We are excited to announce that Harley Finkelstein, Chief Platform Officer at Shopify, is joining the C100 Organizing Committee - our intrepid group of deeply dedicated and uber-connected members committed to supporting and promoting the Canadian tech ecosystem.
I had the opportunity to speak with Harley recently to ask him about his decision to join the C100 Organizing Committee.
Joanne: You are busy building a very successful company, why commit your valuable time to the C100?
Harley: I spend a lot of my time thinking and doing Shopify, but I like to spend my remaining time on high-impact activities in the community. In my opinion, the C100 is the best “bang for the buck” for me when it comes to having a high impact on supporting the entrepreneur community.
Joanne: Why do you feel the C100 is an important organization for the Canadian tech ecosystem? What role do you see us playing in the future?
Harley: The C100 is a bridge between Canada and Silicon Valley, helping Canadians make connections with the Valley’s world-renowned tech innovators. In the future, we need to continue to raise Canadian ambition levels until they’re higher than anywhere else. I believe that as the C100 continues to facilitate connections with the Valley, they will play a key role in raising the ambition levels of our Canadian entrepreneurs.
"I think that in a few years from now, per capita, this little 35 million person country will have developed and created more world-class, disruptive companies than anywhere else." Harley Finkelstein
Joanne: Is there a particular program or area within the C100 that you would like to play a larger role in?
Harley: I’ve had incredible mentors throughout my life and career. Some of those relationships came from introductions, but others came from simple serendipity. To pay it forward, I’d like to mentor other Canadian startups and founders, and also help them develop relationships with the industry experts that can best help them.
Dan Wilson, KPMG, Harley Finkelstein, Shopify, Bram Sugarman, OMERS Ventures, and John Stackhouse at Accelerate Toronto 2014.
Joanne: Five years from now, what will be the world will be saying about Canada that would surprise people to hear today?
Harley: I think that in a few years from now, per capita, this little 35 million person country will have developed and created more world-class, disruptive companies than anywhere else. Canada is where entrepreneurs start, launch, build and scale the best companies. Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Waterloo … all of these cities have an incredible startup ecosystem. We need to do things, and then tell people.
"We're excited to deepen our perspective of the Canadian tech landscape by adding Harley to our Organizing Committee. Harley is extremely committed to the growth and success of Canadian entrepreneurs and his passion will only help strengthen our work at the C100." Scott Bonham, Co-Chair
Joanne: It seems like there is a re-awakening of the entrepreneurial spirit in Canada. Going forward, how will Canadian entrepreneurs leverage areas like Silicon Valley to build world-leading tech companies?
Harley: Companies today are becoming more geographically agnostic. Entrepreneurs can build their companies anywhere – but they also need to have strong connections and open dialogue with the Valley. Canadians are very bright, and we have such a great talent pool here. We are collaborative workers and are always excited to help each other – and we are getting more ambitious. There is a renaissance happening. The next five years will be the best the tech industry has ever seen.
Joanne: We always like to know where our members are from - where do you call "home"?
Harley: Montreal, Quebec.
Harley Finkelstein is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and the Chief Platform Officer (CPO) at Shopify. He has a background in startups and eCommerce, and started his first company at age 17 while a student at McGill. Harley completed his law degree as well as his MBA at the University of Ottawa, where he co-founded the JD/MBA Student Society and founded the Canadian MBA Oath. Harley serves as a mentor and advisor to a number of entrepreneurial organizations and incubators, including Founder Fuel, Extreme Ventures & Invest Ottawa. More info on Harley can be found at http://harleyf.com/.
"I’m excited to be joining the C100’s Organizing Committee. I’ve been involved with the C100 for the past couple of years and I’ve found it to be one of the most valuable resources and networks out there – especially as a Canadian-based entrepreneur who manages a global business. While the C100 provides a bridge between Silicon Valley and the Canadian tech scene, more importantly they act as a catalyst for innovation here at home. I can’t wait to become further involved with the C100’s efforts to support Canadian entrepreneurship." Harley Finklestein