Chris Carder
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Chris Carder

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Executive Director – Schulich School of Business

Creative Fearlessness – Chris Carder

“There’s ethics and values, but there is no box.”

ABOUT

Chris Carder is a Serial Entrepreneur with more than 20 years experience in the Digital/Technology Sector and a sought-after Startup Advisor, Investor and Advisory Board Member.

Chris serves as Executive Director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship with the Schulich School of Business and also Special Advisor on Entrepreneurship and Innovation to the Office of the President at York University.

Chris is the past President & Co-Founder of ThinData (Canada’s largest email marketing services provider) – acquired by TC Media (Transcontinental) in 2018.

His volunteer work in the non-profit sector includes serving as Chairman of theInternational White Ribbon Campaign and he has been recognized as the Canadian New Media Awards Volunteer (and Employer) of the Year.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Chris Carder

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Well, Chris, I’m super excited and so glad that we were able to connect and chat today, and we jump right into things. So welcome to Ask an Angel, brought to you by OPN. And we’re excited to talk with Chris Carder because, Chris, I’ve been an avid fan and follower and working and collaborating with you for — it feels like at least 20 years now from my lob laws days and you’ve you’ve done a significant amount of change, growth in the startup world, and you continue to plow forward. And I was always excited because to talk with you because most of the people that I’ve talked to in the start up world they’re probably known that maybe five years or whatnot. But you come in and from a total different angle. And I’ve actually seen you in action in your startups and in your business and now going through to what you have and participating with you on some of your events. So it’s exciting for me to get to dive into a few of the things that you have done. But the way we like to start is perhaps you can give us a bit of a background on yourself what you’ve done in the past, some of the startups from the data all the way up to where you are today. And the things that you’re working on now and then one thing about you that nobody would know,

Chris:
Nobody would know… Interesting. Okay, so first off, the very first startup goes all the way back to 1995. And that’s when I created an online sports magazine. I was a journalist, journalism student and working journalist. Um, and, uh, I, you know, found very quickly that the newspaper business in the magazine business was gonna be a tough one to find employment in on an active basis. That trend was true and beginning even back then. So my brain wave was well, if I create my own publication, then I own it, and I can employ myself. And that was really the beginning of being an entrepreneur and having a startup. I created that with a very close friend of mine, and we built it. And it was this online sports magazine. We sold it within the first — I say 2.5 years we sold it. It became the website for the fan 590 sports radio station. From there we kept the team. We kept some of the technical assets we had created for that, and we created a Web development company. And from there we built that up until we suddenly saw a need where our clients all started showing up, asking if we could recommend an email marketing platform. And we thought, This sounds like recurring revenue. This sounds like something that kind of prints money while we sleep versus project chasing in the web business. Andwe set out and with a couple of turns of good fortune, built what became the largest email marketing platform in Canada, and we grew that to about 60 plus people at the time of selling it, and it was acquired by a big public communications company. And then we stayed around for a couple years and worked on transitioning it and throwing it up to 114 people and then after that, left to continue and look for other journeys and other adventures.

Jeffery:
Amazing. And then you kind of shifted into another start up, and then you moved your way into Schulich, um, what do you what do you do now? Actually, how’s that looking?

Chris:
Yeah, we’ll jump in that a second. I just realized I forgot to tell you the one fun fact that nobody knows about me. So I’m going to have to tell a lot of stories. I’m very open with my life. So I’m gonna have to go with one Very few people know about me, which is that I’ve actually, um, been, uh, at one point in my life, was flown to Fox Sports in Los Angeles by Fox for the opportunity to pitch a television show on professional wrestling. And I’ll tell you, man, like I’ve been pitched a lot of things in my life. I’ve sat at a table and asked a company for, you know, $20 million with a straight face and and a sincere heart. But I’ve never been so nervous as I was pulling up to those gates at the Fox Studios and going to pitch a television show. Now, Schulich on the other hand, So my time now I’m at Schulich, where I originally started out a few years back as an entrepreneur in residence and then started to build out the Schulich startup program as it’s become today. And that itself is an interesting story. Because I was, I decided this was my next great passion, working with young people, helping them on their companies and on their career journeys in the innovation and tech sector. And, um, I there was no startup program at the school, and so I thought this would be a cool job if I were to have it. So I worked for eight months for free building the startup program, and my plan was that eventually the dean and the senior leaders at the school would take note of what I was doing and and then they noticed. And then they came down. You know, I was sitting in the cafe, building it with the students and some of the alumni, and they came down and said, Hey, we’d love to talk to you about taking this to another level, another level, And then that eventually led to me, becoming what is now the uh, the executive director of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the school. And we have many, many programs, both in the start up space and for innovators who are looking to work with founders and venture capitalists throughout the ecosystem.

Jeffery:
Brilliant. I love it. Um, and, uh, we kind of fit in the same realm on the things that we do there. And it’s fascinating that, um where you guys where you have made that pivot and changed into the Schulich. One thing I love, the fact is that you did it for free, and then you found a way to obviously built in, show some value and that converted the school into believing into your direction, which is awesome. And then it became obviously more than a passion. It became a value add for both sides. And now you’re helping a lot of startups globally, um, become where they want to go. And I think that’s a phenomenal, uh, growth chart. And one of the things that I can say that I learned from you over the years was your stories. Um, it was the directions and myself. I love telling stories, but they’re usually not so much geared around me. But of course, everybody else. So I’ve shared your a couple of your stories many times. Um, and what I kind of wanted to focus a little bit on our talk was more about the hustle because most of the interviews we do they’re really domain focused on somebody that maybe is supporting in finance legal, like all these different aspects that really make up a great investor. And one thing that we, uh, talked about sales. But we’ve never really talked about what sales really mean and what the hustle means to grow a startup. And if there’s anyt