The Boundless Possibilities of Tech
Co-Founder of FreshGrade & Club Penguin
Founder of Wheelhouse
"Dragon" on CBC's Dragons' Den
The newest Dragon on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den, Lane Merrifield is one of Canada’s top tech entrepreneurs. He founded and sold Club Penguin, an online social network for kids, to Disney for $350 million, where he became one of the company’s youngest executive vice presidents. Lane’s newest ventures are FreshGrade and Wheelhouse. In fresh, funny talks, he shares the extraordinary story of Club Penguin, and reveals the unexpected business strategies that have brought him such massive success.
Lane Merrifield is the creator of Club Penguin, the world’s largest children’s social network. Just 18 months after launch, Lane sold the company for $350 million and accepted his next challenge as one of the youngest executive vice presidents at the Walt Disney Company, where he grew Club Penguin to a billion-dollar brand.
Eager to return to entrepreneurial life, Lane moved home to Kelowna, B.C., in 2012. He launched FreshGrade, a learning assessment tool that connects teachers, parents, and students to help both personalize and improve learning. It is currently being used in 80 per cent of districts across Canada. One year later, he founded Wheelhouse, an organization that invests in and supports early-stage tech companies and entrepreneurs. One of their first projects was the creation of a $35 million, 100K square foot state-of-the-art innovation centre in Kelowna.
Lane sits on the board of Spin Master, the University of British Columbia’s board of governors, and the B.C. premier’s technology council. Lane has received an Honorary Fellows Award, a Business Leader of the Year award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and was listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter's Top 35 Executives under 35.
Listen Up: What We Learned from 350 Million Kids
“If we took more time to listen, what do you think we could learn about the world around us?” — Lane Merrifield
How did tech entrepreneur and star of CBC’s Dragons’ Den Lane Merrifield create the largest social network for kids on the planet? His approach was simple: listen and learn. He went to the place that consistently provided him with the best customer service every day—his local Starbucks—and hired his favourite manager. Together, they built a team that, at its peak, not only read but responded to over 10,000 emails a day. From these emails and the kids who sent them, Club Penguin exploded and Lane’s business philosophy grew. He learned to be fearless with creativity; to help each other more; to be generous; to work together and create community; and to not take life so seriously.
In this charming, grounded talk, Lane shares these founding principles and how they’ve taken his businesses and tech ventures to new heights. Because as he says, “Our world would be a much better place if we could be a little more childlike.”
Contact us to learn how Lane can craft a message for your audience.