Ricci Segal, owner of Perfect Bite Catering Co. (photo from Perfect Bite)
The Perfect Bite Catering Co. works out of Vancouver Talmud Torah’s kosher kitchen. In addition to providing hearty lunches for VTT students, staff and parents of children who attend the school, the company caters events in the Jewish community. As well, since 2019, the Perfect Bite has been catering to many in the larger Metro Vancouver community, through its online store.
Perfect Bite owner Ricci Segal has always known that she wanted to be a chef. Born in South Africa, her family moved to Canada when she was 6 years old. Segal remembers, as a kid in South Africa, cooking with her mom, who was “a fantastic cook.”
In high school, Segal’s first restaurant job was at Coco Pazzo, where she assisted the chefs and ran the dishwashing room. She got her first experience in the catering industry when she worked for two years in Arizona for her aunt’s kosher catering company. It is there that she got her first taste of the business.
“I learned so much from working with my aunt,” said Segal. “She has a staff of 30 and she threw me right into the mix.”
She added, noting her gratitude, “By working there, I picked up all I know of catering and it helped me create my business.”
Before starting her own company, Segal attended culinary school at Vancouver Community College. While a student at VCC, she was asked to be a support member of Culinary Team Canada. The team competes on behalf of Canada for all culinary competitions, including the IKA Culinary Olympics, which takes place every four years. According to Segal, “it was an amazing experience.” The team traveled to Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany and Chicago to compete and they won several gold medals. Being on Culinary Team Canada allowed Segal “to learn from the best chefs in Canada.”
“It definitely molded me into the chef I am today,” she said.
Segal did her apprenticeship at three top restaurants in Vancouver: the Pear Tree, the Four Seasons Hotel and Le Crocodile. It was in this period that she really honed her skills. The Four Seasons at that time was the top kosher hotel in Vancouver and Segal was able to be a part of some of the most luxurious kosher events.
In 2010, she parlayed her extensive experience into her own business and established the Perfect Bite Catering Co., while also moonlighting as a chef instructor at VCC.
About her decision to open a kosher catering company, she said, “There was a need for a different style of kosher catering food in Vancouver and it happened naturally from there.”
What makes the Perfect Bite unique, Segal said, is that its staff – who were recruited from her stints teaching at VCC or from working with them at various establishments – “are all French-trained chefs who have worked in the best restaurants.
“That is what we bring to the kosher world in Vancouver,” she said.
She noted that her company specializes in gourmet food, “so most of our clients are foodies.”
Segal officially moved into Talmud Torah’s kitchen in September 2019. Prior to that, she had a retail location on Fraser Street and 28th Avenue, which was not kosher, but she would do her kosher catering for Jewish functions out of Congregation Schara Tzedeck’s facilities. When she moved her business to VTT, she made it into a full-service kosher catering company that is supervised under B.C. Kosher.
Like many businesses affected by the pandemic, the Perfect Bite has been forced to adapt to survive. According to Segal, the biggest challenge was the loss of all the events, which made up the majority of the company’s business.
“The silver lining is that it has given us time to create an online store, where we sell fresh and frozen foods to help with everybody’s busy lives,” said Segal. “We have great oven-ready meals and are expanding into some weekly fresh options.”
Some of the items available include power bowl salads, sandwiches, lasagna, butter chicken, sweet-and-sour chicken, caramelized onion brisket and Moroccan chickpea stew, to name a handful. A three-course weekend dinner is also available every other week for pick up on Friday at VTT.
“My long-term goals are to continue servicing the Vancouver kosher market with great healthy ready-to-eat meals, as well as doing full-service catering events like bar and bar mitzvahs and weddings once we are able to do so safely,” said Segal.
David J. Litvakis a prairie refugee from the North End of Winnipeg who is a freelance writer, former Voice of Peace and Co-op Radio broadcaster and an “accidental publicist.” His articles have been published in the Forward, Globe and Mail and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His website is cascadiapublicity.com.
Lou Segal being interviewed by his daughter, Ramona Josephson, 2019. (photo from Ramona Josephson)
A few years ago, the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia contacted my dad, Lou Segal, to interview him, as part of their mission to record the history of South African Jews living in Vancouver. It planted a seed in my mind. Why don’t I interview my dad, and record his voice for my family? So, with tape recorder in hand, we began. My dad (Lou) loves to tell a story and soon I had literally hours of tape.
It wasn’t my intention to write a book. But how would future generations know Lou’s story, and the lessons he has to share? And so the book Who’s Lou? A Loving Tribute to Lou Segal was born.
This is a story of a deeply spiritual man who governs his life with love and integrity; a self-made man who wanted to help others and, in so doing, became a pharmacist and entrepreneur; a man who is a role model and mentor to his four kids, 11 grandkids and five great-grandkids; a man who remains in constant gratitude for all his blessings; a 94-year-old man still in love with my 92-year-old mom!
Born in 1925 Yanishki, Lithuania, home to some 900 Jews, he set sail as a young boy on the Adolf Woermann with his mother and younger brother to join his father in South Africa. His father had left earlier to create a better life for them, after being attacked selling wares from his horse and cart. After a turbulent journey, they arrived in Cape Town, but there was no one to meet them. His father had mistaken the date.
“I remember my mother holding our hands, wailing in Yiddish: ‘Where’s my husband?’” said Lou. “We were told we’d have to sail back to Berlin if no one came. Just as the ship’s horn blasted, an angel came on board. She said she was my mother’s sister and we were able to leave the ship. She belonged to a Jewish agency that provided assistance for Lithuanian immigrants.” If not for her, how different this story would have been.
Lou’s childhood was difficult. “My first days of school were traumatic. I arrived late in the school year, wearing my tzitzit. I could only speak Yiddish and, even though I was 7, I was put into the equivalent of preschool. I was so embarrassed. Antisemitism was rife and I was ridiculed and beaten up often. I had no one to turn to.”
The family originally lived in a poor neighbourhood and many of Lou’s friends were black kids and they played soccer together. He learned to speak Zulu and, later, this would save his life.
As the years went by, his father’s business prospered, and the family moved to nicer homes. Their last home in Pretoria is today the residence of the consulate of Madagascar.
When Lou was 16, he first laid eyes on my mom, Friedah, at Muizenberg, a popular beach resort and meeting place for young Jewish people. Lou’s eyes always tear up when he talks about my mom.” To this day,” he said, “I am still so in love with your mother. The minute I saw her, she mesmerized me. But it wasn’t mutual. Mom would joke that, as the years went by, I was always looking at her, but she was looking the other way.”
One of Lou’s brothers, Charles Segal, recently received the Guinness World Record for most recorded pianist. Lou can’t claim the same, but he finally won my mom’s heart after she saw him playing the piano as a guest entertainer at a party one night. The next day, she called him … and the rest is history. They were married some years later in Cape Town, after Lou graduated as a pharmacist. They had four children, Basil, Ramona (me), Darryl and Janine.
But tragedy nearly struck when Lou had a fire in his pharmacy. His delivery boy lit a cigarette in the dispensary and a bottle of benzene erupted into flames. Lou tried to stomp out the fire with his foot. His pants went up in flames and his skin was burnt to the bone. A customer rushed him to the hospital. He needed skin grafts on both legs. A teaching professor came into his hospital room one day and told his students in Afrikaans, thinking my dad couldn’t understand, that he would likely never walk again.
“My heart dropped,” Lou recalled. “I asked Mom to bring my tefillin to the hospital, and I put it on every morning and prayed to G-d. Miraculously, over time, the grafts started taking. After six months, I was discharged, and was gradually able to go back to my usual activities. To this day, I lay tefillin every single day. I believe it is one of the most important of the 613 mitzvot in the Torah.”
Lou was a pharmacist but became a successful and respected entrepreneur. He was a branding whiz, was coined the ‘Man with Ideas’ and was so well known that the newspaper created a caricature of him.
“I always wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. I had a deep knowledge of pharmacognosy and could formulate products from scratch using plants and natural ingredients. As time went by, I realized I could manufacture most products and so I started to create my own brand lines.” His products became household names.
In 1948, apartheid was introduced in South Africa and black people were forced to carry passbooks to restrict their freedom of movement. In 1960, they took to the streets in protest; stores were burglarized and cars overturned. The police opened fire and the bloodshed that followed is called the Sharpeville massacre.
“Demonstrations in Cape Town passed my drugstore,” said Lou. “Several blacks entered and were about to jump over my counter to attack me when a black man shouted in Zulu that I was his ‘doctor’ and they must stop. Over the years, I had tended to many black people who had come to my drugstore bleeding from fights. They’d promise to pay me later but I knew they never would. I had grown up with them and just wanted to help. I believe this man saved my life.”
Our family considered leaving the country but, after Nelson Mandela’s arrest, there was a false sense of security and life went on.
By that time, we, like so many white South Africans, were enjoying a wonderful lifestyle in Cape Town. We went to shul as a family every Friday night, played tennis or lounged on the beach on weekends. Lou kept fit, swimming lengths in our pool, going to the gym, playing tennis. He was a Toastmaster and he and my mom had a large network of friends. They loved to party and took ballroom dancing lessons in our home.
But there was always an underlying level of tension and the turning point came in 1976, after the Soweto Uprising. Black schoolchildren took to the streets in the thousands, protesting the government’s insistence that Afrikaans be the official language in schools. It became bloody.
My older brother, Basil, and I felt there was no future for us in South Africa and we both independently immigrated to Vancouver. I recall, when Basil phoned to say he had arrived in Vancouver, Mom asked: “Vancouver? Where’s that?” Basil replied: “Look at the map. It’s as far north and as far west as you can go!”
My parents learned that they could bring our younger siblings on their passport if they immigrated before either of them turned 21.
“I was just 54 years old and at the prime of my career,” said Lou. “I had a business partner, and we were under negotiations to merge with two other companies to be listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange. I owned several large property holdings, both residential and commercial. There were strict regulations as to how much money you could take out the country. If you violated the law you could lose everything. But we had this deadline to move to Vancouver and be together again with our four kids, and that is what we decided to do. Family first!”
Our home in Cape Town later became the residence of the consulate of Lithuania.
Lou came as a retired man but he never retired. He still goes into the office, where he works with my younger brother, Darryl, manufacturing the HerbalGlo line of hair and skin products. Darryl wants to retire, but he can’t, because Lou still goes to the office.
Lou is a man who never raised his voice, but his life lessons and strong moral values are heard loud and clear by all who know him.
Who’s Lou? is filled with loving tributes from family and four rabbis who have officiated over the years at Congregation Beth Tikvah. We are so grateful to Barbi Braude for the hours she put into the concept and design of the book, which was launched in honour of Lou on Sept. 7 at a Kiddush luncheon at the synagogue. It is available at the synagogue library, the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia and the Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library.
Ramona Josephson is one of Lou Segal’s four children and is married to Ken Karasick. Her two children, Jaclyn and Marc, have brought Lou and Friedah four great-grandchildren. She is a happily retired dietitian and nutritionist and author of HeartSmart Nutrition: Shopping on the Run.
Many of us gravitate towards objects that are bright and sparkly. Creating this magic in one handbag is what Judith Leiber, née Peto, accomplished.
Judith Peto was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1921. Her mother, Helene, from Vienna, was a homemaker and her father, Emil, from Hungary, was a commodities broker. Together with her sister, Eva, the family had a bourgeois lifestyle.
Discovering that their teenaged daughter had a good head for numbers and academics, they sent Judith to London to study chemistry, with the hope that she would acquire a university degree and work in the cosmetics industry. Part of the reason they sent her away to school was a concern about her safety in case of a war. However, the distance from her family proved too difficult for Judith and she soon returned home.
She landed a job at a handbag company and, over the years, her father would bring her an assortment of unique handbags from his many travels around the world, thereby initiating Judith’s collection.
Learning the art of handbag-making from start to finish allowed Judith to become the first woman to join the Hungarian handbag guild; she gained the title of a true craftsman.
Judith and her family escaped and survived the Holocaust due to her father’s large circle of connections. He was fortunate to obtain a Schutzpass, a document that secured the bearer safe passage, giving the family, together with 26 others, access to a house set aside for Swiss citizens, where they could live. They ate what they could, slept on the floor and never left the security of the house.
“People in Budapest and my parents, especially my father, did one thing and then another to keep us safe, or as safe as we could be when everyone wanted to kill us,” Judith told the Jewish Exponent in a 2013 interview.
When Hungary was liberated, the family moved into a basement that was home to 60 survivors. Rebuilding the life they once knew was their goal. During this time, Judith met and fell in love with an American soldier, Gerson Leiber. Against her parents’ wishes, she married him in 1946 and the couple moved to the United States.
The young new immigrant had no intention of staying home and becoming a traditional housewife. With her knowledge and skill in making handbags, she got her first job at Nettie Rosenstein, a fashion designer. Working her way up in the company, she was commissioned to make a handbag to match the inauguration dress of the first lady, Mamie Eisenhower. The bag received high regard and this milestone, after 12 years of hard work, gave her the impetus to start her own brand.
In 1963, she launched her company with her husband and partner by her side, overseeing the business and operational duties. An avid artist himself, a painter, they were an unstoppable duo. In the 7,000-square-foot loft that became their studio, countless creations were brought to life, handbags that epitomized glamour, every piece an original, made with crystals and beads in shapes of animals, fruit and other objects.
A Judith Leiber handbag became a first lady tradition for the inauguration ball. Some A-list Hollywood stars put more thought into their Leiber handbag than their dresses, knowing it would be the focal point of any attire. One handbag could cost anywhere from $3,000 US to $20,000 US.
“That is what people pay for – quality,” Judith told the Exponent.
And quality was what she prided herself on, each bag being made by specialist craftsmen under Judith’s watchful eye in New York.
Her label brought in millions of dollars in sales each year and there was a waiting list for her creations, with women around the world wanting a timeless bag to wear and/or display as part of their home décor.
The company was sold in 1993, with Judith staying on as the head creator. She enjoyed her new life, moving out of New York and settling in East Hampton, N.Y., with her husband, “Gus.”
Over her career, Judith received numerous design awards and had her work exhibited in some of the world’s most renowned museums, including the Smithsonian, the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum, to name only a few.
In addition to being displayed elsewhere, there is the Leiber Collection museum in East Hampton, a project set in motion by Gus.
The Leibers were married for more than 70 years. Their earthly love story endured until 2018, when they died within hours of each other, both of heart attacks.
Ariella Steinis a mother, wife and fashion maven. A Vancouverite, she has lived in both Turkey and Israel for the past 25 years.
The Hungry Jew, one of the signature sandwiches at Buzzy’s Luncheonette. (photo by Adam Bogoch)
My friend, Adam Bogoch, pitched it as the “Smoked Meat Story.” Soon after that email, he would write his own review, for narcity.com, titled, “This smoked meat sandwich on Salt Spring Island in B.C. will actually change your life.” His friend and colleague, Howard Busgang, had opened a deli on the island, and not only did I need to meet Busgang, but I needed to get on a ferry and taste The Hungry Jew, one of the signature sandwiches at Buzzy’s Luncheonette.
Between the Independent’s annual summer publishing hiatus and the High Holidays, it was November before Adam and I headed to Salt Spring. The travel ran like clockwork and we were pulling up to 122-149 Fulford Ganges Rd. right in time for lunch. We shared a Hungry Jew – a Montreal smoked meat sandwich with homemade horseradish sauce, coleslaw and, I kid you not, two latkes – and the Rabinowitz, Buzzy’s take on a Reuben. They were both incredibly good, and the only reason I’ve waited this long to share the news is because I wanted to wait until better weather, when people would be more likely to take a day or weekend getaway.
Even in winter, Buzzy’s was busy. Having arrived at prime feeding time, it was hard to get Busgang to sit down and, as we talked, he was constantly distracted – in a good way – by customers.
“Tell me, I’ll get you another sandwich before you go,” he said as he finally was able to join me at a table outside for the interview.
Born and raised in Montreal, stand-up comedy took Busgang first to Toronto and then to Los Angeles, where he met his wife, Melanie Weaver, and where he lived for 28 years, before returning to Canada.
“She’s Jewish-adjacent,” joked Busgang. “She was working for a rabbi when I met her.”
The two met on a blind date, he said, brought together by a Jewish comic who knew both of them.
When he started in comedy in the early 1980s, Busgang said, “There were not a lot of comics around. It wasn’t like today where every second person does stand-up, so it wasn’t that OK a profession,” as far as his parents were concerned. “It was kind of an oddity, like maybe he’ll grow out of this kind of thing.”
Busgang attended Jewish high school, then went to McGill University before heading to Toronto.
“You know where I started?” he said. “United Synagogue Youth, USY, that’s where I started. I was emceeing all their events and that led me to go professional.”
He recalled the first time he performed at amateur night in Toronto. “They packed the place with all these people from USY who knew me. It was packed, and it was great.”
So great, he said, that he was put into regular comedy shows right away, “which wasn’t so easy, by the way, because it wasn’t my friends anymore in the audience.”
When he was a stand-up comedian, Busgang did a lot of Jewish material. “I was a very Jewish comic,” he said.
In Los Angeles, he moved from stand-up to comedy writing. “I just was a little tired of the road,” he said, and performing caused him some anxiety.
“Listen, I had a respectable career, I did well, but I would constantly punish myself by asking, why am I doing this? But I think I do that with everything. I do that with this place [Buzzy’s], I do that as a writer.”
As Busgang was in the middle of saying he might just be a miserable guy, he was called back into the deli to help make a sandwich.
Weaver took his place. Her recollection was that a woman from the synagogue set up that first date.
“I was the only non-Jew in the whole place,” she said. However, Weaver was raised Jewishly, with her family observing some of the holidays, hosting seders, for example, and she taught at a Jewish camp. Born and raised in New York, she moved to Los Angeles some 30 years ago. She and Busgang have been married for about half that time.
“Howard had this property on Salt Spring our entire marriage,” she said. “And so, our entire marriage, I kept hearing ‘Salt Spring,’ ‘Salt Spring,’ and all I kept seeing was this property tax bill every month. I was, like, how good could it be? Then the elections and everything started to happen in the U.S. and it just got bad. We took a trip up here in September , I fell in love and then we came in July .”
A blended family, the couple has three daughters: Alexandra, 30, in Toronto; Emma, 20, in Seattle; and Hannah, 10, who was dividing her attention between helping in the deli and playing with a local dog while her mother was being interviewed.
Neither Busgang nor Weaver had any restaurant experience before opening Buzzy’s. “It’s funny,” she said. “The night before we were open, we had to learn the cash and I was almost in tears.”
The ignorance was a kind of blessing, she said. “I don’t think we knew what could go wrong, so ignorance was bliss, in this case.”
Their first day, there were lineups out the door.
“We got thrown into it, which was great,” she said. “I think if we had opened in the winter, when it was slow, it would have been a different experience.”
Busgang’s love of cooking seemed to have come out of nowhere, said Weaver. “And then he started to smoke his own meat. So, we had that in our back pocket.”
But the couple still wasn’t planning on opening a restaurant, until the location became available. “It was basherte,” she said.
In addition to Busgang’s meat-smoking skills, Weaver’s desire for a good tuna sandwich was a motivation. “So, again, why not open a deli? Not the brightest of ideas, but it worked out.”
And it’s hard work. There is only one staff member. Busgang smokes meat “around the clock,” said Weaver. “It’s like having a newborn. It’s a lot of work but the rewards – it’s a community, we’ve become part of a community and it means so much. My daughter gets to work the cash register. It’s crazy. We still can’t believe we have keys to this place.”
She said, “If we did anything right, it’s that we didn’t focus on the tourists, we focused on our people, and so we have a lot of loyalty here. I think people also come here [because] there’s a lot of cursing, a lot of bad behaviour, you can come here and just laugh, and that’s what we want. Come here, have a laugh, I’ll make you eat, you have to finish your plate or you go to your room. That was our business plan – make the community happy, hopefully make a few bucks.”
Since they opened, the menu has seen some additions; in particular, matzah ball soup and tomato soup. “We don’t want to get too big. We just want to stay like someone’s kitchen,” she said.
And the island has been very welcoming. “Someone knew that we want to make our own pickles, so they’re going to grow us cucumbers,” said Weaver as one example. “The love here,” she said, “it’s insane.”
Hannah, who had checked in a couple of times with her mother, joined the interview. In addition to sometimes working the cash, she delivers food to the Saturday market and to the bar a few doors down from the deli.
“That’s another thing,” said Weaver, “it’s a family joint.”
School runs four days a week and, while Hannah enjoys helping out, she was still getting used to living on the island. When she’s not working or at school, she’s probably at soccer or horseback riding; she had just received a paddleboard for her birthday. Though she has a couple of sandwiches named after her, her favourite is the grilled cheese.
“A lot of what we’re doing here has to do with taking the power back in our lives,” said Busgang, when he returned to the table. “It has to do with being in showbiz all those years and feeling like you had no control over anything and feeling like you’re handing over all the power to other people to validate you…. I was tired of it.”
Buzzy’s opened on June 22 last year. “Whereas, in show business, nobody wants to help you, in this business, I have so many people who want to help me.”
One of those people was William Kaminski, owner of Phat Deli in Vancouver, who Busgang described as a mentor.
“We’re not perfect but we’re figuring it out,” said Busgang.
The smoked meat he has got down to a science.
“We’re open till four o’clock and then I have to get my brisket ready for the next day, so I have to bathe the brisket,” he said. “We cure it for eight days – dry cure – and then I have to take the salt out, so we bathe it. I’m bathing a brisket right now and sometimes I sing to it. It’s very sweet. After I bathe it, then I put some rub on it and then I’ll take it home and we’ll smoke it for seven-and-a-half hours. And then it goes in the steamer for two, three hours.”
Finding rye bread was one of the early challenges.
“I knew I was in a special place,” he said, “because people would come by with bread and say, ‘Try this bread.’ They’d constantly come in and say, ‘What are you going to do about the bread?’ It became like a cause célèbre, the bread. It took me three months, and I got someone here on the island to make me an organic rye bread.”
Barb Slater makes the bread; Shigusa Saito, the knishes. Saito is now also “making a dark chocolate babka to die for,” wrote Busgang in a follow-up email. “If you’re not already dead, she’s also making us New York cheesecake, our soon-to-be-famous potato knishes, and rugelach.”
Meanwhile, Busgang – whose credits include having been a head Just for Laughs-gala writer, creating the award-winning sitcom The Tournament and writing for TV series Boy Meets World and Good Advice, among many others – is still writing, still pitching shows. Earlier that afternoon, he was slicing meat while plugged into his phone, listening to a meeting in which a producer was trying to put a deal together.
Weaver popped out to say that Busgang often has to go next door to finish his calls because the meat in the charger of his cellphone prevents his phone from charging. “There’s meat everywhere,” she said.
A couple of relatively new customers stopped to say hello to Busgang and Weaver. They said they were slowly adding Buzzy’s to their list of usual places to eat.
And, said Busgang and Weaver, local Jews have discovered, by going to Buzzy’s and meeting fellow Jews, that there actually is a Jewish community on the island.
“We’re blessed to have this,” said Busgang.
As he explained the deli’s name – his father called him Buzzy – Hannah returned, offering him a taste of a new salad dressing she had created. “Daddy, just try it.”
“Interesting,” he said, “I like it.”
“It’s gross,” she corrected him.
Three generations seemed present in that moment.
As the interview came to an end, Busgang asked, “Do you want some rugelach? I gotta keep feeding you.”
סטארט אפ קנדה עומדת לסיים את הליך ההתמודדות לבחירת אישה יזמית של סטארט אפ לתחרות הבינלאומית ‘סטארט תל אביב’, שתערך בחודש ספטמבר הקרוב.
אישה ממציאה: מסתיים הליך ההתמודדות לבחירת אישה יזמית של סטארט אפ לתחרות בינלאומית בתל אביב
סטארט אפ קנדה עומדת לסיים את הליך ההתמודדות לבחירת אישה יזמית של סטארט אפ לתחרות הבינלאומית ‘סטארט תל אביב’, שתערך בחודש ספטמבר הקרוב. התחרות תתקיים במשך חמישה ימים (25-29) וישתתפו בה נציגות משלושים מדינות שונות. הפרוייקט של סטארט אפ קנדה לבחירת הנציגה שתגיע לתל אביב מתקיים בחסות שגרירות ישראל בקנדה וחברת יו.פי.אס. הזוכה תזכה בכרטיס זוגי ואירוח מלא בתל אביב.
התנאים להצגת מועמדות להשתתפות באירוע בתל אביב: אישה עד גיל ארבעים, ממציאה של סטארט אפ, הסטארט אפ נמצא ופועל מחוץ לקנדה, הסטארט אפ מבוסס על טכנולוגיה או עושה שימוש בטכנולוגיה בדרך חדשנית וקריאטיבית. יצוין כי רק נציגה אחת מכל חברת סטארט אפ יכולה להציג מועמדותה לאירוע. המועד האחרון להגשת מועמדות נקבע לארבעה ביולי.
במסגרת הביקור בתל אביב הנציגה הקנדית ביחד עם הנציגות מהמדינות הנוספות תפגשנה יזמים ישראלים בולטים, משקיעים, אמנים, יוצרים ומדענים. בהם: ראש עיריית תל אביב רון חולדאי, יוסי ורדי, אורלי שני ורותי קורן. האורחות מחו”ל ישתתפו בפסטיבל החדשות של עיריית תל אביב הנקרא ‘אולד’ וכן במספר בהרצאות וסדנאות בינלאומיות. הפסטיבל משמש זירת מפגש בין עולם ההיי-טק והחדשנות בישראל, לבין הזירה הבינלאומית והציבור הרחב. הפסטיבל כולל אירועים, סיורים, מפגשים, ביקורים בחברות סטארט אפ ועוד. יצויין כי ‘סטארט תל אביב’ מנוהל על ידי משרד החוץ של ישראל ומתקיים מזה חמש שנים.
סטארט אפ קנדה יצא לדרך בשנת 2012 על ידי היזמית ויקטוריה לינוקס. הארגון משתף פעולה עם שלוש מאות גופים ברחבי קנדה, בניהול מאתיים אירועים בארבעים קהילות שונות. עד היום כעשרים אלף איש השתתפו באירועים של סטארט אפ קנדה. הארגון הצליח כבר ליצור קשר בין שלושת אלפים יזמים עם סטארטאפיסטים. על השותפים של המסחרים של סטארט אפ קנדה נמנים: סקוטיה בנק, מיקרוסופט, יו.פי.אס והפיינשל פוסט.
לפי נתונים של בנק אוף מונטריאול מיליון וחצי קנדיים מועסקים על ידי חברות בבעלות נשים. ואילו על פי נתוני בנק אר.בי.סי עסקים בבעלות נשים בקנדה תורמים מאה ארבעים ושמונה מיליארד דולר לכלכלה הקנדית מדי שנה.
אישה מתחזה: אישה מחופשת עם פאה ומשקפיים התייצבה למבחן נהיגה ברכב במקום אמה
בוחן נהיגה וותיק במחוז אונטריו הופתע מאוד לראות שלמבחן נהיגה ברכב (טסט) שהייה אמור להתקיים עם נבחנת מבוגרת בת 73, התייצבה אישה חבושה בפאה ועם משקפיים כהים. הבוחן לא היה צריך להתאמץ במיוחד לראות שהנבחנת לידו (במושב הנהג), נראית הרבה יותר צעירה מאישה בת 73. לאחר שהתעשת הבוחן החליט כן לאפשר לצעירה המחופשת לבצע את הטסט במקום אמה. בו בזמן הוא הודיע למנהליו במשרד על האירוע החמור, ואלו הזעיקו מייד את השוטרים שעצרו אותה.
האישה בת ה-39 הודתה בחקירתה בתחנת המשטרה כי היא בתה של הנבחנת המבוגרת שלנחצה מאוד מהטסט ופחדה להיכשל. הבת (ששמה לא פורסם בשלב זה על ידי המשטרה) הוסיפה עוד, כי היא חשבה שהיא דווקא כן פעלה נכון כיוון “כשעזרה” לאמה, והתייצבה למבחן הנהיגה במקומה. במשטרה כמובן לא קיבלו את הסבריה אלה של המתחזה והיא תעמוד למשפט במהלך חודש יולי הקרוב. שני סעיפי האישום נגד האישה: התחזות ועבירה פלילית. אם תורשע העונש המקסימלי על שתי עברות אלה הוא חצי שנה בכלא וקנס בגובה חמשת אלפים דולר. סביר להניח שהנאשמת תתרחק מתחפושות לפחות בתקופה הקרובה.
High-tech entrepreneur Galya Westler is at TEDxStanleyPark on May 28. (photo from Galya Westler)
The social media available to help us connect with one another are ever-increasing, but they are not always effective. In fact, they often have the opposite effect – when we realize the relations they engender are illusory, we experience feelings of loneliness and inadequacy. So says Galya Westler, a local high-tech entrepreneur, who is creating a simpler, more intimate solution to connect people with their respective communities.
In keeping with the theme of “Ideas to Action,” Westler – along with 14 other local thought leaders – will take the stage at the third annual TEDxStanleyPark on May 28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. She will deliver a talk entitled Social Media Obesity and Loneliness. She will discuss the growing phenomenon of social media addiction, recount her personal experiences in trying to connect with others during a particularly traumatic period in her life and explore how to use technology to overcome a social media addiction.
According to Westler, too many people suffer from what she terms “social media obesity,” or an addiction to social media, and are “pigging out on selfies of attention.” Moreover, in their effort to be noticed, social media addicts often lose appreciation of how they act in the online world – and exaggerations serve only to enhance the gap between online personas and reality. The ultimate consequence: feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, depression and loneliness.
Westler examines the subject from the point of view of a social media developer with a decade of experience in creating or enhancing online communities. This summer, she will launch Plazus Mobile Social App Builder, her most ambitious social media application platform to date.
Born in Montreal, Westler grew up in Ra’anana after her Israeli parents returned home upon her father’s completion of his PhD at the University of Montreal.
She served as a commander of a radar post in the Gaza Strip during her mandatory military service with the Israel Defence Forces. She describes her experience as “amazing” and “life-changing.” Introverted and lacking confidence in high school, she said her army service – carried out in a male-dominated environment – enabled her to blossom into an outgoing and hardworking soldier who rose to challenges. She would carry this learned lesson with her as she pursued higher education.
Despite an affinity for the humanities, Westler enrolled in Shenkar College’s four-year software engineering program. She had been counseled to do so by her father, a senior high-tech professional in Israel, who told her: “If you study software engineering, the doors will open for you.”
The program was challenging and Westler struggled – not only with the material, but also with the pressure from those around her who suggested she give up and drop out. This discouragement only strengthened her resolve and she persevered to finish the program. Of the 40 students who had enrolled with her, only 11 completed their studies. Westler was the only female graduate.
After a year of working in Israel’s high-tech industry, Westler decided to move back to Canada, settling in British Columbia. She worked for a number of tech companies before opting to incorporate her own, giving her the independence she sought. “I did the corporate-ladder thing, but never quite fit in,” she said.
Since incorporating her first company, 2Galvanize Ltd., in 2008, Westler has built close to 100 websites, mobile applications and backend systems for different companies, including the Yellow Pages. She specializes in creating private social “ecosystems,” or networks, that enable people to communicate on an “authentic” level, unlike other social media sites that she describes as too big and overwhelming to navigate and digest. Her mission is to create systems that support efforts that enable people to communicate in a manner emblematic of times past: “more intimate, more humbly and, very importantly, in small groups.” This led to her involvement with Bazinga, an app that connects building residents to their strata councils, and Wag Around, an app that connects dog owners and facilitates interactions offline.
Simplifying genuine communication between people and their respective communities is what motivates Westler to develop new tools. “The reason I do the work I do is because I truly want to connect people, and the best way to do that is to give them an excuse to connect based on common interests,” she explained.
Westler’s newest commercial development, Plazus Mobile Social App Builder, applies the principle of connecting people in the business realm as a means of facilitating dialogue or enhancing brand. The name combines the words “plaza” and “us,” a tongue-in-cheek homage to more traditional ways of communicating.
Set to launch at the end of June, Plazus is a B2B (business to business) social media tool that will provide a company or organization with an easy, structured and relatively inexpensive way to connect with their customers and communities in their own social ecosystems. It seeks to do this functionally, interactively and in an esthetically appealing manner.
Westler is filled with anticipation as her two seed investors, a team of 10 techies and more than 60 early-adopter customers, eagerly await the launch of Plazus Technologies’ beta product.
Westler credits many of her entrepreneurial successes in Canada to her Israeli chutzpah. Although she misses Israel, particularly Tel Aviv’s culture and lifestyle, and acknowledges that research and development thrives in Israel because of wonderful talent, she said that her seven years in Vancouver have been “amazing … it’s paradise.”
Westler’s goal is to continue to grow her business and open offices in both Vancouver and Tel Aviv, which would enable her to travel regularly between the two places in the world she loves most.
She said it is important for her to stay connected to Israel for both personal and professional reasons, and she has spoken in Israel about her work and her entrepreneurial path on more than one occasion, including to a women’s Lean In Circle at Google’s office in Tel Aviv and at StarTAU, Tel Aviv University’s Entrepreneurship Centre.
True to her commitment to connect individuals with like-minded community members, Westler herself is involved in a number of different groups and causes. She serves as president of the Vancouver Entrepreneurs Toastmasters Club and is active in several other local business organizations.