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Meet a 26-year-old tech entrepreneur who says starting a company is ‘an art and creative process’





Cathy Tie would consider herself an artist. Not the oil paints on canvas type, though.

The 26-year-old, Toronto, Canada, native co-founded her first company, Ranomics, at 18. It provides health risk predictions based on people’s genetic data and has now raised more than $1 million, according to Crunchbase. She founded her second company, Locke Bio, a “Shopify” for pharmaceutical and other companies selling FDA approved drugs, at 23.

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For Tie, art and creativity is not exactly as on-the-nose as writing in iambic pentameter or dancing at Lincoln Center. It’s about seeing the big picture in the various industries she’s part of and “being able to be interdisciplinary and marry concepts from different industries,” she says.

“I always loved bringing ideas together and seeing connections that other people don’t see,” she says, like figuring out how science can be advanced within the world of startups and building business models accordingly. “That’s, I think, more of an art and creative process than something that is technical.”

Here’s how the entrepreneur, now based in Los Angeles, has leaned into her creative, big-picture thinking to find success in fields like tech and science.

Tie was cold-emailing professors at 14

Tie started learning about her industries at the very onset of her high school years.

“I’ve always loved science, especially biology and chemistry, loved hands-on building, since I was a very young child,” she says. But she noticed that the science curriculums they were being taught in school did not include a lot of hands-on learning. Instead, it was a lot of memorizing from textbooks.

Always a big-picture thinker, it was in her freshman year of high school that Tie decided to begin cold-emailing professors at the University of Toronto to see if they’d allow her to spend time in their labs, do some research, and help them with a project here and there.

Her work at the university led her to publish her first paper in a peer reviewed journal on the field of immunology, which deals with the human immune system, by the age of 16.

It also led her to a realization: “In research, especially academia, you’re bound by a system of academic grants,” she says. That is, if she wanted to continue doing research in that world, she’d be limited. But getting funding as an entrepreneur would give her freedom to do whatever kind of research she wanted.

She got accepted into young entrepreneur programs

As Tie began connecting the dots that the way she wanted to make an impact was through the startup world, she also began applying to programs that could help her make this concept a reality.

Tie had the basic idea for Ranomics, a way of solving some of the problems companies like 23andMe were coming across when it came to the accuracy of their genetic testing, by the time she was a freshman at the University of Toronto. She met co-founder Leo Wan, a Ph.D. student at the university, through a startup competition, and the two ended up getting accepted into IndieBio, a startup program providing funding and guidance to entrepreneurs in the sciences.

Tie wound up dropping out of college and moving to San Francisco to pursue the opportunity and became CEO of Ranomics for its first three years. She was also invited to apply for and subsequently got into The Thiel Fellowship, which gives young entrepreneurs who skip or step out of college a $100,000 grant directly (not to their businesses) over the course of two years.

“Throughout the journey of building Ranomics, I learned so much about startups, selling to pharma, how to build a profitable company,” she says. All of which would come into play in her next ventures.

Starting the Shopify for pharma

At 21, Tie was offered a position as a partner at a Cervin Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on enterprise service as a software, or SaaS, technology like Salesforce and Slack.

After a year there, she felt the itch to build again, and decided to explore opportunities within the digital health space, combining the SaaS and science worlds she’d gotten to know. And Tie realized there was no simple way to build an online shop for those wanting to sell FDA approved drugs in a compliant way, a Shopify for pharmaceutical companies, as it were.

“Shopify really took a problem where everybody had to build their websites, their [customer relationship management software], their payment processing from scratch, and made a platform where you don’t have to be technical,” she says, adding that, “We’re doing the same thing for the telehealth and online pharmacy industry.”

Locke Bio is now backed by three venture capital funds in the U.S. and Canada, according to PitchBook, but does not currently share fundraising details publicly.

‘When you don’t have time to reflect, you don’t really see the bigger picture’

Tie is excited about the future of Locke Bio and the various product expansions she and her team are planning. But the success of the company and all of the success that preceded it did not come without obstacles.

“I think really early in my career I definitely stepped on the gas really hard and worked those tough hours, like 100 hours a week,” she says. But, “I realized that was unsustainable because when you don’t have time to reflect, you don’t really see the bigger picture.”

That’s where that artist mentality has come into play.

“Similar to how artists would make music, inspiration comes at a random hour of the day. It could be 2 a.m. at night, it could be when you’re taking a shower,” she says. But she has to make time for those off-hours where ideas can flow freely.

These days, she’ll put in those long days on weeks when it’s called for, but, otherwise, Tie makes sure to work at least some 40-hour weeks to get in that off-time.

“It’s about taking those sprints, working really hard when I have to, and then being able to reflect on all the things I learned,” she says.

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‘Amazing’ art, dance program a hit for local seniors (3 photos)



The Orillia and District Arts Council (ODAC) has married dance, visual art, and art history in a comprehensive new arts program created specifically for local seniors.

The HeARTS (Helping Elders with ARTS) program is held every Tuesday and Thursday at St. James’ Anglican Church; the goal is to get participants’ bodies moving before trying their hand at various disciplines of art.

The 26-week program began in September after ODAC secured federal government funding earlier this year, and each lesson includes a dance component, supplementary lectures on the session’s artistic theme, and — of course — the opportunity to create art.

Organizers offer a wide-ranging variety of programming and artistic styles for the participants to learn about, ranging from Picasso-inspired self portraits, to re-creations of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’, Japanese Suminigashi marbling, and more.

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An “intelligent” approach was brought to the program, organizers say, adding they hope to give seniors legitimate opportunities to explore their artistic sides, as well as the opportunity to self-reflect.

“It (isn’t) juvenile, like arts and crafts. We wanted to do something intelligent and fresh, and have something that seniors could be excited to come to weekly,” said HeARTS art facilitator Sukhi Kaur.

“They’re taken on a journey of self-reflection that they get to explore through different art techniques, and different artists and activities,” Kaur said. “By the end, they’ll hopefully create a small body of work that represents their time here, as well as connecting to the memories that the art prompts are supposed to bring up, and they have the opportunity to share that with new people.”

Each session’s programming is designed to tie into a specific theme, Kaur said, noting those themes are guided by participant feedback. For example, a dance session based in mirroring was included with a lecture on Picasso before participants painted their own self portraits.

A variety of guest artists — and even a harp player during the Vincent Van Gogh session — have been brought to the program to enrich its sessions.

Above all, however, the program offers the opportunity for seniors to have fun and socialize.

“We were hoping that it would be an opportunity post-COVID for seniors to socialize,” Kaur said. “They come here for art, and they come here for dance, but they get to talk about their week. There’s been some new friendships made here that I’ve got to watch flourish over the weeks.”

The idea is catching on.

“Our board made a decision some time back that we wanted to be more socially involved with vulnerable or underrepresented groups, and we thought seniors would be a good fit,” said ODAC board secretary Christine Hager.

“It was a slow start … but now it’s catching people by word of mouth. They are telling other people what’s going on here, and they’re having a lot of fun — that’s the main thing.”

So far, the program has been a success, with one participant celebrating it as “an amazing get together for seniors” that got her out of a rut through COVID-19.

“It gives us something to look forward to, shows us our cognitive abilities, and motivates us to do better than we thought we could do,” said Donna Howlett.

“I love the dance class — just hearing the music has brought me back to my childhood, and the art class is so interesting. I did not know that I had some talent there,” said Maryann Van Arem.

Miriam Goldberger, the program’s dance instructor, said she enthusiastically joined the program when she learned it would incorporate multiple styles of art, and highlighted the importance of movement for both physical health and creating the right mindset to engage with art.

“Movement and physical activity prevent serious physical and mental and emotional decline of seniors,” she explained. “It also really lubricates all the creativity and the social goals that happen with the other part of the program.”

“They’re relaxed, they’re comfortable with themselves, they’re feeling positive,” she said. “They’re open to new things.”

Beyond offering arts programming to seniors, the HeARTS program also serves as a placement opportunity for Georgian College Social Service Worker students.

Program volunteer Joan Berndt said the addition of these students is “incredibly beneficial” to breaking down stigma surrounding seniors.

“The addition of social work students is incredibly beneficial because they don’t get frontline experience when they’re in school,” Berndt said. “They learn about seniors, (and) there is a discrimination in some younger people, that they don’t want to work for seniors, but they’re meeting some fabulous seniors, and it’s working.”

The HeARTS program is offered to local seniors free of charge. It takes place at St. James’ Anglican Church, every Tuesday and Thursday, with a drop-in session from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., with dance and arts programming taking place from 1 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Organizers are hoping to secure funding to continue the program following its current 26-week run.

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Christmas-themed “One Man Art Show” at Evergreen Park



This will be his second show in the Chuckwagon room at the TARA Centre, which he thoroughly enjoys, having fallen in love with it during his last show in the fall.

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” It’s so perfect (Evergreen Park) has so much room there to park and the room is just the perfect size, and like you said the light shows out there and stuff, the whole thing has such a nice Christmas feel to it, they’ve had so many events over there lately here with the Christmas theme. It just fits in perfectly, again, with my niche and stuff I couldn’t imagine a better location to do this,” said McCaffrey.

He does expect a bigger crowd for this time round after his last “One Man Art Show” took place at the start of hunting season, which is a big chunk of his target demographic.

“They’ll be a little bit of new stuff, but mostly stuff that was already there in September, but there were a lot of people that didn’t get a chance to come to the show in September because of hunting season and different stuff like that, and I thought Christmas would be another opportunity for those people to come out.”

McCaffrey says among the stuff he’s bringing back from the September show is a piece not for sale. It is a portrait of his granddaughter that he enjoys and just likes to show off to the community.

McCaffrey’s “One Man Art Show” runs December 7, and 8, starting at noon until 9 p.m. both days, at Evergreen Park in the TARA Centre, inside of the Chuckwagon Room.

If you want to browse McCaffrey’s collection online, click here.

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The Ottawa Art Gallery and The Ottawa Hospital select winners of the TRIAS Art Prize



OTTAWA – December 6, 2022 – The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) and The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) have selected the winners of the 2022 TRIAS Art Prize. This included five prizes in three categories.

  • Art and Science Residency winner: Svetlana Swinimer
  • Indigenous and Inuit Healing Art Award winner: Koomuatuk (Kuzy) Curley, Sikusilingmiut
    • Honourable Mention: Christine Toulouse, Courage
  • Art as Healing winner: Andrew Morrow, Neither Brightly Lit Nor Completely Enlightened
    • Honourable Mention: Jovita Akahome, Soul

TRIAS Art Prize is a juried art competition that intersects art, science, medicine, and community. All winning artwork will be displayed at The Ottawa Hospital with the aim of enhancing care through restorative art, engaging the community, and supporting artists from Ottawa, Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, and Nunavut.

“They say all good things come in threes and the TRIAS Art Prize program is no exception, bringing together Art, Health and Community, through three great prize categories, that demonstrate the power of working together to bring about positive change. We are appreciative of the artists who submitted and of the jury who were challenged to choose from over 130 applications!” expressed Alexandra Badzak, Director and Chief Executive Officer at the Ottawa Art Gallery.

“We are grateful to our partners at the OAG for the opportunity to combine art, science, and medicine to help us create a hospital environment that is reflective of the diverse community we serve while showcasing TOH’s core values of research, medical care, and healing,” said Joanne Read, Chief Planning and Development Officer at The Ottawa Hospital. “Congratulations to the winners of this year’s TRIAS Art Prize.”

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TRIAS Art Award is part of the Creative Wellbeing program, a city-building initiative connecting artists and communities with hospital researchers and clinicians to create original works of art to enhance hospital spaces. Creative Wellbeing aims to increase awareness of patient care at The Ottawa Hospital, incorporate art as part of the patient experience, and further develop art as therapy programming.

Ottawa residents Jennifer Toby and Dr. François Auclair, who have been integral to Creative Wellbeing since its inception, have provided the inaugural funding for the awards. The Indigenous and Inuit Healing Art Honourable Mention prize is provided by The Lawson Foundation.

For media inquiries or to book an interview:

Ottawa Art Gallery:

Véronique Couillard
Officer, Media, Public and Francophone Relations
613-233-8699 +244

The Ottawa Hospital:

Rebecca Abelson

Media Relations Officer


About the Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

The Ottawa Art Gallery is situated on traditional Anishinābe Aki and is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

About The Ottawa Hospital (TOH)

The Ottawa Hospital is committed to providing each patient with the world-class care, exceptional service and compassion that they would want for their loved ones. Over their three campuses, they serve tens of thousands of patients in Ottawa and the surrounding area each year. They rank 5th in Canada for total research funding and published over 2,200 research papers in 2019. As one of the largest research hospitals throughout the country, they are constantly innovating and providing new insight into the healthcare sector.

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