The past two years have taught us many valuable lessons about resilience and hope. In a time when society is navigating its emergence from a global pandemic, it’s easy to feel trepidatious about the future when the present feels so fragile. But if it’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that Canada is full of leaders who have always been ready to rise up to challenges—to adapt, innovate, and forge ahead. We are a nation full of young pioneers on a quest to redefine the way we work, how we see the world, and the future we want for ourselves.
This year, our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
Kayla Grey (The Shift)
Kayla Grey is, and has always been, a storyteller.
In 2018, when she became the first Black Canadian woman to host a flagship sports highlights show, she told the stories of some of the most monumental moments in sports. By 2019, as she rode atop the Toronto Raptors bus beside Norman Powell at the Championship parade, she had already become one of the nation’s favourite voices to listen to as she reported on the celebrations of the city, the country, and their favourite basketball team.
Today, in addition to her anchoring and sideline reporting, Grey tells stories that focus on the intersection of sports, life, and culture, opening up conversations on identity and representation on and off the court on her TSN show, The Shift.
Now on its second season and celebrating its one-year anniversary, the journalist says she’s incredibly proud of the show’s team, who have dedicated restless nights and busy schedules to deliver stories that spark new ideas and provoke change in the world of sports.
Read the full cover story here.
Penny Oleksiak (Olympian)
It’s hard to imagine that less than a year ago, Penny Oleksiak made history as Canada’s most decorated Olympian. After the 2021 Tokyo games, Oleksiak returned with three new medals in tow, bringing her total count to a whopping seven medals accumulated over the course of her career. And while that would certainly be a reason for any athlete to shout in triumph and fist-pump into the sky, Oleksiak demonstrated a calm and collected spirit of victory that was both humble yet confident. Her record-breaking year was bigger than her. It was demonstrative of a larger movement of young women athletes conquering their sports (see: Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles), owning their success without apology, and championing their own mental wellbeing. At only 21-years-old, Oleksiak undoubtedly has a bright future ahead and is leading a new generation of athletes unafraid to speak their minds on the way to the top.
Reed Trimble (VP, Partnerships, Bad Moon Talent)
In 2021, the global esports market was valued at just over $1.08 billion USD (a 50 percent increase from the previous year) and is forecasted to grow to as much as $1.62 billion USD by 2024. With its growth potential, the opportunities to seize in esports are boundless. As the gamer or streamer has become the new celebrity, so too has the influence of their talent agencies, which is where Reed Trimble comes in. Spearheading partnerships at Bad Moon Talent, Trimble has already helped the company establish itself as one of the leaders in gaming and esports talent agencies in his two-year tenure, generating over one million dollars in brand deals for his clients and partnerships with some of today’s biggest brands, including Samsung, Disney, and PepsiCo. His crown achievements? Helping Red Bull sign their first-ever TikTok talent (jordy2d) to their athlete roster, and launching clients like SoundCloud and Sony Music into the metaverse.
Get to know Reed better:
“The gaming industry changes every month and in order to be successful you have to adapt or die.”
Reni Odetoyinbo (Social Media Entrepreneur; Reni, the Resource)
According to a 2020 survey conducted by Interac Corp., 53 percent of Gen Z and Millennial Canadians reported feeling more concerned about managing their finances than ever before. Reni Odetoyinbo understands this all too well. After purchasing her first property at the age of 23, she began documenting her experience on YouTube in order to show others in her generation that they could do the same. Since then, Odetoyinbo has made it her mission to empower others (particularly BIPOC individuals) through financial literacy and career development content, helping them plan for their first property, negotiate salaries, and understand their worth. With a growing audience of over 30,000 followers, Odetoyinbo was selected earlier this year as one of 135 creators across the world to be part of YouTube Black’s 2022 Creator Class, recognizing her ability to lead meaningful discussions related to Black life and culture on the platform.
Get to know Reni better:
“Being a young, Black woman in this space allows me to be a point of reference for people who look like me so that they know that they can do this too.”
Bilal Baig (Co-creator, Sort Of)
Mississauga-born actor and playwright Bilal Baig is inspiring overdue conversations with their new boundary-breaking CBC series Sort Of. Baig is the first South Asian, queer Muslim actor to star in a Canadian prime-time series—one they co-created, nonetheless. After writing the 2018 play Acha Bacha, which explored the intersections between queerness, gender identity, and Islamic culture in the Pakistani diaspora, Baig joined forces with veteran actor and writer Fab Filippo to create Sort Of. The idea was to offer a show that underrepresented groups could identify with and others could learn from.
Produced by Sienna Films, the eight-episode comedy series follows the trials and tribulations of Sabi (played by Baig), a gender-fluid Pakistani-Canadian millennial who straddles various identities, from a bartender at an LGTBQ bookstore and bar, to being the youngest child in a sometimes-complicated Pakistani family, to a nanny for a downtown-dwelling hipster family. A coming-of-age story, Sort of exposes the labels that once characterized our lives as a thing to move beyond.
Furthermore, the series features a truly diverse assortment of talent both in front of and behind the camera. Sort Of is written by Baig, Filippo, Jenn Engels, Nelu Handa, and Ian Iqbal Rashid, with Filippp and Renuka Jeyapalan directing. Baig and Filippo also serve as showrunners and executive producers. In February, Sort Of was picked up for a second season and took home three awards at the 2022 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Comedy. – ED
Bryan Gold and Adam Rivietz (Co-founders, #paid)
Adam Rivietz and Bryan Gold, co-founders of Toronto-based creator marketing platform #paid, predicted today’s booming creator and influencer economy years ago when they launched the company in 2013. Now, the global influencer marketing market size has more than doubled since 2019 and those with the power to captivate audiences are cashing in. The market in 2021 was valued at a record $13.8 billion USD.
As pioneers in the Canadian industry, Rivietz and Gold have grown #paid to become a leader in the space by building tech-forward tools for the creator economy that facilitate impactful collaborations between creators and brands. Not only have Rivietz and Gold made a name for themselves with the quickly growing agency—both in Canada and the United States—they help take the careers of a diverse roster of content creators to the next level by empowering them to work with some of today’s leading brands.
In addition to impressive clients, #paid is also attracting the attention (and dollars) of investors. Last summer, #paid raised $18.9 million CAD in Series B funding. With the additional capital, Rivietz and Gold turned their focus to expanding into new social media channels in the ever-evolving digital space, helping creators’ careers grow in the process. – ED
Samuel Leroux and Alexandre Desabrais (Co-founder, Solios)
Samuel Leroux and Alexandre Desabrais knew it was time for change when they set out to create Solios in 2016. The idea was to use fashion as a tool for sustainability in the watch industry, which hadn’t yet received the planet-protection memo. The pair embarked on a journey to create a timeless and long-lasting statement accessory that would combine elegance, minimalism, and solar tech.
With a forward-thinking mission, Solios timepieces are powered by clean, renewable energy and built from beginning to end with materials that are recycled, recyclable, and environmentally friendly. All facets of the brand are done in-house in Montreal, including the final assembly and handling of all watches. Only the manufacturing of the solar watch technology is done remotely, through carefully sourced partners in Japan, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and the United States who share the company’s values on the sustainability front. The end products are sleek and minimally designed watches that feature a wide variety of straps (all straps are interchangeable), including vegan leather and mesh metal.
But there’s more to the watches than their earth-friendly good looks; each timepiece purchased restores one acre of rainforest, thanks to a partnership with The Rainforest Trust. Furthermore, for every watch sold, one percent is given back to the planet and community. Since its launch, Solios has achieved quick success and is currently the only B Corp-Certified watch brand. This designation means that Solios meets high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving, to supply chain practices and input materials. – ED
Get to know Samuel and Alexandre better:
“Our naivety was our best ally in getting Solios off the ground and creating our first solar watch.”
Fenton Jagdeo (Founder, Faculty)
Up until recently, the image of masculinity relied on typical tropes that confined men into a narrow definition of what it meant to be a “man.” Thankfully, as our collective societal values have evolved, so, too, have our definitions around gender. Faculty is a Toronto-based company looking to liberate men from these constraints by giving them the agency to express themselves freely through style and grooming—one grounded in self-care and self-creation. Co-founded by Fenton Jagdeo, Faculty’s mission is to champion what it calls the “New Wave Masculine.” And while they currently sell just three shades of nail polish and nail stickers (along with branded merch), it’s been enough to draw the attention of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder, which led a $3 million seed round, to help cultivate the brand in a steadily growing men’s personal care market.
Get to know Fenton better:
“Despite there being nothing special about me, I am hoping to do something special. I want my work to inspire others who want to do something special too.”
Nuha Siddiqui (CEO and co-founder, Erthos)
Arguably, climate change is one of the most pressing (if not the most pressing) issues that we face as a society today. Recognizing the role that petroleum-based single-use plastics play is crucial to finding solutions, which is exactly what Nuha Siddiqui is doing. Her company, erthos, harnesses the power of plants to create alternatives to single-use plastics. Their solution incorporates an entirely clean manufacturing process to develop and deploy materials that result in less energy, CO2 emissions, and water consumption throughout its full life cycle.
Get to know Nuha better:
“We have been able to build a compatible solution that minimizes disruption and promotes the seamless adoption of sustainable materials.”
Simone Godbout, Harit Sohal, Kiara Botha, Nadia Ladak (Co-founders, Marlow)
Canadian brand Marlow is transforming the way people experience menstrual health. Dedicated to changing the uncomfortable conversations and experiences around menstrual and sexual wellness, the female-led team (comprised of four young and dynamic Western University grads) saw a glaringly apparent gap in the market and created a product that alleviates some of the pain associated with periods. Changing up the menstrual product game, Marlow developed the first-ever lubricant and tampons designed to be used together for a smoother experience. The Marlow product combines 100 percent organic cotton tampons with lubricant—both presented in environmentally-friendly packaging—making lives easier for some 86 percent of menstruators who have experienced insertion pain.
Furthermore, thanks to Marlow’s subscription model, customers never run out of product when they need it most (say goodbye to frantic drugstore runs). In addition to functionality, the Marlow team has a mission to build an inclusive community that breaks down barriers and provides educational resources for sexual and menstrual health. Focused on empowering menstruators to live without restraints, the brand is rooted in education, sustainability, equity, diversity, and inclusion. The team works to create an engaging customer experience and allows consumers to actively contribute to the conversation in a safe and stigma-free space—at any time of the month.
Since the idea was born (initially as a school project) Marlow quickly gained the attention of investors, raising $500,000 to enable its Canadian launch. Next, the femtech brand has plans to launch in the United States. In the meantime, Marlow continues to cheekily engage social media users in important, stigma-free conversations surrounding everything from menstruation and hormones, to sexual health and fertility, and everything in between. Period. – ED
Get to know the Marlow team better:
“We are transforming the menstrual care industry by bringing innovation into this space and raising the standards of what is offered.”
Rui Su (Co-founder, MedMe Health)
Two years since the start of the pandemic and it’s clear that one of the biggest takeaways is the fragility and vulnerability of Canada’s healthcare system. MedMe Health was created to alleviate some of the stress by way of the pharmaceutical sector. Founded by Rui Su (alongside co-founders Purya Sarmadi and Nicholas Hui), the healthtech startup is reimaging the future of pharmacy clinical services by shifting its roles from medical dispensaries to community hubs. What exactly does that mean? The digital software platform helps pharmacists facilitate everything from scheduling to documentation in order to optimize operations and foster better patient relationships. During the pandemic, MedMe Health was instrumental in helping pharmacists book more than 2,220,000 COVID-19 vaccines and 155,000 tests (as well as flu shots) across Canada. Most recently, they secured $2.7 million USD to focus on product development and global expansion.
Get to know Rui better:
“We give pharmacists the tools to provide more services for patients in the community and practice to their full scope.”
Rachel Wong and Istiana Bestari (Co-founder, Monday Girl)
Understanding first-hand how challenging it can be for young women to launch a career, Rachel Wong and Istiana Bestari created Monday Girl Social Club. With a mission to democratize access to effective networking, mentorship, and career development, Monday Girl is the first and largest career platform in Canada for women that actually offers the tools, connections, and insider secrets to help them succeed. With a loud and clear rejection of the “boys’ club,” Wong and Bestari created their own club for diverse professional women to help them smash glass ceilings.
Monday Girl members enjoy everything from resume coaching and digital courses to mentorship, jobs, and industry events filled with like-minded women. Since its June 2021 launch, Monday Girl has supported over 7,000 young Canadian women and has over 30 female mentors from top companies like Microsoft, Google, and Snapchat. Wong and Bestari themselves add their own rich career experience to the brand. Wong brings her startup operations and sales background from being one of the first employees to launch and grow Uber Eats. Bestari offers her background as a YouTuber creator with over 14,000 subscribers and an entrepreneur of a videography business that’s worked with brands like L’Oréal and Intel. – ED
Get to know Rachel and Istiania better:
“We built the platform we wished we had when we were starting our careers and our mission is to simply open more doors for more women.”
Marc-Antoine Caya (CEO, GoPeer)
For years, financial institutions were the status quo when it came to lending services. But what if there was another way? What if access to capital could be democratized? That was the question that Marc-Antoine Caya asked when he started his fintech company goPeer in 2020. The fintech startup connects those in need of a loan with others who are looking to invest, disrupting the traditional lending model and empowering Canadians to make smarter financial decisions. The result? Better rates for borrowers and a high-yield asset class for investors. Since the beginning of 2021, goPeer has already received more than $100 million in loan applications and has delivered average annualized net returns of 10.2 percent to investors. That’s more than three times the returns reported by the S&P Canada High Yield Corporate Bond Index. With over 25,000 investors and borrowers, goPeer has achieved a growth rate of 400 percent since the start of 2021 and raised $1.25 million in a pre-seed funding round to continue growing the platform and help everyday Canadians realize their financial goals.
Get to know Marc-Antoine better:
“ We have seen a massive trend in millennial investors investing independently since the beginning of the pandemic.”
Adam O’Brien (CEO, Bitcoin Well)
To many Canadians, Bitcoin is still a relatively new and often misunderstood concept. But Edmonton’s Adam O’Brien, CEO of Bitcoin Well, was ahead of the game in the decentralized digital currency world when he purchased his first bitcoin in back in 2013. The same year, after witnessing the growth potential within the space, O’Brien created Bitcoin Well, the world’s first publicly-traded Bitcoin ATM company. Its mission has been clear from the start: to demystify and democratize cryptocurrency and make buying and selling Bitcoin easy, approachable, and convenient to do 24/7.
With its focus on non-custodial transactions, in-person offices, and an online transaction portal, Bitcoin Well is celebrated as one of the safest and most convenient ways to buy Bitcoin. In its ever-evolving offerings, the company shifts society’s relationship with money. In 2021, Bitcoin Well added 142 Bitcoin ATMs to its operating fleet, and now has 200 ATMs across Canada. In February 2022, Bitcoin Wells issued a secured convertible debenture for up to $5 million to be directed to the enhancement of the existing Bitcoin Well online product, user acquisition, and general working capital. With nine years of experience in a nine-year-old business, O’Brien may have set out with a goal to make Bitcoin better known, but he’s also made a name for himself as a well-recognized crypto entrepreneur in doing so. – ED
Get to know Adam better:
“We see a large opportunity to educate and show people how bitcoin can benefit them, and ultimately give them access to wealth.”
Mallory Greene (CEO, Eirene Cremations)
Talking about death is always an uncomfortable subject. Mallory Greene is looking to make the process a little easier. Her company, Eirene Cremations, is one of a growing wave of startups that are looking to simplify the often complicated, burdensome, and emotional experience of end-of-life planning. Focusing on compassion and empowerment, Eirene helps families make affordable and streamlined cremation (or aquamation) arrangements through a modern online platform entirely from home. On top of that, they’ve also established themselves as a virtual destination offering resources and information on death and dying. Get to know Mallory better: Eirene’s Mallory Greene is Destigmatizing the Business of Death “There are so many ways we can improve the end-of-life experience for everyone, and the first step is to provide people with the tools to have those conversations.”
Pratap Sandhu (CEO, Pangea Natural Foods Inc.)
In 2021, the global vegan food market was estimated to be valued at $16 billion USD. By 2025, that number is projected to balloon to over $22 billion USD, showcasing a growing movement towards plant-based alternatives to meat for both ethical and environmental reasons. Pratap Sandhu is adding to the movement through his company, Pangea Natural Foods Inc. In 2021, the Vancouver-based business launched its flagship product, Plant-based Patties—the result of a collective effort from world-renowned food scientists to formulate high-grade products made from locally-sourced whole food ingredients. A recent financing round of $1.4 million will be used to further the brand’s growth in its category.
Get to know Pratap better:
“It’s remarkable how many vegan products on the market aren’t actually healthy for you.”
Shawn Hewat (CEO, Wavy)
The culture of work has transformed drastically in the last two years, but it was already undergoing a change well before the pandemic—something that Wavy CEO and co-founder Shawn Hewat recognized as an opportunity to make an impact. Her startup focuses on cultivating meaningful culture within companies through flexible, shared experiences online and offline, resulting in increased happiness, retention, and connection across employees. So far, their work is paying off. By the end of 2021, Wavy engaged over 7,500 employees with a 90 percent satisfaction rate and 88 percent connection rate across 250 experiences.
Get to know Shawn better:
“To create a meaningful company culture, you have to start with your people.”
Hayden James and Josh Baker (Co-founders, Fraction)
No first-time Canadian homeowners need the reminder that it’s become increasingly unattainable to purchase a home in today’s sky-high housing market. Those who are able to purchase homes often find themselves quick members of the “house poor” club. In response to this discouraging reality, startups like Vancouver-based Fraction have recently emerged to level the playing field on the real estate front. Co-founded by Hayden James and Josh Baker (along with Rayan Rafay) in February 2021, Fraction offers a digital platform that allows people to access financing in a new way by enabling clients to unlock up to $1.5 million of their home’s equity while staying in the home they love. Monthly payments and unfair interest rates are removed from the equation. Instead, the interest rate is based on the appreciation of their home.
Offering a stable solution to a dramatic housing market, Fraction enables clients to use cash payments to reduce existing debts, invest in their home, buy another property, or cover unexpected expenses. Fraction’s Canadian launch was made possible after the company raised $289 million CAD in a combination of equity and debt financing in February 2021. By October, Fraction announced an additional $20 million CAD in Series A funding to expand its product offering and move into the US market. In February, the company officially announced its entry south of the border, launching first in Washington State. From the looks of the current economy and the relentless housing market, it won’t be long before Fraction becomes a household name (and financial life-saver) across North America. – ED
Get to know Josh and Hayden better:
“Offerings like ours allow homeowners to take more ownership of their homes and financial futures.”
Stephen Seibel (Co-founder, Clutch)
Game-changing companies are often born out of the need to solve a problem, which is exactly how Stephen Seibel founded his startup, Clutch—the first company in Canada to exclusively sell cars online. After a less than favourable experience trying to buy a car, Seibel launched his Halifax-based company to help Canadians purchase and sell high-quality vehicles at low prices through a fully-digital platform that includes financing, insurance, home delivery, and a 10-day money-back guarantee. With a mission to bring delight into an otherwise stuffy and tedious process, Clutch has completely transformed the Canadian car-buying experience.
Get to know Stephen better:
“A car is a huge purchase and people should feel confident and excited throughout that process.”
Zak Lefevre (CEO, ChargeLab)
While the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) is still a ways off from reaching the same levels of conventional cars, market share continues to increase each year (8.3 percent in 2021 compared to 4.2 percent in 2020) due to growing environmental concerns and progressive innovation. Adjacent to this is, of course, the charging stations and technological infrastructure needed to support the growth of EVs, which is where Zak Lefevre’s ChargeLab comes in. The self-proclaimed “Android of EV charging,” the Toronto-based startup has created a software platform that works across hardware providers so drivers can power up their drives through one seamless experience, regardless of the charging hardware.
Get to know Zak better:
“Climate change is an existential risk. Clean energy and clean transportation are the solution.”
Pavla Bobosikova (CEO, WFHomie)
The pandemic quickly shook up the meaning of “business as usual,” as dining room and kitchen tables replaced office desks. In countless companies, “pivot” became the new buzzword of the workplace. WFHomie helps this transition by offering an employee engagement and culture-building platform for top-performing remote teams. Recognizing the changing relationship between employees and employers – one that will last long after the pandemic – Pavla Bobosikova set out to help companies attract and retain top employees with the creation of WFHomie in 2020.
With a belief that revolutionizing the relationship between employers and employees begins with people analytics, WFHomie relies on AI to inform the best next steps that companies can take to attract, activate, engage, and retain employees. The startup offers virtual experiences, employee onboarding, and rewards and recognition initiatives. Designed to connect employees, virtual experiences can include everything from team-building activities, socials, and holiday parties to personal growth workshops. WFHomie makes new employees feel welcome with company swag, welcome packages, and virtual lunches with an assigned onboarding buddy. Meanwhile, employees are rewarded and recognized with gift packages, deliveries and flash virtual team events – all organized by WFHomie.
In December 2021, WFHomie made headlines when it raised $1.9 million CAD in seed financing to secure the growth of its ever-relevant brand. WFHomie was the first investment from Ryan Holmes and Manny Padda’s new fund, LOI Venture, which focuses on founders under 30 years of age coming out of Holmes’ charity, League of Innovators. To date, WFHomie has impacted the lives of more than 5000 employees. – ED
Get to know Pavla better:
“We’re living through a renaissance in the relationship between people and companies, the way that people live and work is fundamentally changing.”
Meti Basiri and Massi Basiri (Co-founders, ApplyBoard)
Built on a foundation of multiculturalism, Canada has benefited from a diverse talent pool cultivated through its renowned post-secondary educational system. But for many international students who pursue academic studies in Canada, the experience can often be a daunting one. ApplyBoard was created in 2015 to alleviate the stress points associated with the process after its CEO, Martin Basiri, experienced his own set of hurdles as an international student from Iran. With their brother at the helm, Meti and Massi Basiri have helped to grow the edtech platform into one of Canada’s most promising startups. Today, ApplyBoard has aided over 300,000 students from over 125 countries, secured over $50 million in scholarships, and cemented partnerships with over 1,500 schools to diversify campuses across Canada, the US, and the UK. With a valuation of a whopping $4 billion dollars, ApplyBoard is not only creating new opportunities for young minds around the world but creating new pipelines of innovative talent that will directly impact Canada for generations to come.
Get to know Meti and Massi better:
“The biggest impact on the sector has been shifting a decades-old system that wasn’t connected and implementing a better way to access an international education.”