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Michelle Martin (Co-founder & Co-CEO, Stratosphere), Venture Connection alumnus
October 13, 2019

Seeing the Good in Business

Michelle Martin did not grow up with a business background; she began her career as a journalist. Her passion in social justice followed her journey from corporate to entrepreneurship. Two startups later, Martin's vision and beliefs developed into what is now Stratosphere. Not only did Martin's successes and failures shape her entrepreneurial path, but also allowed Martin to see the good of it all.

Ask any entrepreneur about their business and they quickly burst at the seams with enthusiasm. And for good reason—they're passionate about what they do. The same goes for Michelle Martin, a former journalist and serial entrepreneur whose heart and passion is visible with every venture she builds. 

Martin didn't grow up with a business background. Her parents weren't entrepreneurs, and frankly, she viewed business folk with horns and a pitchfork. As a journalist, she was always drawn to social justice topics and carried her principles and values with her in any corporate setting. At the age of 22, she landed a steady corporate career as a Senior Communications Advisor at BC Hydro. During her several years in corporate, she began her entrepreneurial journey on the founding team of Ethelo Decisions, a startup using advanced technologies to improve ethical group decision-making.

During the Beedie School of Business MOT MBA program, Martin gained some of the technical skills needed to be a real leader. Skills she applied to her second startup ArtsAlly, a local art portal enabling communities to discover local art and support local artists, which was acquired by Kabuni Technologies (formerly Whole New Home) in 2015. 

Self-awareness is part of the path to changing the world

However, it hasn't always been smooth sailing. An unforeseen and mysterious personal health crash led to closing her third startup, NXT Level You. Though an unfortunate period in her life, this crisis also gave her a new mission—to champion personal health empowerment at the intersections of health, wellness and innovation.  

Two startups later, Michelle Martin’s lifelong belief in health, wellness, and innovation amalgamated into what is now Whole Human Projects, working in partnership with other innovators dedicated to the future of wellness, conscious business and the evolution of healthcare.

This September, Martin and the Whole Human Foundation are co-producing the Whole Human Summit, which brings together experts and early-adopters of new emerging wisdom on health, wellness and the human body for an evidence-based and informed conversation.

 

After many years in entrepreneurship, she has a few pointers to her younger self, which is simply: 

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  • Self-awareness is part of the path to changing the world.
  • And finally, love and take care of yourself.

 

From role models with aligned values to a strong support network, Martin made sure she surrounded herself with people who supported her vision. Now she doesn't scare from the business world, she sees the good in the people who are trying to create change. 

Today, she is a TransTech Vancouver partner— the Vancouver chapter of a Palo Alto-based organization supporting transformative tech entrepreneurs. And, she recently co-founded and is the co-CEO of Stratosphere, a company forming around all the people with complex and invisible health conditions - including the more than 50 million North Americans with an autoimmune disease - who struggle to find the support they need.

In her journey, she's most proud of the depth in the authenticity of the relationships she's built with the people she's worked with. "That’s what gives life meaning. And having a positive impact on other people's lives."