OceansAdvance, in partnership with the Genesis Centre, hosted a public event: Yarns & Networking for Innovation week. It featured John Risley from Halifax, Nova Scotia who is President of Clearwater Fine Foods Incorporated (CFFI) a diversified holding company operating internationally. The primary assets are controlling stakes in Clearwater Seafood Inc. and Columbus Communications; a provider of network services and cable TV. He is an active supporter of aspiring entrepreneurs with his role as Chair of Futurpreneur Canada. Brendan Paddick from Grandfalls-Windsor, NL, is currently chair of the Board for Nalcor and is founder and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Columbus International Inc., a diversified telecommunications company based in Barbados. He was also named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEO’s by Atlantic Canadian Business Magazine on five occasions and was inducted into the Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame.


Risley and Paddick have been business colleagues, innovation partners, and friends since John recruited Brendan to the Board of Fisheries Products International in 2001. Since then, they have successfully pursued multiple business opportunities together.


During the Innovation Week event, Risley and Paddick told tales of how a boy from Grand Falls, NL who at one time sold worms to a local sporting goods store and a young man from Halifax who sold lobster in the small town of Bedford, NS came together to form and later sell a Caribbean communications company for an impressive $4.4 billion US. There were approximately 125 people who attended the event including entrepreneurs, industry representatives, Genesis clients, OceansAdvance members, facility and students of Memorial University and aspiring entrepreneurs.

John Risley and Brendan Paddick were entertaining and provided extremely valuable information on many topics.


Some remarkable quotes from the night were:


“Data gathering capability is enormous but few people have found a way to monetize on it.” – Risley

“Permission to fail was part of our corporate DNA” – Paddick 

“The pace of change is going to accelerate and give rise to opportunities and a more competitive landscape; speed to market is super important.” – Risley


“We need to champion and support entrepreneurs once they arrive because that is when they need it most.” – Paddick 

On how to choose who to work with and hire:


“A great idea based on our experience is to do something which demonstrates trust in somebody, and that will tell you a lot about a person.” – Risley

“Look for someone who starts something and finishes what they set out to do.” – Paddick


On lessons learned:


“We (Atlantic Canadians) understand that we need to collaborate and we are doing that (pertaining to ocean technology and clusters)!” – Risley


“Capital goes where it is welcome but stays where it is loved; support your entrepreneurs.” – Paddick


On opportunities that can be unlocked in the Ocean


Technology Sector:


“Oceans are an area that’s full of complexities and opportunities.” – Risley

“We need to do more as a global community in understanding the oceans and their impact on the Environment and the changes that are going to take place as ocean levels rise.” – Risley

“I look at oceans as a mass that’s filled with natural resources” – Paddick 

“My idea is that its businesses, societies, and governments obligation to maximize the value of this scarce resource.” – Paddick


Prior to this event, OceansAdvance and Genesis hosted a private networking event where clients and members were given the unique opportunity to engage personally with both Risley and Paddick. Risley also met with local company owners for a fire-side chat to share his story about his road to success and to provide accomplished advice to startups and established business owners.


This event was a tremendous opportunity for Genesis clients and OceansAdvance members to spend time in an intimate setting with John Risley to gain some insight and knowledge into how he became so successful. The public session afforded the attendee’s an opportunity to hear “The Yarns” – the story of how one goes from being a small town Atlantic Canadian businessman to an international success. Feedback was very positive and we are most appreciative of the time John and Brendan spent with our community. As well our sincere thanks, Gina Pecore of Genoa Design for facilitating the public session.

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