Ken Sim + Cathy Thorpe + John DeHart, Co-founder + President and CEO + Co-founder, Nurse Next Door
Adam Blasberg on location at Prohibition Bar in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia
When Cathy Thorpe joined Nurse Next Door as its president in 2014, she already knew the home-care provider from being a customer five years earlier. Her mother was recovering from surgery, and she was struck by the quality of care the company delivered to her family. Four months later, Thorpe began a friendship with co-founder John DeHart, whose daughter attended preschool with hers. Over the years, the two parents would meet for coffee where talk would inevitably turn to business. Thorpe was impressed by the company’s core values and vision for making people’s lives better, not just more bearable; DeHart admired Thorpe’s smarts. “She would ask me these piercing questions about the business,” DeHart says. “In a very short amount of time, she would figure out what the issues were—what the challenges were.”
So when DeHart and fellow co-founder Ken Sim decided in 2014 to find someone to lead their then-13-year-old company through its next phase of growth, DeHart immediately thought of Thorpe. Thorpe was running a consulting business in Germany but was contemplating a move back to working within a company and back to Vancouver. DeHart and Sim knew the hire would be pivotal for their company. They needed someone who would carry on the company’s culture and values yet had the vision and skills to execute on a bigger scale. Thorpe won the job after a lengthy, deliberate process, and has since delivered everything the co-founders hoped for.
When Thorpe first took charge, Nurse Next Door had 85 franchises across North America. The new president spent her first year visiting 80 per cent of them to learn their businesses up close. Unfortunately, they did business 85 different ways, and Thorpe knew this scattershot approach could not deliver quality service in a scalable fashion. She built a leadership team to tighten up processes, improve training and provide support for all the franchise partners. In just over two years, Thorpe has nearly doubled the number of franchises to 140, and Nurse Next Door’s revenues have nearly doubled as well. The rising tide has lifted current franchises too, with some franchisees reporting a tripling of revenues in one year.
Zeeshan + Karina Hayat, CEO + President, Prizm Media Inc.
Hollywood producers have yet to make a teen romance about startup entrepreneurs—but if they did, they could build a script around Karina and Zeeshan Hayat. Karina was 15 and Zeeshan was 16 when they met. They fell in love, founded a company, got married, grew successful and started a family. The couple self-funded and launched Prizm Media Inc.—a company that generates leads for the health and nutrition industry, focusing on the diabetes market—in 2001, as a way to earn a little extra cash while studying at Douglas College. When the 2008 financial crisis hit and changes to email-marketing regulations wiped out some of Prizm’s competitors, the company leapt at the opportunity. Prizm began calling every patient that opted into its marketing, making sure the patients had the right diagnosis, proper insurance and correct contact information. Prizm’s clients saw their conversion rates soar, and its own business took off. Between 2009 and 2014, revenues grew 1,229 per cent.
Cameron Fleming + Robert Boscacci, Directors, HME Mobility and Accessibility
Cameron Fleming and Robert Boscacci share the easy rapport of close, longtime friends. It’s a bond that supported the former EY colleagues as they jumped out of stable careers into an industry neither knew anything about. Fleming and Boscacci were healthy men in their mid-20s buying a company that provided medical equipment mostly to seniors; it had been around since 1996, but sales were flat. “The learning curve was vertical,” Fleming recalls of their first year. The pair spent days on the road working with clients and nights in the office managing the business. However, they had passion and an outsiders’ perspective their competitors lacked. They built a multicultural team that could better understand and relate to the diverse Lower Mainland clientele. They introduced technology to allow clients to easily order and track delivery of equipment. In four years, HME has grown from eight to 40 employees, and revenues have grown 30 to 35 per cent each year.