Small Business Canada

As an influential and results-oriented leader with a proven track record for identifying innovative revenue-generating opportunities, Lauren builds upon over a decade and a half experience in the Canadian innovation arena. Lauren is the Executive Director of the longest-running Canadian venture conference, CIX Canadian Innovation Exchange, which curates and showcases Canada’s most innovative early and growth-stage tech startups to North American investors and corporates.

Previously, she was an executive with the CVCA- Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, setting the strategic direction and developing the majority of the revenue programs for the association. Prior to 2001, Lauren held senior marketing positions in the travel industry and has chaired many cancer fundraising events for the Princess Margaret Hospital. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing and Finance from the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University.

As Executive Director of CIX Summit, what are some of your responsibilities? Can you tell us a little bit about your role and responsibilities to give our readers a better idea of what it is that you do at CIX Summit?

It is my responsibility to oversee the planning and execution of the CIX Summit. This includes the awards program, which finds the most innovative companies to showcase at CIX, securing partnerships with industry stakeholders, building the agenda (topics/speakers) with unique program elements that facilitate connections between founders and investors and, of course, manage the budget.

What would you say is the biggest benefit of CIX Summit for small business owners? What are some of the advantages they can gain from the event?

As CIX is a highly curated room of investors and founders, the biggest benefit of attending is for business owners to learn from other successful founders and meet investors.

In addition to curating and showcasing these companies, we provide the tools and platforms for founders and investors to meet. Delegates tell us year after year that ‘deals get done’ at CIX.  

You have created yourself quite the reputation of being able to seek out innovative revenue-generating opportunities. What are some of the strategies you use that help you identify these opportunities?

I find out what is important to industry stakeholders and create opportunities for them to grow their businesses within CIX.

The CIX Canadian Innovation Exchange is the longest-running Canadian venture conference. Why do you believe that is? What are some of the aspects and characteristics that have contributed to its success?

We were the first to launch a curated investment conference, and for the 12 years since our launch, North American investors trust that, at CIX, they will see the most promising start-ups from across Canada. In addition to curating and showcasing these companies, we provide the tools and platforms for founders and investors to meet. Delegates tell us year after year that ‘deals get done’ at CIX.

In your expert opinion, what are some of the aspects that investors look for in start-up companies when they attend the conference?

It depends on the stage and investor, but in general, they look at the potential growth of the market, the strength of the management team and commercial traction.

On a final note, you have over a decade of expertise knowledge in the Canadian innovation area. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs who are in the start-up phase and wish to attract investors?

To help attract angel or venture capital, I suggest they start by ‘soft-selling’ via networking at events such as CIX, this would allow them to ‘pitch’ their start-up in a less formal setting to gauge response and get feedback, ask advice. Work on getting the first customer(s) as this shows traction. Having a strong team will get investors’ attention, this may mean bringing on a co-founder with reputable domain expertise. If they have no investor connections, I suggest joining a reputable accelerator – with networks and credibility to help attract the right investors.

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