Part of the Helpful team having a group discussion.

In the Tech Business, It’s Adapt or Die

He's already founded three successful companies. Now he's helping Canadian technology entrepreneurs get up and running.

 |  Transcript [PDF]

When it comes to entrepreneurship and innovation, Daniel Debow knows what’s up. He’s been on the founding team of three companies, two of which have now been acquired. His current venture, Helpful, is a video messenger service for professionals, and given Debow’s track record, will likely be highly successful.

So when someone like Debow says that there has never been a better time to start a technology-centred business in Canada, you listen.

Debow backs up his claim by being fully committed to helping new Canadian entrepreneurs and start-ups gain traction. Debow has made over 50 angel investments and is a founding partner of the Creative Destruction Lab — a pre-seed stage accelerator located at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

For Debow, a crucial piece of creating a successful business is being open to innovation.

“The history of business has been that the ones who figure out how to adopt new technology, how to change their businesses, are the ones that survive,” he says. “Things are changing. We can’t always be doing what we used to do.”

Much the same thing can be said about science and research. Sometimes it’s hard to understand why your tax dollars should go to someone who is doing something solely based on curiosity — something where it’s not immediately obvious where the application lies or how you can make money from this. But Debow believes this type of research is crucial. Just like in business, researchers must be open to new ideas, or we will stagnate.

“This approach to science, which is really discovery, is what leads to some of the most important and breakthrough insights that we can have as a society.”

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Daniel Debow is the CEO and co-founder of, a video messenger for professionals. Most recently, he was SVP, Emerging Technologies at Salesforce. Previously, Daniel was the co-founder and co-CEO of Rypple, which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011. Prior to Rypple, Daniel was on the founding team of Workbrain, which was acquired by Infor in 2007. Daniel has made over 50 angel investments and in 2015 was recognized as Canada’s “Angel Investor of the Year”.

Daniel holds a JD/MBA (Gold Medalist) from the University of Toronto, an LLM in Law, Science and Technology from Stanford University and a BA in Psychology from Western University. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, Founding Partner of the Creative Destruction Lab at the Rotman School of Management, Founder of Root Down Studios and serves on the advisory boards of Thalmic Labs, the Rotman School, Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation, The Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, OMERS Ventures and ScaleUp Ventures. Daniel is a recipient of the Rotman School’s Catalyst Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the UofT Alumni Arbor Award. Daniel’s views on technology have been featured in media such as Bloomberg, the CBC, the Toronto Star, and Forbes. He lives in Toronto with his wife and four children.