Techopia Live: Inside a founder’s choice to hand her startup to a new CEO

Sometimes a firm’s change in leadership is the result of competing visions. But not so in the case of Ottawa’s InitLive.

The company’s current and former CEOs were a unified front on Techopia Live this week, where they broke down the reason for the transition and what lies in the future.

Co-founders Debbie and Melissa Pinard, a mother-daughter team, started InitLive in 2013 to give event planners a mobile app to communicate with volunteers and staff on the ground. The firm’s solution is currently active in more than 25 countries, and was used in last year’s Ottawa 2017 events, including the Grey Cup and the Juno Awards.

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Debbie Pinard says the recent decision to step down from the CEO role to focus on product development was a difficult one.

“It was time to hand it over to someone who could actually grow the business, and that wasn’t my strength in the past,” she told Techopia Live. “Rationally, it was an easy decision to make – a little hard emotionally.”


She found a suitor in Chris Courneya, former CEO of Kanata-based prairieFyre, who had worked with InitLive previously as a consultant. Courneya says he was impressed with InitLive’s product and team, and says the timing was right for him to jump back into the game to scale the firm.

Specifically, Courneya and both the Pinards see InitLive’s future in the enterprise space. The company has so far been targeting small-scale event planners that only do one or two festivals per year.

The future, the team believes, is in targeting big operations that put on dozens of events annually while managing thousands of volunteers. Rejigging the solution’s price point and targeting these enterprises is already yielding results, Courneya says.

To hear more about InitLive’s transition, watch the video above.

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