“I Left to Save My Life”: Up With Women CEO Shares Uplifting Tale at Startup Fest

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At International Startup Festival we chatted with the inspiring and charismatic Lia Grimanis, founder and CEO of Up With Women, a Toronto-based non-profit that helps recently-homeless women and children to rebuild their lives through career and life coaching, and leadership mentoring.

Grimanis was in Montreal to deliver a talk at the festival, where she explained how she fled an abusive household and was living on one dollar a day at a shelter. Shortly after in her first year running her own business, she ended up earning $50,000. Today she’s a successful businesswomen, adventure-seeker and speaker.

She said she was a “typical runaway”, but unlike those who built successful careers after staying in shelters never to return, she’s made it her life’s mission to show women at shelters that they can turn everything around.

We asked Grimanis about a particularly life-threatening occasion when, surrounded by sharks, her mask and regulator were ripped off her face 60 feet under water, as well as why feeding hungry sharks is a lot like entering the business world as a small startup.

Check out the conversation here:

More fun facts about Grimanis: she’s a two-time Guinness World Record holder for “Heaviest Vehicle Pulled 100ft by a Woman” and “Heaviest Vehicle Pulled in High Heels”. She was also named a Chatelaine Woman of the Year and was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women.