What Scares Startups?

It doesn’t matter if you are founding a company for the first time or the fifteenth (ok, maybe that does matter a little), the challenges, the triumphs and the night-terrors are real.

But you are far from alone – check out our ongoing podcast series that talks through the problems of founders just like you.


Handol Kim
Variational AI
CEO & Co-Founder
Dr. Tim Parsons
Delta-V Newspace
Alliance Executive Director
Pierre Moisan
Senior Consultant
Oli Gardner
Be the Keynote & Unbounce
Founder & Co-Founder
Stewart Guenther
vc-pert & Viaduct Ventures
Founder & Partner
Jericca Cleland
Oridian Entertainment
Shane Mang
Landware Entertainment
CEO & Founder
Howie Baral
CEO & Founder
Ryan Dunnison
Playful Fox Games
Andrew Czarnietzki
Only By Midnight

#011 - Shane Mang: Let Your Passion Take the Wheel

Our guest in this episode of “What Scares Startups” is Shane Mang. Shane is the founder at Landware Entertainment, and is also the Director of Global Sales and Outbound Licensing at the children’s entertainment giant, Spin Master.

Shane talks with us about diving headfirst into being a founder with no prior startup experience at all, setting out to create a product that you yourself want but that doesn’t currently exist and allowing that to become the driving force and the passion that fuels everything else. Shane also talks about the importance of knowing that failure and challenges are going to arise during your founder journey, and that letting the experts and specialists that you’re working with be the experts and specialists is the key to making sure you are ready and able to handle those inevitable speed bumps as they appear.

This is another great one, so make sure to check it out to hear more!

#010 - Ryan Dunnison: From Disillusionment to Do It Yourself

On this episode of “What Scares Startups” our guest is Ryan Dunnison. Ryan is a game designer, instructor/teacher, and the Owner & Founder of Playful Fox Games Inc.

Ryan talks to us about being disillusioned by working at some of the big AAA game studios and his realization that there’s a better work reality that you can create for yourself if you decide to take the leap into being a startup founder. He discusses how he took that leap a little too early himself initially, but how now that’s only made his return to the startup space filled that much more with renewed vigour and wisdom.

Join us, and give this episode a listen for more!

#009 - Jericca Cleland: Trusting your Team, Yourself, and the Mission

Today’s guest on “What Scares Startups” is Jericca Cleland. Jericca is the Founder, CCO and Writer/Director at Oridian Entertainment. With over 25 years of experience as a writer & director, Jericca worked at Pixar Animation Studios designing cameras and staging for major blockbuster films like Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo. Before moving into film, she was a computer game developer at both Sierra On-Line and Pixar Animation Studios, and more recently, she also creatively designed, directed, and co-produced an award-winning VR experience based on the Oscar-nominated film ‘Song of the Sea’ with Oculus, and is the creative force behind mobile AR game Wildermage, gamifying walks in outdoor spaces.

Jericca brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our conversation and talks to us about one of the most foundational pieces of success that all start-ups require at their core – the importance of trust. Trust in your team, trust in yourself, and trust in the mission. Jericca also discusses the challenges she’s faced being a female senior executive / founder, and the ways that she’s managed to overcome many of those hurdles over the years.

Again, lots of great stuff in this episode that you won’t want to miss, so be sure to check it out for more!

#008 - Howie Baral: It's Never Too Late to Innovate

Our guest in this episode of “What Scares Startups” is Howie Baral. Howie is the Founder & CEO of Tipbox, a former executive at R.C. Baral & Company, Inc where he worked on a number of major Hollywood productions, and is also a yoga teacher.

Howie talks to us about what it’s like making a pretty significant career pivot in retirement, and both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a first-time founder at an older age. Howie also pulls on his yoga teaching experience to provide some great advice to other first-time founders, including staying mindful and learning to trust your gut.

Lots of great takeaways from this one for sure, so be sure to check it out for more!

#007 - Andrew Czarnietzki: Disrupting your Way from Big to Boutique

On this episode of “What Scares Startups”, our guest is Andrew Czarnietizki. Andrew is the President, Co-Founder and Lead Developer of Edmonton-based indie game studio Only By Midnight. With over 15 years of experience in the games industry, Andrew is a co-founder of Serious Labs and has shipped over 18 serious game titles as Programmer and Lead Designer, including a line of award-winning VR Crane simulators.

Andrew chats with us about the fear and excitement of turning your side hustle into your main gig, and what it’s like to transition from a big team to running your own boutique studio. Andrew also talks to us about approaching being a founder like a disruptor, and about being driven by knowing that there’s a better way to do things and setting out to run a business that isn’t necessarily in line with the way it’s been done traditionally.

As always, lots of great stuff to unpack in this one, so check it out to learn more!

#006 - Handol Kim: Redefining Failure in the Startup World (Reasonably)

In this episode, we speak with Handol Kim. Handol is Co-Founder & CEO of Variational AI, an AI for drug discovery start-up based in Vancouver. Prior to co- founding Variational AI, Handol was General Manager of the Quadrant AI Business Unit of D-Wave Systems Inc, and brings over 20 years of executive management experience and leadership from venture-backed start-ups and publicly-listed technology companies in cloud, mobile/embedded, and telecommunications software in Silicon Valley, Canada and Asia Pacific. He has led global sales teams, strategic development, and project and product delivery to some of the world’s largest companies.

Handol talks to us about redefining “failure” in the startup world, how the persona of the “Heroic Founder” can be quite detrimental, the difference between newer younger founders vs older more experienced founders, the importance of reasonability and how not to get yourself into bootstrapping financial hell, and how different cultures around the world tend to look at failure in vastly different ways.

Lots of good stuff in this one, so check out this episode of “What Scares Startups” for more!

#005 - Pierre Moisan: The Entrepreneur Paradox

Our guest in this episode of “What Scares Startups” is none other than Pierre Moisan. Pierre is a pioneer in the Canadian interactive entertainment industry and a seasoned manager and entrepreneur who has developed some seriously sought after expertise in the field over his twenty-five years in business. Now one of the senior consultants at the Centre d’entreprises et d’innovation de Montréal (CEIM), Pierre has built a large network of contacts around the world, particularly in the field of new media and video games where, over the past few years, he has organized several trade missions abroad (North America, Europe, Asia, etc.).

Pierre talks with us about the optimal team configuration for success, the value or experience in terms of navigating the pressures of being a founder, the Entrepreneur Paradox, aligning objectives between investors, founders, and the team at large, and the cultural differences he’s experienced in his years of working all over the world.

You won’t want to miss this one! Tune into this episode of “What Scares Startups” for more.

#004 - Oli Gardner: Startup your Business, Startup Yourself

On this episode of “What Scares Startups”, our guest is Oli Gardner. Founder of Be the Keynote and co-founder of Unbounce, Oli is a globally recognised thought leader on the topics of digital marketing, conversion optimisation, and user experience.

Although his career has spanned everything from software development, graphic design, usability, interaction design, information architecture, and marketing optimization, his newest pursuit at Be the Keynote is to provide equal opportunity and access to anyone who desires to be a better communicator. Frequently the top-rated speaker at many of the conferences he’s attended, Oli has developed methods for presentation design and performance that consistently deliver amazing results. Check it out for yourself at bethekeynote.com.

With Oli, we cover topics like the importance of public speaking skills and why they are so vital to master, the differences between being a solo founder vs. being a part of a founding team, startups as a chance to not only startup a new business but also as a chance to “startup yourself”, and the challenges of starting a company as a new parent.

Tune in for all of this and more!

#003 - Tim Parsons: Being a Learner, not a Knower

In this episode, we go to infinity and beyond with our guest, Dr. Tim Parsons. Dr. Parsons is the Executive Director of the Delta-V Newspace Alliance, and the Chair of the Space Industry Association of Australia. A veteran of collaborative product and startup innovation within Space, MediaTech, and AgTech, Dr. Parsons consults widely to research organisations, tech-focused SMEs, startup accelerators and incubators nationally.

Together, we cover everything from the similarities between aerospace engineering and the startup space, whether it was harder to run a startup in the dearly “dot com” days, Tim’s worst day, and his story of redemption where he realized that he needed to be more of a “learner” rather than a “knower”.

All this and much, much more on this episode of “What Scares Startups”.

#002 - Stewart Guenther, Pt. 2: Shedding the Startup Founder Persona

In this second part of a two-part episode of “What Scares Startups” our guest is Stewart Guenther. Stewart is the founder of vc-pert an advisory services firm, co-founder of The Venture Capital Roundtable, and venture partner of Viaduct Ventures. Stewart specializes in bridging Silicon Valley with early stage entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and centers of innovation. With this focus, Stewart is a mentor and coach for SME’s developing and scaling their innovation, and larger corporations seeking to engage, invest and incorporate innovation.

In part 2 of our two-part series with Stewart, we discuss whether or not we have found ourselves in an almost “cult-ish” way of looking at the attributes of a startup founder and whether or not founders can be coached out of their tendency to wear this persona, provide some advice to founders on how to take their natural sense of fear and turn it into a leadership tool that will help their teams, backers, and home life, and then learning to make that approach part of your company’s DNA in order to power you through those moments of uncertainty and fear together.

Again, so much good stuff here, so tune in to “What Scares Startups” to ensure you don’t miss anything!

#001 - Stewart Guenther, Pt. 1: Frozen by Fear, or Freed by it?

Our very special guest for this episode of “What Scares Startups” is Stewart Guenther. Stewart is the founder of vc-pert an advisory services firm, co-founder of The Venture Capital Roundtable, and venture partner of Viaduct Ventures. Stewart specializes in bridging Silicon Valley with early stage entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, and centers of innovation. With this focus, Stewart is a mentor and coach for SME’s developing and scaling their innovation, and larger corporations seeking to engage, invest and incorporate innovation.

A serial entrepreneur by nature, Stewart brings a wealth of investor, corporate growth and international experience, working with firms ranging from multi-billion-dollar corporations to start-up companies. Stewart has successfully promoted companies, products, services and technologies globally from concept through maturity and exit.Stewart’s expertise includes early stage ventures in global economies, seed/venture financing and structures, M&A and Exit strategies and execution, financial and expansion modeling, community/relationship development, product launch/marketing, and various other start-up related fields. Stewart engages with select international start-ups and corporations on business planning, international expansion and capital sourcing.

In part 1 of a two-part series with Stewart, we cover the whole gamut from the history of Silicon Valley as a hub of innovation, how fear can be a tremendous catalyzer and motivator but can also freeze you in place, The importance of common goals and unifying principles in terms of helping drive the psychology for change en masse, the parallels that exist between “moonshots” and the venture world, and we discuss the “ideal” CEO figure.

So much good stuff that we had to split our conversation with Stewart up, so tune into the first half of our amazing conversation with Stewart Guenther on “What Scares Startups” now!