A serial entrepreneur Elaine has successfully built teams and realigned business strategies for over 15 years. She recently launched Disruption Ventures, a VC fund that invests in female-founded and managed companies. This was a natural progression for Elaine as she has spent the past 6 years consulting and advising start-ups and early-stage companies, helping them reach their goals and access financing. Prior to consulting, she was CEO of B5Media. The company was sold to Alloy Digital in April 2012.
Elaine was also the CEO of Ziplocal which was sold to Canpages in 2009. She spent over six years at Toronto.com, Canada’s top online regional portal and started her online career in Business Development at Grey Advertising in 1998. A recognized expert in the digital media space, Elaine has spoken at premier events such as Exceptional Women in Publishing, McMaster Professional Development Day, DigiDay’s Digital Publishing Summit, Internet Week New York and the 2011 Marketing to Women Conference.
Elaine also serves as a dedicated advisor to the G(irls)20, which works to encourage G8 and G20 leaders to prioritize the political empowerment and economic freedom of females worldwide. The organization’s summit brings together female candidates from each G20 country to debate social issues and devise economic innovations. Elaine has also been appointed to the McMaster Alumni Association Board of Directors.
What is your key advice to small business owners for 2021?
Most people on this planet were happy to ring in 2021, with cautious optimism. Everyone was hit by the pandemic, but no group more than small business. Small businesses are used to being scrappy, fight the big, global companies, and typically the way they do that is with better service, attention to detail, and providing a more customer-centric product and experience.
The key to all businesses in 2021 is just to STAY ALIVE. Figure out how to keep your lights on so that you can thrive when the world opens back up. That means, cutting costs wherever possible, negotiating contracts and payment terms, and getting creative about how to earn another dollar. There is likely a surge that will come on the other end of this, and as long as you’re there to benefit from it, you can start to make up for some of the loss.
Think about what customers will need and want on the other side and be ready and vocal about how you can help. There’s no better time to connect with your customers, personal phone calls, emails, social media. Remind them that you are still around and that you need their support. People want to be supportive, so help them help you.