Heather Reisman, One of Canada’s Most Powerful Women

Heather Reisman is the founder, chief executive officer, and chairwoman of Indigo, the largest book, gift, and specialty toy retailer in Canada. She is also the co-founder of Kobo, a leading e-reading company.

Reisman began her career at Paradigm Consulting, a strategy and change management firm she co-founded. Paradigm was the world’s first strategic change consultancy and introduced several organizational change strategies still in use today. Reisman served as the firm’s managing director for 16 years.

Reisman is also currently a director on the board of Onex Corporation, an officer of Mount Sinai Hospital, and a member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee. She has served on many North American boards and is a former governor of the Toronto Stock Exchange and McGill University, her alma mater.

Reisman has received numerous accolades over the years, including the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award from the University of Manitoba and the John Molson School of Business Award of Distinction from Concordia University. She has also been named one of WXN’s “Top 100 Most Powerful Women.”

SoundBrush’s Basil Al-Dajane: Entrepreneurship Is a New Approach to Life

Basil Al-Dajane is the co-founder and product lead of SoundBrush, an iPad app that turns drawings into music. SoundBrush works the way you think, placing a focus on the creative process instead of the techniques required to play an instrument. With SoundBrush, anyone can make music. You only have to perform simple, intuitive gestures to create a beat, pick a scale, mix your sounds, and more. The app also includes a built-in song sharing platform called Discover where you can publish your songs, listen to other people’s songs, find tips and tricks, and join contests to win cool prizes.

SoundBrush is a part of Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s startup incubator. Al-Dajane is responsible for the look and feel of the app, as well as the business side of the startup. When he and co-founder Jayson Rhynas began working on SoundBrush, they actually just wanted to learn how to build an app for iOS and the iPad. The duo brainstormed for ideas for cool apps in 2011. One of the ideas they wrote down was “finger-painting music.” While neither of them knew what it meant, they were immediately drawn to it, as they were both musicians and graphic artists.

That idea eventually became SoundBrush, which Al-Dajane and Rhynas developed while they were working at their respective internships. After an eight-hour workday, they would work for another six to seven hours on SoundBrush. The first version of the app was launched in April 2012.

According to Al-Dajane, he and Rhynas made plenty of mistakes but learned a lot along the way, from marketing techniques, technology, processes, and everything in between.

“Being an entrepreneur is so much more than just creating a startup or a product; it’s a completely new approach to life,” says Al-Dajane. “In the long run, you’re not creating a product, but a difference in the world around you.”

Susan Taing Uses the Power of 3D Printing to Enable Better Design

Susan Taing is the founder and CEO of bhold, a New York-based 3D printing and design studio specializing in smart, functional accessories that make life easier. A former Google employee, Taing has years of experience in tech, creative, and manufacturing. One day, she encountered some inefficiencies in the overseas manufacturing process and realized that 3D printing would allow for better and faster design.

Taing launched bhold in April 2013. Under her direction, the studio won an Editor’s Choice award at Maker Faire, was selected for the Product Design Showcase at 3D Printshow, and was invited to be the Shapeways Designer in Residence at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City two times.

bhold’s line of 3D printed products currently include the bheard portable audio amplifier, bholdable dual wall espresso tumbler, bsteady phone car mount, bneat earbud organizer, and bstrong utility hook, among others. bhold is part of the NYDesigns incubator and a member of the American Design Club.

Alissa Guthrie: The Mompreneur Behind Bend’s First Inflatable Fun Center

Alissa Guthrie is the owner of Bouncing Off the Wall, the first and only inflatable fun center in Bend, Oregon. Guthrie decided to start her own business after moving from Portland to Bend with her husband and three boys. They had been regular customers of a larger, well-known inflatable fun center in the metro area, and there were no such establishments in their new city. Guthrie realized franchising wasn’t going to work for her, so she set out to launch her own company. After several months of research, she opened the doors to an inflatable fun center with a focus on personalized service, state-of-the-art equipment, and a family-friendly atmosphere.

That was nearly six years ago. From the beginning, Guthrie has been dedicated to running a safe, clean, and intuitive facility – a commitment that has helped Bouncing Off the Wall weather rough economic times.

Spanning 11,000 square feet, Bouncing Off the Wall offers a variety of activities for different age groups. Every second and fourth Saturday of the month is Kids Night Out, which includes three hours of play time, snacks, a craft project, and a kid-friendly movie. Parents can enjoy a night out while their kids blow off steam in a safe environment. There’s also Pre-K Play every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning. These times are reserved for the younger kids; no older children are allowed. Then every second and fourth Friday is Family Fun Night, where kids and parents can take part in jousting, boxing, bouncy volleyball, sumo wrestling, and other fun themed events.

Prior to Bouncing Off the Wall, Guthrie earned her degree in elementary education from Linfield College in McMinnville and taught for a few years in the Portland area. She absolutely loves children and feels fortunate to be able to work with them every day.

James Park: Using the Power of Technology to Improve People’s Health

James Park is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Fitbit, a San Francisco-based company known for its wearable fitness devices such as the Zip wireless activity tracker and the Flex sleep wristband. A serial entrepreneur with a passion for building great products and companies, he previously co-founded Epesi Technologies and Windup Labs. He has also worked at Morgan Stanley, where he helped develop trading software and strategies for a quantitative trading fund, and CNET Networks, where he served as a director of product development and led the product management, design, and engineering for Webshots.

Fitbit is Park’s third startup. In 2007, he and co-founder Eric Friedman realized that modern sensors and wireless technology had the ability to enhance human health and fitness. Park, Friedman, and the rest of the Fitbit team are dedicated to creating products that fit seamlessly into people’s lives so that they can live a more active life and achieve their health goals.

Steve Kamb: Video Game Nerd Runs Popular Fitness Site for Normal Folks

Steve Kamb is the founder of Nerd Fitness, a fitness website dedicated to helping normal people lose weight, get stronger, and live better. Kamb’s goal is to inspire nerds, desk jockeys, and average Joes to make positive changes and level up their life every single day. He has helped normal men and women of all ages, often with families, children, and full-time desk jobs, get in shape while still doing what they love.

A longtime fitness buff, Kamb began exercising in high school but didn’t really know what he was doing. It wasn’t until he graduated from college and learned how to train properly that he started to get results. He figured if it took him years of mistakes to succeed, there had to be several others who are also struggling. There had to be others who are also intimidated by gyms, clueless in the kitchen, and overwhelmed by too much conflicting information.

Kamb wanted to help, so he combined his love of video games and fitness to start Nerd Fitness in the fall of 2009. While he holds a basic personal training certification from the American Aerobic Association International, Kamb runs Nerd Fitness not as a fitness expert, but as a normal guy who loves to play video games, sits at a computer all day long, enjoys staying active, and pushes himself to be in the best shape he can be. Nerd Fitness teaches people how to work out the right way, cook and eat properly, improve their health and well-being, and consistently level up in the game of life.

Kamb believes small changes can eventually add up to big results. He writes, “If I do my job right, you’ll wake up every day a little healthier than you were yesterday – eat a little better, get a little stronger, run a little faster, and feel a little better about yourself.”

Lanre Idewu, Personal Trainer of the Stars

er-lanre-idewuDubbed the “Dr. Phil of Fitness,” Lanre Idewu is a celebrity trainer and the founder of Fit4LA. A certified trainer and fitness model for the P90X system, he has over two decades of experience in exercise, nutrition, and personal development.

Idewu graduated from the University of Iowa, where he earned a degree in biochemistry and completed additional coursework in exercise science, kinesiology, physiology, and nutrition. He subsequently attended medical school at the University of Chicago but became increasingly dissatisfied with medicine and its focus on treating symptoms. Idewu found himself being drawn to the more personalized and preventative approach of personal training, and he cut his teeth at small private gyms and large fitness centers.

In 2002, Idewu started Fit4LA, which has become known for its multidisciplinary approach to wellness and celebrity clients such as Carnie Wilson, Sharif Atkins, Rhonda Britten, and professional athletes from the NBA and NFL. In 2011, Idewu co-founded Destination Fit4LA, a full-service, full-submersion luxury fitness retreat located in Hollywood Hills. He takes pride in personally tailoring each client’s fitness program according to their goals, experience, and ability level. Likewise, he creates individualized diet plans based on the client’s objectives, eating habits, and food preferences.

Idewu believes that fitness is for everyone, not just those who can afford personal trainers. Hence, he is always creating free or low-cost solutions to make fitness more accessible to the public. In addition, Idewu volunteers his time to inner-city schools to educate the youth about diet and exercise, and is actively involved with various non-profits such as ReelDreams for Kids, Step-Up Women’s Network, and Determined to Succeed.

Idewu has appeared on numerous television programs including Oprah, The Biggest Loser, Starting Over, Entertainment Tonight, 20/20, and 101 Incredible Celebrity Slimdowns. He has been featured in publications such as People Magazine as well.

Carolyn Eisen, Owner of Small Talk Family Cafe in Walnut Creek

Carolyn Eisen is the founder of Small Talk Family Cafe, an indoor play space and cafe where parents and caregivers can relax over coffee, tea, or snacks while their kids play and interact in a safe environment. Small Talk offers classes and birthday parties as well.

Located in Walnut Creek, California, Small Talk Family Cafe was created with parents and caregivers in mind. While the play space is equipped with plenty of toys and activities for children, Small Talk is about meeting the needs of the adults who care for them.

In 2011, Eisen and her fellow playgroup moms realized there wasn’t a place where they could just grab a cup of coffee while their kids played in a child-proof environment. A light bulb went on in her head, but at the time she was too busy taking care of her toddler, working a full-time job, and being pregnant with her second child. Two years later, she found herself thinking about running a family-friendly coffeehouse again. Finally, on Mother’s Day 2014, Eisen opened the doors to Small Talk Family Cafe.

Giselle Gyalzen Creates a Space for Beauty and Inspiring Ideas

Giselle Gyalzen is the owner of Rare Device, a San Francisco-based store and gallery specializing in “beautiful things to hold in your hands.” Every item in the shop has been selected for its usefulness, design, beauty, handmade quality, or all of the above. The goods carried by Rare Device come from all over the world but share an aesthetic that is modern and whimsical yet warm and inviting at the same time.

Rare Device also serves as a venue for monthly art shows and community events such as workshops, book signings, trunk shows, and kids’ events. The store and gallery is always looking to showcase talented, independent artists who have something to say. As the owner of Rare Device, Gyalzen enjoys being able to give these artists a platform to display their creativity.

Gyalzen, who previously worked in advertising, quit the corporate world after having her daughter in 2010. Months later, she heard that Rare Device founder Rena Tom and her partner Lisa Congdon were selling the business. She jumped at the chance, having always dreamed of running her own shop.

Moziah Bridges, the Young Bow Tie CEO

Moziah Bridges is the 12-year-old CEO of Mo’s Bows, a bow tie company based in Memphis, Tennessee. Bridges founded Mo’s Bows in 2011 when he was only nine years old. His love for dapper clothing and dressing up, however, began much earlier. He has dressed himself since the age of four and wore a suit and tie whenever he could, taking his cue from his father and grandfather who usually donned three-piece suits for no particular reason.

According to Bridges, he looks better and feels like an important person in nice clothes. When he saw entertainers he liked wearing bow ties, he set out to buy some for himself. But the bow ties he found were all “plain and ugly” clip-ons; Bridges believes that real men don’t wear clip-ons and tie their own ties. So he asked his grandmother, a seamstress, for help.

With his grandma’s guidance and her vintage scrap fabrics and sewing machine, Bridges learned how to make his own bow ties. And while the very first bow tie he made looked like “something that a clown would wear,” he continued to hone his skills. Months later, Bridges had created 30 unique bow ties for his personal collection. Friends and family began to notice his dapper accessories, and he got the idea to sell them.

Initially, Bridges’ mom and grandma helped him make the bow ties he sold to family and friends. As Mo’s Bows grew, his other grandmother, aunts, cousins, and friends joined the team. The bow ties, which are made from scratch and adjustable, are now sold online and at shops and boutiques in seven states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee.

“Designing a colorful bow tie is just part of my vision to make the world a fun and happier place,” says Bridges. The young entrepreneur plans to attend Parsons the New School for Design and have his own clothing line when he’s older.