Mentors & Guest Speakers


Robert_BarnardRobert Barnard, Founder and CEO, DECODE    
Since 1994 as a founder and now CEO of DECODE Robert has led a passionate team of decoders to discover new insights and develop innovative strategies for this critical audience. He has worked internationally for governments, NGOs and companies across many sectors. Co-author of the best-selling book on Generation X, Chips and Pop: decoding the Nexus Generation and recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award, he is also an internationally recognized speaker about generational issues and engagement.


Scot Bryson

Scot Bryson, President, Stone Canoe
Starting from a 10’ x 6’ office, they built Stone Canoe to nearly 20 people, (don’t worry the office is bigger now). Armed with a “nothing is impossible” mentality, Scot’s passion for digital advertising and good creative led the company to greater heights, winning clients such as H&R Block, Hankook Tires, Yahoo Canada, Samsung, and GE. Scot’s unique background gives him a solid understanding of the creative side, while having strategic driven logic to drive business. His digital capabilities stem from programming flash all the way up to building a digital strategy.

During the summer evenings you’ll find him racing a sailboat and, no, its not made of Stone… yet.



Tamara Chaikin, Founder, Localista Food Truck
Tamara Chaikin has 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry in Canada and overseas. She spent nearly 20 years in Asia, where she opened and managed one of Bali`s first “western concept” restaurants, The Dirty Duck Diner, and learned to love street food for its simplicity, diversity, and outstanding flavour. Tamara’s mission is to hit the streets with the amazing bounty of Toronto’s surrounding area.


Adam Clare

Adam Clare   
Adam Clare is a professor in George Brown’s post-graduate game design program.  He is a founder of Wero Creative where he oversees game development as the Lead Game Designer. He has worked on games for the real world, online, and runs Board Game Jam. You can follow his research and find his games at



Suzanne_CruddenSuzanne Crudden, Co-founder, Flux + Form    
I always knew I wanted to be a designer. As a child I would spend hours sketching or designing my own wardrobe for my Princess Diana paper doll. Now, as an established jewellery designer/goldsmith in Toronto, I’m enjoying focusing my passion for the imagination in unique yet timeless jewellery.  My academic journey began with degrees in Anthropology and Fine Art from the University of Toronto. Feeling the need to explore my creative side further I enrolled in the George Brown Jewellery Program graduating in 2006.

In April 2007 I partnered with my best friend and now colleague, Kim Drosdick, to open our own jewellery studio and boutique, Flux + Form, located in downtown Toronto.


Izzy CamilleriIzzy Camilleri, Founder, Adaptive Clothing

As one of Canada’s most celebrated and Innovative fashion designers, lzzy Camilleri has made a name for herself crafting clothing for national and international clients for almost 30 years. From her earliest, raved-about runway collections to her recent groundbreaking work designing high-style wardrobe essentials for people in wheelchairs, Camilleri has built a reputation for herself by creating garments that are provocative yet refined, sophisticated, and always wearable.


Fred DawkinsFred Dawkins, Serial Entrepreneur, Author    
Fred Dawkins is a successful serial entrepreneur with achievements in manufacturing, retail, land development, import/export and small business consulting. He graduated with distinction from the University of Toronto with a degree in Commerce and Finance and a Master’s degree in Economics. Travels around the world, and exposure to developing economies have shaped his outlook. Fred is currently a partner in the Creative Disruption Lab at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and serves on the advisory board for the Lab. His series “The Entrepreneurial Edge” offers a definitive analysis of what it takes to be an entrepreneur and encourages more people to take the leap toward self-determination. The goal is to use shared experiences related through a narrative to better prepare people for the challenge by promoting the use of entrepreneurial thinking for everyone whether you own and operate a business or are making strategic decisions about your career.


Carrie De SimasCarrie De Simas, Co-founder,    
Carrie De Simas is a journalist by trade though gave it up when she realized that making stuff up is way more fun than hunting down the facts.  Currently, she lectures and runs workshops on branding and marketing strategies for entrepreneurs. She is also an interviewer, author and editor.  Oh yeah, and she runs with her co-founder.



Keith HarrisKeith Harris, CEO, Troll Bridge Creek Inc., Developers of KiKi Maple Sweet Water    
In the summer of 2009, after a 30+ year career in manufacturing management Keith embarked on a mission to bring a new beverage to the global market place. KiKi Maple Sweet Water beverages are based on 100% pure Canadian maple sap, a healthful beverage providing many naturally derived nutrients and hydration to the health conscious consumer.

Throughout his career, Keith has been concerned with the environment, providing excellent, high quality products and supporting the entrepreneurial spirit. Working to develop a new market category, Keith has developed this business from the ground up, creating a company that now sells products in three continents around the world.  Keith has a B.Sc. from the University of Guelph.


IMG_23903-1Adriana Ieraci
Adriana Ieraci (@adrianai) is the founder of Conveyor Built (@conveyorbuilt), an innovation skills development firm and the Get Your Bot On! robotics hackathon (@getyourboton), a 48-hour robotics hackathon this November 14-16. She recently co-founded a wearables company currently being incubated at the Ryerson Fashion Zone where she and her team are prototyping electronic jewelry.



Rajah Lehal, Founder, Clausehound   
Rajah received his M.B.A. and J.D. degrees, from the University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business and the Faculty of Law respectively, during which time he was Co-President of Entrepreneurs@Ivey, a student-run entrepreneurship group and, as well, assisted Professor Richard McLaren with the launch of the Western Business Law Clinic.  Rajah also received an Honours Philosophy degree from the University of Waterloo, where he also took a significant course load in Mathematics and Computer Science.  Rajah worked for more than a decade in the information technology industry, including three years in software development and seven years as an Information Systems and Technology manager at both a major telecommunications company and at a financial services company. Rajah also received his legal training in the corporate law group at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto, as well as internationally for the Technology Media and Telecom group in the Dubai office of Clyde & Co. Rajah is a Technology and Small Business Lawyer and is counsel for the Venture Law Practice Group at Cobalt Business Counsel, a corporate and securities law practice based in Toronto. Rajah continues to be an active member in the start-up technology industry nationally and internationally.



Lucia Mariani, Co-founder, Feast Interactive 
Drawing from 12 years digital marketing experience working with Canadian brands, retailers, education and health sectors, Lucia has experience in completing high profile projects on tight deadlines and lean resources. She has developed and lead digital campaigns that have gained recognition from Canadian creative and digital advertising associations. She provides thought leadership for effective and efficient interactive marketing strategies, and provides outstanding results. She holds a master’s degree in Information Systems from the University of Toronto. She co-manages Girls In Tech Toronto and co-directs an annual TEDxWoman in Toronto. Lucia has appeared as a guest on CTV Tech Talk and CBC Radio. Recently, she was featured in Flare’s Leading Women in Tech feature. Follow Lucia @feastinc.


BiyingMiao_ImageCredit_NaomiFinlayBiying Miao, Co-founder, Hot Pop Factory   
Biying Miao is the co-founder of Hot Pop Factory, where she specializes in the application of digital fabrication techniques like 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining for a big range of clients from designers to hardware startups. With a background in architecture and a passion for product design, she is the creative design lead at Hot Pop Factory. Examples of her work can be found in some of Canada’s foremost cultural institutions including the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Biying’s past clients include the Social Body Lab at OCADU, VAWK, Microsoft and the Hudson’s Bay Company.


Dan NelsonDan Nelson   
Daniel Nelson’s legal practice focuses on estate planning and administration and business law for designers, web and social media developers, and gaming firms. He is a frequent lecturer and writer on legal, historical and new media topics and teaches law at George Brown College. His current research focus is on the intersection of estate planning, estate administration, and social media, known as digital legacy, which addresses questions of what happens to our online lives when we die. In addition, he serves as General Counsel to the Association of Canadian Industrial Designers, Counsel to the Institute without Boundaries, and is a director of several new media companies. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in Canadian Studies from Trent University and a degree in law from the University of Windsor and is the 2013 recipient of the Ontario Bar Association’s Widdifield Award.

Rob PersikoRob Persiko, The Persiko Group   
After 28 years at Unilever (a $50 billion multinational CPG company), Rob has gone the consulting route, focusing on Marketing-­to-­Shoppers, which is an area he led for Unilever-­in Canada, U.S, South America and Europe.

At Unilever, Rob co-­developed the first-­ever global sustainability shopper marketing platform for Walmart, and developed and executed Unilever’s global approach to category management, shopper marketing, and shopper insights. He created company-­wide analytical model to optimize product assortment and distribution, and created go-­to-­market strategy for the retail team, along with many other accomplishments.

The Persiko Group delivers unparalleled consumer, customer and shopper solutions that increase shopping purchases and drive profitable sales for both manufacturers and retailers. Key focus areas include shopper insights, category management, shopper marketing, retail design, and communication.


Jason Sealy

Jason Sealy, Positive Psychology Coach & Leadership Development Consultant   
Jason is a Positive Psychology Coach and Leadership Development Consultant.  Jason believes in people. He believes that everyone has a gift; he calls their “greatness”, but that the routine and distractions of life make people unaware their gifts. Jason works with executives, middle managers and emergent leaders to help identify their gifts, achieve their goals, reach their potential, and experience greater levels of happiness in life.  Jason holds a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies from the University of Guelph, a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Toronto, and a Graduate Diploma in Sport & Event Marketing from George Brown College.



Afifa Siddiqui, CEO, Careerleaf Inc.    
Afifa Siddiqui is a seasoned entrepreneur with a track record of building businesses with integrity and imagination. With a background in electrical engineering, she ran a specialized recruitment firm for 15 years, and built her own proprietary Applicant Tracking System software for Cronos Consulting Group. She is a founder and CEO of Careerleaf Inc, a tech company offering an innovative SaaS job board solution. Careerleaf offers job board owners and career site operators beautiful and easy to use tools to grow and manage their business, satisfy their customers, and enhance the candidate experience.


Anne SowdenAnne Sowden, AICI CIP, Here’s Looking at You    
Approachable and practical, Anne specializes in helping men and women present themselves with more confidence and impact by enhancing who they already are, not changing them into someone they are not. She also helps businesses ensure that their employees represent them in a way that is consistent with their brand. This includes: image enhancement advice, verbal and non-verbal communication skills coaching, and etiquette training.   As one of North America’s top business image experts, she was asked to contribute to Executive Image Power. This book is the key ingredient to building professional confidence, making a great impression and advancing your career in every meeting.

Vandana TaxaliVandana Taxali
Vandana Taxali is a lawyer licensed in the Province of Ontario. She is a graduate of the Faculty of Law University of Windsor and University of Detroit Mercy Law School and has a B.A.Sc. from McMaster University. Vandana has a background in publishing, music, film and television. She has worked at intellectual property law firm, Barrigar and Moss, Associate Counsel at the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (now Access Copyright), and CHUM Limited (now owned by BELL Media).

She is also a mentor at OCAD University’s incubator, The Imagination Catalyst, and sits on the Opening Night Preview Committee for the Toronto Art Fair.


bas picture.jpg

Bas van Berkel    
Bas is a serial clean-tech entrepreneur from the Netherlands with a passion for the environment.  He has successfully formed, ran and sold several businesses, both in Europe and North America. Before moving to Canada to complete his MBA, Bas ran a small, but highly profitable consultancy specialized in urban and infrastructure developments. Bas has a MSc Civil Engineering from Delft University, The Netherlands and an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.


Jad YaghiJad Yaghi, Founder, Project Beagle   
Over the last 15 years, I have somehow managed to build 3 companies (in the middle of the fourth), all in software across multiple industries. I pulled it off simply by not worrying about failing; which I’ve done quite often. Currently founding Project Beagle, focused on bringing automation and new business models to shake up the entire tourism industry.