OUR ADVISORY COUNCIL
Managing Partner & Head of Ventures, Omers Ventures
Damien is the Managing Partner and Head of Ventures at OMERS Ventures. As a technology focused venture capitalist, his expertise in operations and finance have built and scaled numerous companies. He is a respected authority, holding Board Director positions on TouchBistro, Kaleo Software, Felix & Paul Studios, Klipfolio, and Wave HQ, to name a few. He also has corporate experience as Vice President of Venture Capital Funds at EdgeStone Capital Partners and Corporate Director at Protus IP Solutions.
NINA BILIMORIA ANGELO
Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Unibuddy
Nina Bilimoria Angelo is Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy at Top Hat, a scale-up that is transforming higher education using the power of technology. Prior to joining Top Hat, Angelo led teams at Pearson and HP and advised Fortune 500 companies as a management consultant. A seasoned leader, Angelo specializes in strategy creation, product conceptualization and testing, positioning andmessaging, brand advocacy, and generally bringing order to chaos. Angelo holds a BA in International Relations & Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Mr. Hastings has an 18-year career as a CEO/President including 30+ acquisitions in both the public and private markets. He has served as CEO of RhythmOne (LSE AIM: RTHM), CEO of Perk (TSX: PER), President of Cyberplex, CEO of Tsavo Media, and CEO of GBG (sold to NYSE: MMM) through his career in leadership positions in software and internet companies. He was named to Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2009, is a CPA and a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University.
Founder, Hiku Brands Co. Ltd
Alan Gertner is Canopy's former Chief Retail Officer, and founder of Hiku Brands Co. Ltd., (also the parent company of Tokyo Smoke), which he sold to Canopy in July 2018 for $269 million. Toyko Smoke was founded in 2015 by Alan and his father Lorne Gertner – who launched Canada’s first legal medical marijuana grower Cannasat Therapeutics Inc. – which differentiated itself from the market by establishing a clean, inviting interior design and a focus on higher-end products.
President & CEO, Meridian Credit Union
The President & CEO of Meridian Credit Union, Jay-Ann has a wealth of business transformation, social impact, and leadership expertise cultivated with more than 20 years as a senior executive in the private and public sector, and co-operative financial services. Her previous corporate experiences include CEO of Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB); SVP, Digital Solutions and Business Technology for Vancity; and Chief Transformation Officer/Chief HR Officer at Coast Capital Savings. Her volunteer roles include Director, Arthritis Society of Canada, Director, ParticipACTION and Director, Innovate Cities. Previously she served as Vice Chair and Board Director, Nch’Kay Development Corporation (2019-2022), Chair of the Board, BC Human Resources Association (2009-2011), Director, BC Human Resources Association (2009-2012), and Board Director of the British Columbia Automobile Association (2021).
Devon co-founded Turnstyle Solutions and grew it to one of the largest local marketing platforms of its kind before being acquired by Yelp in 2017. He is now GM of Yelp Restaurant Marketplaces overseeing go-to-market strategy and execution for Yelp’s restaurant products.
Devon speaks on topics relating to entrepreneurship, restaurant technology and privacy, and speaks on topics and has been featured by the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business News, Wharton Business Radio and BNN.
Prior to founding Turnstyle, Devon worked at TD Bank as a Senior Treasury Analyst and received an Honours in Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business.
SHARAD D. MADISON
President and CEO, United Building Maintenance (UBM)
Sharad D. Madison, is President and CEO of United Building Maintenance (UBM). The company was founded in 1991 by his late Dad, Oliver Madison. The company provides commercial building maintenance, inclusive of janitorial and engineering services, to Fortune 100 companies and high-profile clients in New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia. Some of UBM’s clients are Verizon, Cushman & Wakefield, Estée Lauder, JPMorgan Chase and Brandywine Realty Trust. Prior to joining UBM, Mr. Madison had a successful career in pharmaceuticals and home infusion therapy. He won numerous awards, and was one of the youngest and most successful general managers in the infusion industry.
MELISSA M. CHEE
Melissa is the CEO of ventureLAB, transforming the organization into an award-winning global founder community and home to the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, Canada’s first and only hub for semiconductor and hardware tech companies. As a champion for a more inclusive tech ecosystem, 60% of ventureLAB’s leadership identifies as female or from underrepresented groups and over 40% of the team are from diverse backgrounds. The organization has been named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Culturesand a Great Place to Work™ in Technology, Managed by Womenand Inclusion.
Over her 25 year career, Melissa has built high growth organizations, led international supply chains and successfully scaled global technology multinationals and deep tech start-ups.
Melissa is a passionate advocate for Innovation in Canada, Technology Commercialization, and advancing Women and Girls in STEM. She is a founding member of Canada’s Semiconductor Council and a past board director at NGEN Canada, Mackenzie Health Innovation Institute and the Corporate Cabinet of Make-A-Wish Canada. Melissa has been previously recognized as Canada’s Top 3 Women to Watch by Canadian Manufacturing and Top 18 Pandemic Pivoters by The Peak.
Melissa holds an MBA with Honours from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from McGill University.
Founder/Owner, Brilliant Mistake Wines
John is the founder and owner of Brilliant Mistake Wines, Napa Valley, CA. Founded in 2013 with his wife Stacy, this boutique winery went from a 50 case production released in 2015, to 1400 cases in 2022. Considered a cult winery, his highly sought after wines have been featured in the Robb Report, numerous wine magazines and reviews, and been listed as part of the 100 Greatest Wines of 2019 by noted wine critic Jeb Dunnuck. With a background in music and art, John has focused his visual aesthetic to creating a truly unique wine brand in Napa Valley.
Aaron is a 27-year-old Canadian serial entrepreneur who co-founded Revitasize at 18 years old - an organic cold-pressed juice kitchen. Within four years, Revitasize expanded to 8+ locations across Toronto.
Aaron most recently co-founded a sleep improvement company called Hush, selling a product now considered to be World's Most Popular (And Reviewed) weighted blanket - designed to help those with sleep, anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, and more. Within its first 24 months, Hush has grown to an 8-figure brand. The company launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $1.5M+ in 30 days - making it the Top 10 most raised Canadian 30-day Campaign ever! More recently Hush was acquired by Sleep Country in a landmark deal for Canadian E-commerce.
In 2020, Aaron was named one of Forbes 30 under 30.
Founder & CEO, LEAGUE Inc.
A rocket scientist who once developed jet propulsion systems at age 16, Michael is known as a serial entrepreneur who has built multiple transformative technology platforms across several industries, with over $1B of exits.
Michael Serbinis is the CEO and Founder of LEAGUE, a new digital health benefits platform that is set to disrupt the world of insurance. Prior to LEAGUE, Michael was the Founder and CEO of Kobo, a global leader in ebooks, and docSpace, a pioneer in cloud storage. Michael got his start building one of the first search engines, Zip2 at the start of the Internet boom.
A member of the Perimeter Institute's Board of Directors, MaRS Discovery District Board of Directors, Board of Trustees at the Ontario Science Centre, a member of the Creative Destruction Lab Board and YPO. Michael is also a mentor & investor in new technology companies through his company Three Angels Capital.
Founder and CEO, Evergreen
Geoff Cape is the founding CEO of Evergreen, established in 1991. Day to day, Geoff is focused on the development and acceleration of good ideas that advance Evergreen’s mission. With a background in real estate development, sustainability, and urbanization trends globally, Geoff helps to evolve Evergreen programs to offer leadership solutions for cities and citizens.
Selected in 1999 as one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40” by The Globe and Mail Report on Business magazine, Geoff has also been honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in recognition of “Canadians who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to their communities or to Canada as a whole”. In 2005, Geoff was inducted into an International Fellowship by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. In 2007, Geoff won the prestigious Schwab Foundation’s “Social Entrepreneur of the Year” award. Geoff was founding Chair of the Sustainability Institute, Deputy Board Chair, Development for Downsview Park, a crown corporation in Canada, and a past member of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation Selection Committee.
Geoff has been a regular participant and speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland and is on the “Future of Urban Development Advisory Board” and the “Technology Pioneers Selection Committee” for the World Economic Forum. In 2010 Geoff Cape was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from Sustainable Buildings Canada.
Geoff attended Trinity College School, Queen’s University (Bachelor of Arts) and McGill University (Masters of Management). Geoff lives (and cycles daily) in Toronto with his wife Valerie Laflamme and their three young sons, Thomas, Benjamin and Sebastien.
Founder & CEO, MobSquad | Venture Partner, Relay Ventures | Principal, Totem Capital Corporation
Irfhan Rawji is the Founder & CEO of MobSquad, an innovative Canadian start-up that ensures high- caliber software engineers with US work visa challenges remain working with their current company, but near-shored from Canada.
Irfhan is also a Principal with Totem Capital Corporation, a private capital firm focused on investing in Canadian small businesses, and is a Venture Partner with Relay Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm focused on mobile computing with offices in Toronto and Menlo Park. Irfhan is also an Adjunct Professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, where he teaches in the areas of finance, public policy, strategy and leadership.
Irfhan is presently Board Chair of The Organic Box, Alberta’s largest organic food hub, offering home delivery as well as click-and-collect grocery services. Additionally, Irfhan is Board Chair of Activate, a partnership between the Government of Canada, private investors and the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada aimed at reducing the incidence of stroke; Activate represents an innovation in social finance as Canada’s first social impact bond. Irfhan is: a Director of Sage Properties, a Calgary-based real estate investment corporation; a Director of Chatter Research, a text-driven customer insight chatbot which counts Lush Cosmetics, The Finish Line, and Chase Bank amongst its customer base; and a Director of The Logic, a digital media publication focused on the innovation economy.
Irfhan is actively involved in civic affairs as Board Chair of Glenbow Museum and Board Member of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. Additionally, Irfhan serves as Chair of the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Impact Fund Advisory Committee, as an advisor to the Canadian government’s Impact and Innovation Unit within the Privy Council Office, and as a member of the New Economy Advisory Committee to the Alberta Securities Commission. Previously, Irfhan has served on the boards of the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada (Board Chair), the Harbourfront Centre (Director, Treasurer), imagiNation150 (Director, Treasurer), the Harvard Business School Global Alumni Board (Director), Business for the Arts (Director), and member of and Finance and Investment Sub-Committee Chair of the Calgary 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Bid Exploration Committee.
Irfhan holds an MBA with High Honors from Harvard Business School where he was a Baker Scholar, and also holds a BCom with Honours from the University of British Columbia where he was a Wesbrook Scholar. He is a recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Award of Merit, the Sauder School of Business’ Teaching Excellence Award, Business for the Arts’ Arnold Edinborough Award and is a member of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 (2017).
Partner, CEO Coaching International
Stephen has risen through the ranks of retail management since he first entered the field in the early 1970’s. Stephen has held executive offices at both Sears and Home Depot before he headed north of the border to found and become CEO of Aikenhead’s Improvement Warehouse. He built the company from an idea to over $1 billion in sales in just three years before he and his fellow investors sold 75 percent of the company to Home Depot in 1994. He was also a founder of Reno Depot, a home improvement warehouse retailer in Quebec and served on the parent company board of Group Van Royal.
In 1998, Stephen founded Golf Town, a company he ran as President and CEO until Dec 2011, taking the company public in 2004. After Golf Town, Stephen took over the President and CEO role of Brookstone, located in Nashua, NH. He served as CEO until May 2013 when he left to take the President and CEO role of Liquor Stores North America.
Throughout his career, Stephen has served on many charitable boards including the Moffit Cancer Centre in Tampa, Outward Bound Canada, and was the Chairman of Prostate Cancer Canada. In 2005, Stephen won the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and was elected to the Retail Hall of Fame in Canada in 2007.