36 Hours / 15 Talks Expert and Inspiring Speakers

October 23-24

October 10, 2017 Xcelerate Summit

The World Economic Forum states that we have now entered the 4th Industrial Revolution; one where life as we know it will change more significantly in a shorter time than we as the Human Race have ever experienced. What this means is that regardless of the technology we integrate, and the speed we adopt it, we’ll always be a little bit behind, and will always have more to learn than we could possibly imagine. While this might be scary for some, here are three things to consider as the world as we know it starts to leap forward rather than step:

  • Businesses must be rooted in empathy and trust

Though it is tough to say exactly, what we do know is that people are subject to more advertising now than ever before. So much so, in fact, that we see between 4,000 and 10,000 advertisements in a single day. The result? Whether we like it or not, we’ve become great at filtering noise and desensitized to messages that aren’t authentic. Skip using buzzwords, only talking about the best parts of the job, and start really caring about people. No, I’m not talking about accommodating and catering to anyone; I’m talking about really building trust and being upfront about the experience in and outside of the job.

  • What works for them might not work for you

A best culture doesn’t universally exist. What works at Google, might not work for your people. Comparing apples to oranges is dangerous when it comes to building great places to work and establishing a strong culture. Unless the employees are truly understood, and the environment they work in enables them to do their best work, workplace culture will never be as strong as it could be. Don’t know what that looks like? Ask them. Chances are they’d love to have their opinion hear. This leads me to my third point.

  • Every team member must be heard

We’re long past the days where all decisions are made in the boardroom without consultation of the team. Imagine being in a room full of people only to have a select few come up with the ideas that shape and drive the next actions of the company. We simply can’t afford to not hear from the people that are ‘in the trenches’ when it comes to refining best practices and moving forward as an organization. Sure, the C-suite may make the final decision, but limiting the knowledge base isn’t affordable when competitors are using all of the resources (people) they have to be the best they can be.

The Future of Work has seemingly shifted from something that we were all excited about to something that we now seem to have started to fear. Change is inevitable and if we want to be able to do our best to not only keep up with the times, but create a great place to work, we have no choice but to get and use all of the help we can.

And while it may seem that we have to speed up to keep up, I’d invite you to consider that the best way to speed up us to slow down, be intentional, and ensure there is care and trust rooted in every decision made.

Eric Termuende

August 10, 2017 Xcelerate Summit

Building a startup can often seem like a constant battle between David and Goliath – big companies have bigger budgets, more resources, and existing market share, and trying to go up against them can seem insurmountable. But startups have an innate advantage over large companies because they’re nimble, fast-moving, and willing to take risks. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to grow your company, here are a few ways thinking like a startup can make you a better marketer: 

Startup mantra #1: expensive marketing doesn’t mean effective marketing

Startups may have less marketing budget than their corporate counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they’re at a disadvantage. By virtue of having small budgets, startups are resourceful and often find new channels or ways to promote their business, and startups are more willing to test new tactics vs. spending marketing budget on what they’ve done in the past. As Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner commercial showed, even million-dollar campaigns flop. The key is to test multiple tactics – whether it’s Facebook ads or an Instagram influencer campaign, measure the impact, invest in what’s working, and discard the rest. 

Startup mantra #2: use speed and creativity to your advantage 

As a small company, your biggest edge over your established competitors is speed, and the ability to take risks with your marketing. Larger companies can take months to approve just one social media post, since they have to go through multiple approval levels and risky ideas often get squashed when they pass through the legal team. Startups have an opportunity to react quickly to current events, and to craft riskier marketing campaigns. One example of a startup that used speed to their advantage is Waterloo’s Sortable, which launched a recruiting page on their website in 2016 inviting Americans afraid of a Trump presidency to apply for their open positions. The move resulted in lots of free PR for Sortable – and it likely wouldn’t have shown up on the recruiting page for a large company. Another example is BuzzBuzzHome, a real estate listings site, which capitalized on Ashley Madison’s data breach in 2016. After users on the popular cheating site were exposed, the site launched ads that read “spouse found out about your Ashley Madison account? There’s no better time to check out these new homes.” A larger real estate site likely wouldn’t launched those ads – both because of cheeky tone, and because of slow response times.

Startup mantra #3: focus on personal brand, not just company brand

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world have extremely strong personal brands, not just strong corporate brands – think of Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, or Elon Musk. You know them as well as you know their companies, and it’s not something that’s true of big companies – can you name the CEO of Pepsi or McDonald’s, for example? As an entrepreneur you are the face of your brand, and investing in growing your personal brand is investing in growing your company’s brand. Whether you’re sharing your entrepreneurial story at conferences, writing articles for media publications, or speaking with the press about trends in your industry, growing your personal brand can be an extremely effective way to grow your company – especially because you have that “aha moment” story about why you decided to start your business, which is something that corporate executives don’t have.

Interested in hearing more about how startup thinking can help you grow your business? Join me at Xcelerate Summit in Barrie on October 25th-26th 2017.

Erin Bury


July 21, 2017 Xcelerate Summit

Things are a changin’ … Social Media is how employers and employees are finding jobs and people! You need to know where your prospective employees are looking.

Indeed, seems to a big one!  There are others, but this is one that is dominating the market. The days of posting expensive ads are over. Many ads placed in the newspaper are smaller and refer employees to their websites. You need to think about the age & skill set of the staff you are attracting or want to attract. They are not picking up the newspaper – they are blogging and doing online searches!

How about Glass Door … are you familiar with this one? Employees post their opinions about their experience with employers.  What if you have negative reports? It impacts your ability to attract prospective employees. Employees are looking for a chance to grow their skills, work permanently, have benefits, and support their families! Like the housing market it is an employees’ market and you need to be prepared.

I have heard over and over again this summer that no one seems to want to work! Not true; they do! Employers need to find out what motivates them.

How about interviewing? Are the right questions being asked? Behavioural based questions demonstrate the absence or presence of a skill. Don’t ask questions like “Are you organized”?  Instead say, “Give me an example of time when you had a busy day with lots of priorities and tell me how you organized yourself? What tools did you use? How did you manage interruptions?”  Now that will tell you if they are organized. (Or not.)

Learn about social media and recruitment and how to ask the right questions to ensure you are getting the fit you need. It is an important investment in your business so devote the time!

See you in October.

Take your business to Hire Ground!

 Susan Keast

Career Broker

Join Susan Keast in her breakout session, “Because it is 2017! Recruitment Strategies for Today’s Business” on Wednesday October 25th from 10am-11am! Read more about her breakout session here.



December 1, 2016 Xcelerate Summit

The community partners of Xcelerate Summit once again thank all of the dedicated sponsors who supported Xcelerate Summit 2016! Through in kind and monetary sponsorship, Xcelerate Summit was a huge success which saw a number of attendees engaging in new techniques and findings within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Highlights from 2016:

  • Innovation Alley – Attendees of Xcelerate Summit were invited to enjoy an amazing lunch provided by the chefs and culinary students of Georgian College’s, The First Class. During this networking lunch, attendees mingled within a range of innovative and tech based displays from the newest line of startups and makers from the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre. For the braver attendees, this also included their first exposure to the world of virtual reality!
  • Innovate Like an Entrepreneur by Dr. Sean Wise – Closing keynote speaker, Sean Wise, led the participants of Xcelerate Summit in an interactive innovation session which highlighted the naked truth behind the innovation of an entrepreneur. Sean shared stories and experiences of the time he spent with uber entrepreneurs Kevin O’Leary, Brett Wilson, Harry Rosen, John Sleeman, Debbie Travis and many more. Participants were left charged up, engaged, and ready to grow their innovation pipeline.
  • Social Networking with Sonic Coalition – Attendees celebrated the close of Xcelerate Summit by grooving along with the rock tunes of Barrie’s own, Sonic Coalition. Kenzington Burger Bar generously hosted this exciting networking opportunity and kept the participants well fuelled with their excellent menu items!

Many thanks to SNAP’d Barrie who were able to capture some great photos – see the full photo gallery here!

Don’t forget to save the date for Xcelerate Summit 2017 – October 25th & 26th!

October 13, 2016 Xcelerate Summit

When faced with a competing priorities, limited resources, and trade-offs, finding a solution that everyone can live with is often the best possible outcome. It might not be everyone’s first choice – in fact, it might not be anyone’s first choice – but it’s the best compromise solution for everyone involved. A simple example of this is “where are we going to eat dinner?” The right answer is not the restaurant that’s the favorite of 25% of your group. The right answer is the one where everyone can find something to eat.

In small groups – less than a dozen – consensus can be reached by having everyone state their preferences, haggle, argue, and eventually come to an agreement. This process is slow, but it gets the job done. Now imagine trying to get consensus among hundreds or thousands of stakeholders. Impossible.

For this reason, when dealing with large groups, we usually fall back on polling – pick your favorite from among a number of options. This can be done quickly and, with modern technology, among huge numbers of people. It gets some meaningful data quickly, and because no better option is practical, most organizations use polling and say “good enough.”

Disordat is a better solution, one that actually makes finding consensus possible, quickly, among any number of people. By using a phone or other mobile device, users run through a series of “A or B” questions, each time choosing their preference from the options presented. After a few questions are answered, Disordat determines the preference ranking for each user, combines this data with the responses from all other users, and comes up with a net ranking of the options based on their popularity (how often they came in first) and their consensus (how often they didn’t come in last). Results look like this:

Choices in the top-right corner are slam dunks – they rank high with everyone and low with no one.

Choices in the top-left are polarizing – some people love them, others hate them.

Choices in the bottom-left are consensus choices – nobody’s favorite, but everybody can live with them.

Choices in the bottom-right are duds – everyone hates them.

Because this data is gathered and presented in real time , groups can act on this data quickly to make better decisions.

The key difference between Disordat and traditional polling methods is that polls cannot tell the difference between polarizing and slam-dunk choices, and cannot find consensus choices at all. By using technology everyone has in their pocket, and asking a simple series of “A or B” questions, Disordat can quickly find, amongst any group, if there is consensus to be found, and if so, where.

Disordat –

Created by Fulcrum CC –

September 9, 2016 Xcelerate Summit

Save the Date!

This year, the founding partners of Barrie Business Week bring you: Xcelerate Summit 2016!

Building upon the success of previous years, the summit will offer an array of valuable keynotes, panels, workshops, and networking opportunities designed to ready your business for the future.  Plus, we’re expanding our reach outside of Barrie in 2016 to attract entrepreneurs, business owners and key department staff from across Central Ontario.

Xcelerate Summit 2016 will take place at Georgian College in Barrie, with two full days of learning sessions, keynote speakers, and the signature Presidents’ Panel on Wednesday and Thursday, culminating in a networking mixer the evening of Thursday October 27th.

Get the official conference app here.
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