Feature Speaker: W. Brett Wilson
We are pleased to continue our annual tradition of having the final Startup Grind Calgary event of the year focus on social enterprise. This year we are honored to host our feature fireside chat with W. Brett Wilson! Brett is best known as a “Dragon Emeritus” from 3 seasons on CBC’s hit reality TV show Dragons’ Den. He has built extensive holdings in the power generation, hydrocarbon production, real estate development, cannabis, agriculture, sports and entertainment industries. His business and philanthropic leadership have brought him considerable recognition including the Order of Canada (2011) and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (2012). Brett continues to simplify and organize his life to focus on what is most important - his family, friends and health. His is semi-autobiography “Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes” is an all-time best selling business book in Canada.
Feature Startup: CommonGood Linens
In addition we will have a fireside chat with 2018 Calgary Chamber Social Entrepreneurship winner: CommonGood Linens (CMNGD)! CMNGD picks up and delivers tens of thousands of linens from restaurants, spas, fitness centres & events every week. Then they wash, dry, iron and fold these linens (uniforms, napkins, towels, bed sheets, etc) and deliver them ready for use.
The impact lies in the simple but significant undertaking in the employment model; hiring people who are faced with poverty and homelessness and pay them a living wage, providing on the job training, mentorship and ensuring they are connected to the right social service agency programs.
Over 3 years later, CMNGD has grown their customers base by 300%, moved 6 people out of the homeless shelter, employed over 20,000 to people in poverty and reduced their environmental footprint.
Feature Organization: Work Nicer
Alex Putici (Founder & Member) will be interviewed about Work Nicer Coworking Founded in 2015 and born out of the foundational belief in community, Work Nicer has since grown to Alberta’s largest coworking community with outposts in Calgary and Edmonton. Originally started by rallying 10 friends together there are now 550+ members, friends old and new, that are moving their legacies forward with their community as the catalyst.
Being part of the Work Nicer community doesn’t mean renting a desk and sharing coffee mugs. Work Nicer is a community that rallies together to work through the struggles, celebrate the wins, and believes no one succeeds alone.
Father, Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Co-Founder & Co-CEO
Work Nicer Coworking
Founder & Member
Magic Maker (Head of Culture Programs + Marketing Comm)
W. Brett Wilson is best known as a “Dragon Emeritus” from 3 seasons on CBC’s hit reality TV show Dragons’ Den. He has built extensive holdings in the power generation, hydrocarbon production, real estate development, cannabis, agriculture, sports and entertainment industries. His business and philanthropic leadership have brought him considerable recognition including the Order of Canada (2011) and the Saskatchewan Order of Merit (2012). Brett continues to simplify and organize his life to focus on what is most important - his family, friends and health. His is semi-autobiography “Redefining Success: Still Making Mistakes” is an all-time best selling business book in Canada.
The sign read: “Hannah’s Lemonade Stand”! At 5 years old, Hannah was starting her entrepreneur life like so many have. It turns out the money maker was the bags of cherries for 25 cents and the best sales tool was free snuggles with her cat Sinbad.
During high school, a peer education program altered Hannah's life for the better - where she was taught Team Building, Facilitation, Public Speaking, Anger Management, Conflict Resolution, Self– Esteem & Communication. She is now a Master Graduate of Leadership and a certified trainer in peer education and social innovation.
She proceeded to receive 2 Youth Initiative & Community Achievement Awards from the Premiere of BC for her leadership in the Surrey Healthy Schools Peer Education Programs, the 1st ever Surrey Youth Opinion Polls and the subsequent creation of 5 Surrey Youth Centres, which are still there today.
Years later a life altering event; their family home was devastated in the Calgary flood. They received an outpouring of support from community with food, money and free housing. After rebuilding, this drove their family to give back, volunteering for years at the local homeless shelter and within Calgary business community.
Hannah and Dave saw an opportunity to combine their entrepreneurial background with their passion for social justice issues to create CMNGD (COMMONGOOD). A social impact organization offering an often missing cog for existing support programs: on the job training in a real world environment for people facing poverty through a commercial laundry service tailored to restaurants, health & wellness and event industries.
Hannah is now the Co-founder and Co-CEO of CMNGD (COMMONGOOD) an award winning social impact business and a leading Alberta advocate for compassionate business innovation and education with ATB. You will often see her with her entrepreneur therapy dog, Maggie, at various community and entrepreneur events and at Work Nicer.
Alex has Founder status at Work Nicer Coworking, but what that really means is that he is the "I've got an idea" human, the "but what's best for the community" conversationalist, and most importantly – the Chief Beer Pourer. Alex's folks taught him that actions have consequences (he still chose to learn the hard way), showed him first-hand the hard work involved in running businesses, and introduced him to his favourite quote (from Zig Ziglar): "If you help enough other people get what they want, you will get what you want."
Call it the golden rule, karma, doing the right thing, the long game, or whatever else you want but Alex lives to give before he receives. As a lifelong learner, Alex has founded multiple startups. He absolutely loves the process as well as the incredible community he works alongside each and every day.
Startup Grind Calgary
Chapter Director, ChairmanSee Bio
Chad Ford is the founder of the Startup Grind Calgary Chapter. From his leadership, Calgary has become one of the most successful chapters of Startup Grind’s 600 cities around the world. He has interviewed some of Canada’s most prolific entrepreneurs including: W. Brett Wilson, Bruce Croxon, Manjit Minhas, Walker McKinley, Dan Themig, Nicolas Beique and Sandi Gilbert. He is a strong believer that successful entrepreneurship is the key to a vibrant economy and culture.
A prolific volunteer, in addition to his work with Startup Grind Calgary, he is also a Board Member of the Calgary Combative Sports Commission and mentor at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's Energy Asset Management program.
A passionate entrepreneur himself, Chad founded Sunexo Solutions, a software company which developed the industry leading IRIS software. IRIS has been used by over 500 energy, resource development and infrastructure projects across North America.
The primary focus of his career has been based around regulatory and stakeholder engagement for major projects. He has worked directly with many of the largest resource development, infrastructure and energy companies in North America by helping them improve their stakeholder engagement efforts with technology. Additionally, he has direct on-the-ground engagement experience including being the main company representative in an indigenous community for a contentious energy program in northern British Columbia for almost a year.
In recognition of his contributions to improving the energy industry in both his professional and volunteer work, he was awarded the Rising Stars award for 2019 from the Daily Oil Bulletin.
He is also a veteran of the Canadian Forces where he served in the infantry which included a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006