Participants heard from renowned speakers and women entrepreneurs who shared their journeys to success and showcased the technologies, skills and solutions they have developed and implemented. Joining the event was lifelong entrepreneur and former CBC “Dragon” Bruce Croxon and IBM’s VP, Technology Group Skills Vitality & Enablement, professional speaker and author Paul Zikopoulos who shared their wisdom, advice and experience. The five inspiring women pioneers from across Canada included Karen Lai KPM Power Inc, CEO (Toronto); Andrea Descargar, Green City Plastics-Windsor, Business Development and Sales; Madison Guy GrantMe Education Consulting Inc.,Founder and CEO (Vancouver); Pooja Viswanathan, Braze Mobility Inc., CEO (Toronto) and Nancy Campana, Nouveau Event Planning, Owner. They shared their journeys to success including all the ups and downs along the way.
Bruce Croxon made his mark as a digital pioneer by co-founding Lavalife and revolutionizing how people connect. Under his direction, he grew this early tech start-up into the marquee brand in online dating with over two million users. Partner, chairman and CEO, Croxon helped lead the company’s growth from four to 600 employees, while achieving revenue of just under $100 million. Since the sale of Lavalife, Bruce has been active as both an investor and advisor in growth stage companies in the technology sector. As an ex Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, he added a broad range of businesses and products to his portfolio that tapped into his passion for digital media, health, and marketing. Croxon currently helms Round13, a company dedicated to investment in growth stage Canadian tech companies. He also co-hosts The Disruptors on BNN and CTV, a weekly show spotlighting Canadian business and believes our entrepreneurs can hold their own with anyone in the world .
Paul Zikopoulos is an award-winning professional writer and speaker who has been consulted on the topic of AI & Big Data by the popular TV show “60 Minutes”. Most recently, Paul was named to Analytics Insights’ “2019 Top 100 Global AI & Big Data Influencers” list and has appeared on over a dozen other global “Experts to Follow” and “Influencers” lists. You’ll also find Paul taking a very active role around Women in Technology (including a seated board member for Women 2.0 … who he became involved with after his tweet was mentioned on “The View” TV show), general workplace inclusivity (completing an intensive D&I certificate at Cornell University), and Coding for Veterans. In addition, he sits on the Master of Management Analytics & AI program boards at Canada’s prestigious Queen’s University.
Paul has written 20 books on data analytics, Big Data, and AI (including 3 ‘For Dummies’ titles) and 360+ articles during the over 25 years he’s been focused on data; he’s technical enough to know that NoSQL isn’t something you put on a resume if you don’t have SQL skills and he knows JSON is a technology … not a person in his department.
KPM Power Inc. manufactures customized lithium-ion battery solutions, battery management systems, global supply chain, UL certifications and design for manufacturing services. Their vision is to create a positive impact on the environment by accelerating the launch of affordable cleantech and alternative energy products into the market.
Green City Plastics is a plastics reprocessing company pushing for sustainability for the environment & combating industrial waste amongst plastic product manufacturers. In 2019 they moved to a 20,000 square-foot warehouse to accommodate the material that had been deemed unusable by the company that discarded it. The team at Green City Plastics gathers post-industrial plastics that would otherwise end up in a landfill and breaks them down into regrind form—like small bits of plastic mulch. The plastic is resold to be reused and repurposed to various manufacturers throughout Canada, USA, and Asia.
GrantMe is the first technology-enabled platform that helps students across Canada to access funding towards their education without going into debt. The platform matches students to universities and college scholarships. Madison won the CANIE 2020 National Youth Impact Icon award.
Braze Mobility Inc. builds innovative solutions to increase safe and independent mobility. They have developed a patent pending blind spot sensor system that can turn any wheelchair into a smart wheelchair that automatically detects obstacles and provides multi-modal alerts (visual, haptic, and/or audio feedback) to the driver. The key advantages of their products are low cost, adaptability, and multi-modality.
Nouveau Event Planning was established in 1988 with the creation of the annual Wedding Extravaganza Show-a consumer show connecting engaged couples with Wedding businesses. Today Nouveau Event Planning is the longest established producer of Wedding Shows in Canada. The business grew over the years to include a second Wedding Show – The Fall Wedding Event, produced in September as well as coordination services for large scale corporate events.
2020 was scheduled to be Nouveau Event Planning’s largest year for the production of events in the company’s 33-year history. Some of the large-scale events which were on Nouveau Event Planning’s books included 5 Employee Events for Vistaprint, large scale corporate events for Green Shield Canada, Windsor Mold, public events for both Devonshire Mall & Tecumseh Mall and finally once in a lifetime planning contracts with Diving Canada for two world class events including the Olympic Trials to choose Canada’s diving team who would head to the Summer 2020 Olympics.
Irek Kusmierczyk was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh in 2019. Shortly thereafter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Irek as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development, and Disability Inclusion.
Mr. Kusmierczyk’s family have lived in Windsor for more than 35 years after immigrating to Canada from Poland. His parents instilled in him a passion for community service, leading him to a career on Windsor City Council, where he was elected three consecutive times. While on Council, he successfully advocated for historic investments in flood protection, road improvements, libraries, and parks.
Mr. Kusmierczyk worked as the Director of Partnerships for WEtech Alliance, a non-profit regional innovation centre that helps grow technology companies and jobs throughout Windsor, Essex County and Chatham-Kent. He built partnerships with industry, local schools, the University of Windsor, and St. Clair College to grow the FIRST Robotics program in Windsor and Essex that prepares young people for careers in STEM and skilled trades.
Mr. Kusmierczyk earned his PhD from Vanderbilt University with a specialization in local government and cross-border environmental relations around the Great Lakes basin, and holds a Master’s Degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
His wife, Shauna, is a graduate of the University of Windsor and a local nurse practitioner.