about superpowers go for its iris. Um, yeah. So my question was solast week, our speaker, Alan Gartner, talked about how his superpower was nothaving foam. Oh, I think a quick definition of this is kind of like,what do you think differentiates you or makes you, like, unique around fromthose around you? So my question is like, What do you think your superpoweris? Oh, my gosh. Oh, wow. Um, I have to think about this. I think it's changeda lot, too. My superpower now is like cutting to the crux of something likevery quickly trying to get to the to the to figure out. I know that's notlike a sexy like a straightforward one, but like very quickly being able to see,like what needs to happen. Like I was just listening to pitches here rightbefore this class and you know, very quickly being able to see what theirissue Waas, that's a great great superpower can be. That's the worstsuperpower ever. I need to think of a better one. E was the word after I saidI was like That was awful. No, it za great one. I think you share it with myIt can be annoying because my my wife, Justine, who you know, she just sees itfaster than me all the time. And so there's so many times where I'll belike long as I do. It's trying to explain things in a long winded way,and she's the one who's like Now I got It's this like just let me I just wannaBut she's so quick. She's always so quick to get to the root of something.And she's She's always there faster than that because she's smarter thanthat. Michael, to build on that you. So go ahead. Ask your question. Hi, Nicole.So my question is, what is your opinion on striking a balance between pursuinga pre existing talent and working to acquire a new one? Okay, this this is areally good question. Um, I have gone back and forth on this because when Iwas starting my business, I needed to be better at accounting, so I obviouslyhad to learn enough skills to be to be good enough accounting. Um, I am a firmbeliever now that I think that you shouldn't care about the things thatyou're not good at and that you should just double down on all the stuff thatyou are. And, um, if you're an entrepreneur, higher, the higher theskills around you that you're not good at. So, like, I truly tried to work onbeing more detail aren't to be more. You know, all the things that I'm notknown for and I had to do it in early days in our team was small, but then Ijust prioritized hiring an incredible ops person, an incredible CFO. And thenI got to doom or of sales, the growth, the other stuff. So I would say, keepdoubling down on what you are good at. Thank you. What? I'm able to follow upon that, Eric really quickly. E was going to say, Would you still wouldthat still apply to somebody who's very young, like a like a 21 year oldhypothetically, right, Michael? Yeah. No, that that's a good point because,you know, if a 21 year old came into the company and they're really good atselling but then they didn't I don't know, Philip fill in the CRM. And sothey were, like, totally locking any detail or diligence. Then, like itwould it would it could be a fault. Um, I guess it, I guess it depends. I thinkthat for the most part, that one's hard. I kind of need more specifics about,like what? The challenges and what you're not sure about. But I think thegeneral rule is, um is to spend more time doubling down on what you'rereally good at and then own it, right? So you're going in for an interview,you say, like these. This is what I'm really, really strong at. And it woulddo well in this environment, right? So maybe you need more structure or lessstructure, or you wanna work commission on Lee or or maybe you're you aredetail oriented. And you you know what I mean? It's kind of hard to say, butit sucks because big companies, from what I've seen, tend to like very wellrounded people. Whereas I'm the opposite. Yes, that's right. Thank youvery much. Let's go. Will Will. On track. You had a good question aboutKobe. It actually. Oh, yeah, for sure. First off. Thanks, Nicole. This hasbeen super super awesome. So far on my question is, uh, this time of coverthas really shone a spotlight on the fact that we need to be able to benimble in both our businesses and in...

...our personal lives. And that ability topivot and innovate has really been magnified. It's a skill necessary tosurvive these days. And so I was wondering if there are any leaders youadmire and draw inspiration from for the way that they innovate. Are thereany leaders I draw inspiration from? Oh, man. Oh, my gosh. I have no idea. Um itis true that cove it has has shone a spotlight. Um, but I'll just say I'mnot answering the question at all, but I will say about Cove it that I thinkthat the opportunity for all of you has has become even bigger in the sensethat we have accelerated the economy by a decade in one year in this notion ofdigitization and innovation and all of the skills that all of you, I'm sureare very strong at. And so the number of companies that are being forced withwithout, you know, like I was selling Enterprise Cloud based supply chainsoftware for the last decade and the number of my clients that were still onon premise so that they couldn't access any of their data if they were not inthe office at the exact location was unbelievable. Some of the largestcompanies that it would shock you Well, they're all being shook shaken intothis notion that they have to digitize and and do all of these things. Thio beready for, you know, global pandemics. and and many other potential crises. SoI think that's a big opportunity for you guys. Um leader I admire. I don'tknow. Maybe I'll have to get back to Eric on that, but I there's so many.Can't think of one right now. Is everybody doing it right in? Yeah,everybody doing it right in Canada. I feel like a lot of people look ThioTobias lately. ATT's Shopify. I just feel like he's just way ahead of a lotof things. Um, like a very future like forward looking person. And I just love.We talk about putting yourself out there and having the courage to bedisliked. We were talking about that earlier. He just doesn't. He's just him,you know, like he does not care. He puts his opinions out there and doesn'tcare if they're contrary to popular opinion. These you know, the primeCanadian example right now, but he has the courage to be disliked, I think,and he's a German that immigrated to Canada because he met a girl in Germany.So there is another example of driving immigrants to Canada. Thio, you know,here, living in his girlfriend's basement, trying Thio, make payroll,and it's just that struggle. That combination of that struggle could bereally good. Could be. Could be really kind of forces entrepreneurship. Butyeah, I know there's that. He's a great example, because, um, you know, hehasn't changed from what I know about him in the last decade at all, in thesense that he hasn't gotten Really It's very Canadian. Hasn't gotten two weeks.You know, ego hasn't gotten too big etcetera, but yeah, hasn't settled downlike their latest innovation is in fulfillment, which is which isbrilliant taking on Amazon. So I love it. I mean, they are a really goodexample. Yeah. Yeah. Nicole, how can we help you? You've been so generous withyour time that I ve This year you came back almost in back to back sessionsweeks later, after you had checked off the ivy lists and you thought we weregonna bug you for a while. And then little did you know I'd come right backand ask you to come speaking class. So how come we you helpful for you? Oh, mygosh. I don't know. You guys aren't bugging me at all. This is fun. Andit's easy, especially with the drive to London. I remember coming to Ivy, andit was like, Do you mind coming out of the class? You had no problem. Therewas this huge snowstorm that Onley hit London and I had the wrong car for thatsnowstorm, and I was like, Oh, God. But no, this is easy. This is just and onehours, um, call between the others. Um calls. Yeah, pop on. I love your yourbackgrounds. Legit minds all made up and fabricated. Where is this? Youroffice? Yeah. So I bought a place in Kaledin an hour north of Toronto, andit's like an old 18 built in 18 30 or something stone Stone house. And thisis the new addicts. So I turned it into an office because there is an office inthe house. But this is like I have a D h d. And so, like, I need to besecluded in an attic, where to get out of this office, there's a ladder that'slike rickety, and so it's like you don't just get up and go and sit at thekitchen. Tables are eating, so it's been it's been very critical of Lostsix z. Awesome. Like Cinderella in the attic. That's awesome. That's awesome.Anything you wish I would have asked Nicole. Like, look, these air. Thesewere probably the most entrepreneurial people at Ivy right now. These arepeople that give a shit about personal development. Um, and they're justtrying to figure it out. Any advice to your I don't know, 21 year old cell foranything that you wish I would have covered that I didn't. Well, the adviceI have for my 21 year old self is just, like, just try things and not care somuch about the perception of how they look. So, yeah, for anyone in the classthat wants to reach out to me. Go ahead.

And I think tyranny already promised tocome work for free to have good sales experience. I'm seller Genius stuck off.That's awesome. That's awesome. Nicole, you've been super generous. Eappreciate you coming in. Thank you so much. Good to reconnect with you andwe'll see you. I don't know. Hopefully in person at some point in the future.Yeah. See you later. Thanks, guys. Dig here. You've been listening to the ivyentrepreneur podcast toe. Ensure that you never miss an episode. Subscribe tothe show in your favorite podcast player or visit ivy dot c a forwardslash entrepreneurship. Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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