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We have vast industry experience in Data/Analytics/AI, Financial Services, Retail, Loyalty, Healthcare and Manufacturing.  

Over 25 investments

Collectively founded 14 companies

Board and advisory positions with 22 start ups and leading Canadian incubators/accelerators


Marla Schwartz

Marla is a Senior Advisor at The Group Ventures, is a relentless entrepreneur and leader in financial services and healthcare. She has more than 35 years of varied experience ranging from multi-national insurers and agile niche financial services organizations. Most recently, Marla was President of Benecaid for thirteen years leading the company through exponential growth until the company was sold to French Insurer April. Marla has been recognized by Profit magazine as one of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs 2009-2014. 

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Charaka Kithulegoda

Charaka is a Senior Advisor at The Group Ventures, he brings with him a deep understanding and vast experience in banking technology. Charaka contributed to the transformation of how Canadians conduct banking, having built the software and infrastructure that safely embedded banking on mobile devices. In 2011, ComputerWorld Canada recognized Charaka as IT Leader of the Year in the large enterprise category and in 2013, he was recognized as Mobile Banker of the Year by American Banker. Charaka is now EVP & Chief Information Officer Retail Banking at PNC.

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Kevin Dougherty

Kevin, a senior advisor at The Group Ventures has significant and diverse leadership and board experience in the insurance and asset management industries at one of the top-ranked global insurers. Kevin is a strategic thinker, creative problem-solver, and an innovative bold competitor, with a strong focus on people, teamwork, and culture. He has a unique background in digital and AI and is an active community board director.

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Ron Dembo

Dr. Ron Dembo is a Senior Advisor at The Group Ventures. Ron was the Founder and CEO of Algorithmics Incorporated, growing it organically from a startup to the world’s largest enterprise risk-management software company, with offices in fifteen countries, over 70% of the world’s top 100 banks as clients, and consistent recognition as one of Canada’s 50 best-managed companies. He is a lifetime fellow of the Fields Institute for research in Mathematical Sciences and was awarded a distinguished Alumni Medal from The University of Waterloo. He is currently working with the Creative Destruction Lab at the University of Toronto and is working with numerous startups to help them scale. He has also received numerous awards for his work in mathematical optimization, risk management, finance, and climate change.

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Chiko Nanji

Chiko Nanji is a Senior Advisor at The Group Ventures. He is a prominent Canadian businessman based in Montreal and Toronto. As the CEO and founder of Metro Supply Chain Group and the Chairman of LDC Logistics Development Corporation, he has extensive experience in the transportation, real estate and investment fields. Chiko has been incredibly involved with the Canadian Armed Forces and is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012, the Provincial Commendation from the Order of St John in 2013, alongside being appointed a Chevalier of the Order of St George. Chiko is an active philanthropist and currently supports hospitals, educational institutions and Ismaili charities through his Nanji Family Trust.  

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Laurent Mareschal

Laurent is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of the The Group Ventures. Laurent also advises companies in other industries, including Real Estate and Financial Services. 

Prior to his current roles, Laurent had a 25 year career in Banking, with strong experience in Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), Mergers & Acquisitions, and financial engineering.  While at Scotiabank, Laurent was the Managing Director and CFO of Capital Markets, led all FP&A, was CFO of Canadian Banking and lastly, Laurent assumed leadership of Small Business Banking. 

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David Saffer

David leads The Group Venture's marketing and brand advisory.  He is an expert at helping firms narrow their focus, so they deepen their relevance. David’s professional career has afforded him more than 10,000 hours in each of: marketing research; advertising; and operations/management consulting. David would love to speak with you about your market position and together, draw the straightest line to market share growth.

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Ian McIntosh

Ian is The Group Venture’s People & Culture Strategic Advisor, bringing a unique blend of expertise in human resources, c-suite support, corporate communications, strategic planning and execution, and public policy. Ian has a strong passion for developing people and teams, and over three decades of experience coaching and advising CEOs and senior executives.

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Chris Hodgson

Chris is a Venture Partner at The Group Ventures. Over his 25 year career Chris has been an engineer, entrepreneur, executive, angel investor and advisor. Throughout this time he's learned a lot about building businesses, and teams, within a tech environment. Chris has been on the founding team of two tech startups - the first was acquired for over $300m, and the second is profitable and now has over 2.5m members. Chris also spent 6 years on the leadership team at Google Canada, where he helped grow the business from 50 people to over 300. He was also part of the executive team at RBC which built RBC Ventures - an internal corporate incubator - from concept to over 200 people in 1 year. Most recently, Chris has advised the founders of an eCommerce business as they grew revenue from $11m to $41m in one year.


Chris is a Board Director at KidStart Ltd (UK) and the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI). He has supported Baycrest Hospital & Foundation for three years as an active member of the Board's Marketing Sub-committee. Chris also serves on the Personal Advisory Committee of one of Canada’s Ultra-High-Net-Worth families. Chris has an MBA from INSEAD, in France, and an Engineering degree from Queen's University, in Canada.

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Doug Finley

Doug is The Group Venture's Commercialization, Sales & Growth Strategic Advisor. He is an experienced software executive, providing company founders with segment-driven, go-to-market strategies and realistic execution roadmaps.  


His structured approach to product commercialization leverages the cross-dependency of sales, marketing, product management, and customer service.  


Doug was most recently the President of Wolters Kluwer CCH Canada, building the cloud and premise-based tax compliance and practice management software used by Canada’s top accounting and law firms, as well as major corporations.

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