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The Saturday Huddle is a weekly column that features opinion, analysis and reflections on Huddle stories, podcasts and business news in the region. Mark Leger is the editor of Huddle and the Director of News Content for Acadia Broadcasting.
This column is about my top “Home Office” podcast interviews with innovators and entrepreneurs over the last year, and one that came immediately to mind was with Jody Glidden, the founder and CEO of Introhive.
I have many professional jealousies (or people I admire, I should say) and though Glidden isn’t a journalist like me, he’s done something I often fantasize about: he’s built a business with strong New Brunswick roots, but the Fredericton native is based in Miami himself.
That’s not why he makes my list, but it’s a good place to start.
Jody Glidden, CEO and founder, Introhive
Glidden is the head of a Fredericton-based software company that employs around 400 people in the Maritimes, U.S., Europe, and India. Introhive made headlines in early 2021 when they secured a $100-million (U.S.) investment that will allow them to grow even more.
He’s a born entrepreneur and a lifelong learner. As an elementary school kid, he learned to create prize-winning software. As a teenager in Fredericton, he sold hockey cards and made enough money to buy a car, and then launched an arcade and pool business. Already a successful entrepreneur, he did a graduate degree at Harvard University.
“I’ve believed in spending all the time that I can learning something new, whatever that next thing is that I think could help me. Even when I’m on a walk, bike ride or going to the gym I’m usually wearing headphones listening to an audiobook,” Glidden told me in our July interview.
“I went back to school for degrees twice with no obvious benefit…but I did learn some things and met some great people. Continuous learning makes such a difference, whether it’s at a post-secondary institution or you just pick up a book.”
Introhive, which has a platform that helps salespeople in businesses automate routine tasks related to their customer relationship manager (CRM) systems, has continued to grow and receive accolades since our July chat, making Deloitte Technology’s Fast 50 list and being named one of the Best Workplaces for Today’s Youth.
Chinweotito (Tito) Atansi and Lily Lynch, Sankara
Atansi, who grew up in a family of entrepreneurs in Nigeria and Cameroon, opened an African food stall with Lynch in the Queen Square Farmers’ Market in Saint John more than five years ago.
They launched Sankara when they realized that vendors like themselves needed an e-commerce and marketing platform to help them grow and share their food and culture more widely.
“They actually want to grow their business,” Atansi told me. “They want to go past just Sundays. They want to be there [for customers] all the days of the week. If you look around, there’s no one place catering to those types of people. Skip the Dishes is for restaurants. We’re trying to offer a tool for those types of people that are left behind, whether they’re immigrants or local people who want to expose their food to their community.”
Sankara is now an online food and craft marketplace serving Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton and Halifax.
The company recently received national recognition when Lynch was selected for the BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program, which celebrates female entrepreneurs who contribute to social, environmental, and economic sustainability outcomes through their businesses.
Jennifer Wagner, CarbonCure
A small-town guy, I’ve nonetheless always loved lively big cities like New York and Shanghai. But these “concrete jungles,” with block after block of densely packed skyscrapers, come at a great cost to the environment.
On a “Home Office” podcast in early May, I chatted with Jennifer Wagner, the president of CarbonCure Technologies, a Dartmouth-based company on a mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the construction industry. It’s secured business and investment from tech giants and entrepreneurs like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft, Amazon, and Shopify.
Cement, the main ingredient in concrete, is responsible for eight percent of global emissions, says Wagner. CarbonCure has developed a system to inject carbon dioxide into the mixing process. The CO2 is converted into a mineral, which makes the concrete stronger and reduces carbon emissions.
The company’s goal is to keep 500 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere every year by 2030 – the equivalent of taking 100 million cars off the road each year. Its market potential is huge, says Wagner. It’s currently supplying technology to 300 concrete producers on four continents out of a potential pool of 100,000 around the world.
“Due to the sheer volume of the concrete and cement sectors, they have a relatively large environmental footprint and so they’re trying to find ways to reduce that,” Wagner told me. “Using Co2 and concrete can now be a solution to help the industry meet its climate targets. I was really inspired by the creativity of using chemistry, taking advantage of chemistry, and actually creating a climate solution.”
Tracy Bell, Millennia TEA
Several years ago, Tracy and Rory Bell had a health scare in their family that launched a search for healthy teas rich in antioxidants. Everything turned out okay, but that process led them down an entrepreneurial path to the launch of a new business, Millennia TEA.
The Saint John-based company developed an innovative product: a tea, flash-frozen within hours of being picked, which was the best way to preserve freshness and maximize antioxidant properties.
Millennia extended its market reach this year, getting its product into Safeway, Sobeys, and Whole Foods stores in Canada this year – the goal it set for itself in its business planning process.
“You have your mission, which is fueling wellness with the freshest and most antioxidant-rich teas anywhere – your ‘why,’” Tracy told me. “But then there’s the tactile piece of, ‘how do you measure success?’ What does success look like?’ When I did that business plan with Rory, it was we’re working to create a compelling story for Whole Foods. Success would look like getting into Whole Foods, Canada first and then internationally.”
The Chocolatiers: Ganong and Peace By Chocolate
Fittingly, I recorded my podcast chat with Bell in the old Red Rose Tea factory in Saint John, Huddle’s home office until earlier this year. Two global tea companies with a base of operations in Saint John, a century apart.
I am similarly inspired by the two global chocolate companies in the region, Ganong in St. Stephen and Peace By Chocolate in Antigonish.
Their origin stories are very different. CEO Bryana Ganong, who worked on the company’s “peppermint line” as a teenager, is part of the fourth generation of family members to lead the nearly 150-year-old New Brunswick company that is still an economic driver in Charlotte County.
Tareq Hadhad and his father Isam lost the family business, a chocolate factory bombed during the war in Syria, but have since rebuilt it in Nova Scotia, a testament to their perseverance and optimism in the face of great challenges.
“Even though we lost everything in Syria we didn’t lose [our entrepreneurial drive and talents],” Hadhad told me. “This was our intellectual property, so we lost everything in the war, but they did not kill that spirit in us. They did not kill that knowledge, that skill, that talent. This is not something you lose in a war. This is something that goes with you forever until you die.”
As I finish writing this piece, there is a fresh bed of snow on the ground and the temperature is hovering around the freezing mark. I’m reminded that Hadhad arrived in Canada just before Christmas in 2015. He was driven from the Halifax airport to Antigonish in a snowstorm, an early indication that his Canadian “safe haven” would still present challenges.
He’s continued to overcome those obstacles because of his tenacity and talent, characteristics shared by other successful Maritime entrepreneurs from Antigonish to Sri Lankan tea fields and Miami Beach.
Feeback? E-mail Mark Leger: [email protected]
Featured, Fredericton, Moncton, New Brunswick, News, Saint John
Featured, Fredericton, Moncton, New Brunswick, News, Saint John
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