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May 18, 2020

After a five-year stint with Sesame Streets Labs in New York, and getting her Masters in Education at Harvard, Carly Shuler returns to Canada. She creates Why? Carly knows that kids who love to read will spend a lifetime loving to learn. matches students with real teachers, and with Carly's proprietary technology and teaching methods, her business takes off. Her concern is that she might draw the attention of multinationals who will go after her market share with their deeper pockets. John Ruffolo, Founder, OMERS Ventures and Co-Founder, Council of Canadian Innovators, Lisa Kimmel, Chair & CEO, Canada & Latin America, Edelman and Eric Leblanc, VP, Knowledge Based Industries, at RBC step in to help.

Small Business Matters series, presented by RBC.


Carly spots a gap in the market  (01:14)
While working at Spin Master Canada, Carly spots an opportunity. There is a gap between those that make the toys and those that truly understand learning and childhood development. After receiving a masters in technology in education, from Harvard, she lands a job at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

Return to Canada  (03:33)
Carly returns to Winnipeg, Canada and starts Hoot Reading. In true entrepreneurial fashion, Carly acknowledges she needs to make up for her weaknesses and appoints a co-founder to help scale the business. Setting out “to give every child the opportunity to have one on one reading practice with real classroom teachers” Hoot Reading makes it mark.

The focus on literacy. Is paying off?  (07:16)
Tony explores Carlys’ focus on literacy and the challenges facing Hoot Reading. With so much literacy content being free, communicating their value has been key to Hoot Readings’ success. COVID-19 changed the demand for literacy services and Hoot Reading quickly adapts. However, maintaining its position in the market still remains a challenge.

Defending Hoot Readings position - the experts make their points  (12:36)
Lisa Kimmel suggests Carly broaden her focus into STEM and with her credentials and unique experience, she has a great story to tell…but she needs to get it out there.

John Ruffolo advises Carly that, customers will start to disappear over time, as such she needs to find ways in both direct and indirect channels, to continually add to her pipeline.

Eric Leblanc, assisting companies “beyond the balance sheet” and seeking to understand the businesses plans and what they are trying to achieve, enable financial partners to provide complementary funding options to companies like Hoot Reading.

Tony’s advice on getting the attention Hoot Reading deserves  (24:33)
Our world is filled with noise and our attention is fleeting, breaking through this noise is key to getting attention for her brand. What Carly stands for, “Kids love to read, love to learn”, needs to be woven across every touchpoint in order to breakthrough.

Links and References

Carly Shuler, CoFounder & CEO at Hoot Reading -
Website -
Facebook - @hootreading
Twitter -
Instagram: @hellohootreading @raisingandreading

Lisa Kimmel, Chair & CEO, Canada & Latin America - Edelman -

John Ruffolo, Founder, OMERS Ventures and Co-Founder - Council of Canadian Innovators

Eric Leblanc, VP, Knowledge Based Industries, RBC
LinkedIn -
RBC Business page –
RBC COVID-19 Financial Relief page -
Future Launch -

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