Beedie Hosts Scale Up Event with Leading Local Entrepreneurs

Dec 22, 2016

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Canada has earned a reputation as offering a great environment for entrepreneurs taking their first steps into the world of enterprise. But how do you take a successful start-up business to the next level and grow it into a major, multi-million dollar company? That was the question behind Scaling Up: Growing Multi-Million Dollar Companies in Vancouver, an event presented by Discovery Foundation’s Mentoring and Catalyst Program, and hosted by Venture Connection in partnership with SFU’s Beedie School of Business on December 12, 2016.

The event brought together some of the leading lights of Vancouver’s business world to tackle this question and share their experiences in front of an engaged audience of Beedie students and alumni at the Segal Graduate School, many of them entrepreneurs in their own right. As well as the formal panel discussion, the panellists also met with attendees to provide individual mentorship sessions, sharing the lessons of their experience.

The moderator for the event was SFU’s Director of Entrepreneurship, Sarah Lubik, who earlier this year was named as one of Canada’s 10 Innovation Leaders, advising the federal government in developing its Innovation Agenda, and who also runs her own start-up. The highly experienced panel comprised three local entrepreneurs: Shannon Susko, serial entrepreneur and author of The Metronome Effect; Jason Lindstrom, founder of Bucket List; and Greg Malpass, CEO of Traction on Demand.

The panellists at Scaling Up: Growing Multi-Million Dollar Companies in Vancouver

The panel engaged in a lively discussion, covering the challenges of scaling up a business, the value of the Canadian brand and remaining authentic to your roots, how to attract great employees and how to balance financial success with doing good for society. The three had taken widely varying routes in their entrepreneurial journeys, but as the discussion unfolded a number of common themes emerged in their approach to growing a business.

Firstly, all agreed with the importance of surrounding yourself with talented people – whether as mentors from the community of established entrepreneurs, or new employees as the company grows. For Malpass, hiring people with the right attributes is more important than experience or qualifications: “Hire based on cultural fit and intelligence, and have a strategy to create great employees, not hire them.” He also warns against hiring only those who already share your point of view: “Most entrepreneurs hire in their own model – they hire slaves. Hire people with different perspectives and try to embrace them.”

The panellists also emphasized the importance of developing robust processes and frameworks at the early stages of a company’s life to prepare for future growth. For Lindstrom, “Following systems and processes is key to growth.” Susko agrees: “Building a business is hard, but the right framework can set you free.”

When it came to the idea of balancing financial growth and social good, all three panellists were unequivocal: they are one and the same. Lindstrom sums up their position succinctly: “Doing good is good for business.”

The event ended with time for questions and the opportunity for informal discussions at a further mentoring and networking session, as the entrepreneurs put into practice one of their key lessons – the importance of sharing experiences and giving back to the community through engagement.

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