Chris Reid doesn’t pull any punches in business.
The serial entrepreneur and current CEO of Sortable, a decision-making engine, has raised rounds of funding, been acquired and, in one situation, bought a company back to re-launch it.
When he’s not working long hours at the Velocity Garage, he can be found practising Brazilian jujitsu. He loves the technical requirements and chess-like strategy required to win at the sport. He has also practised boxing and kickboxing, and he especially likes to hire competitive-level athletes.
“Athletes and entrepreneurs have a lot in common,” he said. “ They are disciplined, work hard and know how to face adversity.
Reid recently reached out to a local athlete he found on LinkedIn because her background was interesting.
Mandy Bujold is a boxer who made worldwide headlines recently when she became a two-time, Pan-American Games champion in women’s boxing. She first won gold in the flyweight division in 2011, and then defended her ranking last summer in Toronto.
Bujold ranks number two in the world for her division, and she has her eyes on boxing for Canada in the upcoming summer 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Reid realized he and Bujold had a lot in common when they began to chat.
“Canadian athletes and Canadian tech entrepreneurs share similar challenges,” he said. “We have to compete against far-better-funded American companies.”
“Funding is the number-one challenge in the Canadian Sport system,” Bujold said. “Boxing does not receive very much support from the government, so we are forced to be creative in our fund-raising efforts to compete for our country.”
Reid knows that training, like product development for a startup, is fundamental to the success of athletes competing at a global level against superstars from China, Russia and the United States. As with tech startups, an athlete can lose momentum if she has to focus on fund-raising to survive instead of training to stay on the top of her game.
“American athletes of (Bujold’s) level have sponsorship and teams devoted to supporting the athlete,” Reid said. “We don’t do that here as a country, so it’s up to our community to put our money where our mouth is.”
Last week, Reid sent out a challenge to his fellow startup CEOs: Pledge money to Bujold, join her and Syd Vanderpool for a training-and-sparring session, and then hang out afterwards to talk about tech and sports. A date hasn’t been set yet for the boxing session, but will happen in the next couple of months when Bujold is back in town.
He’s heard back from nine entrepreneurs, including Mallorie Brodie at Bridgit, Steve McCartney at Communitech, Michael Litt at Vidyard and David Chilton of Wealthy Barber and Dragon’s Den fame. The group has raised more than $3,000 for Bujold’s training.
Reid wants more people in the boxing ring with Vanderpool. The former number one ranked Super-Middleweight in the world and current owner of SydFIT Health and Boxing gym will make his space available for the night.
Bujold is excited to see how the boxing-and-technology event goes. She, too, sees the parallels between competitive sports and innovation. She echoed Reid’s words about her love for the sport.
“I got involved in boxing initially for fitness,” she said. “What keeps me motivated is that there is always something new to learn.”
Bujold is currently travelling as she seeks another win to help her land a spot in the Olympics.
Reid says anybody who is interested in participating can email him. Donations can be made directly through Boxing Canada’s website. You will need to specify that the donation is to be directed towards Mandy Bujold. And yes, you will receive a tax receipt for your donation.
“I reached out (to Bujold) because I thought maybe we can help,” Reid said. “And then I realized that we always talk about helping each other as a community, and that it is up to us to pick up the mantle and do it.”
It’s Halloween weekend. That means there will be a lot of parties being thrown and costumed creatures roaming around this Friday and Saturday night. Drive safely! If dressing up in costume isn’t your thing, I see and hear that . . . THEMUSEUM is hosting another evening of its popular Beer+ series. On Thursday, Oct. 28, head down to THEMUSEUM (10 King St. W., Kitchener) for Beer + Dinosaurs. Dustin Growick, host of The Dinosaur Show on YouTube, will give a talk. Your $17.70 ticket covers admission to the talk and the dinosaur exhibit on now at the museum. It also includes a pint of beer from Grand River Brewing . . . It’s not too early to start making your holiday gifts. This year, instead of buying socks, why not learn how to make your own? Head down to the Waterloo Region Museum (10 Huron Rd., Kitchener) for Knitting Skill Socks. Participants should have the basics of knitting down pat before they attend the $20 workshop. It will take you through how to pick the proper yarn, and sock construction skills. Advanced registration for the Saturday, Oct. 31, event is required. You can buy your ticket by calling the museum at 519-748-1914. The event runs 1:30-3:30 p.m. Finally, the Kitchener downtown core will be alive during the witching hours of Saturday, Oct. 31. Head downtown to experience the third Night\Shift. The interactive event runs 7 p.m.-2 a.m. at indoor and outdoor locations through out the downtown. Many local stores and restaurants will also be open late with specials. Expect to see art installations, live music, interactive performances and DIY pop-ups.
Photo: Chris Reid (L) and Mandy Bujold are all smiles outside of the boxing ring.