Bet On Yourself with Fred VanVleet and Derek Folk

Fred and Derek know that the last year and a half hasn’t been easy for anyone, but especially for diverse entrepreneurs who have had to rethink the future of their business and do whatever to survive these tough times. Each episode, we’ll listen as Fre...

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  • 12. Filling the gaps in transportation with Boyd Reid

    In the season one finale of Bet On Yourself, Derek Folk and Fred VanVleet sit down with Boyd Reid, the Co-Founder and COO of Hopin, an app that helps mobilize transportation options and logistics - enabling employees to get to work efficiently and incentivizing them to commute during a pandemic when the popularity of remote work is skyrocketing.Born and raised in Ajax, Hopin stemmed from the idea that transportation and commuting is a global issue that needs a solution and is rooted in economic development. With his high school friend Erich Ko, they developed Hopin, to help employers retain and attract talent to the workforce while minimizing any existing transportation barriers.Acknowledging COVID as both a challenge and opportunity, Boyd chats with Derek and Fred and gains insight on how to grow Hopin from a local app to a global app. Setting his sights on expansion both in the States and beyond requires both financial and human capital, and Derek and Fred are there to offer invaluable insight and advice.

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  • 11. Stop waiting with Baba Ajayi

    In episode 11 of Bet On Yourself, Derek Folk and Fred VanVleet sit down with Baba Ajayi, the CEO and founder of - a live information app that uses artificial intelligence to help both businesses and customers. enables user input settings to give suggestions on which restaurants to go to - all based on user preferences. The app drives more traffic and sales to the businesses, while eliminating unnecessary wait times for customers.Born in Nigeria and raised in Toronto, Baba began his interest in business and tech at an early age by learning how to code. He always wanted to create something that would outlast himself as well as anyone can benefit from, so a few years ago came up with the idea of having chatbots and humans interact. With grit and perseverance, Baba is determined to grow and expand into a global app.Derek and Fred chat with Baba about the challenges of being one of the few black men in the tech world, the importance of Black Lives Matter, and how the pandemic created an opportunity for The trio dives into brand awareness and the importance of always having a strong support system in both human capital and the need to invest and mentor employees.
  • 10. Removing barriers to art with Gaetane Verna

    Born in the Congo and raised in Montréal, today’s guest both embodies and promotes the cultural diversity of her new hometown, Toronto, where she is the Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Canada’s leading public gallery. Without a permanent collection, Gaetane isn’t bogged down by the past and instead keeps her finger on the pulse of the contemporary art world AND current issues in society. It is her job to find and present a wide array of diverse artists who often question history, challenge injustice and inequities while also producing works that transcend the mere materials being used.  And when one exhibition is complete, it’s onto the next. She and the art presented at the Power Plant are always looking forward and staying relevant to the issues of interest to both artists and audiences alike, and in the process, prompting a more constructive conversation around cultural change. 
  • 9. A pay-it-forward attitude with Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow

    Most people use filtered water to make good cup of coffee… but in this episode, we learn how our entrepreneurial guest uses coffee to make clean water - particularly in service of remote reserves in Canada where some Indigenous communities lack proper water filtering systems.Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow, who is Ojibwe and a Band Member of Whitefish River First Nation, was frustrated that basic necessities were not being provided in his community, so he launched Birch Bark Coffee Co. with the goal of using proceeds from coffee sales to help fund clean water initiatives for First Nations people all over Canada.  Community, culture, connection, and coffee are at the heart of his business. Today, he answers a few questions from Fred and Derek, gives advice for fellow entrepreneurs, and reveals the lessons he’s learned from starting and sustaining his cause-driven, pay-it-forward business.
  • 8. Natural remedies and hustle mentality with Dezie and Clinton

    From Granada to Canada comes a superfood like no other… sea moss. Turns out this algae, sourced responsibly from the Caribbean, is a nutrient dense, affordable, natural remedy with a variety of health benefits. Join Fred and Derek as they dive in and learn more from Dezie and Clinton, a real life couple and co-founders of Toronto-based business, The Sea Moss Guy. We’ll hear how their hustle mentality during the pandemic led them to take something they’ve used for years growing up in Caribbean households and share it with Canadian consumers. They also chat through maintaining a work-life balance at home when you live with your business partner, and the amazing support they've received from their community so far in their entrepreneurial journey.Now the question is… How do Dezie and Clinton leverage their high demand to build out a robust supply chain and grow their operation to the next level? Fred and Derek have a few thoughts on the subject, as always.
  • 7. The artist’s story with Tammy Yiu Coyne

    Bet on Yourself is back with another incredible innovator, as Fred and Derek are joined by Tammy Yiu Coyne; she's the co-founder and CEO of Partial, an online art platform and marketplace for collectors to discover and elevate outstanding Canadian and BIPOC artists. Going back to the start of her journey, Tammy shares that while working as a graphic designer, she always knew that she wanted to run her own business. When Tammy was unexpectedly laid off from her job, she saw an opportunity to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams. Tammy started with the simple goal of bringing more original Canadian art onto more walls – directly from the artists that made it. The idea for Partial then took shape based on the premise that if quality work was made available on an easily accessible and discoverable platform, more people would acquire it and those diverse artists would be able to create sustainable careers. Fred and Derek dig in and learn more about Partial, where every level of collector is covered with an extensive network of artists and art sommeliers to help find the perfect piece for a space.
  • 6. Choreographing a stronger community with Clarence Ford

    Clarence Ford started out as an athlete; first as a competitive hockey player, then transitioning to dance as a choreographer for the world-renowned Cirque du Soleil. After seeing the power of community-building first-hand within Cirque du Soleil, Clarence embarked on a journey of creating circus programming for underserved youth in Toronto. He launched a non-for-profit called Square Circle, with a mission to “help students develop communication, interpersonal, artistic, and physical skills in a safe, collaborative, and fun environment”. Through educational partnerships and community workshops, Clarence hopes to build out his business by tapping into as many youth groups as possible in Toronto and beyond. On this week’s episode, Clarence sits down with Fred and Derek to discuss new avenues to explore expansion and growth of Square Circle. They speak to building a solid foundation for his business - from considering a strategic board, to finding mentorship, and building community as a new entrepreneur. Finally, they discuss strategies on how to manage burn out while navigating multiple priorities to get your business off the ground.