Starter Company Program

Launched by the Province of Ontario in 2014 to support young people aged 18 to 29 to start their own businesses, the Starter Company Program provided training, mentorship and a grant of up to $5,000 to launch and run their business.

The development and delivery of the program in Toronto was led by Chris and his team at the City's Small Business Centres. Through Chris' leadership, the team at the City of Toronto exceeded its targets and assisted 275 young people to start businesses.

Chris' management of the program involved developing the programming, overseeing its delivery, administering a grant fund of over $1 million, and developing a back-end technology platform on Salesforce to manage the program.

Digital Main Street Lab

Working with his team, Chris worked to develop the Digital Main Street Lab - an testing ground for new retail technologies in Toronto.

Leveraging Toronto's diverse and vibrant main streets, the Digital Main Street Lab connects retail technology companies with local business improvement areas allowing them to pilot new technologies.

The purpose of the Lab is to assist Toronto's main street businesses in adopting new technologies, while also encouraging the growth of Toronto's retail technology sector.

StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe

Looking to connect Toronto's entrepreneurs with networks of mentors and advisors, Chris led an initiative to develop a mentoring platform in partnership with other business support organizations in Toronto.

The StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe facilitates connections between entrepreneurs and mentors through online engagements, in-person coffee meetups and monthly group mentoring events.

The StartUp HERE Toronto Cafe has a membership of over 2,000 entrepreneurs and mentors - and grows every week - that results in over 500 coffee meetups between entrepreneurs and advisers each month.

Digital Main Street

Responding to the need to assist main street businesses adopt technology, Chris led the development of Digital Main Street Program.

Focused on helping main street businesses grow their businesses through technology, the program provides a number of supports, including:

  • A web platform that allows entrepreneurs to complete a digital assessment and get recommendations to improve their digital adoption.
  • A digital service squad that assists main street businesses in setting up basic technologies (i.e. Google My Business, etc.).
  • A range of training programs aimed at helping entrepreneurs build their digital literacy skills.

Digital Main Street was funded by a number of key partners, including Yellow Pages, Mastercard, Rogers, Google, Shopify, Microsoft and Canada Post.

StartUp HERE Toronto

Bringing together key stakeholders from Toronto's innovation community, Chris led the development of the StartUp HERE Toronto brand and web platform as way to better tell the story of Toronto's innovation community.

Managed by an editorial board comprised of representatives of local technology companies and business support organizations, such as MaRS and the DMZ at Ryerson University, the StartUp HERE Toronto web platform aggregates and curates all of the news and events from Toronto's innovation community. In addition, the web platform provides a directory of business support resources, including incubators, accelerators and coworking spaces that are available for entrepreneurs.

Beyond aggregating resources, StartUp HERE Toronto also produces its own unique content focusing on profiling entrepreneurs from Toronto's innovation community, while having them share their story on why Toronto is a great place to build a company.

Small Business Taxation - Discussion Paper

Building on the Deputy-Mayor's Roundtable on Small Business held in 2014, Chris managed the Small Business Council Advisory Body in 2015 and worked with the group to develop a discussion paper on the tax issues facing small businesses in Toronto.

With a strong focus on main street businesses, the Small Business Taxation Discussion Paper identifies the three main tax issues facing small businesses in Toronto; while also profiling local small business owners and how these issues impact their operations.

The purpose of the discussion paper was to humanize the financial challenges that businesses on Toronto's main street feel.

To view the discussion paper visit here.

Food Starter

Toronto's food processing sector is the city's largest manufacturing sector and the second largest food hub in North America. However, the challenges facing early stage food companies face are many - from the high capital cost of food grade production space and manufacturing equipment, to the regulatory requirements to sell to large markets.

To address this Chris led a team to create a food production incubator called Food Starter. Food Starter is Ontario's first food incubator focused on baking, hot and cold fill and ethnic food products. Providing a 20,000 sq. ft. production facility, Food Starter features shared manufacturing equipment and space, training and mentorship focused on helping early stage food companies bring products to market.

Chris' role in the project included securing funding, managing the construction of the facility, developing a not-for-profit and board of directors, hiring staff and overseeing the launch of the facility and its programming.

From Concept to Commercialization: A Startup Eco-system Strategy for the City of Toronto

Working with his team, Chris led the development of the City of Toronto's Startup Eco-System Strategy.

The strategy sets forth an ambitious vision and strategic framework to enable the sustained growth of small businesses in Toronto, aiming to make Toronto’s startup eco-system the preferred global location to start and grow a business. The purpose of the strategy is to provide a five-year work plan for enhancing Toronto's startup eco-system.

From Concept to Commercialization: A Startup Eco-System Strategy for the City of Toronto is currently being implemented by Chris and his team.

To view the feasibility study visit here.

Client Relationship Management System Development and Deployment

Overseeing the City of Toronto's Small Business Centres, Chris led the development of a client relationship management system using Salesforce to better manage and track the 28,000 clients the City's three centres serve each year.

From developing the user requirements, selecting the technology, overseeing developers and completing some development himself, Chris led all aspects of modifying Salesforce for the use of 12 staff in the City's Small Business Centres.

Leading the deployment of the platform, Chris provided training to his staff and monitored results from the platform. One year after deployment, the savings in staff time were identified to be over $150,000 - while increasing the ability of staff to better engage, track and support entrepreneurs accessing City resources.


Tommy Thompson Park Restoration with Coca-Cola

Working with Coca-Cola and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) teams, Chris developed a proposal to assist Coca-Cola in reaching its water neutrality goal by creating a nine-hectare coastal wetland at Tommy Thompson Park on the Leslie Street Spit.

Chris' role in the project was to engage Coca-Cola and work with TRCA's technical staff to apply Coca-Cola's water neutrality methodology to restoration projects within the Greater Toronto Area. With projects identified and potential water savings calculated, Chris pitched potential projects to the Coca-Cola team.

Ultimately, Coca-Cola decided to invest $500,000 in the restoration of the Tommy Thompson Park coastal wetland.