StrikeUP 2024

I didn’t realize I was joining a sisterhood of entrepreneurs when I attended the live viewing of StrikeUP.

StrikeUP 2024 took place in a hybrid experience this year, both online and at live viewing parties across Canada. I leapt at the opportunity to check out a viewing party at BDC‘s gorgeous new office space in The Stack on February 29th, 2024.

Lately I’ve been craving more connection with other entrepreneurs – people who are ‘in the trenches’ with me that I can feel seen with. Running a business and working from home can be a perfect combination to feel a little lost and lonely. The good news is that StrikeUP didn’t disappoint.

Above is a photo courtesy of StrikeUP Canada at the live viewing party in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here are some of my key takeaways:

Building and Selling A Business On Your Own Terms

With a full day of free programming, I was most excited to hear from both Jennifer Harper, Indigenous beauty founder of Cheekbone Beauty and Joanna Griffiths, founder of Knix. I scribbled so many notes during this fireside chat, ‘Building and Selling A Business On Your Own Terms‘. I’m in no way preparing to exit my company, and no, I don’t feel close to beginning to scale Unicorn Marketing Co., though I was immensely inspired by both of these founders’ stories.

Joanna launched Knix to transform a market no one else was paying attention to and wound up exiting in a record breaking deal – $400M CAD for 80% of her business. Joanna smashed the glass ceiling for Canadian women entrepreneurs and is trailblazing a new path showing what entrepreneurship can look like post sale.

In this all-telling interview, Joanna shared that was she wasn’t even thinking of selling her company when this opportunity knocked on her door. In fact, she had just given birth to twins! One of my favourite quotes that Joanna shared through her experience of fact finding, learning more about the interested company, and shifting her mindset into selling her business was this: “Even when you think you are in control, you’re really not in control.” Being an entrepreneur comes down to aligning your values, continuous assessment of one’s self, and you bet – expecting the unexpected.

I appreciated that Joanna felt like she was dipping her toes into new waters, and stuck to her gut. Rather than saying an immediate yes or no, she courted this potential buyer for a year, learning every detail about their values, their team, and understanding what about her own business model works for their own metrics. She felt like was digging deeper into herself, her business’s mission, and values, reflecting her own journey inwards.

Joanna expressed that in her journey she found entrepreneurship to be a space of balance. Yes, you can read that again, balance. It’s hard to fathom that balance can be a common place term in business, with so many unknowns, and new obstacles to face. “It’s about 50% fear and 50% hope.”

Her biggest lessons throughout this intense business transaction?

  • Knowing that you can’t control timing.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • There are many different paths and you never know how you’ll feel until it happens.

Joanna shared a few ‘secrets’ to growing Knix to be the leading voice in women’s health and menstrual products. She said:

  • Focus on one or two things. Hone in. Choose what you want to be known for, what you want to be really good at – and go do it. In the example of Knix, Joanna wanted to dominate the online market before moving to a multi-channel presence. She did this with a unique product and a strong marketing strategy.
  • Understanding what sustainable growth looks like for your business. Think on the intentions that you are setting each day and each quarter. In order to grow, your community needs to grow with you. Caring about what your customers have now, not in a few months or a year. Meet your customers where they are right now in this moment, and fulfil their needs.
  • Strive for excellence. Going back to what Joanna said about getting really, really good at a few things, she referenced Apple’s iPhone. Sure, we can be on either side of Android or Apple users, though Apple hasn’t stopped innovating, trying new things, and always remains curious about what its customers are looking for.

Before I leave you with this juicy tidbits of business advice, I will preface that I was expecting to hear more from Jennifer in this chat. The positioning of the interview led me to believe that both founders would be sharing their experiences, where as this was more of an interview from one founder to another. I’m sure this was completed unintended from StrikeUP’s perspective, though my interpretation of this session featured a tiny glimmer of colonization in this example of the marginalized founder looking up the caucasian founder for expertise. Did you attend this session at StrikeUP or watch the replay? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

Didn’t attend this event and want to know more about it? Don’t worry, I got you!

Visit the StrikeUP website
Access StrikeUP’s digital resources

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