December 12, 2014

Start-ups: What It Takes To Win Interview: John Ruffolo, CEO of Omers Ventures

Most successful start-ups have a few key elements in common.  Without them a start up will not likely be anything more than a lifestyle business - one that provides the owner a decent lifestyle. By definition a lifestyle business is not a start-up.

What do we mean by ‘start-up’? It is a business built to grow exponentially. Many business ideas require capital to grow, but some will scale, growing quickly with small changes to the process, via the internet. For our purposes this is what we define as a start-up.

It is important to note that a start-up can be built from anywhere. With today’s tools of distribution being in a large market like LA, NY or SF is not necessary. With a clear focus on GROWTH, start-ups can come from anywhere like Ottawa, Waterloo, Halifax, Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal. So we asked John Ruffolo, CEO of OMERS Ventures, what drives GROWTH?

The first element without question is PASSION. 

Ruffolo puts it this way, " In the very first meeting I am listening for what drives this person. Make no mistake, the success of any business comes down to a single person and their leadership. Even if there are co-founders, there is always that single driving force, that passion that never backs down. Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg each had a great team of extremely talented people around them, but they were the source of the constant flame that always burned bright. They had a passion that called them. In Steve's case it was 'make a dent in the universe' and in Mark's it was 'connect everyone' “.

Ruffolo says “Every start-up encounters many obstacles and pitfalls.  Passion is what carries an entrepreneur through to fulfill the vision, no matter what. Passion, or 'what drives this person' to solve this issue must be deep enough to carry the day – or weeks, months, even years. Making money is a natural result and should always be distinguished from starting a business. I have seen too many so-called entrepreneurs who were passionate about making money cause their start up to fail because they had their eye on the wrong ball. Being passionate about making money is not the same as being passionate about solving a problem that a lot people will value."

The second ingredient is CREATING VALUE.  Remember that small group of snowboarders who wanted to sell stuff to other snowboarders online? Sounds easy enough, until they dug into it and found out that consultants and programmers wanted their first born to help them set up a functioning e-Commerce website. One of the co-founders learned something about programming with Ruby On Rails. The next thing you know their friends were asking if they could help them. Those were the early days of Shopify, driven by a simple passion: to sell snowboarding stuff online.  As the business grew so did the vision. Now for as little as $19.95 month with Shopify anyone can sell anything anywhere in the world online. That opens up a lot of possibilities! Steve Jobs would say that made a dent in the universe.

The idea itself is clearly a key ingredient. Often the best ideas are born out of a mutual personal need. One person sees a need and realizes if they need it others probably do too.  A Santa Monica couple hated leaving their dog in a "pee-filled kennel" when they travelled. They discovered a lot of other people shared their view. So many in fact they built an on-line service to connect people to in-home dog sitters - and it has scaled. It is now global. The owner's vision of pets staying in loving homes rather than cold, impersonal kennels is being fulfilled. As long as they stay true to that vision, that passion, and practice sound business management, the money will follow.

The third ingredient is EXPANDING YOUR VISION IN KEEPING WITH YOUR PASSION.  John Ruffolo believes good business management advice is plentiful. “There is no shortage of books and business gurus who will dole out advice on request (and often without request). Understanding the passion that creates new business and causes real change in the world, well, that's a completely different story.  Aaron Hirschhorn's love for dogs and his desire to have them lovingly cared for when he travelled lead to a business beyond most people's belief.  Definitely, he made a lot of 'right' business moves but it was that passion - that vision that had him continue through thick and thin - through the many obstacles being a start up throws at you.”

The fourth element is SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE AND IMPLEMENT SOUND BUSINESS PRACTICES.  Unfortunately the fact is many co-founding situations are a group of good friends who happen to be together when the idea was conceived. There are many roles that must be filled with committed, talented people, yet not all roles warrant a “co-founder” status. You must decide which roles are mission critical to your idea and if you feel you need a co-founder, partner with the absolute best person you know.

The fifth element is HANG ON. It is quite a ride, which explains why many come back for more.

1. Find something you are passionate about. (Other than making money)

2. Create a solution that others will value.

3. Keep expanding your vision, in keeping with your passion.

4. Surround yourself with good people and implement sound business practices.

5. Hang on!


November 21, 2014

Dealing with the Devil: How to Tame Difficult Clients

Clients can be a source of delight and sorrow for the business owner. One thing is obvious; they are completely vital to the success of any business. Dealing with difficult clients comes with this territory, but it may be easier than you think. It always comes down to identifying client needs, and then fulfilling those needs. Here’s how to do just that.

1. Listen and Repeat

We have all heard the famous saying that the customer is always right. While this might not always be true, there is something to gain from the idea. A dissatisfied client is usually upset because they feel they are not being heard. In some instances this is due to the typical indifferent customer service agent who is simply reading a script and keeping one eye on the clock. This is understandably upsetting to any client. It is important to train your people to listen carefully, and then repeat the concerns back as you have heard them. This immediately proves to the client that they are being heard.

Most businesses would be surprised at the difference this practice makes. Although it can be exhausting, doing this is important to the success of a business. According to American Survey Express, 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. When you do the math, taking the time out to listen ends up being less expensive than the clientele lost due to bad service.

2. Offer Sincere Apology

Apologizing is very difficult to do, especially when you feel no direct responsibility. For the sake of the business and client, this is something that needs to happen daily; perhaps even hourly, depending on your market. An apology can act as a soothing balm to an irate client. No matter what the issue, some clients appearing to be very angry can be calmed down by a sincere apology. It is obvious that a resolution must follow, but an honest apology comes first.

It is important to realize, however, that if a business is known to offer empty apologies to try and sedate customers, those efforts quickly become futile. Clients are very smart and will see right through this. An insincere apology runs the risk of further aggravating a difficult customer. Lee Resources shows that 91% of unhappy customers will not do business with you again. Dealing with each customer like they count is paramount to maintaining good business.

3. Answer the Question

According to consumers, customer service agents failed to answer their questions 50% of the time. There is no explanation needed as to why this is unacceptable. Most clients would rather wait for a correct answer than not receive one at all. Some customer service representatives knowingly offer the wrong answer to a client because they are afraid to appear incompetent. This often results in the client getting very angry the next time when they are told the information they received and acted on was completely wrong.

It is advisable to take the time to answer each question correctly in order to have a satisfied customer. An Understanding Customers survey shows that it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one negative one.

Customer service is one of the most difficult things to provide, but when done correctly it results in success. This is because most businesses deal with people at some point. Crafty marketing ideas are beneficial, but good customer service is a necessity. In a survey conducted by McKinsey, results show that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. It is not always about the product.

Maya Angelou stated it clearly; “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”. Finding out what they need directly from the client empowers the business. Instead of blindly providing service, surveying the client enables them to address issues that the client is concerned about. This creates a lasting relationship between the business and client.

November 12, 2014

In the news ... November 12, 2014

New Study on Monetizing Digital Media: Trends, Key Insights and Strategies that Work

MONTREAL, Nov. 10, 2014 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Interactive Alliance / L'alliance interactive canadienne (CIAIC) releases Monetizing Digital Media: Trends, Key Insights and Strategies that Work, an examination of recent trends and key models being used to monetize digital media content. The study was conducted by Communications MDR and authored by Maria De Rosa and Marilyn Burgess, with the support of the Canada Media Fund (CMF), the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the Bell Fund, the National Film Board (NFB) and the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Integrating key insights by industry leaders and examples of successful monetization models and strategies being used by Canadian companies, the report provides an overview and analysis of recent global trends and key models being used to monetize digital media content. As stated in the report, digital media are being monetized in a rapidly evolving and complex ecosystem requiring a sophisticated understanding of consumer behaviour as well as an appetite for experimentation and risk.

Read more

 CBC News and The Weather Network Enter Content Sharing Agreement

CBC News and The Weather Network are pleased to announce a new content sharing agreement, bringing together Canada’s leading sources of weather, news and information. Beginning December 8th, national weather forecasts on select CBC News television properties will be provided by The Weather Network’s team of meteorologists and on-air personalities, while The Weather Network will gain access to CBC News weather-related stories, analysis, and video content for use across its platforms.

Read more

Ryerson School of Media Announces New Award

The RTA School of Media at Ryerson University is pleased to announce a new award that recognizes individuals from diverse backgrounds. The Marci Ien and Dwight Drummond Award celebrates students from under-represented and marginalized communities who show great potential in any three of RTA's programs.

Marci Ien and Dwight Drummond, both influential figures in Toronto’s media industry, share a passion for education. Their success stories, and the help they received while at RTA, contributed to their decision to offer the award. Drummond, co-host of CBC News Toronto, was a recipient of the Lorne Greene Award for the recognition of Canadian talent while at RTA. He recalls, “It came at a time when I was worried about how I was going to pay for the books for my classes. It gave me just the right amount I needed to cover the costs. I just remember the incredible sense of relief I had. It was like somebody was looking out for me. I knew that if I was ever in a position to do that for someone else I would. This award is my opportunity to pay it forward.”

Read more 


November 06, 2014

In the news ... November 6, 2014


Toronto's Bionym is helping brands stay ahead of the adoption curve


RBC and MasterCard have joined forces with a Toronto startup to test wearable payments.

The company, Bionym, announced a pilot program for its Nymi Band wristband on Monday that will see it partner with banks and credit card companies to turn the wearable device into a mobile wallet. The announcement was made at Money2020 in Las Vegas, a conference about innovation in payments and financial services.


Torstar Corp. plans to remove the paywall at the country’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star, next year to coincide with the launch of a new tablet edition.

The owner of the Toronto Star and other publications said its main focus is on delivering content across multiple platforms – a move it’s betting will attract more readers, and bring national advertisers back into the fold.

“This is an important strategic step forward for the Star and for Torstar as we commit to our future of cross-platform, a future that we recognize will be increasing mobile,” Torstar president and CEO David Holland told analysts during a conference call Wednesday.

Read more

 Manitoba teacher recognized for interactive teaching of First Nations students

Connie Wyatt Anderson, a teacher at Oscar Lathlin Collegiate in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Man., has been awarded a 2014 Governor General's Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History. 

Anderson will be formally presented with the award at Rideau Hall on Nov. 3. 

The awards are made possible through Canada's History Society, which recognizes Canadian teachers who are helping to 'bring history to life' for Canadian students.  

Canada's History Society, a national charity which promotes Canadian history, describes Anderson as a "dynamic teacher on a First Nations reserve 600 kilometres north of Winnipeg [who] is engaging her students in a real-life cultural quest."

Read more


October 25, 2014

In the news ... October 25, 2014

The digital journal of a Montreal-born jihadist

In the season premiere of Enquête, Radio-Canada’s investigative journalism program follows the digital journal of Sami, a young man in his 20s who left his Montreal home to wage jihad in Syria.

Sami’s Facebook account, now closed, offered a window into his experience and clues to his path toward jihad, the arabic word for resistance.

Read more

CTV and Canadian Marketing Association Announce Judges for Super Bowl Ad Challenge

CTV and the Canadian Marketing Association confirmed its esteemed panel of judges for the Super Bowl Canadian Ad Challenge. The Challenge seeks from marketers and their creative partners their best-in-class, original creative specifically targeted to Canadians for CTV’s exclusive Canadian coverage of the biggest sporting event in North America.

The panel of judges will be quarterbacked by Stephen Brown, President, FUSE Marketing Group. Brown will oversee the judging process, which begins immediately after the competition closes on Monday, Dec. 1 at 12 noon ET.

Read more

Yet More Cuts at CBC/Radio-Canada says Media Guild

CBC President Hubert Lacroix has shared more details about the corporate-wide job cuts he first announced in June. In a meeting with union leaders, Lacroix said the CBC will lose another 400 jobs by the end of March 2015 bringing the total number of jobs cut at CBC this fiscal year to 1057. There will be another 400 job cuts to come by March 2016. Lacroix further added that another 400 and possibly more jobs will be cut by 2020.

 Read more



October 17, 2014

In the news ... October 17, 2014

Will Independent Media Become a Thing of the Past in Canada?

Concerns over the reach and independence of the press have hit a high point in Canada, where a large media buyout is underway. It has left citizens asking: can we trust independent reporting when the vast majority of the media is owned by one parent cooperation?

Postmedia, a company that owns a number of popular newspaper chains in Canada, will be scooping up 175 daily newspapers in a landmark $316 million buyout

Read more:

Interactive: Cigarette package warnings from around the world

Cigarettes are bad for you. Everyone knows that. But a growing number of countries around the world are trying to smack smokers in the face with the cold, harsh, reality of smoking.

Cigarette packages are increasingly regulated, with more space than ever devoted to warnings, graphics and advice to quit. In some countries, logos aren’t even permitted on cigarette packages anymore. The full breakdown comes in a new report from the Canadian Cancer Society released Tuesday morning.

“There has been tremendous progress internationally in implementing package warnings,” the organization says. “The worldwide trend for larger, picture health warnings is growing and unstoppable, with many more countries in the process of developing such requirements.”

Read more 

Province Enhancing Measures to Prepare For Ebola Virus Disease

 Ebola in the province. These measures will further protect the safety of all Ontarians, including health care workers.  

The new measures include:

Read more


October 10, 2014

In the news ... October 10, 2014

People, Places and Players Making News on the Canadian Digital Media Scene

Top Media CEO Named to Vancouver Economic Commission Board

Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of Vancouver, BC-based media and technology company BroadbandTV, has been appointed to the Vancouver Economic Commission’s board of directors.

The nine member team features strong representation from key Vancouver economic sectors including Digital Entertainment & Interactive, Technology, Green Economy as well as Finance and Education.

Rafati has been recognized by numerous industry and community groups for her contributions to the media industry, and entrepreneurship. In 2013, Rafati was responsible for closing a strategic partnership and investment with RTL Group, Europe's largest media conglomerate, and a unit of Bertelsmann, one of the world’s largest media companies. At the time, the $36 million investment marked the largest private placement into an Internet media company in Canada since 2007.

Read more

Quebecor announces sale of English-language papers

Quebecor announced today that it has reached an agreement with Postmedia Network Canada Corporation (Postmedia) whereby Postmedia will acquire Sun Media Corporation’s English-language operations, consisting of 175 newspapers and publications, including the Sun chain of dailies, namely the Ottawa Sun, Toronto Sun, Winnipeg Sun, Edmonton Sun and Calgary Sun, as well as The London Free Press, the 24 Hours dailies in Toronto and Vancouver, and community dailies and weeklies, buyers’ guides and specialty publications [Including the Fairview Post, Peace River Record Gazette, Peace Country Sun and Grande Prairie Herald Tribune].

Read more

CNW Breakfast with the Media Toronto Video Now Available

Today's tumultuous media landscape is a navigational challenge for both journalists and public relations professionals alike. CNW's Breakfast with the MediaState of the Media 2014 events featured media panels describing life in the newsroom and how to best work with journalists in the current news environment.

Read more



October 06, 2014

In the news ... October 6, 2014

Transcript: Building your brand in the era of digital marketing


Special to The Globe and Mail

This is Karl Moore of the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University, Talking Management for The Globe and Mail. Today, I am delighted to speak to Mitch Joel, who is the president of Twist Image, one of the top digital marketing firms in the world.

We are talking with some of our MBA students about building your brand. What advice do you have for building a brand, and is that really important today?

Read more

Why digital marketers should be excited about Apple Pay

The service creates an instant audience for new mobile marketing and customer loyalty apps, like those used by automotive retailer Pep Boys to steer campaigns.

During the first weekend of its existence, Apple’s iPhone 6 found its way into the hands of 10 million people—creating an instant audience for its forthcoming mobile payments service, Apple Pay. The numbers will be higher the instant I publish this.

Read more

What the Music Industry Could Learn From Digital Marketing

This article is part of SWOT Team, a new series on Mashable that features insights from leaders in marketing, brand-building and public relations.

According to Nielsen SoundScan’s latest report, more than 70% of the music consumed in the first six months of 2014 in the U.S. was either downloaded or streamed — and streaming services are the only part of the recorded music business that's growing. Digital's influence on the music industry has driven consumption and provided immense opportunity for new business, from newer entrants, like Spotify and Pandora, to moves from veteran players, likeApple, Google and Amazon. But these competing services have paved the way for a highly fragmented landscape, and it’s become a maze for artists and labels to understand — and capitalize on — fan behavior.

Read more


October 03, 2014

In the news ... October 3, 2014

Bell Invests $5 Million in Hubub to Grow Digital Reach in Canada

Bell Media announced this week an investment in Toronto-based digital startup Hubub.

Under the terms of the agreement, Bell Media has invested $5 million in cash and committed millions more to market Hubub.

In addition to acquiring an equity stake in the company, Bell Media has obtained the exclusive rights to monetize Hubub in Canada.

Read more 

Million Dollar Initiative Encourages Digital Media Collaboration

New Zealand and Canada are joining together to establish a million dollar matching fund to encourage the coproduction of innovative digital media projects for online audiences.

The Canada-New Zealand Digital Media incentive has $1M CDN ($1.1M NZD) available in the 2014-2015 financial year to be allocated to approximately three eligible projects. Guidelines including details on the selection process will be announced on October 10 with a call for ideas.

Read more

Call for Canada 3.0 participants

Canada 3.0 is bringing together leaders from the Energy and Technology sectors next month in Calgary.

Dawn Farrell, President & CEO of Trans Alta, Suzanne West, President & CEO of Imaginea Energy and Tom Jenkins, Chairman of OpenText  will be amongst the  energy and technology sector leaders who will be Building the technology supply chain for the energy industry at this years Canada 3.0conference, which will be held in Calgary from October 28th – 30th.  

Read more




Welcome to One Degree

  • is one of Canada's leading online publications about digital marketing, online communications and social media -- penned by some of Canada's most insightful and innovative internet marketers. Thank you for visiting! on Twitter on Facebook Bookmarks on Delicious on YouTube on Flickr Primary Feed

Subscribe to One Degree

One Degree with

  • is Canada's jobsite dedicated to marketing, creative and business professionals. Search or Post Jobs Today.

read all about it