Paul Matysek
CEO, Bedrock Capital Corp.
(Winner)

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As a child growing up in Toronto, Paul Matysek fashioned himself as a magician and fortune teller, charging a small fee for his services. It may have been a lark, but as an adult he began to demonstrate a flair for predicting commodity trends.

Matysek earned a master’s in geology at UBC and worked in the public sector before establishing Bedrock Capital, a private investment and geological services company, in 1997. In the private realm, he quickly earned a reputation for spotting mining opportunities—and for bringing in financing and building corporate teams.

“I like making shit happen,” the gregarious Matysek says with a laugh from his West Vancouver home office. “If you’re early to the game, you can actually find properties relatively easily.” The mining world “is big enough that I can play there for a few years,” he adds.

To date, Matysek has raised US$230 million to build five companies that have sold for a collective US$2.6 billion. Unlike many other B.C. mining players, Matysek has no problem pursuing a variety of commodities rather than sticking to one. He’s successfully sought out and acquired deposits of uranium, potash, gold and lithium, nimbly navigating those minerals’ market cycles. “Whatever you do, time is always working against you,” Matysek says. “You’ve got to be on your toes.”

Take uranium, for example. In 2004, when the base metal was trading at about US$10 a pound, Matysek created Energy Metals Corp. (EMC) to seek U.S. deposits. Three years later, the price had shot to more than US$130, and Toronto-based Uranium One bought EMC for a sweet US$1.6 billion, Matysek’s biggest deal so far. “Now uranium’s down to $33,” he says. “I sold at the top.”

Matysek followed up that bit of wizardry with investments in and leadership positions at Goldrock Mines Corp., Lithium One, Lithium X Energy Corp. and Potash One, which he sold for a total of US$1 billion. Given his ability to read the market, it’s tempting to ask what else he has on his radar—but he isn’t telling. After all, a magician never reveals his secrets.  

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
Perspective on different business models. Understanding what factors led to profit and those that led to loss. Company culture was a prime factor in dictating the success of each venture and directly proportional to my intensity and involvement.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
Born. It requires an innate sense, intelligence, creativity and vision to develop a solution to a situation.

What is your definition of success?
To create, deliver or provide something meaningful where there was nothing before.

What other career might you have had?
Palaeontologist.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I love surprises.

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

What businessperson do you most admire?
Ray Charles. Can you imagine a blind, black guy running his own label, deciding that he wants to own his own songs, in 1960? He was brilliant and ahead of his time. He was a true entrepreneur.

What do you do to relax/unwind?
Walk along the Stanley Park seawall listening to music.

How would you describe your leadership style?
Thought leader/visionary.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.
An extra white shirt!


Neil Woodyer
CEO and director, Leagold Mining Corp.
(Runner-up)

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Gold mining “is actually a stupid business,” says Neil Woodyer. “It’s very capital-intensive, and you don’t control the sales product. Sometimes you wonder why you do it.” Still, gold has been very good to Woodyer, 73–so much so that his retirement in Monaco lasted all of a month before he accepted an invite from legendary Vancouver-based financier Frank Giustra. The pitch: to do in South America what the pair had done in Africa, where they assembled mines to create $2.3-billion, mid-tier gold producer Endeavour Mining Corp.

In 2016, the England-born Woodyer and Giustra founded Leagold Mining, which snapped up four operating mines in Mexico and Brazil. The company is on track to produce 425,000 ounces of gold this year, with revenue of US$400 million. Woodyer says that number will climb to a yearly rate of US$600 million by 2020, as two more mines go into production.

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
A positive attitude makes the team stronger.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
Forged through experience.

What is your definition of success?
Being able to make sure those close to me are not lacking for anything.

What other career might you have had?
Army officer. What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you? I am superstitious.

Finish this sentence for us: “Entrepreneurs need a lot more….”
Freedom from red tape.

What businessperson do you most admire?
Enzo Ferrari, who turned a passion into a business.

What do you do to relax/unwind?
Enjoy a glass or two of red wine.

How would you describe your leadership style?
Out front, focused and direct.

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


David Strang + Noel Dunn
President and CEO + Executive Chair, Ero Copper Corp.
(Runner-up)

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They say friendship and business don’t mix, but don’t tell that to David Strang and Noel Dunn. The two pals had wanted to work together for years, but the right opportunity didn’t materialize. That changed in 2016, when Brazilian copper company Mineração Caraíba became available for acquisition, just as Strang was stepping down as president and CEO of Lumina Copper Corp. after it was purchased by fellow Vancouver company First Quantum Minerals. Dunn resigned as managing director of Boston-based Liberty Metals & Mining Holdings to raise capital, and Ero Copper Corp. was born.

Two years into their run with Vancouver-based Ero, the pair have added another mine and overseen a production increase from 16,000 tonnes in 2016 to a projected 28,000 this year, with a forecast of 40,000 tonnes in 2019. The key to their success, according to Strang, is that he and Dunn are “literally yin and yang.” Strang brings the technical experience, while Dunn has a wealth of knowledge in finance and risk management. Plus, says Dunn, “We surround ourselves with people who are way smarter than we are.” 

David Strang

What did your summer jobs teach you about business?
I did not have a summer job in the traditional sense, as I spent my summers racing track and field. Therefore my “summer job” did not teach me much about business but rather continued to reinforce the basic tenets that I continue to apply to my approach to business, which are self-discipline and dedication in working to achieving the set goals.

Is an entrepreneur born or made?
Born.

What is your definition of success?
A happy family.

What other career might you have had?
My mom wanted me to be a doctor, but that wasn’t going to work: I hate the sight of blood!

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
I was a serious track athlete after I graduated college, and retired after the 1996 Olympic Games.

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

What businessperson do you most admire?
Richard Branson.

What do you do to relax/unwind?
Sit on a deserted beach with no cell service.

How would you describe your leadership style?
We enjoy a flat corporate structure with a challenge culture.

Name an item you typically forget to pack on business trips and regret not bringing.
I generally don’t forget as it drives me nuts when I don’t have it—my Bose earbud headset.


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