20 Years of Athletic Achievement for Relentless Co-Founder Celebrated During Canada’s 150th Birthday Year
Vancouver, Canada – April 19th, 2017 – Relentless Pursuit Partners, Inc (“Relentless”) is delighted to share that our co-founder, Simon Whitfield will be inducted into our nation’s Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony in November 2017.
Induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is considered the country’s highest sporting honour and reinforces the outstanding athletic careers of the nominees. Simon is joining the Class of 2017 as part of a group that has served as proud international ambassadors for Canadian values while delivering world class results throughout their careers.
Simon’s podium presence and international spotlight began early in his career with a bronze medal win at the 1999 Pan Am Games in Winnipeg. Then during the years that followed he earned four consecutive trips to the Olympics. He will forever be known for his victory at the Sydney Olympics, winning the inaugural gold medal in the sport of triathlon in 2000. He followed up that Olympic medal with silver in 2008 during the Beijing games. Simon also won gold at the Commonwealth Games in 2009. Over the course of his professional triathlon career Simon was a 12-time Canadian triathlon champion, and 14-time world cup winner.
While Simon has had many honours and much recognition over the course of his career one of his greatest highlights was representing Canada as the flag bearer during the 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies in London.
“Receiving the Hall of Fame honour during Canada’s 150th birthday party makes the timing and recognition all that more poetic,” stated Whitfield. “It was the ultimate privilege to represent my country for nearly two decades.”
Fellow gold and silver medal Olympian, and 2012 Canadian Sports Hall of Fame inductee, rower Derek Porter shared, “I had the privilege of sharing in Simon’s first Olympics in 2000. We were eating our race day breakfast together in the Olympic Village cafeteria – to this day, I can’t believe how relaxed he was. Cool under pressure. It was incredible to watch Canada hit the top of the podium with triathlon’s first Olympic showing. Simon’s career was awesome to follow.”
Relentless Pursuit Partners’ portfolio represented by ePact Network’s co-founder, Christine Sommers also extended congratulations to Simon, “I can think of no one more deserving of this honour than Simon. On top of his incredible athletic accomplishments, he’s also a strong ambassador for enhancing sport and health for all Canadians. I am so thrilled to see him celebrated on both counts.”
About Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame:
Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame is a Registered Canadian Charity. Our mission is to share the stories of the achievements of our Honoured Members so that we can inspire all Canadians to be the best they can be in all aspects of life. Our 40,000 square foot international award-winning facility features 12 galleries, more than 50 hands-on interactive experiences and a collection of more than 95,000 artefacts. It is a place of honour for the inducted sport legends and the sports they represent.
Inspiring Canadians – in sport and life.
Relentless Media Contact: Brenda Irwin, Managing Partner 778-996-8515
We aren’t bragging about the B.C. weather at the moment – the ‘holiday deep freeze’ lingered well into 2017 – however, we would like to shine the light on a few moments from the final months of 2016 that made us proud. To start … what a SPLASH by TritonWear as 2016 came to a close.
SQW to Tristan Lehari, CEO of TritonWear:
“Oh, what I could have done if I had this technology when I was consumed by mastery.”
It is one thing when we have enthusiasm for what our portfolio companies are developing – it is altogether a new level of special when there is a national spotlight put on their products.
TritonWear was featured at a special event linked to a national innovation strategy and identified by the federal Minister of Small Business and Tourism, and Waterloo MP, the Honorable Bardish Chagger, who had this to say at the event:
“TritonWear is about making Canadian swimmers more competitive so that they can outperform the world. Our government has a similar plan for the whole nation. By supporting and promoting innovative companies such as this, we are fostering the growth our economy needs.”
In addition to government recognition and accolades for TritonWear, the company received recognition from the Canadian technology industry.
In October, TritonWear was inducted into the annual Canadian Innovation Exchange’s coveted Top 20 list.
Oh, and our wearable tech company wasn’t the only Relentless portfolio shout-out from a member of federal parliament in 2016.
That’s right – the community of Squamish and Squamish Nation are now “Powered by ePACT”! The “emergency preparedness” pilot has catalyzed organizations and communities to take action across Canada.
The industry is all a buzz about the growth of the personal, trusted network’s role in selling new products. In November, the Food Navigator placed the spotlight on the impact Social Nature is having on getting healthy, natural products in the hands of consumers.
Social Nature has grown their social influencer community to over 200,000 throughout North America – sampling, evaluating and sharing recommendations about the latest in natural, organic products. Healthy eating! Healthy living! #TryNatural
On January 8th Global television tapped into Annalea Kreb’s leadership skills in the natural products industry by inviting her to share thoughts on 2017 trends. A couple trends that Social Nature’s CEO highlighted:
“Purple is the new Black”
Food’s popular colour for 2017 is purple (purple beet, corn, yams, etc). Annalea encourages consumers to seek out purple veggies and products as they tend to be higher in anti-oxidants and may be more nutrient dense than many alternatives.
“Kale is out, Seaweed is IN”
Wondering what the new ‘it’ vegetable is for the year ahead? Annalea points to seaweed. This marine algae is growing in popularity because it is loaded with minerals, is rich in calcium, magnesium, as well as vitamins A and C (it is high in sodium – so monitor intake accordingly).
View the entire segment here: Social Nature on GlobalBC.
And if you are interested in learning more about the Power of Consumer Influence directly from Annalea, check out this event on January 24th in Yaletown: How Influence Can Drive Results.
Social Nature found a sweet new space in one of Vancouver’s growing tech postal codes: Gastown.
The Social Nature team is growing and HIRING!
Keeping growth and green living at the forefront, I love how Annalea has enriched her new workspace with a vertical garden.
No garden yet at the new Wiivv basecamp, but they have a wicked view!
The Wiivv team also outgrew their office and landed in Gastown.
Wiivv invited the community to celebrate a great year, a year that included a record breaking Kickstarter campaign, the closing of a major seed financing and escalating product adoption.
Personally, I was also celebrating Wiivv’s new data. Clinical results are in. What I have experienced anecdotally has now been confirmed through a cross section of early adopters in a controlled trial – use of the custom, 3D-printed Wiivv insole results in less foot fatigue and a material reduction in chronic foot pain.
Bring on those track workouts again!
And just in time for the launch of the 2017 season, Wiivv announced the expansion of their body perfect, 3D-printed product line with the introduction of a full-length custom fit insole. The sportier, full-length option replaces factory insoles of everything from running shoes to soccer cleats. The new product announcement was covered by Triathlon Business – industry props causing both our professional and amateur triathlete hearts to burst with pride. #KeepGoing
Both Simon and I had an active end to 2016 connecting with the community across Canada.
In September, Simon delivered the keynote for BDO Canada‘s AGM. He tapped into his wealth of athletic experience as both an individual and team member.
Simon shared bold examples of innovation within the sport of triathlon, his journey as a leader in the sport, how he challenged assumptions and emphasized how much he had to tap into courage to shift the paradigm.
Honoring our commitment to participate and promote active, healthy living, Simon and I hosted a couple of unique events around the National Angel Capital Organization Summit in Vancouver.
In exquisite west coast style, we partnered with City Cycle and lead an enthusiastic batch of angel investors on a Vancouver Craft Brewery tour by bike! Thanks to Cycle City’s resident beer guide, Nick. And yes, it POUNDED rain. It was fantastic!
At this point we are thinking of making the craft beer tour a semi-annual event – rain or shine. Interested in joining the next ride?
Another Q4 highlight was when Simon and I hit the “speakers’ stage” together for the first time at the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada conference. The moment was amplified by having one of our portfolio founders (Louis-Victor Jadavji, co-founder of Wiivv) join us as well for a key part of the conversation.
We shared the investors’ perspective on rewards-based crowdfunding as either a financing or product launch strategy. LV shared his lessons learned and rationale for using a crowdfunding platform to fuel a commercial product launch. Here are a few of our key messages:
#1 Lesson Learned – Private or Public?
A public crowdfunding campaign eliminates a private start-up’s ability to iterate, learn, grow, recover, and restart privately, and on a timeline that works for a company versus a consumer’s desire. Be mindful of this reality.
#2 Opportunity Realized – The Impact of the Network!
Leveraging existing networks facilitates a successful crowdfunding launch. PERIOD. By tapping into the mailing lists of your investors, accelerator, strategic and industry partners can create powerful early momentum in a campaign. Don’t be shy about “the ask.” Don’t overlook this incredible resource.
#3 Insider Investor Tip – Under promise and OVER DELIVER
When defining a crowdfunding campaign sales goal, select a number that demonstrates persuasive customer adoption while having a high probability of execution. Delays in uptake or low percentage goal achievement could delay timing on your next fundraising, or negatively affect your business valuation due to perceived absence of campaign success.
The NCFA recently published a thorough industry report (including a Relentless cameo of course). Click here to access and download:
This edition of Beez Reel closes with some “Whitfield Wisdom” that offers a transferable lesson for entrepreneurs developing their competitive positioning:
Q: Simon, what was your super power as a professional athlete?
A: SQW – I had the ability to sit still. I saw the moment. I was prepared – I was always prepared.
I could stay calm when everyone else was rushing to get started.
We have just hit our first anniversary.
Summer of 2015 we launched our angel fund…and an inspired twelve months has followed.
Right out of the gate we made our first investment in GymTrack. Then the stars aligned in such a way that we had three closings on one day – October 15th – right in the midst of Techtoberfest, which was just cruel!
Then rounding out year one of our fund was an investment in Social Nature.
Every investment decision was catalyzed with the following question:
Will this company contribute to healthy living outcomes, participation in sport or the promotion of activity?
Sometimes the answer was direct and measurable (GymTrack, Vanhawks, Wiivv), other times the impact on a healthy lifestyle was experienced via communication and marketing strategies (ePACT and Social Nature). Knowing that our investment choices, our alliances, and our influence on the health and wellness of individuals of all ages inspires us daily.
We focus on those aspects and our companies have built campaigns and social strategies around them, including the following hashtags (which are inspirations to ourselves and collaborators):
In addition to building our portfolio, we’ve worked with some stellar organizations over the past year delivering keynotes, judging startup pitches and participating in groundbreaking announcements in health and sport.
It was a magical intersection of technology, education and sport when I mentored and judged at the second annual SportsHack.
For the November 2015 event, hackers and innovators gathered simultaneously in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax to compete for the coveted top prize of having their solution brought to market by the CFL. Very cool. Locally the host was SFU’s VentureLabs. Fortunately for a few of the hackers, I am an avid football fan and was able to share a few rules along the way to up their game.
Also in November Simon and I had a quick mission to MaRS.
While the total journey time from Earth to Mars can vary between 150-300 days, fortunately for us, BC base station to Toronto MaRS Discovery District was a 2-day adventure.
Day one we met with MaRS corporate partners CIBC, Globe & Mail and Revera to gain insights into their digital tech strategies. Day two, Simon delivered a keynote for the MaRS Innovation Centre’s “Corporate Partner Day”, on the theme of ‘Moonshots’. Below is a stunning graphic recording of Simon’s key messages captured by Visual Talks artists.
Representative keynotes and panels from 2016 to date include speaking at the Female Funders breakfast series, Simon’s keynotes at both the Canadian Physiotherapy Association and Canadian Academy of Sport & Exercise Medicine conference, and a return to my alma mater (University of Guelph) as a speaker at the Small Business and Entrepreneurship conference.
There has also been a series of health and sport announcements that Simon has been privileged to lead as Master of Ceremony:
MC of landmark collaboration among the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, viaSport (strategic partner of ePACT) and Own the Podium http://www.cbc.ca/sports/olympics/summer/generic/canadian-olympic-committee-live-stream-1.3434183;
MC of Canada’s first wellness rewards program launch (Carrot Rewards) – co-hosted by BC Ministry of Health and federal Ministry of Health; and
MC for BC Ministry of Health and Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) announcement kicking off “Canadian Men’s Health” week. Simon is a founding champion of CMHF and the “Don’t Change Much” campaign creating awareness and advocacy for men’s health.
It has been a brilliant year of building new partnerships with the Canadian tech, health and finance communities. There has been a healthy dose of learning, challenges and progress with our evolving portfolio.
Reflecting on the challenges prompts me to close with a few insider tips on Communicating with Your Investors:
“Beez Reel” 1st Edition
Keeping It Real With the Occasional Glimpse “Behind The Scenes”
In February I returned to my alma mater, University of Guelph, for a special occasion. My business partner, Simon Whitfield, was being recognized with an honorary degree from the College of Business and Economics. Simon spent his sporting career mastering the art of triathlon transitions. He is currently navigating the transition from professional athletics to business, so for a business school to recognize his athletic achievement, broad reaching community contributions, and mentorship for the past two decades was poignant timing.
The day was crisp and sunny. Students were on reading week, so Creelman Plaza was eerily quiet – and a wonderful opportunity for reconnection and reflection.
One particular anecdote Simon shared during his convocation address heightened my self-reflection. He said, “Dad gave me permission to use nervousness as energy – to use that energy to drive me forward. Dad gave me permission to not be afraid, to not expect failure, but to expect success.”
Simon’s Dad, Geoffrey, was setting him up to create his own possibilities.
During my campus stroll, I chuckled while thinking about my most challenging times as an undergraduate student. Never did it cross my mind, ever, while struggling through Chem100 or immersed in discovery during Anatomy labs, that one leg of my professional journey would include partnering with a world-class athlete. Never did my U. of Goo crystal ball point to a decade of investing in the work of scientists who are developing chemotherapy treatments that may have saved the lives of my 11-year-old cousin, or my young aunt who passed away when I was a teen, had discoveries been made only 20 years earlier. But all that did transpire. And it’s been an amazing experience.
I could have never imagined that more than 25 years after embracing my love for science – including a stint as a science and math teacher in the early ‘90s – that we would still have to work so hard to engage young women and girls to pursue careers in STEM.
I took my first coding class at the University of Guelph. It was tough. I understood from that course that learning to code was an essential skill to have in my toolkit … but developing the skill further was not for me at that time. And that was A-OK. Today, I am proud to live in B.C., where it was recently announced that coding curriculum will be introduced at kindergarten through grade 12 – for every boy and every girl.
Throughout the day – during my walk, during the ceremony, after the day’s festivities – I found myself thinking about possibilities. I was thinking about the possibilities that were presented to me as a student and the possibilities as a young woman educated in science. I reflected on how we create our own possibilities. And it struck me: the formula is simple.
(Belief + Experience + Mentors + Education/Training) x RELATIONSHIPS = Anything is Possible.
I believe this.
Simon also shared with the new class of graduates that when returning home from races, his mother Linda never asked how he did, but rather, “What was your effort?” His parents were wonderful in fueling a mindset that placed progress and a commitment to excellence as measures of success. Learning from experience was the gold standard. Read More
I don’t want summer to end. Beyond the spectacular stretch of weather that started in the winter(!) and led into weeks of ‘Ontario-like’ beach days on the West Coast, this summer can best be described as…unforgettable. Not only have we had great weather, but we’ve also launched Relentless Pursuit Partners in a big way. It’s an exciting time for us and I can’t wait to see where it all leads!
My excitement could keep me fueled to write and share until the wee hours of the morning – but we’ve got work to do. So here’s a quick breakdown of some of our summer highlights:
The birth of the Atlas Core Limited Partnership.
Our vision to create a fund that will finance entrepreneurs relentlessly committed to health, fitness and wellbeing became reality end of June. How did we celebrate? Biked a couple mountains, paddled the ocean and took time to embrace the moment!
Let the Games begin!!!! Read More