5 TV Shows That Make a Smarter Entrepreneur

Sometimes, between the business work/school, friends and side projects, we just still can’t help binging on a little Netflix. Why not be productive too though while enjoying a break in your work? Here are 5 of the best TV shows to get your entrepreneurial senses tingling:

1. Dragon’s Den

Dragon’s Den is a no brainer — it is literally a reality show of entrepreneurs trying to make it big. There are 5 huge players in the business world, called “Dragons” that entrepreneurs pitch their businesses to to get the Dragons to invest in their company. Watching Dragon’s Den is going to help you refine your business pitch (by seeing good and terrible examples) and business evaluation, and give you a better sense of what investors look for and want to see. And besides all the business-y stuff, it’s actually such a fun show. It’s inspiring hearing about all the new and innovative businesses out there (and also hilarious to see weird business ideas flop in front of the Dragons).

2. House of Cards

This Netflix original is another valuable resource for every young entrepreneur. Politics bleeds into everything — especially in business. And while you may not want to apply direct examples from this show to your life, it’s extraordinarily interesting to see how the main characters scheme and slip through loopholes to get what they want. It’s watching people think outside the box, and taking action to achieve their goals. And being full of suspense and grit, you don’t have to be an entrepreneur or political science buff to enjoy it.

3. Property Brothers

The two Property Brothers are a real estate agent and a contractor who help clients find fixer-upper homes, and then renovate them to turn them into their dream homes. Now how is a home improvement show relevant at all to an entrepreneur? It’s all about looking farther, beyond what appears before you now (a.k.a. a really unattractively outdated house, in this case), and finding opportunity where other’s see a dead-end. It’s about stretching your money and making the most of your funds. Also, it’s always a pleasure to watch the transformation from fixer-upper house to beautiful dream home.

4. How I Made My Millions

This CNBC series takes big name companies, and gives you the backstory of how they all started. Even huge successful companies had to start somewhere. You’ll get to see familiar brands and the passions of their founders, how they grew, and what drove them to get to where they are now. This show is motivating and inspirational, and you might even find it easy to relate to.

5. Selling New York

This glamorous television show stars 3 real estate agents in NYC doing multimillion dollar deal after multimillion dollar deal. You get a sense of how these people negotiate and close these deals, how they play the market, and how they interact with their clients. These people are the elite of the elite and you can bet they know how to do business. And well, you also get a sneak peek into some of New York’s hottest real estate; because let’s face it — who doesn’t want to poke around a bunch of incredibly luxurious New York lofts?

5 Inspiring & Motivational TED Talks

If you’re a startup entrepreneur, a wantrepreneur, or maybe just an ambitious individual with an idea — you’ll want to invest some time into these TED Talks.

1. Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

“Is it remarkable?” This is the question Seth Godin, marketing guru, believes is the essence of successful “idea diffusion” today. Godin uses the example of the invention of sliced bread, which had an underwhelming 10 years of obscurity after its inception before it really caught on. In his TED Talk, Godin reveals his ideas — which have now spread to over 4 million other people (according to the views on his talk). Definitely relevant for any startup entrepreneur.

2. Tom Wujec: Build a tower, build a team

Through an extraordinarily professional and scientific experiment, involving spaghetti and marshmallow towers, Tom Wujec creatively breaks down the one quality every startup entrepreneur needs to have: team leadership. How do CEOs, lawyers, and kindergarteners compare when building the tallest spaghetti and marshmallow tower? I’ll give you a hint: kindergarteners come out on top. Watch this TED Talk to find out what exactly it is that kindergarteners do differently that make their teams more successful.

3. Bill Gross: The single biggest reason why startups succeed

It’s a fact that most startups do end up in failure. And of course, if you have a heart to start a business and take that kind of risk, you don’t want to see it fail. When the odds are against you, you’ll want to prepare everything you can — that’s where this TED Talk comes in. Bill gross, businessman and author, wanted to systematically find out which factor it was that made a business succeed. And the answer surprised him too.

4. Kare Anderson: Be an opportunity maker

This TED Talk is a bit different than the others — it’s more about the motivation and the idea than the business side. Kare Anderson is a business writer and a keynote speaker. Her TED Talk inspires you to take your talents and use them to create something meaningful — both to you and the extended community. If you’re lacking a little confidence, definitely watch this: it makes you believe in yourself.

5. Richard Branson: Life at 30,000 feet

Longer than all the rest of the TED Talks on this list, but perhaps one of the most interesting. This TED Talk is basically about the life, the ups and downs, of Richard Branson, the multi-millionaire behind the Virgin empire. Through his story telling talk, you’ll hear his unexpected motivations and basically his very interesting and exciting life. And truly, he’s an inspiration to all entrepreneurs.


Elizabeth Ching - KahootsHQElizabeth Ching | Guest Writer

Elizabeth is a spirited reader and writer, with an insatiable curiosity for technology and innovation. She enjoys blogging, tweeting, and slowly making her mark in the digital space.

10 Motivational Toronto Startup Stories

Ask any Torontonian entrepreneur: there’s a reason our city made it into Startup Genome’s 20 most active startup cities back in 2013. We have an incredible, tight-knit community of entrepreneurs, self-starters and go-getters supported by a wealth of institutions and incubators—such as our own DMZ at Ryerson. Just skim through KahootHQ’s Project Board and you’ll get a sense of the talent and innovation brimming within Toronto’s city limits!

Want to get a sense of some of the exciting new ideas being born in this city? We’ve compiled just a slice of the vibrant startup scene with 10 companies and products that got us excited. Let us know in the comments below about any motivational Toronto startups you think should make the list!

500px

Launched in 2009, 500px is one of the best known success stories from Toronto. Co-founders Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarey, both acclaimed photographers and entrepreneurs, created an online community for aspiring and professional photographers alike to share, buy, and sell their work. Within a few years, the site and its associated mobile app skyrocketed to become the premier photographers’ platform acknowledged to hold the highest quality photography worldwide.

Shoutout to our home base: 500px graduated from our very own DMZ back in 2011. Since that time, they’ve acquired over $9 million in funding, over 2 million registered users, and a mobile app that consistently sits as one of iTune’s top photography apps.

Bitstrips

Maybe you remember the 2013 Facebook frenzy when all your friends were posting endless streams of Bitstrips: the mobile app that lets you create and share customizable comics featuring you and your friends in strange fictitious situations. You have Toronto co-founders Jacob Blackstock and Shahan Panth to thank for these viral little cartoons. The concept began back in their high school days, when they traded humorous hand drawn comics back and forth during English class. The mobile app released in 2013 hit Internet fame, rated the trendiest app of the year by Google and garnering over 30 million users across 90 countries.

TeamStory

Here’s one for our fellow startups! Co-founders Kevin Kim, Tobok Lee and Freddy Hidalgo-Monchez teamed up to create a burgeoning social network for startups and entrepreneurs. The picture-based platform addresses a perceived communications gap: sites like AngelList and Gust were great resources, but they felt there was a lack of “real” communication between members of the community. Enter TeamStory, a platform for entrepreneurs to capture and share moments of the day-to-day grind of running a startup: the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Still in their early days, the community has already amassed 200 beta signups, shared over 3,000 moments across 63 countries.

Wattpad

Another big name in the tech startup community, Wattpad is self-described as a kind of YouTube for books, an online community of self-publishers and readers. They use a Netflix-style algorithm to track users’ personal tastes and filter through the site’s prolific literary output. The company launched in 2006, but it shot to fame with the release of its mobile app in 2007, reaching 5 million downloads by 2009. 32 million users and 70 million stories later, the site is considered a viable contender against traditional book publishers. In fact, a number of Wattpad’s most successful writers, garnering millions of views each, secured book publishing deals through their Internet fame.

Top Hat

Did you ever get caught texting in class? Now, thanks to this Toronto-based tech startup, mobile technology has a respectable place in class. Teachers run Top Hat on their mobile devices, while the same material is streamed on students’ tablets and phones as they engage directly with learning material, from answering questions to completing quizzes. Free for teachers, the app provides seamless integration and easy-to-use tools for teachers to create quizzes, questions and educational resources. Top Hat is currently used by over 500 institutions and over 500,000 students across the globe, including at the University of Toronto.

Chematria

Based out of the University of Toronto, Chematria represents an innovative and potentially industry-altering piece of software that analyzes the effectiveness of both existing and hypothetical drugs. The technology’s artificial intelligence allows the program to evaluate in a matter of days masses of data that would take the human brain years to analyze. It’s an impressive program that takes an equally impressive supercomputer to run—the largest supercomputer in Canada, loaded with millions of data points designed to pinpoint the most effective drugs against diseases such as multiple sclerosis, leukaemia, and, most recently, ebola.

InteraXon

One of the biggest names in Toronto’s tech community, InteraXon is making waves in technology controlled by brainpower alone. Supported by a diverse team headed by Ariel Garten—neuroscientist, psychotherapist, and fashion designer—the company produces a nifty piece called the Muse, a headset that senses brainwaves and converts them into digital signals that can influence everything from electronics to brain-powered beer taps. Garnering interest and support from a wide range of industries (including Ashton Kutcher?!), InteraXon recently signed a deal with Indigo and has sold upwards of 5,000 Muse headsets since its launch in May 2014.

Nymi

Formerly known as Bionym, Nymi is another wearable-tech company boasting big potential with over $14 million in funding for its namesake product: a wristwatch that taps into its wearer’s unique cardiac rhythm as an alternative to traditional passwords and PINs—keeping your personal information close to your heart, so to speak. In an age of identity theft and security breaches, the wristwatch presents some interesting implications for how we interact with our everyday devices, and how we can access the information stored in them. RBC agrees: in late 2014, they partnered with Nymi to roll out their PayBand pilot project allowing clients and staff to charge purchases to their credit card using their heartbeat as their PIN.

PumpUp

Imagine a remix of Instagram and MyFitnessPal. Well, co-founders Garret Gottlieb and Phil Jacobson did, and named it PumpUp. Latching onto the health and fitness trend, the app is a photo-based social network designed to motivate users to maintain an active lifestyle. In addition to posting and commenting on progress photos, users can also access custom workouts, track progress and activities, and receive fitness coaching. Winning over $2.4 million in funding and gathering over a million users within six months, PumpUp shows no sign of slowing as it secures big-name industry partners and continues expanding its team.

Freshbooks

Balancing books, organizing receipts, invoicing clients… It’s a tedious but necessary part of running a business. Founded in 2003, Freshbooks is an innovative tool that seamlessly micromanages small business finances, from creating timesheets to tracking profits and losses. Since its launch, the app has spread across over 120 countries and attracted over five million users with its user-friendly interface and efficient service. Another reason to like Freshbooks? Co-founder and CEO Mike McDerment is a stout supporter of the Canadian startup industry: every week, he has dinner with a different aspiring entrepreneur he wants to help achieve their goals.


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Sara Menuck | Guest Writer

Armed with an honours degree in Professional Writing and a personal vendetta against the misplaced apostrophe, Sara is a creative writer, meticulous editor, and self-professed Netflix addict.