Scale Up News | Meet the Mentors

Blog January 30, 2020

Harrison Crerar

Posted by Harrison Crerar

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It’s never been cheaper to start a business but it’s never been harder to scale one. Our Scale Up programs are designed to help tackle rapid-growth issues and promote future success through customized action and a curated team of mentors and experts who have the industry and business experience.

What makes these mentors so qualified? They’ve been there. They’ve lived the challenges, thrived in success and, most importantly, learned what leads to both of those outcomes. We recently sat down with our team of Scale Up Executives to learn more about their professional journey and why they believe so strongly in the power of mentorship.

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Brodie has a passion for digital disruption in niche markets and leveraging tech solutions to accelerate growth at the seed stage. He was the founder of three successful startups before he joined Microsoft Canada and spent the next 10 years developing technology strategy in mining, forestry, retail, and telecommunications. In addition to Brodie’s passion for developing businesses, he also is also an active investor.

Brodie currently sits on multiple boards and is also extremely active in mentoring and supporting early-stage companies. He is active in youth entrepreneurship and is supporting the growth of the angel network. Brodie is an avid experience seeker and can be found on caving expeditions, sailing trips, scuba diving, and long-distance motorcycle adventures.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I had discovered the value of group and 1:1 mentorship while at Microsoft and had a desire to give back and help others succeed. I was encouraged to participate with AO to formalize and structure the mentorship I provide while supporting a great community.

How do you see the value of mentorship?

Mentorship is a two-way relationship. I am learning every day from the people and companies I work with. It is empowering to see companies and individuals develop and thrive. I valued my mentorships over the years and am thrilled that I can pass some of that on to others.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a growth-stage OKGNtech entrepreneur?

Don’t try and skip the necessary work. There are no shortcuts… but there are ways to be smart and efficient. Make sure you understand your market and have validated your assumptions, and always be setting goals that help mitigate or remove risk from the business.

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Robin has a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University, and an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston. Robin is a career marketing executive with over 20 years’ experience building and leading marketing teams in global technology companies. She has been instrumental in moving startup and mid-size organizations through rapid growth stages, and has managed more than 20 strategic acquisitions and partnerships, as well as 2 IPOs.

Robin enjoys wake surfing, snowmobiling, and home design and renovation, as well as entertaining friends and family.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

I have a long career in marketing and tech and really wanted to give back to the community that has been so good to me. I am a problem solver at heart and love engaging with entrepreneurs and individuals looking to move their careers and companies forward.

How do you see the value of mentorship?

Mentors can really help guide some of the important decisions and cut through the clutter weighing down business leaders. Mentors get to draw from their experiences to help steer entrepreneurs in the right direction, avoid costly mistakes and make strategic moves.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a growth-stage OKGNtech entrepreneur?

Be crystal clear on what it is you want to achieve and find great people to help you get there. Always hire the skills and strengths to fill the gaps you have, and make sure everyone is marching toward the same (well articulated) business goals.

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Sandra brings over 30 years of strategy, marketing and human resource knowledge in her CEO role from production, sales and customer experience in the BC wine industry. Sandra founded Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in 1994 and grew it from a 1,000 case production to over 40,000 cases before its sale in 2017. Innovative packaging and marketing initiatives including becoming the only carbon-neutral winery in Canada and the only winery to include its employees as an integral part of its sustainability program are just some of the ways Sandra drove innovation. Sandra was recently awarded Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in the Trendsetters and Trailblazers category and now enjoys coaching dynamic companies with incorporating employee engagement into their strategic plan.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

As the CEO of the winery, I noticed that being a mentor to our employees throughout their careers helped retain them. When the winery sold, I knew that mentorship was what I wanted to do. Now, success is seeing how strong my clients get when their confidence builds.

How do you see the value of mentorship?

Mentorship’s value is in letting people know that they are not alone. Connecting with someone who has had similar struggles can give them the confidence to keep going. Mentorship can also open up new ways of seeing old problems. We cannot do everything it turns out. 

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a growth-stage OKGNtech entrepreneur?

My advice to entrepreneurs is to focus on the people who work for you. Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role but they need to remember that everyone with them has invested something. Focus on your people and don’t be afraid to show when you are vulnerable.

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Drew has twenty plus years of fiscal and operational leadership experience in the CEO and CFO role across multiple industries including manufacturing, oil & gas, and renewable energy. Drew’s previous company focus has been on orchestrating high-level revenue-building strategies, market placement improvement, and brand building that maximized productivity, provided significant shareholder returns and produced high-growth situations. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Commerce program and a registered member of the Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) of British Columbia, a family man, skier, and loves travelling.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

Mentoring gives me the opportunity to share my experiences and learn from businesses with unique business models that are in different markets. It’s very rewarding to see companies that I work with succeed. 

How do you see the value of mentorship?

In all of my past businesses, I used mentors and personal coaching to give me an outside perspective. I attribute a lot of my success to mentorship and the immense value that it brings.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a growth-stage OKGNtech entrepreneur?

Surround yourself with the smartest people that you can.

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Larry has led several technology companies from an early stage, through rapid growth, to become market leaders.  These companies were recognized as leading growth companies, became respected in their markets, and ultimately attracted the attention of acquiring companies. He has rounded out his leadership experience by advising a number of technology companies—assisting them to navigate challenges, turnarounds, and rapid growth while supporting and mentoring their leadership team.

Larry focuses on achieving traction and growth through good strategy, focus, leadership, marketing, sales, operations and overall execution.  He works to understand and build commitment to the focus that allows a technology company to grow to the next stage and increase value. His experience selling companies helps him prepare companies to maximize their long-term value.

What inspired you to become a mentor?

Having lead several of the Okanagan’s biggest tech companies, I learned a lot around leadership and building valuable companies. I wanted to give back to young entrepreneurs and have a role in creating strong companies that expand and anchor the technology sector.

How do you see the value of mentorship?

Given the challenge and fail rates of startups and young companies you need to do everything you can to give yourself the best chance. Mentorship is the fastest way to improve you, your leadership team, and your company.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a growth-stage OKGNtech entrepreneur?

Work on yourself and the leadership team. Get real. Get feedback. Measure your performance and stretch. Make a plan for your personal development. Chase down the very best mentor or mentors that you can find and learn from them.

Hungry for more? Meet Fraser Johnston, Scale Up Programs Lead, or learn more about RevUp.

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