Cam Crowder

Cam Crowder


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Investor – Coach

Using Metrics for success – Cam Crowder

“You have to be okay with failing and get comfortable with it and I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”


Cam Crowder is a member of the Equation Angels selection committee, a partner in a family business that operates six Tim Hortons in Essex, and part-owner of the Leamington Flyers. Recently, he joined the Frontier Tech Team – U.S. & Europe at Vu Venture Partners.



Cam Crowder

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery: Welcome to the Supporters Fund Ask An Investor. I’m your host Jeffery Potvin. today let’s please welcome Cam Crowder. How are you, sir?
Cam: I’m doing great JP, thanks.
Jeffery: awesome. Well, we’re super excited to have you here today. There’s a million reasons why I’m excited to have this conversation. From working in franchises to owning and operating businesses, to selling properties, there’s so many great things that you’re up to and that you’re doing. But more importantly now, the stuff that you’re working on in the VC world, which to me is super exciting too. So, I think we’ll take a step back and the way we kick off our show is we want to learn a little bit about yourself, your background. the things that you’ve been doing that got you where you are today and then one thing about you that nobody would know.
Cam: Okay. For me, I spent 12 years in the Tim Hortons franchise world the last seven years. in the last franchise world, as a franchisee, I really enjoyed that. And when I saw that the industry was going, the turnover was getting crazy. We had a 100 turnover year and I was looking at different avenues to help that in the business and which led me to a company that was a Silicon Valley company that actually moved to Windsor that was doing industrial time studies and got involved in the tech side with that and led to an investment there. And all of a sudden, I’m an Angel Investor and I just fell in love with it. So, fast forward, two years now, I’m at Venture University here in Silicon Valley.
Jeffery: amazing. And one thing about you that no one would know?
Cam: one thing about me that no one knows, I do Pilates in the morning.
Jeffery: awesome. Yeah. That’s pretty good.
Cam: a good way to get the body moving.
Jeffery: Yeah, absolutely. And what got you started in Pilates?
Cam: Well, I just started working out pretty heavy. And then, I push myself. So, what’s the hardest thing I could do? And I looked at Pilates as a six foot three 225 pound guy. I figured it would be probably the hardest thing for me to do and just started doing it. And it’s been great. It’s good for my back and keeps me in shape. And it’s a good sweat.
Jeffery: Well, you mentioned that it’s good for your back. So, I’m going for the audience. I’m going to share that you were also and have been, and I believe you’re still active today as a hockey coach. And you were a player as well. Is that correct to say?
Cam: Yeah. I played junior hockey and then got involved in coaching and did that while I was doing Tim Horton’s for 10 to 12 years. not coaching anymore, I’m still an owner with the two flyers junior b team there and we do a lot of good things just trying to help develop players. Man, we’ve had a couple players move on to division one scholarship. So, it’s a good way to give back to a sport that gave a lot to me growing up.
Jeffery: amazing. I also played hockey, junior hockey. way back in the day so I’m a big fan of the space and area. And there was one thing and I was interesting enough I kept saying your last name. And I’m like, I think that’s an NHL hockey name. This is big and it always steered in my mind but I think what I liked about all of the things that I read and learned about yourself is that, as an athlete, you also became a coach. And now you coach businesses and you help people. So, you took a lot of your learning going through hockey. And we’ll call it being the driver to a lot of learnings that you had working in a sport you loved, finding a way to go in front of everybody by being the coach. And now, you’re on the opposite side of that. all these learning that you’re getting, how much do you translate that into this entrepreneurial side of things?
Cam: It sounds like it’s going to be pretty incredible to drive that JP. 100%. I would say I might have learned more coaching than I did in Tim Horton’s. And a lot of that was just when you’re coaching your business in the paper every week, your pants are completely down and they know how well you’re doing it. There’s the one part for me that I really understood or learned through the process of coaching. just how to get a group together. And coming from sport as a head coach, that’s probably the most important thing – that everybody’s on the same page. You need to be organized every day. And if you’re not organized, players read into that immediately. And I think for me and my journey coach, it was to get organized. make sure you have a plan. a lot of those things led into my business career getting better because I was doing those things. And what’s more fun to do than be a hockey coach and be involved in junior hockey and play a playoff round, go get in a playoff run and stuff that. So, I learned a ton. And it’s still nice to be able to be involved in it as an owner, not that I admit a lot of games recently, I’m out here in San Francisco, but you always check the stats. And it’s always good to see a young coach. We have their Dale Mitchell excel. So, sports is everything to me. To be honest, when it gets down to it, there are so many life lessons in it.
Jeffery: Well, I love that. And in being a young individual playing hockey, and looking up to your coach, to me, they were the god. The players were great, yeah. That guy’s the superstar, etc. It never really impressed me. It was about the strategy and how the coach would approach every game. And to me it looked man, that’s got to be a stressful job because he is the focal point or at least it was for me looking up to that person. I’m 15 to 14 years old looking up to my junior or a coach or whatever and I’m thinking man, this person’s got to be so knowledgeable and they’re really directing and they’re that conductor in the room. How did you find that? You were able to take that learning from being the young guy in the room and trying to learn from them and now flipping the stage around and saying I got to teach these young people to get together with my plan so that we can execute and win this in the end. That’s got to be pretty tough to get 30 people to align to your initiatives because it really comes down to the teams there to win. But I’m sure they’re too young to really understand how that comes together and your job is to really drive that home. And it’s to me that’s got to be quite the amazing effort to be able to pull that off year after year.
Cam: Yeah, I think first of all, when I first started coaching, I wasn’t a very good coach. And that it was a learned ability that I over time, just kept getting better, iterating and getting better. But I think the biggest thing I learned was every single person on the team has to have a role. And you need to celebrate those roles. So, even if you had your first line left winger, the guy scores 50. Yeah, that’s great. But you also need to get a kill penalty using block shots and you need the trainer to be on board and you need the guy that’s filling up the water bottles to have good culture. And I think that all those things are you try to really highlight when someone does something well in their role and when they’re not meeting the expectations there that you need to give them a pat on the butt and say like, hey, time to pick it up here. This is how we do things here. And I think that again for business, it’s no different. Everybody has roles. Everybody needs to execute on their job. And hockey is no different in learning. I love that every person has a role and you need to celebrate that role. I think that’s a great line because I think a lot of the times in early stage businesses, when we’re building them, we tend to overlook the people that are on the team. We overlook the fact that every piece of this hiring process is instrumental to your success. So, just it is in getting that third line left winger to up their game, even though they’re playing 10 minutes a game instead of 30, that 10 minutes is so crucial. And how do you get them to feel just as empowered to put the excel outcome that you need in order to win and get to that end goal which is winning it all. So, tying that team down. Cohesiveness is pretty important.
Jeffery: How did you go about doing that? How did you get everybody in the team to feel just as important? And maybe you didn’t do it in year one. But year five, when you were having that success. What was the driving force behind it?
Cam: I think it’s culture, Like, I think it’s everyday living and walking it. And I think maybe me, I wasn’t really a super high-end guy. I was probably in that second third line guy grinded out. So, I appreciate the people that are doing the things that are difficult to do. And in business, it’s no different. there’s blocking. They think of the old cliché, blocking and tackling. And that it’s not the fancy stuff that typically gets it done, it’s the things that are ugly and messy. And when things aren’t going well, you have to get in there and dig in. You just need to really, I said, celebrate those things. maybe, they feel they’re small, celebrate the heck out of them. And then that builds your culture up. And business hockey, it’s the same thing. Does that go to the coach to put together initiatives or goals? So this is the same thing for the founder, the CEO, the group to put together those metrics that will allow people to hit those successes and then at the end of the day, celebrate them every time with favorite drinks. do whatever it takes.
Jeffery: Yeah, you got it. KPIs?
Cam: You wouldn’t be, like, ‘hey, okay guys, these are the KPIs, okay? ours here. we go. Let’s see. But an example in hockey that we do is we want to be a physical team. So, we would track our hits. everybody would. everybody’s hits would be posted on a board. We know how many shots they blocked and we really put a focus on being hard to play against. And I think it’s the same thing in a business. You want your business to be gritty. You want people especially in the startup worl