Laurie Schultz
President and CEO, Galvanize
(Winner)

SchultzAdam Blasberg

Galvanizing steel or iron involves applying a coat of zinc to protect the metal against rust. In modern usage, the verb also refers to shocking or exciting someone into taking action. The word was a fitting choice for the new name of audit analytics software company ACL Services, which rebranded in 2019 after 32 years in business. “It’s a dual metaphor for what our customers do,” president and CEO Laurie Schultz explains. “They galvanize change in their organization, and they protect their organization.”

The word could also be Schultz’s professional motto. “I’ve always, for whatever reason, been put in jobs where I’ve been asked to do things that haven’t been done before,” she says. “In the case of ACL, I had not ever taken a successful global business and turned it on its head.”

Born in Alberta, Schultz, who has a bachelor’s degree in commerce and an MBA from the University of Alberta, was invited to become CEO of Vancouver-based ACL in 2011 by then–chief executive Harald Will, whose father, Hartmut Will, developed the audit command language (ACL) software. Business had flat-lined, but rather than sell the company, Will passed the reins to Schultz.

“We’re a re-startup,” she says, adding that Galvanize has acquired two companies during her tenure to foster growth.

Another major change that Schultz spearheaded was to shake up Galvanize’s business model. In 2014, the company went from a perpetual payment model to subscription-based. As a result, the number of customers has stayed about the same—7,000 in some 130 countries—but spend per client has increased. “We are seeing, on average, 35-percent revenue growth,” says Schultz, adding that 60 percent of Fortune 1000 companies use Galvanize products.

She notes that the number of employees has nearly tripled, now hovering around 500, working out of seven offices worldwide. “If you consider us being three times the size, that would imply the revenue we get per customer is three times the size.”

Reflecting on the changes at Galvanize over the past 12 years, Schultz credits employees for taking risks and embracing the unknown in the name of advancing the company. “We turned our business upside down for a few years,” she says. “But today, we are witnessing double-digit revenue growth as a result of that change.”

Morgan Carey
Founder and CEO, Real Estate Webmasters
(Runner-up)

CareyAdam Blasberg

Real Estate Webmasters’ story is one of technological firsts in the property industry: first to bring MLS listings to broker websites; first to apply virtual reality; first to use an augmented reality app.

Founder and CEO Morgan Carey, a four-time EOY finalist who grew up on Vancouver Island, chases innovation to help him reach the stretch goals he’s set. “There’s 1.4 million realtors in the National Association of Realtors, and we only have about 60,000 on our platform,” says Carey, noting that 90 percent of REW’s 2,000 accounts are based in the U.S. “In three years we want to get to 5,000 unique accounts and 200,000 users,” adds the Vancouver Island University alumnus.

With a staff of 150 in REW’s Nanaimo and Vancouver offices, Carey is eyeing expansion into Europe in 2020, as well as acquisitions. “We’re approaching
$150 million in aggregate revenue,” he explains. “We’re now at the size that we want to buy other companies.”

What was your first summer job?
Rebar worker. 

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 
Both.

What is your definition of success?
The freedom to spend time with your family and give back to those in need. 

What other career might you have had?
Musician. 

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I was a father at 15 years old.

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more…”
Time.

What businessperson do you most admire?
Elon Musk, not for his personality but for his willingness to think so big that he might just change the world. 

What do you do to relax/unwind? 
Mow my lawn, go to lake house with family.

How would you describe your leadership style?
Can you be chill and intense at the same time? 

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing. 

Toothpaste. 

 

Zeeshan Hayat + Karina Hayat
Co-founder and CEO + Co-founder and President, Prizm Media
(Runners-up)

HayatsAdam Blasberg

Patients with chronic health issues can reduce their trips to the pharmacy thanks to Prizm Media’s RxtoMe mobile app. Through the app, patients fill out a profile with their prescriptions, insurance information and medical details. Prizm takes over from there: the company deals with pharmacies and suppliers and arranges delivery right to the client’s door.

Co-founders Karina and Zeeshan Hayat both had family members who struggled to manage diabetes, experiences that motivated them to centralize health-care services for chronically ill patients while also facilitating discounts and other perks. The pair, back-to-back EOY nominees, founded the company while they were still students at Douglas College.

“If we can help people get the medication they need on time, and provide them with solutions that can help them improve their health outcomes, that’s the ultimate reward,” Karina says. Now operating in North America, 33-employee Prizm plans to launch in the U.K., with Pakistan and India to follow.

Zeeshan

What was your first summer job?
A ride operator at the PNE. I worked at a ride that no longer exists because it was deemed too dangerous.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?

Born.

What is your definition of success?

Solving a problem that makes a difference in people’s lives and helps humanity at large.

What other career might you have had?

Astronaut or fighter jet pilot.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I have a black belt in tae kwon do, and I competed nationally.

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more...”

Luck. Only a few are lucky to build a successful business.

What businessperson do you most admire?

Bill Gates, for the work he has done to help people around the world after his success in business.

What do you do to relax/unwind?

Mountain biking.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Democratic and inclusive.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.

The charger to my beard trimmer.

Karina

What was your first summer job?

A paper route one of my sisters and I got after moving to Canada.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?

I believe you can teach someone to become an entrepreneur, but the desire, drive and discipline is something that comes from within.

What is your definition of success?

Making a positive impact on society.

What other career might you have had?

Physician or pharmacist.

Name one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you.

I started my first business with my sister when I was seven years old. I also sang professionally in a band for a number of years. 

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more...”

Time to collect their thoughts to plan, build and realize their personal and business goals.

What businessperson do you most admire?

Warren Buffett. He remains a genuine person despite his success, and he gives back. 

What do you do to relax/unwind?

Singing.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Affiliative or ally.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.

An extra pair of contact lenses.

Greg Smith
CEO, Thinkific Labs
(Runner-up)

SmithAdam Blasberg

Learn video marketing, improve your memory, master speed-reading. Online courses like these, produced on the Thinkific platform, have helped more than 30,000 businesses in 150 countries reach hundreds of thousands of people.

More than a decade ago, Greg Smith, then a law student at UBC, began leading a Law School Admission Test (LSAT) preparation course. He wanted to make it available online to expand his reach, better support his students and generate income. Unable to find a platform that met his needs, he built one. “I was really my own customer,” says the Thinkific CEO, who heads a team of 70 in Vancouver.

Thinkific is a subscription-based service that helps people create online courses and manage memberships so they can develop leads and earn money. “I think education is the most powerful force for change in the world,” Smith says. “I absolutely love this intersection between education and business.

What was your first summer job?
My first job was a paper route. My first summer job was working at the grain elevators. But my first business was before both of those. The entrepreneurial bug bit me at 10 years old. My best friend and I created a series of race tracks for marbles down a hill in a park. The tracks had jumps, hazards, dead ends and loops. Local kids would come out to race marbles and cheer them on. We sold candy and other toys off the side of the hill and had a ton of fun doing it. I was hooked.

Over the next 26 years, I started a few dozen other businesses, but it wasn’t until I started teaching that I really found my passion. I just love the impact you can have by helping someone else achieve their dreams, and to me, that’s what teaching is.

Is an entrepreneur born or made? 
I’m a big believer in mindset, and specifically a growth mindset. The belief that your potential in any given area is unknown and unknowable and that you can get better at anything if you try. Applying this to entrepreneurship, anyone who puts sufficient effort into learning and growing as an entrepreneur can become one and likely become a good one. 

What is your definition of success?

At Thinkific, we define success through the impact we’re able to have on other people. That applies to the people around us within the company, to the people in other companies we partner with, and to our customers and their businesses. We constantly strive to help others achieve their definition of success. 

What other career might you have had?

I did practice law for a few years and loved it. If the entrepreneurial spirit hadn’t been such a driving force in my life, I think I would have gladly continued as a lawyer, playing a role in helping other businesses succeed. That or a venture capitalist, mountaineer, board game designer, or a dozen other careers I’d be passionate about. 

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?

I played a lot of Dungeons & Dragons before it was cool. It’s cool now, right? 

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more…”

Courses. I mean, we help businesses and entrepreneurs build courses for their customers. So yes, more courses by entrepreneurs. Also, conversations with customers and potential customers; you can never have enough of those as an entrepreneur. 

What businessperson do you most admire?
Jim Collins. He’s more of a business author but also a businessperson. His work has been instrumental in helping me grow as an entrepreneur. 

What do you do to relax/unwind? 
It’s extremely hard to turn it off. I’m constantly obsessing over how to improve Thinkific and do more to help our team and customers. To relax I look for things that take up all my attention and clear my mind of work while I focus on something else. The things that work for me are spending time with my wife and two little kids, board games, music and kiteboarding. 

How would you describe your leadership style?

To me leadership is caring personally about the wellbeing and success of the people on your team. Someone once told Bill Campbell, the “trillion dollar” coach to Silicon Valley tech titans, “Your title makes you a manager. Your people make you a leader.”

To me, this means you care about each person’s wellbeing at work and in their personal lives. It also means you obsess about how to create the most success for them and how to empower them to add the most value to the company. When people truly feel this genuine care and support from you, and they are set up to deliver value in line with the company’s vision, they will move mountains for you and the business. 

I recently had a person who is three levels of reporting removed from me pull me aside to give me some tough feedback and criticism about something I’d said and the way I’d said it. The amazing thing to me was that she was comfortable sharing this with the CEO. I was honoured to receive the feedback and told her that, and together we figured out a way for me to fix things. It might not have been a big deal if she didn’t share with me, but it’s the little opportunities like this that can either erode a company’s culture or build it up over time.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing. 

I’ve often forgotten to bring my entire toiletries kit with me. Something about the liquid limitations at security leads me to pack it all up in a Ziploc and then promptly forget it at home. It makes passing through security easier, but it’s terrible for your travel experience. I’ve since learned to just leave a travel kit in my carry-on.