We don’t kid ourselves here at Innovacorp. We know it’s the cash we offer that first attracts start-ups to apply for our programs. But we also know – because founders tell us all the time – it’s our world-class entrepreneurs-in-residence and expert advisors that frequently move the needle the most for their ventures.

Each Innovacorp program participant is assigned an entrepreneur-in-residence who provides seasoned start-up coaching rooted in their own first-hand founding and fundraising experience. Then, our expert advisors round out the program offering by filling in key subject matter areas such as human resources, finance and sales.

We thought you should meet the remarkable group of people supporting our Sprint and Accelerate Program companies in 2020-2021 as well as our Start-Up Yard at COVE and Cape Breton clients.

Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

Matthew Brightman

(Sprint & Accelerate Program)

Matthew is passionate about using technology to solve human problems. By age 26, he had built and raised financing for three companies and brought new products to market in e-commerce, consumer electronics and fintech. He has spoken about entrepreneurship and technology at McGill University, Cornell University, Harvard University and TEDx. Winner of a CES Innovation Award, Quebec's Forces Avenir Grant, and McGill University's Dobson Cup, Matthew is a product manager at Google working on the Google Maps Platform from his home in San Francisco.

Tash Jefferies

(Sprint Program)

Tash is the founder of Diversa.work, a company building AI-based technology aimed at increasing diversity of hires, specifically for underrepresented people in global start-ups. Most recently, she was an entrepreneur-in-residence with 500 Start-ups in their Saudi Arabia accelerator program, supporting founders and start-ups across North America, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Her other titles include TEDx speaker, best-selling author, a Huffington Post top 50 health blogger, and one of 33 badass black women in Silicon Valley. Tash is a social media, marketing and sales strategist who works globally and calls Nova Scotia home.

Diana Pilura

(Accelerate Program)

Diana is president of ALBRY, a provider of advisory services for emerging life sciences companies and investors. Most recently, she was CEO and co-founder of MyndTec, where she successfully advanced an academic research discovery to commercialization and first revenues. Previously, Diana served as entrepreneur-in-residence with HTX.ca, the Health Technology Exchange; executive vice president at YM BioSciences; founding CEO of DELEX Therapeutics; company creator for the Eastern Technology Seed Investment Fund; scientific advisor to MDS Capital Corp.; vice president of research at Hemosol; and head of the division of general biochemistry at Syntex (Canada) Research. She received her PhD (chemistry) from the University of Toronto and completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University. Diana is based in Toronto.

Eric Siegel

(Start-Up Yard at COVE)

Eric has broad experience in many aspects of oceanographic and subsea technology, measurements, and science. He has held leadership positions in ocean technology companies directing sales, marketing, business development, product development, and manufacturing. Eric is a demonstrated growth leader with market depth, technical expertise, and trusted global relationships. He is trained in physical oceanography, naval architecture and marine engineering, and earned an MBA with a focus on leadership, innovation, and global business. Eric actively mentors a cohort of ocean technology ventures in Canada’s Ocean Startup Project and CDL-Atlantic Oceans stream and also serves on the board of directors at Sustainable Oceans Applied Research.

Scott Sorochak

(Sprint & Accelerate Program)

Based in San Francisco, Scott is founder and CEO of SparkLabs Foundry, which connects multinational corporations with relevant innovation through its curated network of start-ups. He has more than 25 years of executive sales, marketing and operational leadership experience in consumer internet, mobile and enterprise SaaS global organizations. Scott’s focus has been on helping start-ups and early stage companies increase revenue and build top-notch cross-departmental teams. He has helped these companies raise over $150 million in debt and equity financing from many of Silicon Valley's top-tier VCs and is an active angel investor.

Permjot Valia

(Cape Breton Companies)

A salesperson by training with an economics background, Permjot Valia is the co-founder and finance director of Flight and Partners, a fund management business in the U.K. He loves mentoring and works with many start-ups and ecosystems as a pitch trainer. Permjot’s expertise is in business modelling, sales and pitching.

Expert Advisors

Kathy Doucette

(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Venture Finance

Not a typical bean counter reporting on numbers, Kathy dreams big and hustles hard to make things happen fast. A business operator at heart, she is hard-working and fun-loving, taking the numbers seriously but not herself. Kathy brings 15 years of progressive experience in business operations and financial management in both large publicly traded companies and high-growth start-ups. Perhaps most notably, she played a key role in taking a young consumer packaged goods company through high growth and on to a successful exit in just three years.

Henry Kay

(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Investment Readiness

Henry is an active angel investor and a member of Boston Harbor Angels and Sky Venture Group, both angel investing groups in the Boston area. After more than 40 years in the healthcare industry, Henry retired from Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC) in 2006, where he was group vice president of new market development and strategic planning in endosurgery. Prior to joining BSC, Henry was based in the UK for five years as senior vice president of sales and marketing for Allergan Europe, a global eye-care company. He is a mentor for the Canadian Consulate and a board member with Covina, Cannuflow, Cristcot Medical, and EP Sciences.

Julie Lespérance

(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Human Resources and Culture

Julie is a bilingual HR professional with over 20 years of success delivering hands-on and executive-level leadership to start-ups and established businesses. A confident communicator, she has a growth mindset and an aptitude for sustaining trusting relationships across all organizational levels. As president of Shine Human Resources, Julie provides clients with HR expertise and guidance in performance management, employee engagement and culture, attraction, recruitment and retention, change management, training and development, and more. She previously led HR at Ascenta, including providing leadership throughout the due diligence process and post-sale integration when Ascenta was acquired by Nature’s Way of Canada.

Ken MacDonald

(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Global Sales and Distribution Networks

Ken is president and CEO of CLARITY Sales Enablement, advising business leaders across multiple industries on how to expand their international and domestic markets. Most recently, he was vice president of global sales and service excellence at Acadian Seaplants, where he led the expansion of the company’s global market presence, grew the distribution network and increased global revenues. A sales, marketing, and business development executive with over 25 years of international and domestic commercial experience, Ken has a proven ability to achieve overall shareholder objectives by attracting top talent and developing and implementing growth initiatives.

Steve Stairs

(Accelerate Program) – Area of Expertise: Enterprise Sales

Steve is a seasoned sales coach, leader and mentor. Recently 'retired' after a 40-plus-year senior sales career, he is a certified sales leader (CPSA) with expertise to share in enterprise sales, business development, marketing and general management at the senior executive level. Adept at building solid client relationships and sales teams from the ground up, Steve is also talented at penetrating regional, national and North American markets and delivering results.