Shadi is the Founder of Ownr, a platform that offers a simple and convenient way to register or incorporate a business as well as other tools to help entrepreneurs manage their businesses.
Prior to joining RBC Ventures in 2017, Shadi worked as the Director of Digital Transformation with RBC’s Personal & Commercial Banking where she was responsible for the strategy development of a transformation to engage clients and prospects through data insights. She was also a senior manager in the Strategy and Business Architecture group supporting the development of strategies across Personal & Commercial Banking.
Shadi spent several years at IBM before joining RBC in 2014 and earned an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. She is also a graduate of Western University.
What was the inspiration behind founding Ownr?
I am the daughter of immigrant parents who embraced their entrepreneurial grit, so I have seen firsthand how entrepreneurship can give Canadians the opportunity to shape their lives and provide for their family. Being witness to the struggles faced by entrepreneurs, I wanted to build a platform that allows Canadians, with aspirations big and small, the opportunity to realize their goals through new business creation. This ambition aligns with RBC’s commitment to empower small business owners.
Ownr is an online platform that offers entrepreneurs the possibility to register their business as well as providing the resources to manage their business. What sets Ownr apart from other similar organizations?
We’ve learned from our customers that business ownership is a significant lever for them to meet the challenges of today’s global economy. By reducing the barriers to entry for new business creation we have built a platform that allows Canadians a simple, affordable, and seamless way to set up, run, and expand their businesses. Ownr has taken a clunky and unseemly process, and turned it into a trustworthy experience for entrepreneurs looking to save on starting up and not worry that they’ve traded value for a lower cost.
At Ownr, those who are intimidated by entrepreneurship are top of mind for us when we’re building the product. We want to enable new paths for wealth creation for all Canadians and increase their chance for success through the use of our platform, enabling them to focus solely on their business aspirations.
Can you tell us about some of the main benefits that Ownr provides to SME owners?
We’re proud to offer a breadth of services for business owners, including a digital business formation service (registration and incorporation), an AI-powered logo design tool, and money back into their business when they open an RBC business bank account, and valuable offers from our partners. Our digital capabilities enable Ownr to deliver our services quickly and at a fraction of the cost, and pass along that value directly to our customers. We provide tremendous functional utility in terms of saving time and money but one of the main benefits is demystifying the process of forming a business for aspiring business owners.
You founded Ownr through RBC Ventures. How would you say RBC Ventures is helping the small business industry?
RBC Ventures is taking a broader look at small and medium businesses and thinking about how we can support their journey across different life stages, industries, and sizes. This means building solutions to problems in spaces traditional banks don’t exist. In the case of Ownr, we are laser-focused on helping business owners take that initial leap, as scary as it can be, to make it as seamless and intuitive as possible.
How do you believe your past experience helped you in your current role as founder of Ownr?
Ownr is a mission-driven business that fulfills its purpose through technology. In a past role where I helped RBC’s Personal and Commercial Banking group build strategies, I learned the critical importance of a customer-centric approach – how truly understanding the needs of your customer helps you build relevant and valuable products. This approach has informed how we built and continue to scale and improve Ownr. We embarked on deep customer research to truly understand the barriers entrepreneurs face – in fact, I opened my own side hustle, so I could experience the daunting journey of opening a business! Now that Ownr is in the market, it’s a priority to constantly talk to entrepreneurs, so we never lose sight of our customers and their journeys.
On a final note, can you let us know what inspired you to go into this career path? Did you always have a passion for entrepreneurship?
Truth be told, starting a business intimidated me, it was always something other people did. When the opportunity came up to join RBC Ventures and build Ownr, I was inspired to challenge myself. I also had to accept that I may fail in the process. It was scary, but I’m so happy I took the chance.
I feel really fortunate to work with an incredible team and play a role in delivering a product that now enables other Canadians who may be intimidated by the prospect of entrepreneurship to also take their own chance at building something great.