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Toronto woman creates app that lands her spot on Forbes 30 Under 30, has big-name brands lining up

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It looks like 28-year-old Nadia Masri won’t be asking Santa for anything else this holiday season.

This tech CEO from Toronto made Forbes 30 Under 30, a prestigious year-end list recognizing the brightest, young, influential figures in top industries in Canada and the U.S. 

Masri was featured in Forbes magazine 2019 ’30 Under 30 list,’ which recognizes the top influential young people of the coming year in 30 different industries. (Nadia Masri ) 

The young entrepreneur created the app Perksy, a real-time research platform, which targets Millenialls and Gen-Z users and rewards them for answering surveys. 

“We realized that the way that it was currently being done didn’t really make any sense,” Masri told Metro Morning’s David Common Monday.

“Our belief is that if you want to reach a younger audience you have to live where they live, and that’s mobile.”

While studying at Harvard University in a marketing management class, Masri said she discovered how difficult it was for brands to understand their audiences, especially young consumers. 

Masri speaks at R/GA Ventures Portfolio Day in New York City. (Nadia Masri ) 

Through the app, users rack up points by answering questions, and those points convert directly to cash and discount coupons to companies like Nike, Sephora, and even Uber. 

Although surveys have moved from in-person, to phone, to online, to email, Masri says they best still only gain about a three per cent response rate. 

Perksy is “game-ified,” and aims to answer simple questions like why consumers would choose one sweater over another, one brand or another, each catered to the specific user. 

Masri seen onstage with judges after winning the Oracle Startup Pitch Competition at Ascent Conference in New York City. (Nadia Masri ) 

“Brands want to hear from younger audiences and those younger audiences do want to give their feedback,” information she said companies want in real-time. 

She says the latest study by her company will reveal how millennials (born years 1981-1996) prefer smaller brands over bigger brands, while Generation Z (born 1997 onward) prefer the opposite. 

‘It was overwhelming, it was an incredible feeling’ 

The same day Masri made the list, released November 13, she was chosen to ring the stock market closing bell at Nasdaq Tower in New York’s Time Square. 

 

Masri said she remembers studying the Forbes list as a teenager and thinking “wow these people must be incredible.”

Now she’s not only one of those people, but the featured nominee for advertising and marketing. 

“It was overwhelming, it was an incredible feeling,” she said. 

Masri used to be a painter in Toronto. Now she lives in New York, where she runs her company.

She pegs her success to her dad’s determination. 

“He set a precedent for me,” she said. 

Her father is a Syrian refugee, and she said he taught her to pursue her passion by any means necessary, which for him meant going through medical school twice.

He completed the program once in Spain, but then had to redo the program when he came to Canada. 

This photo was taken after the closing bell ceremony in New York’s Time Square. (Nasdaq) 

At around 10 or 11 years old, Masri said she remembers asking him why being a doctor was worth the long process. 

“‘I was born to be a doctor, that’s who I am at my core. I had to follow my passion,'” he told her. 

“He made me promise that I would do the same,” she said. 

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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