Saturday, 18/11/2017 | 2:44 UTC-5

Small Business Summit Guest Speaker Group

Below you will find a list of the persons who have donated their time to be a Guest Speaker at one of the Small Business Summit events. We would like to express our thanks and gratitude for each and every one who participated in our events and hope that they will consider returning to a future event.

Included with this list is a short bio of each Guest Speaker with their contact link to their LinkedIn profile so that you may contact them if you wish to do so.

Guest Speaker:  Gayle RobinGuest Speaker - Gayle Robin
Strategic Ampersand Inc

With more than 25 years of high level business experience, Gayle Robin is a true entrepreneur who shares her marketing expertise with a variety of Canadian enterprise clients.

Gayle began her career in marketing promoting some of the world’s most well-known health and beauty and consumer packaged goods brands. In 1985, Gayle’s entrepreneurial spirit and an awareness of a missing link in communications agency service offerings prompted her to start her own agency focussing on business-to-business direct marketing and public and media relations services.

In 1991, she became a founding partner of StrategicAmpersand Inc., a full-service marketing communications agency specializing in technology. Gayle and her partner focussed on creating an agency with a difference, one which partners with select clients to produce integrated programs utilizing all elements of the marketing mix to cost-effectively serve clients and provide employees with innovative blue-chip accounts on which to hone their skills. After more than 21 years in business, StrategicAmpersand is well-regarded as an agency that produces innovative, creative work, has longstanding relationships with clients, unprecedented employee retention, and continues to evolve to serve clients in new and exciting ways.

Gayle was honoured to be profiled as one of 19 successful entrepreneurs in the recently published #1 best-selling, non-fiction book called “That’ll Never Work” (

Gayle has been married to husband Michael for 25 years and is an avid Latin dancer and performer, culinary whiz and amateur oenophile.


Guest Speaker:  Fiona GilliganGuest Speaker - Fiona Gilligan
Arranmore Holdings, Inc.

Entrepreneur, Investor, Speaker. As a successful entrepreneur turned investor, Fiona’s passion is encouraging others to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career option while also encouraging successful entrepreneurs to invest in startup companies. Fiona coaches, mentors and invests in startup companies and through public speaking shares her story of how she became a successful entrepreneur.

Fiona graduated MSW, BA (Honours) with extensive and demonstrated experience in StartUp innovation, business strategy and corporate leadership as the Founder and Chief Executive Officer for 12 years of the Trauma Management Group (, Canada’s largest private sector trauma services company. Fiona initiated, managed and advanced all aspects of business sustainability and growth, through demonstrated leadership of a high skilled team of senior advisors specialized in product development and service delivery, performance management and strategic planning for profitability and growth. Fiona sold the company in 2007 to focus on other ventures.
Currently, as Founder and CEO of Arranmore Holdings, Inc., which specializes in private equity and venture capital, Fiona spends her time coaching, mentoring and investing. She is also a Founding Partner of an Ottawa based micro fund that invests in beta based companies. In 2012, Fiona was nominated for the RBC Top 100 Canadian Women Entrepreneurs and in 2001 Fiona was a finalist for the Women of Distinction Awards Ottawa.

Fiona is on Faculty for the Carleton University Entrepreneurship Center (Lead to Win), an organizer with the International Startup Festival (Montreal) and a Founding member of Female Founders (Ottawa). Fiona is also called upon regularly to participate in judging panels for various technology based startup events. Fiona lives in Ottawa with her two children and to learn more about her, please visit: or @Fiona_Gilligan.



Guest Speaker:  Michael CarterGuest Speaker -Michael Carter


Michael spent the bulk of his career hunting for number ones. Despite a very successful foray into Sales and Customer Service, it was the 20+ years running his own thriving recruiting firm that defined him. From pharmaceuticals to branding to consumer packaged goods, Michael has been unrelenting when it comes to identifying, recruiting, assessing and coaching top talent.
As a partner in the Recruiting and Consulting firm, 121Bakerstreet Inc. , for 9 years and another 7 years as a Sr. Talent Consultant, his focus continued to be recruiting and coaching Sr. Talent within the Pharmaceutical, Ophthalmology, Medical devices, Consumer Package goods, Retail and Telecommunications industries.
The culmination of his experiences, passions and talents have given birth to LeapAgents – a firm dedicated to propelling people forward. Whether it’s cultivating a better life balance, realizing their personal and corporate goals or recruiting, hiring and coaching the very best talent, every aspect of his business is custom tailored to the precise needs of his customers. Consider it a bespoke firm that focuses on igniting the passions and ideas of Managers, leaders and those who can become change agents for themselves or within their firms.

As principal of the LeapAgents brand, the passion and focus has been developing, recruiting, coaching and championing the Human brand within the Advertising, Package design, Branding, P.R. Marketing, Retail, Consumer Package goods, Foods, Pharmaceutical and Telecommunications industries.
He has built a reputation for being methodical, detailed, direct and yet showing particular care for both the candidates and his corporate clients alike. Michael and the LeapAgents brand acts as an extension of your company by being true brand ambassadors and advocates of your corporate brand. The belief is that when corporate clients create the right work environment, great ideas and talent can flourish. They do not believe in the quick, resume churning, fulfillment recruiting-style that is still popular with some firms. Their belief is that the right Fit for your environment, truly matters. Michael is never satisfied with learning just what you do and where you did it but his focus is always ..the WHY. He believes in Personal Branding , the idea that
brand has a story and that everyone on the planet is a Brand. At LeapAgents, everyone believes that great storytelling can create magic.

What truly distinguishes Michael is his ability to break down complex ideas. He is a storyteller by nature, he is very passionate and has an innate ability to get to the heart of a matter, and, he is fiercely loyal and dedicated.

The best people create better environments, better ideas and better lives.


Guest Speaker:  Eric Fournier
Guest Speaker - Eric Fournier Partner and Executive Producer
Moment Factory

Prior to joining Moment Factory in 2007, Eric Fournier was Senior Vice President, New Ventures and member of the Executive Committee of Cirquedu Soleil (2002-2006) where he led the development of events, media, hospitality and arena shows. He was also Vice President, Strategic Planning at Bombardier (1996-2001) where he significantly contributed to the growth of the company into one of the world’s leading manufacturers of railway equipment. Eric Fournier holds an MBA from McGill University and a BBA from the Universite du Quebec a Montreal.


Guest Speaker:  Wade HendersonGuest Speaker - Wade Henderson
IMM Financial Solutions Inc

Mr. Henderson has been in the Finance industry since 1998 with a concentration on Commercial Lending since 2004.  As of 2006 he has been concentrated in International Finance doing business throughout North America, South America and Europe.  Wade has repeatedly demonstrated tenacity and professionalism in every project that he has been a part of.

Wade’s main focus for his Career has been Business Development with an emphasis on challenging situations.  Never being content to staying in the main stream finance avenue and has always sought out challenges throughout the turbulent economic times over the last several years has show his ability to be dynamic and seek out opportunities.

In 2006 Wade started IMM Financial to tailor his skills and open opportunities for companies in search of funding for their Accounts Receivable Factoring, Purchase Order Finance, Equipment Leasing, Commercial Mortgages not to mention Project Financing and Venture Capital.

Specialties: “Creative Finance – ever since day 1 of my career, this has been my focus and what has set me apart from others in the industry”.

My tenacious demeanor, coupled with the resourcefulness and intelligence acquired over the years has shown time and time again, there is usually a way to get it done.  It may take a long time and it may be difficult, but there is usually a way.


Guest Speaker:  Jamie SalterGuest Speaker - James Salter
Authentic Brands Group

For more than 20 years, Jamie Salter has consistently generated upper quartile returns for investors in numerous lifestyle brand related activities. Jamie’s success encompasses the full spectrum of business activities.

Brands that Jamie has controlled or partnered in include Ride Snowboards, TapouT, Polaroid, House of Marley (Bob Marley), Marilyn Monroe, GSI Commerce, Sharper Image, Airwalk, Tommy Armour Golf, Caribbean Joe, Halston, Bombay, Ellen Tracy Sims, Vision Street Wear, Sinister, Iron Star, Hitman, SilverStar, Linens ‘N Things, Lamar, LTD, Ultra Wheels and Ram. He was innovative and instrumental in adjoining talent, Sarah Jessica Parker to Halston and Lady Gaga to Polaroid as Creative Directors to each Brand.

Jamie has completed well over $4 billion of brand-related investments which have included both growth companies and turnarounds. His record of outstanding performance is a clear demonstration of his visionary ability to recognize value and seize opportunity.


Guest Speaker:  Zvi Halpern-ShavimGuest Speaker - Zvi Halpern-Shavim
Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP

Zvi’s practice involves all areas of commodity tax, with a focus on planning and advising clients in connection with the goods and services tax, the harmonized sales tax, provincial sales tax, insurance premium tax, customs valuation, tariff classification, import/export restrictions, and various aspects of the North American Free Trade Agreement and Canada’s other bilateral trade agreements.

Zvi first joined Blakes as a summer student and articled as a clerk at the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Select Experience

Recent representative matters include advising:

-McKesson Corporation on its purchase of Katz Group Canada Inc.’s banner and franchise pharmacy businesses

-Wynnchurch Capital on its acquisition of North American road safety business NSC Minerals

-Amalgamated Metals on its divestiture of metal conglomerate Premetalco to Nova Capital

-Fairfax Financial Holdings on its acquisition of William Ashley Limited

-Bank of America on its sale of an C$8-billion Canadian credit card portfolio to the Toronto Dominion Bank

-Rockstar Bidco, a consortium of technology companies including Sony, RIM, Apple, Microsoft and Ericsson, and Ericsson on the US$4.5-billion purchase at auction of Nortel Networks’ portfolio of over 6,000 patents


Guest Speaker:  Mark OrganGuest Speaker - Mark Organ

Mark Organ is the CEO of Influitive, a pioneer in customer advocate management and mobilization solutions. Influitive recently raised $3.75M in one of the largest seed rounds ever completed in Canada, with top-tier venture capital firms on both sides of the border like First Round Capital, Relay Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures and New Enterprise Associates participating.

Before founding Influitive in 2010, Organ helped technology companies in both North America and Asia launch new products and markets as President of Organized Management.

Organ is a co-founder and former President and CEO of Eloqua (ELOQ), where he served from 1999-2007. Eloqua is the clear global leader in the fast growing cloud-based marketing automation software market.

As a respected thought leader, Organ has a strategic vision of the evolution of the business-to-business marketing organization. Organ sits on the Board of Directors for Game Ventures andhe continues to be a regular speaker at industry events.

Organ holds a M.S. in Neurosciences from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, and a B.Sc. (Honours) in Life Sciences from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada.


Guest Speaker:  Julie TuerGuest Speaker - Julie Tuer

Lesley Varga & Associates

Julie Tuer has over 15 years of providing executive recruitment services for Lesley Varga and Associates to top tier firms in Canada and around the globe. She has a passion for finding the best talent and has a unique view of the changing business and job market environment.

Julie has experience in the full life cycle of the recruitment process from relationship management and sourcing of qualified candidates to interview preparation and coaching. She has expertise and tenacity in specialized searches and provides deeper research to source candidates that are passively looking on the job market. She has also been involved in Human Resource Consulting designing internal programs and customized software for analysis to aid in retention strategies. She has experience recruiting for financial services, consulting, insurance companies, pension firms, consumer goods and retail. Julie is a graduate from Ryerson University.

Julie is equally as passionate in balancing her busy family life and loves her cottage, tennis and downhill skiing.



Guest Speaker:  Derek DeCloetGuest Speaker - Derek DeCloet
Editor, Report on Business
The Globe and Mail

Derek DeCloet has been writing about business and finance since the late 1990s. He joined the Globe and Mail in 2003 and began writing Vox, the newspaper’s popular investment column. He won the 2009 National Magazine Award for business writing. His column appears monthly in Report on Business Magazine.



Guest Speaker:  Terry BrodieGuest Speaker - Terry Brodie
Senior Editor
The Globe and Mail

Terry Brodie is a senior editor for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Small Business and an award-winning veteran reporter and editor who has worked for numerous media outlets in Canada and abroad, including The Globe and Mail since 1996.

She previously oversaw a variety of sections of The Globe, most recently as editor of Globe Careers.

Past work experiences range from The Financial Times of Canada, CHUM Radio and The London Free Press in Canada to Crain’s Cleveland Business in the United States. and Newsview Magazine in Israel.

Her freelance work has appeared in publications including Business Week, Maclean’s Magazine, Investors Daily and Jerusalem Report.

Terry has an Honours Bachelor of Journalism degree with a combined major in sociology from Carleton University, a year of further studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and graduated from the Canadian Securities Course.

She has won a Southam award of excellence and was nominated for two Canadian National Magazine Awards. She also won a Rotary International Educational Award in Journalism for Study Abroad, which took her to Israel.



Guest Speaker:  Tim KiladzeGuest Speaker - Tim Kiladze
The Globe and Mail

Tim Kiladze is a business reporter with The Globe and Mail. Before joining the Globe, he worked in fixed-income trading at RBC Dominion Securities and investment banking at National Bank Financial.



Guest Speaker:  Marc CastelGuest Speaker - Marc Castel
Maintenance Assistant Inc.

Marc Castel is an engineering graduate from the University of Toronto with 27 years of business experience in both the private and public sectors.

His track record includes senior executive, ownership and science positions in diverse SMEs including industrial manufacturing, medical devices, robotics, and enterprise software with several successful start-ups under his belt.

In addition to his engineering work in the petrochemical field, Castel was the Chief Scientist and a co-owner of a private multi-national plastic manufacturing company where he was involved in R&D, engineering, industrial automation, quality management systems implementation, and corporate restructuring.

Castel also founded and built novel astronomy-related businesses in robotics, and e-commerce.

Castel has spent many years as a commercialization specialist. As Director of Commercialization for the Ontario Centres of Excellence, he developed and managed a portfolio of academic-industry research collaborations and was involved in the funding and mentoring of over 40 high-tech start-ups.

Castel is also a business mentor for young entrepreneurs through CYBF, WBT, Communitech and TiEQuest. He also founded the Resource Alliance, a network of over 400 commercialization professionals that helps grow early stage companies.

Castel has also had a long career in Medical Devices. As the prior Managing Director and co-owner of a Canadian manufacturer and distributor of medical products, he implemented major first-to-market launches of emerging technologies and developed a highly successful and profitable line of medical diagnostic equipment and software. Castel went on to become the International Marketing Director of a US public multi-national medical device company where he managed and grew international sales. His Medical career also included the successful development and growth of multi-disiplinary medical centres and a 15 year career teaching medicine to health care professionals around the world.


Guest Speaker:  Mike McCauleyGuest Speaker - Mike McCauley

Mike McCauley is Co-Founder of BufferBox – a network of automated package delivery kiosks allowing consumers to ship parcels and online purchases directly to pick-up stations; solving the problem of failed deliveries by allowing 24/7 pickup. Consumers are able to send packages and online purchases to BufferBox locations at grocery and convenience stores as well as transit hubs and they receive an email notification with a unique code when it is ready for pick-up. BufferBox recently graduated from the Summer 2012 Y Combinator class.


Guest Speaker:  Michael LittGuest Speaker - Michael Litt

Michael graduated from Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2011. During his tenure at the University, he co-founded LittEnergies, PhoneWreck and Redwoods Media. During his 4th year of studies, Redwoods Media grew to over $300,000 in revenue and the necessity of a platform to manage the content became apparent. Vidyard is the brain-child of Redwoods Media and the clients it serves. After being funded by Y Combinator’s Summer 2011 class, he went on to raise money from some of Silicon Valley’s best and he looks forward to continued growth of both Redwoods Media and Vidyard.


Guest Speaker:  Ivor TossellGuest Speaker - Ivor Tossell
Globe and Mail

Ivor Tossell writes about urban affairs, technology and culture, and has reported extensively on the tech trends that affect small business. Among other outlets, his work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Report on Business Magazine, Canadian Business, and The Walrus.


Guest Speaker:  Paul WaldieGuest Speaker - Paul Waldie
The Globe and Mail

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated two other times including in 2012 in the breaking news category. He has also earned a nomination for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism and won a Sports Media Canada award for coverage of the bankruptcy of the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes. Waldie also authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family and has also won a silver medal at the National Magazine Awards for business writing.
Waldie is a former national editor of the National Post and he has worked at newspapers in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Montreal. He is also a regular commentator and host on BNN.

Born in Winnipeg, Waldie attended New Mexico State University and Simon Fraser University on athletic scholarships, earning All Conference and All American honours in track as well as a Canadian cross country championship. He graduated from SFU in 1983 with an arts degree and headed to Ottawa to work as an executive assistant for a Member of Parliament. He returned to Toronto in 1990 and completed a graduate journalism degree at Ryerson University.


Guest Speaker:  Bill WuGuest Speaker - Bill Wu
Managing Director & Head of Commercial Banking GTA Markets
BMO Bank of Montreal

Bill Wu is Managing Director & Head of Commercial Banking for the GTA. Bill is a seasoned banker with over 20 year experience in commercial and corporate markets. His experience includes diversified industries, food, health care, utility, project finance, senior and subordinate debt, M&A and Treasury Management. Bill has a Bachelor Commerce, Master Business Administration and a Certified Managerial Accountant.


Guest Speaker:  Anthony LacaveraGuest Speaker - Anthony Lacavera
Chairman & CEO
WIND Mobile

Anthony Lacavera, Chairman and CEO of Globalive Communications and WIND Mobile, is a Canadian-born telecom entrepreneur. Anthony founded Globalive in 1998 and co-founded Wind Mobile in 2008.

Anthony was named CEO of the Year for 2010 by the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine and was named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2006. Under Anthony’s leadership Globalive has received numerous best in business awards, including ranking #1 on Profit Magazine’s 2004 list of Canada’s 100 fastest growing companies, one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for seven consecutive years, and twice listed as one of Canada’s 30 Best Workplaces.

In 2007 Anthony founded the SHAMBA foundation a unique charity that assists other charities with fundraising and organizational efforts. Anthony co-produced the award-winning Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in London in 2010.

Anthony is a pilot, and enjoys flying for both work and leisure. He also enjoys snow-skiing, golf, and personal fitness.


Guest Speaker:  Zbigniew BarwiczGuest Speaker - Zbigniew Barwicz
President & CEO
Pure Energies

Mr. Barwicz sets out the overall direction of Pure Energies and oversees its operations. He brings 14 years of senior management experience to Pure Energies and has led and built organizations for the last ten years, including companies as either the Founder or Co-Founder. As the CEO of SiXtron Advanced Materials, Mr. Barwicz built an international team to leverage the development and commercialization of proprietary, patent-protected manufacturing equipment for the solar industry and established several distribution and strategic joint venture agreements with global companies. He has raised multiple venture capital rounds from institutional investors and has led M&A and MBO transactions, as well as worldwide distribution deals for several companies, including the sale of Measurement Microsystems to Bookham, generating a return on investment of up to 11x for its investors in 24 months. In 2009, he was nominated as Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young. Mr. Barwicz holds an MBA from HEC Montreal and was trained in Real Estate Law at the Institute Jean Guy Leboeuf.


Guest Speaker:  Sean StanleighGuest Speaker - Sean Stanleigh
Report on Small Business

Sean Stanleigh is the editor of Report on Small Business. His goal is to make ROSB the primary destination for readers in search of information and compelling stories about Canada’s small-business community, which continues to grow in size and influence. Mr. Stanleigh has an extensive background in journalism, including a number of senior editing positions at The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star.


Guest Speaker:  Sharon VinderineGuest Speaker - Sharon Vinderine
PTPA Media Inc.

Sharon Vinderine is the Founder of
PTPA Media. PTPA stands for Parent Tested Parent Approved. It’s where over 100,000 parents come on a monthly basis to make purchasing decisions for their

PTPA was started because as an inventor of a baby product, Vinderine was looking for ways to promote her new product. She
submitted her product to several awards because they all promised to help her reach her consumer audience should her product earn their seal. She was disappointed to find that it seemed everyone who applied for an award was an automatic winner and that there was
neither feedback on the product nor any outreach as promised. This prompted the creation of The Parent Tested Parent Approved Awards.

PTPA is based on the foundation that consumers care about the opinions of their peers. They make purchasing decisions based on their friends and families experience with a product. What better way to choose award winners? Over 40,000 authentic families across North America voluntarily test products for PTPA and provide their feedback through detailed evaluations. PTPA then scores each product and selects award recipients every two months. PTPA then promotes those winning products to consumers through newsletters, social media outreach, television and radio shows and partnerships with magazines.

As an emerging leader in her field, Vinderine has been acknowledged by the media as an industry leader and innovator. The editor of Profit Magazine has recommended Sharon as a “top notch Entrepreneur with tremendous smarts”. She has appeared on over 50 morning shows on TV networks including ABC, NBC and the Fox News Network. Vinderine has been invited to feature the PTPA Media winning products on shows such as The Rachael Ray Show, Fox and Friends, WPIX, WGN Chicago, South Florida Today, Fox 25 and Canada AM.

Prior to the formation of PTPA Media, Vinderine was already serving as head of her own private company, Small Made Simple, Inc. that focuses on the creation and distribution of baby products such as the award-winning Kangaroo Towel™.

Before venturing into the world of baby products, Vinderine was the founder of the first wireless Internet company in Canada, MIPPS Net Online which was ranked as one of “Canada’s Hottest Start Ups” which she later sold to Primus Telecommunications.

Originally from Canada, Vinderine received her Double Honours degree from York University in Toronto and continues leading her two successful companies –PTPA Media and Small Made Simple — from Toronto, Canada where she resides with her family.


Guest Speaker:  Matthew SlutskyGuest Speaker - Matthew Slutsky
Founder and President

Matthew is the President and Founder of BuzzBuzzHome, Canada’s largest listing of new construction homes. The website now lists information for over 5,000 Canadian residential projects and is currently expanding its database in the US, beginning in New York.

With a background in land development, Matthew possesses a wealth of knowledge on the inner-workings of the new development industry. This knowledge has been integral to the advancement of BuzzBuzzHome. He also spearheads the company’s seemingly ubiquitous social media presence.


Guest Speaker:  Steve MartelGuest Speaker - Steve Martel
CEO and Founder
Martel Group of Companies Inc.

As the President and Founder of Martel Group of Companies Inc. and Martel Alliance, Steve is committed to being a social entrepreneur and building innovative businesses that are also forces for good. He strongly believes in the importance of cultivating a culture of Canadian entrepreneurs and today is Canada’s foremost U.S. real estate mentor.

Recognized for his expertise, Steve has dedicated much of his career to building real estate related companies and coaching Canadians on how they can invest in U.S. property. Steve is well-known for his highly engaged leadership style and building strong teams that bring value and revenue opportunities to his students.

With more than a decade of extensive experience in real estate sales, acquisitions, investments, and asset management, Steve has first-hand knowledge of how to make the most of cross-border opportunities. Growing up in a family where both of his parents practiced real estate in Ottawa, Steve’s expertise in property investment enables him to play an integral role mentoring Canadians in evaluating and acquiring property in the U.S.

In addition to purchasing multiple properties a month across the U.S., Steve is devoted to his philanthropic work through his foundation, Martel Alliance. A dedicated social entrepreneur and supporter of rebuilding communities, Steve founded the House for a Home program in 2012.

As a “family first” businessman, Steve balances his busy travel schedule and quality time with his wife and three young children in Ottawa. When he’s not in the field or in the office, Steve can be found enjoying his passion for the outdoors; snowboarding, boat surfing or biking with friends and family.


Guest Speaker:  Jesse DeCostaGuest Speaker - Jesse Capon
DECOSTA Marketing Inc.

Jesse DeCosta has done what many small Canadian business owners will only dream of. He’s cracked one of the toughest, most cut-throat and impenetrable markets: Hollywood. Not only has he made an undeniable mark, Mr. DeCosta and his global brand management and licensing company, DECOSTA Marketing Inc., have cultivated a star-studded roster of clients and become indispensable. For over 10 years Jesse DeCosta and his team have shaped the images of Hollywood legends like Will Smith, Jamie Foxx, Kevin James, Jayden Smith, Willow Smith and the Estate of Tupac Shakur, to name a small few.

His company centres on the A-list celebrities he represents south of the border, including the likes of Michael Jackson’s family and many other high profile names. While his business runs in virtual anonymity in Southern Ontario, he is extremely well known in Hollywood by premier celebrities in the world, their studios and their record labels.

“People tend to think I work with agents, through managers or maybe just handle the Canadian side of my clients’ business… they can’t believe that someone from Ontario is managing these brands globally”, says DeCosta.

It also helps, as it did for Mr. DeCosta, to be ahead of the game and have an early understanding of the next big thing.

“In the mid- to late nineties, not a lot of companies were building websites for artists, and the ones that were, were mostly record labels,” he recalls. “We came along and were trying to build a Web presence using things like webcasts, live chats, things that were really groundbreaking at the time.”

His clients have entrusted their online branding strategies, website design and social media management and the like to Mr. DeCosta, and his team and benefit from the company’s global reach to bring licensing deals and other forms of new business to his clients.

Prior to building DECOSTA Marketing, Jesse was President of MCF during the 90s. MCF was a wholly owned subsidiary of Microforum Inc., a publicly traded corporation on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Mr. DeCosta was one of the very few Canadians who were experimenting and building successful brands, business products and services for the Internet, during its emergence in the early 90’s. He provided the creative and marketing strategy for industry leaders around the world in entertainment, financial, energy, automotive, fashion, music, technology and the pharmaceutical industries.


Guest Speaker:  Paul RakGuest Speaker - Paul Rak

Paul Rak is a leader in the energy conservation sector and he is a business owner running both a manufacturing firm and an energy management company. As a Certified Energy Manager recognized by the Association of Energy Engineers Paul has managed over 150 energy projects and his 2 companies have won numerous awards including the 2009 Cambridge Chamber of Commerce Environment Business Excellence Award. In 2010 Paul received recognition by Natural Resources Canada by being awarded the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation Leader status for his manufacturing division due to their massive energy usage reductions including better than 90% cuts in natural gas usage since 2006. Paul is a sought-after speaker for sustainability events and he has spoken at over 50 such venues including the 2009 Ontario Power Authority annual conference, numerous saveONenergy events as far away as Sault Ste. Marie and also at the 2010 Ontario Economic Summit before Premier McGuinty. His green division has been awarded contracts for energy audits with businesses throughout Ontario and Paul has designed at least 4 proprietary energy saving products recognized by funding from Natural Resources Canada. Paul enjoys his weekends off, taking his wife and 6 year old daughter on weekend trips across Southern Ontario and Upstate New York.


Guest Speaker:  Angie DraskovicGuest Speaker - Angela Draskovic
Founder & CEO
ZOE Alliance Inc.

Angie is an accomplished executive, whose experience comprises a unique blend of 25 years of business and non-profit leadership in corporate and entrepreneurial settings. As a senior executive in telecommunications, she established footholds for start-up businesses in competitive markets, implemented new business models for established businesses and led teams to achieve unprecedented sales results of over US$700 million.

Motivated by a desire to apply her entrepreneurial skill set and strategic perspectives to address societal issues, Angie devoted over six years to the non-profit sector during which she helped grow donation revenues for a large hospital charity and established a new foundation which led to over $1.2 million in donations for its beneficiary charity during its first year.

Angie’s experience in both sectors formed the foundation for the vision and birth of ZOE Alliance, a global alliance that harnesses market forces to help developing global communities grow their economies as a sustainable approach to poverty alleviation and exclusion.

Having dedicated herself to life long advocacy for people in developing communities, she volunteers as a board member and advisor for several charitable organizations. When she is not working or volunteering, Angie enjoys learning Spanish, thought provoking books, and long hikes with her husband of 25 years and their two children… whenever they agree to tag along with mom and dad.


Guest Speaker:  Sari FriedmanGuest Speaker - Sari Friedman
Human Resources Consultant and Career Coach

Sari Friedman is a Human Resources Consultant and Coach who specializes in offering high-quality, sophisticated HR support and guidance.

Sari acts as a true partner for organizations seeking HR expertise, and for individuals seeking to create and achieve career goals. Sari has extensive experience in progressive HR management and consultation. She has held numerous formal HR roles in positions such as Recruitment and Development Manager and Vice President of Human Resources.

In 2007, Sari gave herself career advice (which she followed) and became a freelance Human Resources Consultant and Career Coach.

Sari has a Masters of Adult Education in Workplace Learning and Change from The University of Toronto, an Honors Degree in Psychology and a CHRP designation.


Guest Speaker:  Tal DehtiarGuest Speaker - Tal Dehtiar
Oliberte Shoes

Tal Dehtiar, 31,co-founded MBAs Without Borders, an international charity that has engaged hundreds of business professionals from around the world to volunteer and help build small and social businesses in over 25 developing countries including Haiti, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Nicaragua and Colombia. In 2009, he launched the first premium footwear brand made in Africa, Oliberte Limited, which manufactures across Africa and is sold globally. Tal is a recipient of the Ontario Global Trader Award, Arch Award, was nominated for the YMCA Peace Award and nominated for Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and Ernst & Young’s Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2007, he was named one of the International Youth Foundation’s Young Social Entrepreneurs and recently named one Fast Company’s Most Creative Business People for 2012. Tal received his MBA from McMaster University and has a BA from the University of Western Ontario.


Guest Speaker:  Yona ShternGuest Speaker - Yona Shtern
Beyond the Rack

Yona Shtern is the co-founder and CEO of Beyond the Rack – named the fastest growing E-tailer in the USA for 2011 by Internet Retailer Magazine. Launched in 2009, BTR has grown exponentially with over 6 million consumer members, 5,000 brand partners, 360 employees and annual sales in excess of $150 Million.

Prior to co-founding Beyond the Rack, Yona was Chief Marketing Officer of (online jeweler), and CMO of Microcell Telecommunications where he launched the Fido wireless brand in Canada. He was also Vice President of Direct and Database Marketing at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Director of Direct Marketing at Avon Products. He began his career with a BA in English Literature from McGill University.

Yona has been an entrepreneur for over 10 years and is a frequent speaker and panelist at international marketing and technology conferences. He has received numerous awards for his advertising, product launch, and marketing strategies.


Guest Speaker:  Joanna TrackGuest Speaker - Joanna Track
Founder & CEO

Joanna is the Founder and CEO of eLUXE. She has over 15 years experience in marketing, business strategy, branding and advertising. After earning a BA in Mathematics at the University of Western Ontario and an MBA in Finance at Schulich School of Business, she worked in the marketing departments of a variety of companies including The Loyalty group (AIR MILES) and Club Monaco, before landing at Ogilvy & Mather. Joanna built a career at Ogilvy over six years, working on key global accounts, including Amex, FedEx and SAP, doing everything from Brand Advertising
to Direct Marketing to Web. Her stint at Ogilvy took her to New York City, where she worked for a year as an Account Director an honed her skills as a marketer, before returning to the Toronto office in the same role.

Joanna’s entrepreneurial spirit grew strong and in 2004, Sweetspot was born Eight years, three web properties(Sweetspot, Sweetmama, Sweethome), and over 100,000 subscribers later, was the ultimate destination for Canadian women to
stay in the know about what’s new and fabulous in their city. In July 2006, Rogers Publishing recognized this success and purchased a stake in the company, and then acquired the remainder of the company in late 2010.

Joanna has become one of the most well-known and respected digital entrepreneurs in Canada. She is often invited to speak at business and consumer events and is frequently featured in the media on entrepreneurial and digital business matters.


Guest Speaker:  Matt BasileGuest Speaker - Matt Basile
Fidel Gastro’s

Matt Basile, creator and el presidente of Fidel Gastro’s actually started his career off in advertising as a copywriter. After years of working and never feeling connected to his career he decided to combine his passion for food with his ability to market impactful ideas. Fidel Gastro’s originally was planned as a storefront sandwich shop, but when financing seemed almost impossible, Basile scaled his idea way back and branded himself as Fidel Gastro, the “rebel without a kitchen” and opperated as a popup food company, selling food out of other people’s locations and utilizing social media to get is whereabouts across. In 10 months of business, Fidel Gastro’s has been featured in over 15 news publications, sold over 15,000 sandwiches, catered large corporate events and weddings, collaborated with some of Toronto’s best chefs and brands plus most recently launched the Fidel Gastro food truck and and scored his own reality show “rebel without a kitchen”. His business philosophy embraces fun food and creative business solutions. Power to the popup, freedom to the food trucks and viva la revolucion!


Guest Speaker:  Marivel TarucGuest Speakerr - Marivel Taruc

Marivel Taruc is a reporter with CBC News Toronto at 5, 5:30 and 6 pm and is a familiar face to CBC viewers.

Previously, she was the business anchor for CBC News: Morning. In her years as a financial and economics reporter, Taruc covered such stories as the economic aftermath of the World Trade Center attacks, the unprecedented collapse and bailout of GM and Chrysler and the 2008 global economic meltdown. She has interviewed top news makers of the day, including business leaders and federal cabinet ministers.

Taruc began her career as a news reporter in her hometown of Winnipeg. While working at CBC Manitoba, she covered major events, including 1997’s “Flood of the Century” and various federal, provincial and municipal elections.

Taruc graduated from Ryerson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.