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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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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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