January 27, 2020

Meeting with Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau was an adventure!

Samarth Mod |

News

I wanted to share a surreal experience on 15th January, 2020 I had meeting Canada’s Finance Minister, Bill Morneau. On the island and lower mainland, we don’t get much snow and I’m definitely not used to it which made it very interesting for me to travel from Vic to Van.

Background

In 2019, I joined the World Trade Centre Vancouver (a subsidiary of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade) Advisory Committee, and Minister Morneau had scheduled a Budget 2020 round-table discussion with members of the Board as part of Budget 2020 consultations. I was invited to add industry diversity to the discussion.

How did it go

The day started with quite the journey, as I managed to get over to Vancouver in the middle of a snowstorm. I was praying for my life on the Harbour Air seaplane over.

Once I managed to get to the roundtable downtown Vancouver at KPMG’s office, I shared our story of a startup with some ground realities. I told the story of how I came to Canada as a student immigrant in 2013 and was looking for a job. Canada accepted me with open arms and helped me realize my dreams. Today, 7 years later and with all humility, I said that I want to inspire fellow Canadians and immigrants to have a “Canadian Dream”.

I focused on how we grew FreshWorks in many ways and built a truly outstanding team in Canada. Some highlights I mentioned:

  • We’ve grown from 3 to 70 employees and 3 offices (including one in Seattle)

  • We’ve worked on a number of impactful projects like a drug overdose prevention app and a mental health application for at-risk youth.

  • Canada’s Global Talent Stream program has helped us build a diverse and truly international team with 16 nationalities represented at FreshWorks.

  • Canada’s investment in incubators and organizations like BCTech and Supercluster have been very helpful for us as entrepreneurs.

  • Innovation Canada’s programs have also helped us grow

I also provided some feedback on areas to work on for the Government of Canada

  • Digital Government – we’d love to see more focus and investment on modernizing government services for the digital age in Budget 2020

  • We’d love to see more encouragement for entrepreneurship and more funding made available to startups

  • Canada has some of the lowest R&D Investments in the developed world – we need to figure out how to improve this

  • I’d love to see a push towards Open Banking to reduce banking costs and improve services (have a follow-up meeting with HSBC Canada on that)

  • Selfishly, I’d love to see Canada improve the CRA Portal 😉

I’m so thankful for having had this opportunity to share our story last week, though my feet are still firmly on the ground. I had a chance to meet some amazing leaders, and can’t wait for all of the follow-up conversations. I would have never thought of meeting with Minister Bill Morneau had it not been for the gracious invite I received from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade – thank you very much for having a voice from a tech startup heard in the room.

And by the way, I barely made it back to Victoria that night after another rocky flight home in the snowstorm. All the ferries and seaplanes were cancelled so booked a last-minute flight with Pacific Coastal which brought me back home safely.

This was my very first time experiencing the snowstorm as well as near shut down of a city that is understandably not equipped to handle this much snow. Fortunately, I had the right gear to deal with that and sneak a selfie!

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