Rise above the noise: Becoming a disrupter in B.C.’s middle market


Quantum computing, blockchain, big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and mixed reality – these are some of the technologies and ideas reshaping how businesses operate. In fact, all of these technologies are being produced by local B.C. companies attempting to do one unified thing: disrupt.

To be successful in today’s business world, having that special something that sets you apart is paramount to solidify your place among the business elite. Companies need to shock with jarring ideas that break the regular mould. They need to inspire, provoke and invoke. They need to be disrupters.

“The term disruption gets bandied about, often in parallel to innovation, and they are actually very discrete and distinct ideas,” said Matt Switzer, COO of Hootsuite and partner at Northwest Capital Partners.

“A disruptive business model needs to uproot or change the way we think, behave, act and learn,” said Switzer. “[A disruptive business model] really needs to displace an existing market, industry or technology with something that is new, more efficient and worthwhile.”


Matt Switzer, Chief Operating Officer, Hootsuite and Partner at Northwest Capital Partners

Hootsuite is the prominent social media disrupter born and bred in Vancouver that revolutionized the way social platforms are utilized for business. Switzer knows all about disruptive businesses and borrows from famous Harvard University Prof. Clayton Christensen when he clarifies that there are two branches to the theory of disruption:

“First, there is the idea that addresses a brand new market that otherwise could not be served. The other is offering a significantly cheaper or more convenient solution to a problem. Those are really the two types of disruption.”

The pace at which technology is advancing has exceeded all prediction, yet many small to mid-sized companies in the middle market are lagging behind when it comes to understanding and preparing for inevitable technological change. In order to be disruptive, being current isn’t enough. To be disruptive, you must have one foot already firmly planted in the future.

“Disruptive ideas are bold and often seem crazy at first,” said Penny Green, CEO of Cannapay Financial. “New technology can be scary before people fully understand how it can improve their lives, and old business models can die hard.”

Cannapay Financial, a subsidiary of Glance Technologies Inc., is currently delivering on an agreement that combines blockchain and big data with mobile cannabis payments.

“I believe that better technologies eventually do find their way mainstream, and it is usually due to the efforts of great companies solving the world’s problems with them,” said Green.

Penny Green

Penny Green, president and chief operating officer, Glance Technologies

The world of digital finance is on the cusp of a total structural renovation. As we come closer to the end of the decade, AI and the ubiquitous blockchain technology are poised to deliver massive disruption that will change not just the way banks work but also the way every industry conducts financial transactions.

So how does the middle market become disruptive? How do small to mid-sized companies prepare for the future? And how can the middle market understand and adopt technologies now that they will need in order to succeed in tomorrow’s business world?

On April 9 and 10, ACG British Columbia will host its 17th annual BC Middle Market Growth Conference at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver. The conference has become Western Canada’s leading M&A conference, with high-profile speakers, a trade show and networking opportunities with more than 300 deal-makers, financial executives, business owners and financiers.

“We wanted to tackle the theme of disruption at this year’s event because there is so much happening here in B.C. – technologies and ideas being developed locally that are effecting change globally,” said Aleem Jinnah, chair of this year’s BC Middle Market Growth Conference and a member of the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG).

Originally established in 1996, ACG BC is a local community for deal-making and corporate growth with chapters and a growing membership base worldwide.

The full-day conference on April 10 will cover the emerging challenges faced by middle market companies. Additionally, the sessions will tackle new technologies that are changing the workplace, such as blockchain and AI, as well as autonomous vehicles and how are they poised to change B.C.’s economic and physical landscape.

Industry experts Switzer and Penny are just two of the many leading professionals who will be speaking at this year’s event, all focused on navigating change and reaching that next level – learning how to inspire, provoke and invoke, to become a true disrupter.

Find out more about the ACG BC Middle Market Growth Conference.