Jason Badal
Head of Global Business, Distribution and Partnerships
Shopify Studios

Jason Badal is head of business, distribution and partnerships at Shopify Studios, the full-service TV and film production and development division of leading multi-channel commerce platform, Shopify.

Prior to Shopify, Jason was head of business affairs and development at Rogers Media Inc., a multiplatform group of companies that generates more than $2 billion in revenue per year, encompassing leading media properties such as Sportsnet & NHL, FX and Citytv. During his tenure with Rogers, he led partnership negotiations, strategy, corporate development and business affairs, while also spearheading high-profile negotiations across programming, production, content acquisition, on-air talent and joint ventures.

Jason also spent four years as senior director of business affairs and development at Sportsnet – Canada’s #1 sports network – leading business affairs across media and production, as well as corporate and business development.

Jason began his entertainment career at Score Media where he spent four years as director of business and legal affairs, culminating in the sale of Score Media to Rogers Media for $172M. During that time, he also co-founded a creative consulting startup, collaborating with broadcasters and brands to develop original and branded content.

Prior to joining Score Media, Jason was a corporate and technology lawyer at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, one of Canada’s leading national law firms.

Laura Pearce
Head of Marketing

Laura Pearce is the Head of Consumer & Business Marketing for Twitter Canada. In her role, she is responsible for connecting Canadian consumers and customers to what’s happening in the world via Twitter.

Prior to joining Twitter Canada, she held senior marketing and digital content roles with prominent media and publishing companies, including Blue Ant Media, AOL Canada, Canwest (now Postmedia) and Dell Canada.

She is an active contributor to the Canadian Marketing Association, chairing and sitting on advisory boards of several conferences.

Laura lives in Toronto and has 2 children. She has an M.A. in literature and is an avid skier and runner.

Gemma Sheehan
Girls Who Fight

Gemma Sheehan is an ex-MMA fighter from Toronto, Canada. She was the top-ranked female fighter in Ontario, a Pan Am Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and nominated for best up and coming MMA fighter in the world. In 2017, she learned that she had visible brain damage and decided to end her MMA career. She then started Girls Who Fight Inc., and now teaches girls and women self defense and MMA. She has travelled abroad to volunteer teaching self-defense to high-risk communities, and has worked with over 3000 women in the last two years.

Gemma Sheehan long story:


Karla Congson

Karla Congson is CEO and founder of openGravity, a technology startup focused on optimizing agile project teams. A proven repeat founder and entrepreneur with 25 years of experience, prior to openGravity Karla co-founded collective IQ, a leader in managed services specializing in marketing. This created a unique advantage for openGravity at launch: a deep understanding of the freelance model and agile teams, significant operational learning and deep network to enable rapid scale.

She brings over two decades of marketing and strategy experience and her work has included business leadership and general management of top global and domestic brands, customer insights & analytics, brand strategy, client experience design and integrated marketing. In her previous role as Chief Marketing Officer at Dundee Corporation, Karla was responsible for driving customer experience, innovation and brand strategy.

Karla has also held the roles of Executive Strategy Director & Managing Director at Mirum Agency, one of Canada’s largest digital marketing agencies, and Executive Vice President at WPP/Young & Rubicam Canada, responsible for country leadership of the Ford of Canada business spanning multiple marketing agencies. In this capacity, she led significant customer experience initiatives, brand strategy at the enterprise and nameplate level for launches, and brand and customer segmentation research.

Prior to this, Karla was the Vice-President Marketing at AIM Trimark, responsible for domestic brand and marketing leadership. In this capacity she also led a significant global brand strategy and architecture project for Invesco, the parent brand for AIM Trimark, leading to the global rollout of the Invesco masterbrand.

Karla has also been responsible for the brand strategy and identity development of other significant Canadian brands such as Canada Post, CIBC Wood Gundy, Empire Life, Homemakers magazine, and others.

LaRayia Gaston | Keynote
Lunch On Me

When LaRayia Gaston moved to Los Angeles from New York City, she was shocked by the extreme level of poverty she saw on the streets of DTLA, and immediately wanted to help. After spending some time with people in the skidrow community, LaRayia felt a tug at her heart and knew this was her calling, so she founded Lunch On Me. Lunch On Me is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending starvation while providing opportunities to enrich the mind, body and spirit of LA and NYC’s homeless community. Lunch On Me feeds and serves over 10,000 plus homeless individuals and families on a monthly basis. LaRayia is shifting how we address the issues of homelessness and hunger in America through nourishment and self care. Her latest initiative is LaRayia’s Bodega, the first ever organic 99 cent store that’s addressing food access for all.

For more information on LaRayia and her Lunch On Me organization, please visit: www.lunchonme.org

Taylor Lane
The Cigarette Surfboard

Taylor Lane was seemingly born into this world with tools in his hands, and through his father, he learned to build, break, question, tinker, and create. In the summer of 2017, after graduating from San José State University with a degree in Industrial Design, Taylor entered Vissla & Surfrider Foundation’s “Creators Contest”, where he won first place for a surfboard made from 10,000 littered cigarette butts, all picked up off California beaches. The original Cigarette Surfboard was functional, but it was not necessarily good to ride. It broke, Taylor questioned the design, he tinkered with materials and ideas, and over the past two years has crafted more Ciggy Boards of all shapes and sizes, each one stronger and lighter than the first, that have been ridden by professional surfers and environmental activists all around the world. The boards not only prompt the conversation about pollution, but more importantly, about our relationship with the ocean. Documenting the Cigarette Surfboard journey since day one with filmmaker Ben Judkins, these two friends have spent the past couple of years working on a feature documentary (that’s still in production), which aims to highlight the urgent state of our oceans, what people are doing to protect it, and how the surfing community plays a pivotal role.

Julie Cole
Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole is a recovered lawyer, mom of six and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels. She has helped her company bring their product to a worldwide market, gain media recognition and win countless entrepreneur awards. Cole is a regular television contributor, a sought-after speaker and emcee, and a digital influencer and blogger.

Jacie deHoop
The Gist

Jacie is a co-founder and head of growth and monetization at The GIST. She has led the growth of The GIST’s engaged community of female fans to over 50,000 in 15 months, including the launch of The GIST in the US this past September. She is also responsible for The GIST’s revenue and growth through brands and has generated partnerships with Bumble, DAZN, BMO and Lululemon among others. Jacie and her team have been accelerated through programs with Facebook, MLSE, Comcast NBCUniversal and Techstars and were named 2018’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Notable Life. Prior to going full-time with The GIST, Jacie worked as a management consultant in financial services and graduated with a Commerce degree from Queen’s University.

Chris Barth
Contagious Communications

As the lead strategist for Contagious North America, Chris Barth oversees a wide variety of projects for brands and agencies, including trend briefings, research reports, creative capabilities training, innovation workshops and collaborative strategic initiatives. He speaks regularly at industry events like SXSW, Advertising Week, and Contagious Live events, and is currently co-authoring The Contagious Commandments, to be published by Portfolio Penguin in 2018. Prior to joining Contagious in 2013, Chris worked as a staff writer on the business and investing team at Forbes, an editorial producer at Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and a consultant at Arcadia Solutions.

David Sax | Keynote
Author, The Revenge of Analog, The Tastemakers, and Save the Deli

Digital promised to upend every industry—from retail to manufacturing, education to design. And yet, analog goods and experiences—tactile, lasting, human—are on the rise. David Sax has been the chief chronicler of this resounding shift both on stage and in his acclaimed book, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter—named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times’ Chief Book Critic, Michiko Kakutani. With common sense and uncommon charm, Sax shows how digital’s one-size-fits-all promise is complemented and enhanced by a fusion of analog processes—and that this blend is most popular among companies that live and die by innovation. The Revenge of Analog h garnered enthusiastic praise for its blend of psychology, business sense, and old-fashioned reporting.  Publishers Weekly calls it a book with “a calming effect, telling readers, one analog page at a time, that tangible goods, in all their reassuring solidity, are back and are not going anywhere.” His forthcoming book, The Soul of an Entrepreneur: Work and Life Beyond the Startup Myth, breaks down the myths of entrepreneurship, and instead explores essential stories about real business owners and their experiences in the modern economic landscape.

A sophisticated analyst of major trends for consumers—and wider culture—Sax is also the author of two other fascinating accounts of pop culture and business. In The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue, he argues that food trends are not only a collection of photos on Instagram—they have an everlasting effect on our culture, workforce, economy, health, and day-to-day lives. The New York Times calls it “a romp” through the food industry that will “leave readers wondering about how susceptible we are to the charms of any new food.” His first book, Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye, and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen, won the James Beard Award for Writing and Literature. His other writing appears regularly in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, The New Yorker’s business blog, and LA Times, and he is a regular feature on CBC Radio and NPR.