[ OUR TEAM ]

 

In addition to the Core Team members guiding you as you propel your startup forward, Empowered is fortunate to have a deep pool of talented, innovative, and connected Collaborators. We are committed to enhancing the prosperity of the startup ecosystems where our portfolio ventures grow.

 

Core Team

The Empowered Startups Core Team draws its strength from its members’ combined business experience, word class educational accomplishments and complementary skillsets.

Collaborators

We have cultivated relationships with accomplished business mentors from a variety of industries, we actively partner with innovative researchers at university labs, and we are pleased to work with highly-skilled service providers.

Amber Allen

Amber Allen

Core Team: Co-Founder

Amber Allen, a McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management MBA, has started and developed a number of companies and since 2005 she has refined a strategic growth planning methodology that continuously receives top reviews. Amber worked with Health Canada for six years as a chemist and has an expansive understanding of regulatory environments and bringing products to market.

Gokhan Basaran

Gokhan Basaran

Core Team: Startup Leader

Gökhan is a marketing leader with 11+ years’ international business development and product marketing experience managing portfolios ranging from $15-$60M and leading sales and marketing teams. He is known for developing go-to-market and expansion strategies with hands-on experience in building and launching new brands in international markets. He has a proven track record as a brand builder and product marketer.

Before his role at Empowered Startups, he worked as a venture advisor at the Creative Destruction Lab – West in Vancouver. He mentored various scale-up companies on business development and establishing go-to-market strategies. He has over 11 years of experience in the electrical home appliances industry, where he held several roles in different business units like sales, marketing, brand and product management.

Gokhan is a mechanical engineer and has an MBA degree from the UBC Sauder School of Business.

Laura Bock Blumes

Laura Bock Blumes

Core Team: Managing Director - Europe

Laura takes responsibility for Empowered Startups’ key operational initiatives, at global and local levels, through her role as VP – Strategic Initiatives.

As Managing Director – Europe, Laura looks after the first ES incubators in France and Portugal respectively. She has the honour and privilege of forming and nurturing important partnerships in the dynamic start-up ecosystems in Europe.

Laura is a systems strategist, with over 15 years experience designing and implementing organizational development systems, particularly in support of distributed operations. Her specialty is in creating robust, scaleable and practical systems that allow for ad hoc adaptations within a variety of socio-economic contexts. Laura holds an MBA in the Management of Technology and an M.A. in Educational Technology; she served as an immigrant settlement assistance volunteer for 3 years.

Ben Capps

Ben Capps

Collaborator: Service Provider

Ben Capps is a CPA at Smythe LLP, with a chartered professional accounting education. Well versed in the Vancouver technology sphere, Ben and the team at Smythe are available to assist our portfolio companies with accounting, auditing and financial advice.

Smythe was founded in 1980 by six entrepreneurs. With 185 staff and partners in offices in Vancouver, Nanaimo and Langley, it is now one of the largest independent CPA firms in BC. We are pleased to collaborate and grow with them.

Tatiana Chernaya

Tatiana Chernaya

Core Team: Business Development Manager

Tatiana is responsible for introducing Empowered Startups to Hong Kong, then identifying and developing new business opportunities in the region. Tatiana has over 15 years of experience in project management and client relationship management. She was branch manager for Avangard Bank in Moscow, project manager for Color Brand International in Hong Kong, and oversaw production management of garment manufacturing in China and Bangladesh.

Tatiana holds a Bachelors degree in Finance and Japanese Linguistics from Moscow State University of International Relations. Passionate about traveling and exploring new business opportunities, she was raised in Russia, has lived in North America and Asia, and is fluent in English, Russian and Japanese.

Dr. Peter Chow-White

Dr. Peter Chow-White

Collaborator: Advisor

Dr. Peter Chow-White is Director and Professor of the GeNA Lab in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University. He is deeply involved in the development, adoption, and social impact of communication, blockchain, big data, social media, and health and is a sought after speaker and analyst on these and many other topics. He advises and collaborates with industry and policy makers to build digital solutions and improve the role of communication, data, and social media in their organizations and has worked with a diverse set of private and public organizations.

Elmien Dicker

Elmien Dicker

Collaborator : Service Provider

Elmien leads Empowered Startups Incubation services, coaching and helping startups on turning a promising idea into a repeatable, scalable business model that delivers significant bottom-line results.

Elmien is a proven leader of strategic business innovation and implementation specializing in the consistent application of three critical skill sets: deep customer orientation; innovative mind-set and inspirational style. Almost 20 years of experience in Royal Dutch Shell has afforded Elmien opportunities to build a potent combination of both specialist (Marketing) and general management skills (both entrepreneurial and ‘intrapreneurial’).

Eamonn Gamble

Eamonn Gamble

Collaborator: Service Provider

Eamonn is a Senior Account Manager in the Knowledge Based Industries sector as a commercial lender at the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). We value his broad range of experience in providing capital for small and mid-sized companies, including traditional commercial lending and equity capital markets, as well as the growing field of impact investing. He holds an MSc from the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

RBC is Canada’s biggest bank, and one of the largest in the world based on market capitalization, with 16 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. RBC’s small business, commercial and capital markets teams work closely to find the home of best fit for startups, established innovators, public companies and those at any stage in between.

Paul Girodo

Paul Girodo

Core Team: Co-Founder

Paul Girodo, MBA is expert in transnational entrepreneurship, scaling startups, and designing leading edge immigration products that deliver clear benefits to the governments, start-up ecosystems, and most importantly the citizens of countries accepting transnational business class migrants.  As Co-Founder of Empowered Startups he helped build it into the largest deal flow provider to the Government of Canada’s Start-up Visa Program.  He also leads Empowered’s delivery of new leading edge fast-track business investor class migration programs for entrepreneurs in Portugal and France with a growing number of established incubators in both countries.  His industry interests range from combating human trafficking with his father (Former Team Leader for INTERPOL Group of Experts on Corruption and chief human factors consultant in specialized drug and money laundering investigations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to deep tech and social venture enterprises. He is a shareholder and director of many Canadian, French, and Portuguese companies.

Naheed Henderson

Naheed Henderson

Core Team: CEO - Global Accelerator Program

Naheed leads the team at Empowered Startups’ Global Accelerator program, developing entrepreneurial skills and allowing Empowered Startups to vet, qualify, and prepare ASEAN entrepreneurs for the Startup Visa Program through Empowered’s Business Incubator in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Naheed is a dynamic leader in business development, partnerships and communications, with an affinity for collaboration and creative problem solving. Naheed has a personal story honed by a lifetime in the mountains and studies in biology and design, and has lent her development, marketing and communications talent, guiding skills and adventure profile to a host of vertically-impassioned clients and partners. She has been on design and development teams that put to market leading innovative products, led business development and communication projects for global outdoor leaders, and worked to develop and sustain critical partnerships and direction for tourism leaders in British Columbia.

Matthew Pattinson

Matthew Pattinson

Core Team: Startup Leader

Matthew Pattinson, UBC MBA graduate, specializes in sales, new product development, and applying lean startup and customer development methodologies. Before joining Empowered Startups Ltd, Matthew worked in sales in the environmental industry where he achieved rapid revenue growth and brought a new technology to market. He also worked internationally in Central America and West Africa where he created social enterprises that provide financial services to underserved clients. These enterprises have gone on to serve thousands of clients.

As a Startup Leader at Empowered Startups Ltd, Matthew is excited to use his experience in both building social enterprises internationally and developing and selling new products to support Empowered Startup’s ventures through their early stages of growth and create an international tapestry of entrepreneurship in Canada.

 Vincent Jansen

Vincent Jansen

Collaborator: Advisor

Vincent Jansen is currently CEO of Denra Consulting in addition to his position as Director of Technology at an independent school. His career in K12 education spans 30+ years, with roles as teacher, administrator, business analyst and consultant at several Canadian and International Schools. His range of experiences include; education business sales, marketing & communications; strategic digital leadership; process intelligence, data/information management, reporting metrics and analytics. He has been a founder on several technical innovation start-ups and enjoys the challenge of engaging educational leaders to leverage technology into modern digital platforms.

Vincent is a member of CAIS, NAIS, Educational Collaborators, and on the Board of Directors at an EdTech startup. He has a Master’s Degree in Education Administration, along with a Certificate in use of Emerging Technologies in Learning. Vincent started as an educator, to hone a craft, design and foster inspiration to achieve results. Being results driven, he currently uses state-of-the-art digital tools to create visualization and data insights to transform educational institutions.

Christopher Lennon

Christopher Lennon

Core Team: President and General Counsel

After spending a little over a decade with a prominent law firm in Vancouver, primarily advising technology companies, research organizations, and corporate boards, Chris joined Empowered Startups Ltd. as President and General Counsel. Prior to taking on this role, Chris had acted as Empowered’s primary legal counsel since the organization’s inception. Chris also acted as an advisor on strategic issues and specific ventures incubated with the organization. As President and General Counsel Chris now oversees all Empowered’s operations and legal matters, working closely with the business incubator’s Board of Directors.

Separate and apart from his role with Empowered, Chris also continues to advise technology companies and other organizations through Lennon Law Corporation.

Sean Lumb

Sean Lumb

Collaborator: Advisor

Sean is Director of New Ventures at The University of British Columbia and he applies his extensive experience, knowledge and networks to a number of Empowered Startup’s new ventures.

His experience spans over fifteen years of taking new ventures from the ideation stage to technology commercialization. One of his recent ventures sold to a multinational pharmaceutical firm for over $75 million. Sean specializes in the areas of early-stage technology commercialization, financing, management, and intellectual property management and licensing. Sean’s early stage experience, management talent and personal drive make a significant impact on Empowered’s startup ventures.

Colin McDonald

Colin McDonald

Core Team: Startup Leader

Colin McDonald, USQ, MEd graduate and trained under Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean, specializes in the mentorship of applying Lean Startup methodologies and facilitating key mind-shifts for entrepreneurs with new ventures. Before joining Empowered Startups, Colin worked in the education field as both a teacher and administrator in secondary and post-secondary intuitions and also as the Executive Director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, where he now sits on the Executive Board as Vice President. He has also worked with a number of startups in Asia, where he has lived for the past 20 years, with the last 10 in Vietnam with his wife and son. Colin is excited to work with new entrepreneurs and to help nurture their passion and skills toward furthering their vision of building a successful Startup. 

Dr. Mehrdad Moallem, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Dr. Mehrdad Moallem, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Collaborator: Advisor

Dr. Mehrdad Moallem, Ph.D., P.Eng. (SFU) has more than 20 years of R&D and experience in multi-disciplinary areas related to intelligent control systems, energy systems, electronics, robotics, and mechatronics. He is the author/co-author of more than 200 journal and conference papers and four technical books in the areas of applied control and mechatronics. He held research and faculty positions at Concordia University, Montreal, Canada; Duke University, Durham, NC, USA; and the University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada; before joining Simon Fraser University in 2007, where he is currently Professor of Mechatronic Systems Engineering. He has collaborated in the form of R&D and technology with various companies and has served on the editorial boards of major conferences and journals such as the American Control Conference, IEEE Transactions on Mechatronics, and Elsevier journal of Mechatronics. 

Shawn Olson

Shawn Olson

Core Team: VP Business Development

Shawn is a graduate of the University of British Columbia who has lived and worked all over the world.   He is a dynamic leader and lifelong coach who believes in the inspirational power of the human spirit.   His 6 years living and working in Central Europe has provided Shawn a global perspective on life and business. He has a proven track record of driving business results and fostering long term strategic global partnerships. Shawn has years of experience building and leading national sales and recruitment teams in multiple industries.  His unique experience working for and with some of Canada’s most prestigious universities provides Empowered Startups with valuable insight. Shawn is a skilled mentor, an avid sportsman, who is passionate about travel, people and relationship building.

Julia Paulasaari

Julia Paulasaari

Core Team: Executive / Administrative Assistant

Julia is an essential part of the Empowered Startups operations team and primarily works behind the scenes to ensure the office runs smoothly and efficiently. Before joining the Empowered Startups team, she worked for an early-stage Silicon Valley startup where she had proven success in delivering exceptional results in a timely manner.

Julia holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki, Finland. She also has several years of administrative work experience in Finland and California and is fluent in Russian, English and Finnish. She is passionate about technology and startups and is well versed in the latest trends in the tech industry.

Ladan Fotoohi

Ladan Fotoohi

Core Team: Mentor & Analyst

In the past 7 years, Ladan has been helping more than 20+ businesses; all walks of life and from B2B & B2C and a variety of industries to get their business questions answered as part of a venture capital team which invested in those startups. As a volunteer job, she worked as a consultant to help 30+ other startups with their customer discovery process in 3 different countries, which she continues to do now in Futurepreneur and New Ventures BC Accelerators.

In Hootsuite, as the Market Insights Manager, she leads market research projects conducted in Hootsuite, HootSweetSpot (Hootsuite’s target market), competitive intelligence, buyer persona framework. Recently, she proposed the Hootopia project, which is also known as Data Full Potential Analysis, which aims to break down the data silos and utilize the synergy of integrated data sources through enhanced cross-analysis.

Sushant Shrestha

Sushant Shrestha

Collaborator: Advisor

Sushant Shrestha, a founding partner at Humanitas Smart Planet Fund, is a researcher, analyst, and strategist in Social Finance, Smart Planet Technologies, Private Equity Valuation, and Transdisciplinary Project Design. Sushant is a Research Fellow at [email protected], University of British Columbia, and an adjunct professor at John F. Kennedy University. His research and data modeling integrates the fields of social finance, data science, blockchain, digital humanities, developmental psychology, and transdisciplinary studies.His current work includes finance for social good and transformative education.

He has degrees in Finance, Management and Psychology, and a professional background in management consulting, business systems analysis, sustainable finance, and organizational analysis. His current work includes a project on indigenous modernity with Dena’ina Athabascan community in collaboration with Alaska National Park Services. He worked as a Finance Director overseeing operations of five startups in three countries. He has worked with several companies as a business analyst and strategy consultant including NASA at Moffett Field, California.

Darrell Houle

Darrell Houle

Core Team: Digital Development Lead

Darrell leads Empowered Startups’ digital development team and projects. He is a graduate of two programs from the University of Alberta – Native Studies and Web Development. As a Metis student in the School of Native Studies, Darrell created the School’s and Aboriginal Student Council’s first websites when the Internet was just starting to become widely used. After receiving his degree, his interest in website design led him to enroll in the university’s first program for web development and started his career as a full-time web developer.

Now, he has 20 years of professional experience in developing websites, applications, mobile apps as well as strategic and tactical consulting for small, medium, and large for-profit and non-profit International organizations. In that time, he’s won a number of website awards including a Webby (the Academy Awards of the internet) and been part of two startups and a handful of internationally distributed web development teams.

He is a lifelong learner with broad experience across other Internet related areas such as search engine optimization, user-centered design practices, server and DNS management, and project management.

Darrell’s primary focus is leading the Empowered Startups Platform’s design and development team in the longterm and day-to-day improvements for the variety of people, organizations, and communities using the platform.

Kyle Kirkegaard

Kyle Kirkegaard

Core Team: YES - Sales & Marketing Manager

Kyle is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Young Empowered Startuppers. Her expertise in education along with strong interpersonal skills cultivates thriving relationships with her clients.

Kyle holds a Bachelor’s degree of Liberal Arts and Sciences from Quest University, Canada and a Master’s of Education from Antioch University, New England. Kyle began her career in education as a classroom teacher and worked as the Interim Faculty Chair for an independent school in British Columbia. Her previous research in education compared curriculum standards in the US and Canada as it relates to alternative models of education. The power of education to shape communities inspires Kyle’s work with the YES Team.

Andrea Blaikie

Andrea Blaikie

Core Team: Empowered Nations - Program Director & Facilitator

As Program Director and Startup Leader for Empowered Nations, Andrea brings over ten years of experience as a teacher and curriculum developer in schools and education programs in British Columbia. She has worked for Líl’wat Nation, building frameworks for language courses and ‘on the land’ programs for Indigenous youth. She is the Senior Researcher for Líl’wat on a project studying traditional systems of governance aimed at supporting the Nation’s move into self-governance. 

A graduate in Anthropology from Williams College, Andrea also studied foreign languages, exploring the connection between words and worldview.  She is an energetic adventurer and has spent years embracing adversity as a leader in winter and mountaineering expeditions. Born in Montreal, on the traditional territories of the St. Lawrence Iroquoian, Haudenosaunee and Mohawk peoples, Andrea grew up in a large family of Polish and Scottish heritage. She is now living and raising her family near Mount Currie, British Columbia, honoured to be a guest in Líl’wat and St’át’imc territory. Andrea arrives with humility in her work and reflects regularly on her place, practice, and assumptions. She believes that her values and ways of being align positively with Indigenous ones but also looks gratefully to elders and community members for guidance, striving to do her work ‘in a good way’.

Lynn Kulli

Lynn Kulli

Core Team: Startup Leader

Lynn is an avid intrapreneur who is fascinated about the future and loves interacting with people from around the world. As an experienced Product Manager, she was recruited to develop an apparel sector from scratch for the largest online retailer in Switzerland (US$1B in sales). When she left, sales of the division had nearly reached a double-digit million figure. In Canada, she was part of the [email protected] team. There she worked with a wide array of startups spanning from deep tech to CPG on strategic tasks to ensure that they reach the next milestone. During the MBA at UBC, she specialized in strategy and innovation, including CDL – West and a global immersion project where she worked in the startup environment in Israel.

As a Startup Leader at Empowered Startups Ltd, Lynn is excited to support founders in achieving ambitious goals and creating value for their company and the community.

Willie Poll

Core Team: Empowered Nations - Facilitator & Community Outreach

Willie is a Metis woman from Northern Ontario. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies and a Master of Arts in Archaeology. She has a diverse background and has mainly spent the last 7+ years working in education in both curriculum design and teaching. She is close with her culture and enjoys connecting and building relationships with Indigenous communities and working with them to create land based and community driven education. She is passionate about de-colonizing curriculum and making education of all levels accessible to Indigenous people.

Willie has always had an entrepreneurial mind and started her first business when she was only 10 years old – Cotton Willies, a popcorn and cotton candy business based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Through her small business venture, she has helped raise funds for numerous charities and causes. Cotton Willie’s has since been profitable for 10+ years and continues to be seen at many community events, parties, weddings, and more. She wants to bring her specialization of working with Indigenous communities and her passion for business together and work with Empowered Startups to bring our program to Indigenous communities and innovators.