Meet The Team
Director of Operations
Idas Levato was co-founder of TorontoStarts Inc., She previously served as Director of StartupToronto.org. She is currently director of operations of The Big Push and the founder of #WERKTO: a bold community group of women CEO’s VC’s & founders and advisor to several startups.
Idas is a lateral-thinker and solution-driven person. She also consults in process optimization and new business integration and operations best practices and governance for startups scale. She has strong connections in the angel and VC ecosystem and is a bold connector of people for resources and network-building.
She’s ready to provide deep insights for resources and what networks would be useful and show founders where to further search for opportunities and tools.
Director and Chair of Investment Services
Specialty: Fundraising & Strategic Planning
Annie is a dynamic investor and entrepreneur with over 10 years of success leading and managing investments experience across multiple technology oriented sectors. She is an engaging business builder known for her relationship building, problem solving and negotiation skills with a track-record of developing innovative go-to-market strategies and working successfully with portfolio companies to raise substantial rounds of debt and equity financing. As a Managing Director at Grenville Strategic Royalty Corp., an innovative investment firm that provides revenue-based finance solutions to growing technology and technology enabled businesses, Annie is not only responsible for business development and portfolio allocation, but also works closely with portfolio companies towards their next strategic steps. Prior to joining Grenville, Annie served in senior roles in venture capital firms investing across a significant breath of North American and European companies.
Specialty: Public Relations
Jodi is a founder and CEO of Boulevard PR, a public relations and digital marketing agency she founded in 2001, to help startups, emerging growth companies, and VC firms focused on tech and mobile achieve their goals. A tech geek at heart, Jodi has earned a reputation for explaining deep technical concepts in a manner that’s easy for everyone to understand. Under her leadership, Boulevard PR is a full-service agency that boasts a talented and highly experienced team, is recognized as a strategic partner by clients, and has grown consistently by referral.
Specialty: Business Development
Stephanie draws on years of corporate, entrepreneurial and board governance experience to help small businesses and non-profits establish and grow their organizations Since 2015 Stephanie has been VP of WBE Canada, supporting corporations with their supplier diversity programs and assisting women businesses to prepare fo procurement opportunities. Stephanie regularly speaks and facilites events around the benefits of inclusive supply chains and their ability to impact women’s economic advancement. She has also provided expert knowledge to government agencies. Stephanie mentors women for civic engagement, helps internationally trained professionals navigate the Canadian workplace and guest lectures on employment preparedness for college students.
Samiksha is VP of Operations and Finance at Uberflip. Samiksha has over 15 years experience building metrics for sales and running operations at several technology startups. She has been instrumental in helping companies increase their revenue and customer satisfaction. She’s worked for a broad range of companies and has been second in command to many Senior VP’s and Executives. Working closely with Marketing, Finance, Sales and Product, Samiksha knows how to work inter-departmentally to avoid the internal struggles that occur from rapid growth. Samiksha is also a board member of the CPA Toronto West Chapter.
Specialty: Brand Promotions
Caroline Rouben is a serial entrepreneur, product design enthusiast and brand promotion specialist who has deep interest and experience in a wide array of subject matter. Having spent the last 12+ years creating and implementing fully-integrated promotions for Consumer Package Goods companies like Lindt Chocolate, Häagen-Dazs, Campino, ConAgra, Ricola and more, she has a unique skill-set that merges strategy with implementation, and has developed know-how around promotional concept creation, budget creation and management, creative direction, legal and compliance and digital media like microsites, rich-media and interactive web applications of all kinds. She has a passion for creating engaging digital, customer-centric activities that fulfil multiple brand objectives at once.
Specialty: Digital Marketing & Communications
Eden Spodek, founder and CEO of Spodek & Co., a company providing full-service integrated communications and marketing services to businesses in technology, consumer products, packaged goods, professional services, manufacturing, health care, financial services and not-for-profits. She is an award-winning digital communications strategist with more than 25 years of experience on the client and agency side, with firms including Fleishman Hillard, High Road Communications, Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Cleansheet Communications. Eden is also a curriculum developer and instructor of the Digital Strategy & Communications Management certificate program at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.
Specialty: Strategic Marketing
Lisa is an accomplished, results-oriented, senior communications professional with extensive *U.S./Canada experience creating and implementing successful, fully integrated marketing/communications campaigns and programs for startups, corporations, non-profits, and government. An inspirational, mission- driven leader, Lisa has demonstrated expertise collaborating with and influencing C-suite executives and key stakeholders. Lisa has successfully developed and executed launch and communications strategies for countless startups including: *ChangeTip, *Hired.com, Coldblock Technologies, *PointHub, *revenue, and Kabuk. Lisa is passionate about the sharing economy; she’s been an AirBnB “Super Host” for more than two years and has a kayaking experience approved for the same platform.
Specialty: Finance and Sales
Karen Budahazy is an 18 year veteran in Fintech. She has held senior executive roles including EVP at Givex, a leading gift and loyalty payment processor and VP, General Manager at InComm, the largest third party retail distributor and marketer of prepaid products globally. She is experienced in working with, leading and innovating startups and in building loyalty through payment. She holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business.
Jamie Hoobanoff is founder and CEO of The Leadership Agency, a recruitment firm that helps companies hire the best leadership talent. A professional recruiter with more than a decade of experience sourcing talent and hiring leaders for some of the country’s biggest companies, Jamie has represented hundreds of brands, and has personally interviewed more than 10,000 people and placed an estimated 3,000 in the workforce. Jamie understands and meets the recruitment needs of the evolving C-Suite, and uses her proprietary C.O.R.E.™ methodology to assess candidates and ensure high quality leadership hires. Jamie works with both startups and emerging growth companies across a variety of industries, and counts among her clients market leaders such as League, TouchBistro, 7Shifts, 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, O2E Brands, Ritual, FedEx, Schulich Executive Education, and others. She is also the President of the American Association of Sales – Toronto Chapter.
Specialty: Legal Services
Elizabeth’s practice focuses on intellectual property law and litigation; the acquisition, management and enforcement of intellectual property rights and intangible assets for clients that rely heavily on intellectual capital in their business. Elizabeth advises clients on all forms of intellectual property rights, including patents, trade-marks and copyrights. In her litigation practice, Elizabeth has represented clients in matters before the Federal Court, Federal Court of Appeal, Ontario Superior Court and Ontario Court of Appeal involving intellectual property and intangible assets, as well as commercial disputes and proceedings dealing with franchise law. Elizabeth has had extensive experience in the management of complex intellectual property litigation matters (tech, pharma) in Canada and their coordination in different jurisdictions around the world involving patents, trademarks, and copyright issues. Elizabeth received her BSc (Hons.) (Double Honours in Biochemistry and Genetics) and her LLB, both from the University of Western Ontario. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the New York State Bar.
Specialty: President and Chief Revenue Officer, TribalScale
One of Canada’s most high-profile women in business, Kirstine Stewart has worked as Twitter’s Managing Director, Head of Twitter Canada, and Twitter’s VP, North American Media Partnerships. Now, Kirstine Stewart has taken on the role of President and Chief Revenue Officer of TribalScale, an ambitious (and booming) startup which aims to provide digital strategy and product development around the globe. With Stewart at the helm, TribalScale is primed to further expand internationally, answering what Stewart sees as a widespread need for advancement in automation and A.I. technologies.
Specialty: SVP of Digital at Torstar Corp
Angus is SVP, Digital Product at Torstar Corp, where he oversees the creation of digital products and business strategies at one of Canada’s best-known media organizations. Formerly VP of TribalScale and prior to that VP, Digital at The Globe and Mail, Angus uses agile methodologies and design thinking to help businesses refine their digital strategies and prioritize their product roadmaps.
Specialty: Entrepreneurial community building world-wide
Val is on a mission to enable thriving entrepreneurial communities locally, nationally and internationally based on a triple win practice of partnership, collaboration and iterative growth.
This practice evolved from the co-founding, development and growth of the DMZ, launched in 2010, which by 2015 was named the number one University Business Incubator in North America and number 3 in the world by UBI Global. She left soon after to form The Pivotal Point and help grow thriving community-based incubators worldwide.
Val has over 30 years in the digital world, where she started a graphic design business, and then had the fortunate of being sought by IBM, to be part of their innovation intrapreneurial network. There she led enterprise software design teams, was creative director for large experience sites, such as the Sydney Olympics and was awarded a number of patents, including one for the Universal Shopping Cart for the Web (in the top 5% of IBM patents).
Other awards include the Sara Kirke Award for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the 2016 CNE Woman of Distinction award, The WISE 2017 50 over 50 award and the honour of being part of the 2016 Canada Innovation Leaders team for Minister Navdeep Bains.
Specialty: CEO of Zoom.ai
Roy Pereira started his first startup after attending Carleton University for computer science. He has created and worked in several startups and large successful tech companies in Ottawa, Silicon Valley and now Toronto.
Roy invested and holds patents on remote access IPSec VPN. He has also worked in Silicon Valley at Cisco where he was part of the founding team of the security business unit which generated more than $1B in annual revenue.
In 2007, Pereira started the world’s first Facebook marketing agency. He then started Shiny Ads, his fifth startup, in 2009 to help the world’s top digital publishers better monetize premium ad buys and in the process invented an alternative to RTB called “automated guaranteed”. Shiny Ads was acquired by LA-based Rubicon Project in 2014.
Zoom.ai was born out of a desire to be productive while at Rubicon Project.
Katherine has more than 15 years’ experience working in Ontario’s startup/innovation ecosystem. She has personally advised thousands of small business owners from investor-ready tech startups to established mainstreet business owners. She has also designed and delivered self-employment programs for youth, newcomers and entrepreneurs with disabilities.
At OCAD U, Katherine built entrepreneurship hub and incubator to support investor-ready, design-driven startups. She oversaw programs that served more than 30,000 entrepreneurs and small business owners as head of Enterprise Toronto. And she served on the management team at Toronto Business Development Centre, one of Canada’s earliest business incubators. Prior to this Katherine operated her own marketing consultancy.
A graduate of the University of Toronto, Katherine serves on the board of LOFT Community Services, Ontario’s largest provider of housing and supports for individuals with mental health and addictions challenges.