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The Proof - Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber

THE PROOF is a weekly roundup showcasing local creatives. A column for creatives to share their story and work, in a unique, concise format: each creative shows 8 pictures and answers 8 questions.

THE PROOF is a weekly roundup showcasing local creatives.  A column for creatives to share their story and work, in a unique, concise format: each creative shows 8 pictures and answers 8 questions. Past participants include Bob KronbauerOmer Arbel, Hannah Georgas, Carson TingLizzy KarpAndy Dixon, Graeme BerglundKaren Duncan of VOKRA - all living in Vancouver.

Every entrepreneur needs a roadmap, a surveyor and a champion, and for hundreds here in BC, Joanna has been just that: an impact leader, start-up strategist, entrepreneur advocate. From the Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing to co-creating the award winning Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, Joannas’ impact in the entrepreneurial space could be a biography on its own.

Beginning her own career in entrepreneurship as a founder of a multimedia design startup, Joanna has focused her path in finding new and diverse ways to support social change through business. As the current Managing Director at The Next Big Thing, Joanna actively mentors, educates and empowers young entrepreneurs and their ventures with one of the leading organisations in its sector across the nation. Beyond her career, Joanna is a loving mother to Arlo and Fletcher her two sons, and an avid craft maker and wine connoisseur. As an undercover extrovert, Joanna is quietly the life of every party. On her down time you can find her in Vancouver with her husband, Alex renovating their vintage Boler and wrangling their two sons.

by Christina Hirukawa



1. Headshot by my favorite local photographer, the talented Britt Gill.

2. Arlo and Fletcher –My litttle boys Arlo (7 months) and Fletcher (3 years), are such lovable active little monkeys, they keep us on our toes! Since having my boys, creating positive value in the world and working with individuals and organization that share those values, is at the forefront of every decision I make for work and play.

3. Crafting – I am a huge nerd when it comes to DIY and crafts, it helps me get my mind of the hustle of the day to day. My current obsession is weaving!

4. The TNBT Program is pretty intense, after all we are working with entrepreneurs to build viable businesses, and that is no easy task. Because of our diverse and very generous family of TNBT partners and sponsors we get to do some pretty cool stuff in the program, such as a Shaw Workshop on Speaking to the Media (on Camera) in their studios.

5. Surfing & the great outdoors! For my family, and I being in being active outdoors, being in nature and exploring our wonderful natural environment is a must. We lead a very active life that’s built on experiences as a means to growth.

6. TNBT Office Space – Hootsuite is a very supportive TNBT partner, providing a diverse and state of the art office space for the TNBT team and all our ventures! We often gather in the ‘Lodge’ to chat with seasoned entrepreneurs and investors.

7. Last year we bought a 1976 vintage Boler, a definite Canadian classic, to help us explore the great outdoors. Excited to be doing a full reno on the trailer to be ready for the spring!

8. Running, yoga and meditation help me have a clear mind, stay focused and healthy, throughout the day and throughout the year.


1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Some fun facts about me! I was born in Poland, and grew up all over Europe before immigrating to Vancouver with my parents in the early 1990’s. By the time I was 22 years old I had formally concluded what I would call my first career in life as a Tennis player. It wasn’t till after I started a multimedia design agency, went to biz school, and was introduced to the power of biz and social mission, that I discovered my ‘WHY’- bringing changemaking ideas from concept to reality.

2. What does The Next Big Thing do?

The Next Big Thing is a national organization that is changing the face of entrepreneurship. We are creating and delivering programming for young entrepreneurs under the age of 25, as they set out on their entrepreneurial journeys. Our mandate is to cultivate the growth of the next generation of business leaders and amplify their impact. We are the only program of its kind in Canada, being sector agnostic, and not focused on grades or degrees as a prerequisite to participation!

A large chunk of the programming has been built to providing young entrepreneurs a focused start up curriculum, coaching, mentorship, support system, access to closed networks, and pathways to accelerate their ventures. We focus a great effort to create a safe and innovative environment, that allows for a flourishing peer and alumni network to develop.

3. How did you start working with The Next Big Thing?

At the time, I was looking at new opportunities with a specific impact and growth lense. Whether it was a role or an organization, I was always screening them by my ability to truly contribute value, be able to create scalable impact through that role and organization, and work directly with changemakers, innovators, and entrepreneurs at all levels. Then the TNBT opportunity just casually popped up on my news feed on Facebook, and hit all those qualifiers. It was a no brainer, I knew I needed to be part of this budding organization, and the work it was doing with young individuals!

4. What are you working on right now?

We are working on some pretty cool initiatives for youth under the age of 18, really looking at entrepreneurship as a journey from the inside out rather than just a profession. The tools and resources we are seeking to create would provide access to entrepreneurial acumen to youth across the board despite geography, socio economic situation, or gender. Look out for things to come in the summer!

5. If you had a chance to start your career all over again, how would you do it differently?

I don’t like looking at the past from that perspective. My motto is ‘Don’t look back. You will miss what is in front of you’. However, if I was going to give myself or anyone else just starting out their career some advice or words of wisdom, I would tell them to always speak your voice and opinion. If you won’t no one else will.

6. What are the young entrepreneurs at TNBT working on right now?  

They are working on a breadth of innovative ventures that are real scalable operating businesses. In fact everyone should check them out!  The businesses range from an online marketplace to wearable hardware. To give you some examples as part of our 2016 cohort we have a smart gardening technology called AVA ( to help you grow food in your home, to ‘The Good Stuff’ a local smoothie subscription service, with a new pop up on West Broadway, to Coastline Market (, and even a non toxic subscription for your period called Ellebox.( At this stage of the program they are all focused on growing and expanding their businesses, and finding financial vehicles to support that growth, everything from bootstrapping to finding equity investors.

7. How do people join the Next Big Thing?

Well there is a couple of ways to get involved with the community. If you are under 25 years old and have start up business or business idea look out for our Fellowship events and application opening up in the Spring 2017. If you are under 18 make sure to sign up for our Bright Idea Summer Bootcamp updates for dates for the summer camps! If you are over 25 and want to get involved, we are always looking for mentors and professionals to expand our growing support network for young entrepreneurs.

8. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Ideas don’t turn into great things or great businesses or even great works of art, without a serious load of blood, sweat, and tears. Don’t expect that journey to be easy or quick or have a perfect starting point. There is no better time then now. Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed if you don’t think you know how to get from point a to point z, no one really does when they start out. The roadmap will get ironed out in time.

Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber will be presenting at the next PechaKucha Night Vol. 41 on Thursday, Feb. 9th. Join us and see what she has planned for us.PKN_41_VIA