Breakout session #1   9:30 am – 10:45 am

Dragon’s Den: The Good, The Bad & The Brutal!

Win or lose, the experience is worth it! Join entrepreneurs who pitched their ideas on CBC’s Dragon’s Den & find out how the show has impacted their businesses.

Name: (Panel) Jason Abbott
Company Oi Furniture | Managing Partner at Launch Coworking Space
Title Founder & CEO
Biography Known to bring ideas to market through sound planning, strategy, marketing, and execution, Jason founded and has been a founding partner in five start-ups to date including Launch, Catapult, Oi Furniture, Max Evaluation & Analytics, and Toban Experience. He has many other ideas in and opportunities in the funnel, but timing is everything. His roots are from the prairies of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he continues to live and work. People new to entrepreneurship in his community engage his expertise in business planning, marketing strategy, execution, and capital advice in industry sectors that include manufacturing, software, tourism, financial, tech, gaming, appliance, education, construction, and agriculture


Name: (Panel) Justin Phillips
Company Sycamore Energy
Title  CEO & Founding Partner
Biography Justin Phillips is the Co Founding Partner and Chief Executive Officer of Sycamore Energy Inc., and its subsidiaries Solar Manitoba and Sycamore Electric.

Justin has become a leader in Manitoba’s business community not only because of Sycamore’s position as the province’s leading provider of solar PV systems. He is also a board member on Manitoba’s Chamber of Commerce, a past Director of the Manitoba Sustainable Energy Association, graduate of distinction from Leadership Winnipeg, and a former mentor and coach for the YM-YWCA self employment program.

But it’s at the helm of Sycamore Energy that Justin has made his greatest impact. The company has grown from a handful of employees, to dozens. And their excellent work has earned Sycamore awards and accolades along the way: as a finalist for Canada’s Hottest Innovative Company in 2010, a finalist for CANSIA’s project of the year in 2017, winner of the 2018 WCC Spirit of Winnipeg Energy and Environment Award, and winner of the Outstanding Small Business Award at the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce in 2018.

Over the course of his career, Justin has been recognized as a knowledgeable and forward-thinking businessperson, able to drive new innovation in line with the needs of multiple industries. And he’s never shied away from a challenge, including when he and his partner Alex faced the Dragons to pitch a business proposal on CBC’s Dragon’s Den program back in 2011.

Justin is a world traveller, a sports fan and a family man. He and his wife Sarah reside in Winnipeg, Manitoba and have three young children, Kaelyn 13, Emily 10 and Bailey 6.


Name: (Panel) Adam Tsouras
Company PPG Technologies – TrapTap
Title  Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Design
Biography For the past eight years, Mr. Tsouras has been the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Design at Winnipeg based engineering firm PPG Technologies, which works to integrate the processing power of mobile and handheld devices with advanced sensor-driven hardware components.

From inception to mass market distribution, Mr. Tsouras was instrumental in developing and deploying the company’s multiple consumer-based, Bluetooth-enabled sports analysis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) products. One of the first products, SkyPro, sold more than 75,000 units across North America and the UK in the first nine months of distribution and was sold on shelves in Apple retail stores. As the COO and VP of Design, he oversaw the industrial and interaction design of its hardware and software. This technology was later licensed into various other sport related industries.

In 2013, PPG Technologies was named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Companies of the year. As COO, Mr. Tsouras co-published three utility patents in the field of IMU technology for reconstructing and analyzing motion of a rigid body. He was recognized in the top 5% of the Waterloo Mathematics and Physics Canadian accreditation program.

Most recently, Mr. Tsouras acted as the Lead Product Designer for TrapTap, a hands-free driving aid. TrapTap sold over one million dollars of product on Kickstarter and IndieGogo, making it the largest crowdfunded campaign in Winnipeg. TrapTap later appeared on Season 12 of Dragons’ Den where they received multiple offers of $500,000 for 25% equity in the company.

Currently, Adam is the Chief Technology Officer for QuoteToMe. QuoteToMe is a web-based procurement tool for contractors to send quote requests and receive quotes from rental companies, for equipment and general tools. At QuoteToMe, Adam oversees product development from a technical and logistical implementation viewpoint. Additionally, he manages product release schedules, oversees new feature rollouts and conducts critical software testing for improved product reliability and speed of use alongside company growth across Canada and the USA.


Name: (Moderator)  Diane Gray 
Company CentrePort Canada Inc.
Title President & CEO
Biography Ms. Diane Gray is the founding President and CEO of CentrePort Canada Inc. CentrePort is Canada’s first tri-modal inland port and Foreign Trade Zone and encompasses 20,000 acres in the North West quadrant of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ms. Gray previously worked for the Province of Manitoba from 1995 to 2009 and simultaneously served as Deputy Minister of Finance, Deputy Minister of Federal-Provincial and International Relations, and Deputy Minister of Trade. In December 2010, she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for Excellence in Public Administration for Manitoba and in May 2013, awarded the Women of Distinction Award for Management and Leadership.

Ms. Gray currently serves as Chair of MITACS and is co-Chair of World Trade Centre Winnipeg. In addition, Ms. Gray serves on the boards of the Manitoba Technology Accelerator; Public Policy Forum of Canada; the Canada West Foundation; UM Properties Board; and the Associates of the Asper School of Business.

Ms. Gray is a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s and University of Winnipeg’s Joint Master of Public Administration Program and has an undergraduate degree in political studies from the University of Manitoba.