Salim Teja is the President, Venture Services for MaRS, where he leads the overall strategic direction of MaRS’ venture services areas: Energy & Environment (Cleantech), Finance & Commerce (FinTech), Health and Work & Learning. He is an experienced entrepreneur and active early-stage technology investor, with deep industry expertise in software and digital media.

Salim joined MaRS in May 2013, providing strategic direction and leadership for MaRS’ ICT venture services group, leading corporate and venture capital engagement, and overseeing MaRS’ expanding international collaborations in the ICT sector.

Salim joined MaRS from Indigo Books & Music, where, as vice president of corporate development, he drove the formation of the company’s Digital Innovation Lab. Prior to Indigo, Teja held the position of COO at CX Digital, a leading online ad network.

He has also held roles as COO of b5media and partner with early-stage VC firm Brightspark Ventures. He was also co-founder and vice president of sales and business development for San Francisco-based MobShop Inc.,.

Resources Mentioned:

Book Recommendation: The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Productivity Tool:


Tips Mentioned:

  • You got to focus on solving the problem that people will understand and that people prioritize the problem worth solving
  • You need to stay away from nice-to-have solutions and really focus on must-have solutions
  • Why this, why you, why now?
  • Shares the key mistakes that entrepreneur makes all the time
  • We are reinventing ourselves as a kind of innovation where we help different kinds of entrepreneurs
  • You always got to be hustling
  • You should not be shy to pick up the phone on making the call or going to a conference
  • Its different to just go out there and get people's attention and get notices than sitting in a room with your colleagues
  • Build skills that allows you to feel comfortable being out there and building your network
  • “Be sure to find people to be a good team member, co-founders and investors in your business”
  • “Regardless of how digital our world gets we can’t forget about the aspects that we are doing in”
  • “Think carefully about the partners you choose and the relationship that you build”
  • Companies may come and go but relationships will last a long time
  • It is hard for one person or one small group to know everything
  • There is no right or wrong when you’re building a business; You just need to navigate your way to a lot of grey area in order to get to the other side.


Episode Overview:

Toronto’s it at its peak stage because they have unbelievable companies that are reaching out for growth and stage that they are trying to get on a global map. They have global corporate coming in to the city and wanted to be a part of the community, investing in teams and resources. They also have global investors that are coming into their market to make big bets on their companies.

In this episode, Salim Teja talks about all aspects of being an entrepreneur in Canada and how it impacts the innovation growth. He also shares how MaRS is one of the crowned jewels that really help the growth of innovation in Canada and and learn more about his venture services.


“How could we do something different to re-capitalized the local ecosystem and give back to our community.”


Salim also shared his a story about him and his colleague who had a relationship with The SickKids Hospital conceived a concept around – “why don’t we get community together  to raise funds and help the hospitals and made a big campaign to build a next generation of children hospitals in Toronto.

It is a $25,000 that they are spearheading where they used the money to setup a chair at the SickKids hospital in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Check out the video of SickKids VS Undeniable Youtube video.


About Company:

MaRS is one of the largest Innovation hub, an innovation center right in the heart of Toronto. The company had been around for about 13 years

The Vision of the early founders was: where can we build a place where we can active all of the different nerves that are important to the innovation process.

And how to we build a program to find the company that has the highest potential driven by science and technology and how do we help accelerate their path to become global businesses from Canada.

The vision: “how to we build a place and how to we build a program that will put Toronto and Canada globally”

13 years later now, what we have the world's largest urban innovation centers of about a million and a half square feet of space and a flagship program that Salim leads called Venture Services which today has twelve hundred octave startups that are participating in the program.

Foresight's of the founders was “This type of platform was important to the city and the country and certainly as an economy we started to shift away from natural resources towards science and technology, how are we going to create the companies of tomorrow and thereby the jobs of tomorrow to really drive Canada’s growth.

Connect with our guest:


LinkedIn: Salim Teja

Twitter: @salimteja


Thanks again for tuning in!

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