Why take a round trip to Toronto from London for a business unconference?

For a wider network of connections, inspiration, bootcamp-style training sessions (finance, scaling, marketing and going global), one-on-one mentorship, and support… all courtesy of Startup Canada’s national #EveryEntrepreneur Tour finale in Toronto. Nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs, small business owners and community leaders (from 1300 registrants) gathered at the“un-conference” style program at MaRS Discovery District, 101 College St. Keynote talks were delivered by Frank O’Dea, Second Cup Co-Founder; Marissa McTasney,  Moxie Trades CEO; Allan Lau, CEO of Wattpad; Yves Desjardins-Sicilian, President and CEO of VIA Rail;  and football star-turned-entrepreneur Michael “Pinball” Clemons, co-founder Star Child Design and Vice-Chair Toronto Argonauts.

Inspiration Board #EveryEntrepreneur Tour

Before it all began, attendees were encouraged to follow the Rules of Engagement including:

  1. Be positive and open your mind to the possible.
  2. Be inclusive and see a role and value in everyone you meet.
  3. Think big, then think bigger and even bigger still.
  4. View every person and partner in attendance as someone there who can help you to boost your business and who you can also help to boost theirs – connect on the basis of collaborative growth.
  5. Pay it Forward by defaulting to ‘yes’ as you meet people throughout the day.
  6. Reflect on what you can contribute and then take action… now.

Check back here for updates on the trip and event i.e. quotes and tips.

Update January 4, 2016

Amidst the event, attendees “…laid the foundations for four entrepreneur-led initiatives and voiced policy-based priorities for the federal government including leadership, service to entrepreneurs, programming and systems/infrastructure.” The four initiatives include: 1) Newcomer Connections to Entrepreneurship, 2) The Canadian Success Story, 3) Project Toronto, and 4) Media 4 Startups. Click here for more details on the initiatives, and to complete a form to support any of these initiatives or to recommend your own.

Networking  and discussion occurred in the Growth and Mentor Genius Lounges on a variety of topics including:

  • Developing a Digital Marketing Strategy,
  • Getting Your Business Online,
  • Protecting Your Business,
  • Funding Your Startup,
  • Financing & Mentoring for Young Entrepreneurs,
  • De-Risking Your Business,
  • Marketing & Sales,
  • Going & Growing Global,
  • Streamlining Operations,
  • Attracting Customers,
  • Business Scalability and Growth,
  • Investment Fund Recipients & New Community Leaders,
  • Starting Up in Toronto,
  • Operations & Brand Strategy,
  • Bootstrapping Your Business,
  • Scaling & the Cloud,
  • Government Support for Startups,
  • Domain Portfolios,
  • Building a Startup Community,
  • Public Relations,
  • Growth Hacking,
  • Talent Acquistion & Retention,
  • and …many other unlisted topics in one-to-one conversations.

Mentor Genius Lounge

Edwin Frondozo of Slingshot, Colleen G McCauley of Earth to Business Marketing, and Aman Moolji of VM Farms discussed challenges and opportunities of small business in the Genius Mentor Lounge. Photo from album of Startup Canada Tour 2015 – Toronto.


Quotes & Inspiration from Speakers

Below is only a portion of quotes and inspiring stories from the great speakers involved.

Frank O’Dea, Second Cup Co-Founder

Keynote Speaker @Frank_ODea of @secondcup talking about changing the direction of his life. #EveryEntrepreneur pic.twitter.com/L8rfUuyL4f

Coffee shops were different in 1975, it was elite business. In the beginning, Frank and his partner were losing money hand over hand, so they did what any entrepreneur does in a crisis…go eat ice cream. They decided to add food to the menu, and then were able to charge more coffee as they changed the relationship with customers i.e. added value. The vision was that the business would become strong enough to maintain that eventually they would have a hundred stores, so they kept going after bankers until they got the finances they needed to build that vision.

“I got lucky being born in Canada, and with that comes an obligation to change the world.” ~ Frank O’Dea


  • BC (before computers), when looking for sales I began talking to people … that’s now called networking back then it was called talking to people.
  • Entrepreneurs need to find mentors and supporters. Nothing is harder than building your own business. You will meet all kinds of people who say no. Never give up.
  • You are building your business and you are building a country…community.
  • Meeting people can change your life and the world.
  • Failure is not a disaster. It’s only a stepping stone.
  • How much does it cost to start a business? All you’ve got…financially, emotionally, etc.
  • Remember your mission is to leave this place a better place.

IMG_3327 - Copy#EveryEntrepreneur has a Voice Town Hall

“You almost need to make a big bet on something to get through the challenges.” ~ Paul Teshima, Need Nudge


“How do we bring together players and with our definition of success to try it. Check your ego at the door. Know your role, but if you have a chance to make something bigger and better than go for it!” ~ Lucas Chang, Startup York Region

Dan Gunn, CEO ViaTEC and Fort Tectoria

“Every entrepreneur is in a role of change for their community. Embrace it.” ~ Dan Gunn

  • The lines are getting blurry between where the line starts and stops for technology.
  • People join a group to get something. When the get it, they leave. When they don’t get it, they leave. When they start a community, they stay.

How I learn to think…

IMG_3329 - Copy

  • focus on impact,
  • engage the willing (those who really get it),
  • think like a startup (always be adapting),
  • say yes, make it better OR get out of the way,
  • be authentic,
  • be magnanimous,
  • be candid,
  • be the bartender (chance to check in with everyone),
  • curate the shit out of everything (it’s okay to say no),
  • get out of town (learn new things to bring home; know what you are known for), and
  • never say no to live music (have a passion)-make a difference by being different


Safely in TO by @via_rail train so can listen to the Pres/CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano at #EveryEntrepreneur ~ Colleen G McCauley, Earth to Business Marketing

Yves Desjardins-Sicilian, President and CEO of VIA Rail

“I worked for companies where my motivation was wealth. There comes a time when you want to do something bigger than you. My motivation is now to build Canada. We can create companies in this company.” ~ Yves Desjardins-Sicilian


  • Thinking differently is about listening…to customers, employees, partners, etc. Leadership is about showing up!
  • The magic in marketing is to have more people using your product and paying more for it.
  • It starts by the will and ends with the will.
  • As a leader, your job is motivation; let others do the perspiration.
  • Life is not a destination, only a journey. If you move something forward, that’s real success.

TO LEAD CHANGE: Top 10 Leadership Habits

  1. Be a doer and a thinker
  2. Accept that everyone may see  what you see, but leaders act on it.
  3. Have a bias for action
  4. Fail Fast
  5. Execution eats strategy for breakfast.
  6. Listen to your gut.
  7. It’s called common sense because everyone has some.
  8. The leader is the message – You are the brand.
  9. As a leader, you bring meaning to people’s lives – The job is how you do it.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride!

Michael “Pinball” Clemons, co-founder Star Child Design and Vice-Chair Toronto Argonauts

“Give entrepreneurs a hand up not a hand out. Give it all you got!” ~ Michael Clemons

  1. Don’t feeling sorry for yourself make the best of what you have
  2. Don’t complain, turn the question around
  3. Don’t quit, make the choice

“Be in your sweet spot, be strategic and treat people well. Business is about people. It’s about relationships.” ~ Michael Clemons

How can you get involved?

Support any of the four entreprenur-led initiatives mentioned or to recommend your own, and participate in the National Entrepreneurship Census.

If you attended the #EveryEntrepreneur Tour, feel free to leave a hyperlink to your tweet, blog post, photo album, etc. in the comments below.