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Planning Ahead: Small Business Week in October

Planning Ahead: Small Business Week in October

With October playing host to BDC Small Business Week from October 20-26, we always receive an influx of requests for entrepreneur keynote speakers. With firsthand experience in the trenches of entrepreneurship and small business ownership, they provide invaluable support, education, and strategic advice to help small business owners continue to thrive within an ever-changing business landscape — from embracing new tech such as AI and attracting customers in the digital era to building resilience and staying grounded through purpose.

As a business that started in a spare bedroom ourselves, we applaud small business owners and entrepreneurs for their tenacity, dedication, and resilience, and feel a particular kinship to our incredible roster of entrepreneurial speakers. Meet some of them below and contact us to book your October event today.  

Small Business and Entrepreneurship Experts

Joanna Griffiths

The Knix Way: Building a Brand with Purpose

Joanna Griffiths founded Knix in 2013 with the goal of transforming an underwear market that had too much frill and not enough function. What started as a two-women operation, quickly become one of the fastest growing intimate apparel brands worldwide, with Joanna successfully negotiating its $410-million acquisition in 2022.

Joanna walks audiences through lessons learned from building one of the most successful and prolific mission-driven brands of the digital era to help fellow entrepreneurs thrive in a digital-first world.

Swish Goswami

The Realities of Entrepreneurship

By the age of 26, Swish Goswami had started six high-impact ventures across four industries. He is currently the CEO and co-founder of Surf, a tech company providing brands with a better way to engage and understand consumers.

Swish learned through trial and error how to build a product and market it to millions of consumers, while also fundraising and effectively managing a team. He shares his entrepreneurial playbook while diving deep into trends influencing technology and business today.

Michele Romanow

Getting to Success: How to Build a Business

Today, Michele Romanow is one of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs. But her entrepreneurial journey, like many others, is littered with countless nos. An entrepreneur’s first job is to be resilient, then the real work can begin.

In this insightful and practical talk, Michele recounts her journey to becoming ranked in WXN’s “100 Most Powerful in Canada”. She digs into the mechanics of building a business, including the necessity of embracing change, encouraging disruption, and incentivizing innovation at every stage of the game.

Matt Basile

Reigniting the Fire: Become a Calmer, Smarter, and Happier Entrepreneur

Chef Matt Basile’s multi-year-culinary journey has never been typical. As the founder of the widely successful food chain, Fidel Gastro’s, Matt transformed it from an underground sandwich pop-up to an internationally recognized food brand — all within four years.

In 2020, Basile left everything to co-found a live-fire BBQ company. He shares lessons learned as a founder, not only when it comes to creating a successful and sustainable business, but also how to heal from burnout, reignite that innovative spark, and keep that entrepreneurial spirit fueled.

Zahra Al-Harazi

What It Takes: A Story of Purpose, Strength, and Laughter

Among Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, few have faced more obstacles than Zahra Al-Harazi. A survivor of two civil wars, she immigrated to Canada in 1996. She had no higher education, no connections, and very little understanding of business, but her entrepreneurial spirit quickly led her to start her first company, Foundry Communications, a Canadian creative powerhouse.

With a no-holds-barred attitude, Zahra draws on her experience as a pioneering woman in the business world to help audiences realize their potential for success through the power of purpose.

Graham Sherman

Igniting Your Passion into a Career: The Resilient Entrepreneur

Graham Sherman launched Tool Shed Brewing Company in 2012. He quit his stable, government job only to find out that his new-found vocation was illegal in his home province of Alberta. So, he changed his game plan from simply brewing craft beer to disrupting the industry.

Since then, Tool Shed Brewing Company has grown into a 22,000 square foot brewery with product sold in over 1,000 locations. Graham shares lessons learned from his bumpy entrepreneurial journey, highlighting the importance of adaptability, resiliency, and collaboration.

Erin Bury

How to Win Customers in a Virtual World

A former marketer and technology journalist, Erin Bury is now the co-founder and CEO of Willful, an online estate planning platform and a fast-growing tech startup named one of Bay Street Bull’s Power 50 companies in 2021.

In her insightful presentations, Erin shares how she’s driven customer acquisition and major brand partnerships through exclusively digital channels. She outlines best practices on how small businesses can find their target audience online, while exploring trends to watch to help fellow founders prepare for what’s next.

Michael Hyatt

Business Unplanned: Unleashing the Power of a Growth Mindset

In the face of exponential change, serial entrepreneur Michael Hyatt inspires audiences to embrace new possibilities, especially those fueled by AI and new tech, to become a catalyst for growth and success.

Michael has built and sold two highly successful tech firms. As a seasoned expert in leadership, change management, innovation, and entrepreneurship, he draws on his considerable experience to equip small business owners with the strategies and mindsets needed to succeed in today’s business landscape.

Nicole Verkindt


CEO  Nicole Verkindt has only ever interviewed for a “job” once (a “huge flop”, she says) and her first and only job with a “real boss” was 100% commission based.

An entrepreneur from the beginning of her career, Nicole believes that the skills required to be successful in entrepreneurship are no different if you are a farmer, an owner of manufacturing facilities, a technology entrepreneur, or anything in between. In her inspirational and information-packed talk, Nicole shows audiences how to turn ideas into success, and be entrepreneurial in any role.

Contact us to learn more about our roster of entrepreneurs, founders, and small business owners and to book your October event today.