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Championing a future for women-led innovation to thrive

Get to know the influential minds behind DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee 

In honour of International Women’s Day, DMZ’s annual Women Innovation Summit is designed to empower and celebrate women in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

An action-packed event, the Summit will include roundtable discussions, our Women Innovation Pitch Competition for women-led startups to secure funding and the unveiling of DMZ’s Women of the Year award recipients. 

We know it takes a village to support women innovators. To bring this Summit to life, we brought together an influential group of leaders, executives and corporate partners to form our Steering Committee. Their role? Ensure a wide range of perspectives, experiences and ideas are considered to reduce bias, support an equitable review process and -— above all else — ensure the Summit reflects the diversity of women that fuels Canada’s innovation economy.

We wanted to give an insider’s look at the individuals behind the Committee to recognize them for the trailblazers that they are. 

Without further ado, please meet DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee: 

Janet Lin | Vice President, Lending and Payments Technology at Equitable Bank

A technology strategist with a passion for innovation, digital transformation, diversity and inclusion, Janet Lin is committed to creating human-centric experiences by leveraging technology. She brings over 20 years of experience in digital transformation, technology strategy, software development, customer engagement and AI transformation. She currently works at Equitable Bank, transforming retail and commercial lending businesses with customer-centric, agile decision-making principles enabled by cloud-native technology. 

Janet was inspired to join the Committee to promote, recognize and create innovation opportunities for women in Canada. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Dear women entrepreneurs in technology and innovation, equip yourself with thorough preparation. The path ahead may present challenges, resilience is your friend on this journey. Stay determined, and focused and don’t give up your dreams!”


Magnolia Perron | Indigenous Women and Youth Program Manager at the
National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association 

An advocate for entrepreneurship and economic development for Indigenous communities, Magnolia Perron has worked with various Indigenous non-profits, including the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the First Nations Information Governance Centre, where she has led advocacy, research and program development. Today, she oversees programs dedicated to Indigenous women and youth at the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. Magnolia is from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and is a proud member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Magnolia was inspired to join the Committee because of her deep-rooted commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. She believes that diverse perspectives lead to better innovation and is keen to contribute to an initiative where women can thrive, network and find support for their endeavours. 

How does she envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“The Summit has the potential to break down barriers, promote equality, and ultimately contribute to a future where women play an integral role in shaping the landscape of technology and innovation. It’s a catalyst, and by showcasing successful women leaders and entrepreneurs, we can inspire the next generation to pursue careers in the industry.”


Peter Bowie | Independent Director, Former CEO of Deloitte China and
DMZ Advisory Council Member

Peter Bowie is an Independent Director of Magna International and a DMZ Advisory Council member. He is a celebrated industry leader with a diverse background in corporate governance, leadership, and advisory roles. He has held prominent positions in organizations such as Uranium One, Deloitte Canada, and Deloitte China, where he served as CEO and Senior Partner. With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, Peter is also an investor and advisor in early-stage startup companies. 

Peter was inspired to join the Committee because he’s passionate about encouraging and supporting women entrepreneurs in their journey to success. He believes initiatives like the Summit will enhance opportunities for women in the tech ecosystem. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation?  

“I hope that the Women Innovation Summit, along with other DMZ initiatives dedicated to women entrepreneurs, fosters a culture where women feel empowered to pursue their dreams and where the broader community recognizes the importance of supporting their endeavours in the tech ecosystem.”


Megan Munro | Digital Commerce Strategic Initiatives Lead at
Scotiabank 

A high-velocity strategic decision-maker who brings 20+ years of experience in digital initiatives, Megan Munro is a dynamic leader who has managed winning teams in fashion, telecoms, sports and entertainment, airlines and banking. Today, she oversees digital commerce strategic initiatives at Scotiabank, where she champions a collaborative and data-driven approach to deliver inspired solutions. 

Megan was inspired to join the Committee because she’s passionate about supporting initiatives that promote, encourage and enable equity in innovation. She believes the Summit embodies this passion and is committed to recognizing standout, inspirational women driving innovation and change.

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Go for it. Have confidence in your skill set (there is no one like you!), stay curious with a lifelong learning mindset, advocate for yourself and assemble your hype squad with a trusted mentor and people who will cheer you on.”


Jennifer Chiang | Business Development: Canada Lead for Accelerators, Incubators & Seed VCs at
Amazon Web Services

A serial founder, a former soldier in the Canadian Army Reserves and an active mentor and advisor, Jennifer Chiang is a pioneer in influencer marketing, founding a technology that powers the top Fortune 500 brands and reaches over 98M consumers worldwide. She currently works at AWS Startups and continues to share her legacy and mentorship with early-stage founders and partners. 

Jennifer was inspired to join the Committee because she’s committed to giving back to the community, a value her mentor Bonnie Foley Wong instilled in her. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Strive to always be on the edge of the miraculous.”

Moshe Mikanovsky | Product Director at RootQuotient


Moshe Mikanovsky, a product management leader with a background in engineering, applies a lean, iterative approach to developing products that exceed users’ expectations. At RootQuotient, he supports companies of all sizes, from startups to corporates, build digital products. An entrepreneur at heart, Moshe founded Products for Good, a social initiative for aspiring product managers to learn the craft while building products to help humanity. 

A proud father of three daughters, Moshe is an advocate for women’s empowerment and women in tech. His personal experiences as a father have fueled his dedication to supporting his daughters in finding their career paths. This led him to join the Committee to ensure the ecosystem nurtures and promotes women’s advancement in technology and beyond. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“One of the most important things we can do as an ecosystem is profile success stories to inspire other women and young girls. Having a national spotlight and funding up for grabs for women-led startups can support women founders tremendously, but above all else, being connected to a community like DMZ’s can work wonders.”

Mark your calendars. DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit takes place on March 7, 2024. Head to dmz.to/WIS to learn more about the Summit and how to get involved. 

 

Basecamp 2023: Unveiling this year’s winners

8 weeks, 36 students, 44 workshops, 4800+ hours working on startups and $30K in grant prizes


And just like that, DMZ’s favourite time of the year has come and gone. Seeing a new group of talented young entrepreneurs complete DMZ’s Basecamp program is always inspiring.

Basecamp serves as a nurturing space for innovation, allowing up-and-coming entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality. After witnessing the growth of this cohort, we are confident that the future of innovation is bright and in capable hands.

Basecamp serves as an 8-week tech incubation program for students to unlock their potential, and collaborate alongside other youth innovators, industry experts and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startups to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of six grants worth $5,000 to put towards taking their business to the next level.

DMZ was honoured to sit down with the winners to learn how the Basecamp program fast-tracked their startup’s trajectory.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, ClearCardio, pose with their $5000 cheque

Clear Cardio

Clear Cardio is an affordable, accurate, wearable machine that instantly detects heart issues. Before starting Basecamp, the pair had no experience in the startup ecosystem. Basecamp provided them with the tools to nurture ClearCardio from concept to reality.

“[Basecamp] is the perfect way to get into the startup world, especially if you’re high school students like us, as the program is a beginner’s guide to everything business-related you need to kick start your journey, ” said Nima Vasigh, Co-Founder of Clear Cardio.

The PilotASD team poses with their $5000 cheque

PilotASD

Founded by two Toronto Metropolitan University students, PilotASD is a platform that simplifies finding tailored resources to make the future more accessible for autistic youth. Given their computer science background and experience with product development, the pair partook in Basecamp to better understand entrepreneurship and how to start a business.

“Basecamp set us up to thrive in Toronto’s entrepreneurship scene, and we’re delighted to be a part of it. We’re excited to see the journey ahead with PilotASD and where our future will take us, ” explained Cindy Fang, Co-Founder of PilotASD.

A group of students from startup NearMe pose with their $5000 cheque

NearMe

After years of isolation during the pandemic, three students came together to tackle the loneliness epidemic. NearMe is an innovative app that uses geolocation to connect post-secondary students based on interests and promotes in-person interactions. Looking back at their experiences in Basecamp, the trio found that the program served as a launching pad, equipping them with skills to tackle pitching, marketing and finances.

“The connections we made with Basecamp mentors gave us strategic insights on how we can elevate our startup. They helped us navigate topics that we aren’t necessarily getting taught in school,” said Rayan Ahmad, Co-Founder of NearMe.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Aidify, pose with their $5000 cheque

Aidify

This sibling duo is fighting for student success and academic integrity. Aidify is a typing analytics tool to help teachers detect plagiarism and assess student effort. Aidify highlighted how the mentors stood out as a remarkably influential part of the program. They were able to absorb startup fundamentals and found themselves inspired by their success.

“Starting a business was never a serious option we considered for our futures, but that’s changed now that we know the ins and outs of running a business. Basecamp has given us a ton of confidence knowing that it’s a real possibility for us,” said Charlie To, Co-Founder of Aidify.

PocketClass smiles upon receiving a $5000 cheque

PocketClass

PocketClass is a platform for extracurriculars that simplifies the interaction between parents and instructors through their integrated search, scheduling and payment features. CEO and Founder Lisa Huh plans to join DMZ Masterclass workshops to continue elevating her business.

“Basecamp is the go-to program for early-stage and aspiring founders. It acts as your compass in the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, with resources, mentorship and a supportive community for your journey from idea to success,” explained CEO and Founder of PocketClass, Lisa Huh.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Capable, pose with their $5000 cheque

Capable

Although she didn’t reach the final pitching round, Jazel Dela Paz was selected by her fellow Basecamp peers as the lucky recipient of the Peer Choice Award. Her startup, Capable, aims to make adulthood easy by helping young adults confidently prepare, manage and navigate the responsibilities of adulthood stress-free.

“Basecamp allowed me to expand my network, introducing me to a strong network of startups and mentors. Their support, motivation and accountability were invaluable, especially during critical moments when I needed it the most,” said Founder of Capable, Jazel Dela Paz.

These students and their startups are shining examples of the innovation that spurs when passion, hard work, and support intersect. As we draw the curtains on yet another exciting Basecamp chapter, we’re confident these startups will make their mark in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for years.

Cheers to their success and a summer filled with learning, growth and success!

Looking to join Basecamp in 2024? Subscribe to our TechTalk newsletter and stay informed on program applications here. Until then, we invite you to check out DMZ Masterclass to master your business skills at dmz.to/masterclass