Jodi Echakowitz
IMPACT INVESTING

Jodi Echakowitz

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Corporate Culture

Corporate Culture – Jodi Echakowitz

“If you want to really build a world-class company, you have to have great people, and you can only do that by having a great culture.”

ABOUT

Jodi Echakowitz is founder and CEO of Boulevard Public Relations. Her agency works with technology startups, scaleups, and VC firms throughout North America, including some local companies whose names you may recognize, including TouchBistro, Bird Canada, Lane, OnCall Health.

Jodi is an angel investor in women-founded tech startups. She is also a founding member of The Big Push and an advisor to Compass North, both of which are accelerators focused on helping women-founded or led technology companies grow.

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THE FULL INTERVIEW

Jodi Echakowitz

The full #OPNAskAnAngel talk

Jeffery:
Welcome Jodi! Thank you very much for joining us today. We take no time, we just jump right into everything. So, we’re excited to have you and learn a little bit more or a lot more about what you’re looking for and how investing works in your world, but maybe to start off just to kind of give the audience a good idea of who you are and what your boat is, maybe give an idea of your past, your presence, and the future of where Jodi’s going.

Jodi:
Sounds good! So, Jodi Echakowitz and I’m a real tech geek at heart, that’s the most important thing probably, for people to know, and I’ve been involved in technology my entire career with a focus on public relations. So, that’s always been where I’ve been interested, and from the time that I moved to Canada, actually which was in 1994, I’m aging myself here, but from the time that I worked there, again working with some very early stage companies watching them grow, being a part of that, and worked in different companies until the dot-com crash. And at that time, I actually started my own business, so, that was 19 years ago. So, Boulevard Public Relations is the agency that I started and our focus is 100% on technology, and we work with startups, growth companies, VC firms, multinational and global companies, and we help them with all their integrated communications efforts. So, everything from your traditional pr, and media relations, and things that people understand right the way, through to supporting them on securing speaking engagements, writing case studies, even supporting their lead generation efforts, through content and getting content placed. So, we work in a variety of areas, when I started the business, we actually started it as a completely virtual agency. Obviously, there was myself for the first year or so and then as I brought on people, for me it was more important because I worked with startups to obviously bring in experienced people and so, we’ve grown completely virtually. My team is throughout North America and clients are also- we’re not just here in Canada, our clients are right the way throughout the US and Canada, and it’s really all about having the expertise to support them, so, and just being a real geek at heart, working with startups and scale ups, it’s amazing because I get to learn about so many incredible technologies that are out there and really have the opportunity to dive a little bit deeper into them, understanding what they are, and then helping them make sense of their story, and getting it out to the audiences and stakeholders that are important to them. So, yeah.

Jeffery:
Awesome, well it sounds like there’s a good collection of communications that are tied into what you do on a regular basis and the great thing is that you’re starting with early stage companies who probably are very well focused on building a product and have no idea or limited knowledge on how to actually get it out to the market, or even get people to engage with the product, and a bunch of other things that tie into that. What I- and I mentioned it right in the beginning, which is the communication side, how do you find interacting with these startups and early stage companies? How do you find that communication side works and how do you find their interacting with you in order to get something out into the ether?

Jodi:
So, I think from a communication perspective when you’re dealing with startups, it’s an interesting dynamic because some of them like to think they know what PR is about. Others don’t know what PR is about and they’re very forthcoming about that, so there’s an opportunity both to educate, and inform, and help them sort of learn and grow around what’s needed from a PR perspective. And then, obviously, there is those who believe this is how it is and that PR in fact stands for press release, which it does not. It just happens to have the same letters of an abbreviation, so it really varies, but the idea there is I always like to cancel startups when you start working with an agency, is you’re hiring an agency for a reason, you have somebody with expertise that understand the communication role that they’re in, and what’s needed from a startup’s perspective. You’re paying for their expertise, take the time to listen, it needs to be a two-way conversation, and a lot of times unfortunately, with a startup especially with founders who tend to work in so many different areas of their business, whether it be the accounting, the product development, to business development, to communications and marketing, they think they know it all and I really do advise them to take a step back and listen to the advice that’s being shared with them. And as long as they’re open to that two-way communication street, it usually works really well.

Jeffery:
So, it sounds like experience really kind of shines out here if as you’re kind of working through and it probably doesn’t matter what age, which group, which gender, anything that they’re coming in at. Being able to share and learn is probably a big facet of what’s going on between you and the startups you’re working with. What got you into startup world? What drove you there versus the big clients, and the big money, and all that good stuff?

Jodi:
You know, it’s interesting. So, I’ll tell- take even sort of a little bit of a further step back into technology. So, when I was about 11 years old, my brother actually got at the time it was like an Apple 2 plus compatible computer, and the two of us we used to actually program these Dos games, and I mean I’m really aging myself now, but it was great and I just, I loved sort of that whole idea of working in technology. So, obviously getting into public relations was one thing and then I actually had the first opportunity in South Africa to work for a company that was a startup. And I loved- firstly, I loved the idea of everything that you do get involved in from the accounting, the business development, and everything else around that, and when I moved to Canada, I worked for a company called Delrina and depending on people’s age that either will or won’t know who Delrina was, but this was sort of at the cusp of before the internet really took hold and email and people were still faxing from their computers. And it was a hot company and I loved sort of seeing the growth and everything that it was going through, and the company got acquired, and from that point, I then actually moved on to a startup that was focused on photography. And photography software that kind of thing, and again being in the startup, and just sort of seeing how much a company can evolve, and it’s not just about taking an existing product, and growing, and moving it into international markets. It’s about the exciting things I think that I see in a startup from growing the team, to learning around new different- new