The Big Raise, All in for Women: A Reflection

Providing support to female entrepreneurs, especially in the technology sector is extremely important.  Today is International Women’s Day! So today we look back on our biggest event to date in support of female founders in tech- The Big Raise.

I’m sure that it’s not something that you see very often. The original target was forty. But on Saturday, January 27th, 100 women came together at a SOLD OUT event to play Poker in support of female tech entrepreneurs in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Historically, the number of female entrepreneurs, especially those in the technology sector, has been low. According to a recent report (, only 5% of Canadian technology companies have a solo female CEO, women comprise just 13% of the average technology company’s executive team and 53% of technology companies have no female executives at all.. This has been identified as a gap, an issue, something that we need to tackle head on immediately.

So the Big Raise for Women in Tech was born! The Big Raise Poker Tournament is an exclusive Charity event founded by Craig Rowe and Craig Tucker as a way to combine the social aspect of poker with a passion of giving back to the community. The Big Raise for women was a special edition, an event for women tech entrepreneurs by women business leaders. Every player was female, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a few males in the room - the Premier, Paddy Daly and tech CEOS from the community filled the role of dealers, coming out to show their support.

As the festivities kicked off, 100 women began playing Poker at 10 different tables, all with the goal of making it to the Final table – the top 10. Conversation flowed, laughs were shared, and connections were made as we were treated to the VIP Vegas Experience inside EVOO and the Gypsy Tea Room.

We were all there to support female technology entrepreneurs – help them raise some much needed capital as they work tirelessly to grow their business, and provide the opportunity to create connections and build networks with business leaders in NL.

As the number of players left standing dwindled, we were left with the top 10. The final table was a show in itself – roped off with lights shining brightly on the table and a videographer sharing every second live to the adjoining room so no one missed out on the action. Once we were down to the final six, each remaining player was assigned a female tech entrepreneur (information about each company below) to play for. They were:

·        Emily Bland - Sucseed

·        Ivana Drcec – Zero Worx

·        Stefana Egli – Intelligent Materials and Monitoring Inc. (IMMI)

·        Donna Paddon – Roshell Industries

·        Chrissy Rossiter - Peachy

·        Kelly Strickland - HashtagTutors

The final table proceeds, and all the money raised throughout the evening, is designated for the six successful, women-owned NL technology companies. Along with capital, the entrepreneurs will also be provided with mentorship from a business leader in the community. The winner of the poker tournament, playing for Roshell Industries, was Pam Hollett, who forever has bragging rights!

The biggest winner of the evening was, of course, the female entrepreneurs. Over $40,000 was raised the evening of January 27th to support female-led technology companies in the province.

I would like to thank the incredible sponsors for making this event possible:

-        Optimized Insurance

-        m5 Marketing Communications

-        The Beverage Baron

-        Deloitte

-        Impress Design

-        Newfoundland Power Inc.

-        PAL   

-        Browning Harvey Ltd.

-        McInnes Cooper

-        Newfoundland Aquaculture Industry Association (NAIA)

-        Mercedes-Benz St. John's

-        AGi

-        Cahill Group

-        Killick Capital

-        radient360

As well, this event would not have been possible without our event partner YMCA, who went above and beyond to make the Big Raise a success, and the organizing team of Jocelyn Perry, Honorary Event Chair, Michelle Simms, CEO Genesis Centre, Craig Tucker, Big Raise Co-Founder, and Craig Rowe, Big Raise Co-Founder.

The Big Raise presented an opportunity to put the focus on female tech entrepreneurs in the province. This unique event brought together female business leaders with female entrepreneurs for a night filled with fun and opportunity. And this was not a one-off. The momentum is building and I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the female tech entrepreneurs in the province, to grow the number of female founded tech companies, and to support their growth. The future is bright!

Dyanna McCarthy
Program Coordinator, Women in Tech and Start-up Visa
Genesis Centre

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About the Big Raise

Created by Craig Tucker and Craig Rowe, the vision was to create an event that was social, simple and sophisticated. Their long-term vision is to raise a million dollars for numerous charities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. A core philosophy is to invigorate and energize the local community of philanthropists through fun, camaraderie and social interaction.

About the Founders

Emily Bland - Sucseed

Project SucSeed is centered on improving food security in Newfoundland & Labrador, and in communities across Northern Canada. This is a major challenge for many communities in our province. As a social enterprise, we are focused on addressing food security by providing individuals and communities a way to grow their own, high quality produce efficiently and at an affordable cost. Through this project, we’ve been able to create co-operatives in northern rural areas where it is particularly difficult to access healthy produce. Project SucSeed is also partnered with Choices for Youth – a local charity that supports at-risk and homeless youth to secure stable housing, education and employment.

Ivana Drcec – Zero Worx

Our team is focused on researching, developing and delivering enterprise level software solutions tailored to client's needs. We provide our service based on Oracle technologies and our current focus is to develop two enterprise products: Linxpot and a Vessel Safety Management System.

Linxpot tracks an entire company's workflow, communication and business processes through one interface. This includes, but is not limited to: Procurement & Invoicing, Inventory Management & Warehousing, CRM, HR Management, Project and File Management, Messaging and more.

Within this province Linxpot is used by St. John Ambulance NL, Burry's Shipyard, Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises & others.

Stefana Egli – Intelligent Materials and Monitoring Inc. (IMMI)

Intelligent Materials, IMMI is a Memorial University spin-off company that provides a clean tech portable water sampling device for analysis and monitoring of particular compounds of interest in water. 

The approach IMMI takes to water analysis reduces the standard time spent for water sample handling and analysis down to a few minutes with the advantages of a portable, green, cost-effective water sampling system. 

The target customers are laboratories that offer analytical services to environmental and energy industries, and marine science.

Donna Paddon – Roshell Industries

Roshell Industries Incorporated is a Labrador based Technology Company specializing in an individual outdoor transport system, Skizee "Woodsrunner” that provides an easy to use yet sophisticated technology designed for rugged outdoor use. Roshell Industries effectively provides access to harsh cold/Arctic backcountry, which is highly demanded by individuals and organizations such as the Military. 

To respond to demand for access to snow-covered regions, Roshell Industries Inc.'s "Woodsrunner” combines skiing with gas powered mechanized transport technology in order to propel an individual skier over distances at a speed of up to 40 km/hr. With "Woodsrunner", Roshell Industries is identifying and filling the niche market by providing a safe low-cost alternative to hiking, skiing and snowmobiling for the large outdoor enthusiast market.

Chrissy Rossiter - Peachy

Peachy is a personal assistant helping care providers improve their homecare service delivery to give seniors a better quality of life. Our platform takes care of the chores they're currently spending their time on such as manual paperwork and time sheets.

Kelly Strickland - HashtagTutors

HashtagTutors is an administration platform made for tutoring businesses. From matching students to managing sessions, we have the solution to simplify your administrative life.

We love education! We want to help tutoring agencies transform more students. We are doing this by helping your business save time, increase revenue, reach more students, and improve client satisfaction.