Startup Community Awards — Rita Baker
Highlighting the change-makers in our ecosystem by Yusun Ingoshi
The Startup Community Awards (SCA) is a celebration from the community, by the community, and for the community; it honours those who build our ecosystem day after day.
Since 2017, SCA has been bringing us all together, to encourage us, to nurture our friendship, and build trust with each other. However, following the pandemic, we all had to embrace the changes that came with it and adapt to the new ways of interacting with those around us.
As we planned the SCA 2021, we thought of what our long term goal would be for the community. Since the Gala ran for a couple of hours on the selected day in the evening, we thought it best that the community benefits from an all-year-long interaction with the lead change makers.
So, for the next few moths, we will be sharing with you insights on the Startup Community Awards winners from over the years through interviews we held with them over Google forms and emails, for now.
RITA BAKER — Startup Community Awards 2021 Mentor of the Year
“Rita Baker is the Principal Consultant at Baker Pivot & Acceleration, co-founder of Montreal Lean Startup Circle, and founder of Mentors Montreal. Awarded the SCA 2021 Mentor of the Year Award, she has spent 9 years contributing to the Montreal startup ecosystem as a Lean Startup Coach and Mentor. She is a world-class consultant, marketer, entrepreneur, and intrapreneur. She now helps SMEs adopt/improve agile management to cope with fast changing environments.”
- How many years have you been working in the ecosystem?
I’ve been volunteering in the Montreal ecosystem, one day per week, for the last 9 years.
2. What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Helping many entrepreneurs see their path to success more clearly whether through the Lean Startup Circle, Mentors Montreal, or mentoring.
3. What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Mistakes are very good as long as you know how to deal with them. My mentor’s exact words when I would tell him I screwed up were, “Good, you’ll go to bed less stupid tonight.”
4. What is the worst piece of advice you ever received?
Wait till you have all the information to act on a problem.
5. What does it mean to be a mentor?
Having your mentee’s best interest at heart and sharing (your experience, knowledge, contacts, etc.)
6. What is a cause that you cherish?
Guiding people who want to become entrepreneurs at the beginning of their journey.
7. Why do you think you were nominated?
Because I have helped early stage startup entrepreneurs find coaches and mentors in Montreal or have coached hundreds of entrepreneurs myself for many years either with the community I founded in 2016 — Mentors Montreal (over 200 coaches and mentors) or via the various organizations who help startups that I have contributed my time to, such as Futurpreneurs, SAJE, the Cooperathon, and multiple hackathons and incubators.
8. What do you think is missing in our ecosystem to make us stand out in the world?
a. The confidence, by entrepreneurs, that their products or services are just as good/innovative as what is offered elsewhere in the world.
b. Knowledge of what is required to export goods and services abroad (both from the entrepreneurs and the ecosytème de soutien).
c. Contacts in external markets.
9. What/Who are you most grateful for in our ecosystem and why?
What: Inclusivity, to a certain extent (not there yet in the financing part). Entrepreneurs willing to help their fellow entrepreneurs.
Who: Ilias Benjelloun. He worked really hard to ensure this inclusivity and community spirit was a driving force in our ecosystem over the last decade.
10. What is an important lesson you have learned from a setback you have faced in your journey?
You first need to understand why you want to create a venture (know yourself). You also need to understand what various types of ventures (lifestyle business, SME business, unicorn, etc.) mean in terms of daily activities for your future and how they will mesh with your values.
11. Is there anyone that you would like us to highlight and possibly reach out to for an interview?
Not sure as of the objective of the interview but if it’s to understand our Montreal startup ecosystem or to understand one of the most important influences on this community that would be Ilias Benjelloun. I know, he’ll say it’s a conflict of interest but twist his arm. The community, outside of the meetup world, needs to know the significance of the work he has done and is doing.