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Music Show Organizer Side Door Wins First Ever Gerry Pond Sales Award

Left to right: Propel's Entrepreneur-in-Residence Charlotte Murray, and CEO Barry Bisson, Side Door co-founder and CEO Laura Simpson, Gerry Pond and former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna. Image: Ryan Williams/Submitted

SAINT JOHN – Side Door, a platform that matches musicians to venues for shows, became the first ever winner of the Gerry Pond Sales Award Friday.

“It’s my commitment, especially with an award like this, that I am staying in Nova Scotia, I’m growing this company in Nova Scotia to exemplify the artists that we have and the artists that we have around the world and help them have a living,” said Laura Simpson, the CEO and co-founder of Side Door, to an audience in Saint John. “And I’m so proud to do it in Atlantic Canada. So thank you for this.”

The former political journalist had spent a few months in Los Angeles to learn about the music industry and almost moved there with her filmmaker husband, and children. But she decided to stay because “it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than be a small fish in a big pond.”

The win gives Side Door a $25,000 prize and the option of a combined investment from Innovacorp and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation for a total of $30,000.

Side Door is one of 12 companies in phase 2 of Propel ICT’s Incite accelerator, which has a high focus on sales and customer acquisition, that was up for the award.

A third party selection committee looked at the companies’ monthly sales growth, the growth in the number of their customers, and the founders’ ability to push leads through the sales funnel in a structured way. The winner would have excelled in “creating a repeatable and scalable sales process,” according to a press release from Propel.

Propel created the sales award to recognize its co-founder Gerry Pond, who has also contributed much to the Atlantic Canadian innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Pond is an advocate for the need to professionalize sales as a business discipline because he believes sales execution is where many Atlantic Canadian founders need to improve. He’s therefore also a supporter of the establishment of a sales stream in the UNB Saint John MBA program.

“Sales has become the most important function of any organization, including politics,” he said at the award ceremony.

But salesmanship today isn’t recognized as valuable, he added.

“We’ve got to change that. And when we change that, we will grow our economy just from that,” he said. “It’s important that we professionalize sales for our own benefit.”

The creation of the award was backed by many influential New Brunswick leaders and organizations, including former premier and current Deputy Chair of TD Bank Group Frank McKenna, Innovatia, Mariner Partners, Resson, Cirrus9, UNB Saint John MBA Program, Beers Neal, Sunny Corner Enterprises, Elias Management Group and Ernst & Young.