The Next 36, a national business leadership incubator, has re-branded itself as NEXT Canada, and appointed Razor Suleman as CEO. The Next 36’s current managing director, Peter Carrescia, will become president of NEXT Canada.
Carrescia has held senior positions at OMERS Ventures, VenGrowth Capital Partners, and several technology companies, including IBM and Microsoft.
The Next 36 was founded in 2010 by a group of business leaders and academics, including Founding Patrons W. Galen Weston, Paul Desmarais, Sr. and Jimmy Pattison, and has seen several of Canada’s most promising young companies go on to create real successes, such as Bridgit, Kira Talent, Nymi, Revlo and Thalmic Labs.
Several of the Next 36’s co-founders remain committed to its evolution as NEXT Canada, including co-founders Reza Satchu, Tim Hodgson and Ajay Agrawal, along with co-chairs of the Board of Directors Anthony Lacavera and John Kelleher.
Suleman, a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University’s School of Business and MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program, has seen the business end of growing a company to scale on both sides of the border.
“I have known Razor for many years and I am very gratified that he has joined our organization,” said NEXT Canada founding chairman Reza Satchu. “With the support of many, we have grown from an idea to the premier destination for the nation’s most talented entrepreneurs. With Razor and Peter at the helm and a strong Board behind them, we are positioned to build on this momentum and establish NEXT Canada as a driving force for our national prosperity.”
In 2011, after Razor Suleman raised a $25 million funding round led by Sequoia Capital for his employee recognition platform Achievers, he brought the company down to Silicon Valley.
2011 is also the year that Suleman was named Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year.
In 2015, Blackhawk Network bought Achievers for US$140 million, at which point Suleman moved back to Toronto, where he became a partner at Alignvest Management Corp.
“As a Canadian entrepreneur, I initially believed I needed to be in the U.S. to be able to scale and grow my company globally,” wrote Suleman in a recent Huffington Post piece. “In Silicon Valley, entrepreneurs wake up in the morning believing they are working on something significant. The one thing we lack in Canada is the belief that we can build global, game-changing companies. In this past year alone, we’ve seen three newly minted Canadian unicorns (Slack, Shopify & Kik) — it’s time to tell the story of Canada as a leader in the global startup ecosystem.”
Suleman’s decision to bring his belief that these companies can be built and grown in Canada has motivated him to step into a leadership role at one of the country’s premier talent development hubs at NEXT Canada.
“There is no shortage of entrepreneurial talent in Canada, but we need to develop a belief that we can build global, game-changing companies,” said Suleman. “In order to realize our own potential, we need to focus on having the best innovation community we can, making sure our brightest people have access to capital, and supporting the companies that we build. That is precisely what NEXT Canada’s programs will aim to accomplish.”
The deadline to apply for the Next 36 2017 cohort is October 18.