Stuff We Love: Pearl's Choice and Hotline Social

October 18, 2016 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai, Content Editor

“Just do it.”

Nike immortalized the words, but they’re really about so much more than running shoes.

“Just do it” is one of those phrases that literally can be applied to anything. Three simple, one-syllable words.

The only problem is that people rarely just do it. They get ideas and then the apprehension sinks in.

Can I do it?

How do I do it?

What is the cost of doing it?

Suddenly the mind is covering the worst-case scenarios and perhaps most deadly, making up excuses as to why it can’t be done.

Hey, we’re not pointing any fingers. We’d be total fools if we tried to gallivant around like we didn’t think like that sometimes.

But every so often, there’s that one player that comes in and offers a hearty pat on the back to reassure us.

Pearl’s Choice, Canada’s most comprehensive guide to retirement living options, is that case.

Last Thursday, The Tite Report covered the company’s first fundraiser Pearl’s Choice: Hotline Social Bingo Night, which was raising funds for the Distress Centre’s Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors.

Full disclosure, we played numerous rounds of bingo.

Bingo? Seniors? Those two words may seem like the antithesis of innovation.

However, Pearl’s Choice, its mission and its creation story are what we need more of. In this Battle for Time, no consumer or audience base out there wants to see more of the same stuff under a new name.

“We are giving people access to information at their finger tips that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” explains Bojana Nedic, one of the co-founders.

Nedic, having volunteered with the Distress Centre and seeing how much seniors live in social isolation, and Andrew Colterjohn, who’s family had a tough experience trying to find retirement homes for a relative on their own, came together thinking there had to be a better way.

With the duo’s other co-founder Ian Lenihan, Pearl’s Choice was born.

“We just started going. We did a lot of research, we partnered with an incubator out of Seneca that gave us a lot of resources. We got some great investors both from the retirement industry and digital marketing industry,” says Nedic. “I think it was the founder of Wikipedia ounce said, ‘you’ll know within a month of launching a web product if it’s something people want to use,’ and that’s exactly what happened.”

Together, the three of them found a niche need a filled it. While they had to build it from the ground up, doing the research on their own (think countless hours with Google and Yellowpages), they just did it.

Nedic said it: “there’s no Canadian-wide understanding of all the resources Canadians have” when it comes to health care, especially with seniors’ options.

They:

1. Started with an idea,

2. Asked themselves what they could do,

3. Figured out what was out there already,

4. Then put it all together in the middle.


The team didn’t try to do things they didn’t know how to do. Instead they surrounded themselves with people who made them work better so that they could pool their resources and create something great.

“We were really willing to learn from one another,” says Nedic. “You have to pick people who complement you in your values and vision, but have skills you don’t.”

And it wasn’t perfect. In fact, it still isn’t. But that doesn’t matter, because Nedic says learning during the process is the takeaway.

“If you wait until its perfect, you’ll never launch anything. We’re on version 3 of our website and the first one wasn’t perfect, but we learned a lot from it. Start doing it and learn quickly.”

For the young entrepreneurs out there, Nedic says to use your youth. “We can see what our peers are doing but replicate that with the thought that’s behind our demographic, the seniors.”

Pearl’s Choice is doing pretty well.

Last Thursday was Hotline Social’s first annual fundraiser and it brought in over 100 people and donations around $10,000.

It might not know what the future holds, but Pearl’s Choice and its founders know one thing: they’re going to keep going. Keep doing.

And all in the name of Pearl, who could be anyone someone loves but that is aging and looking for senior living options, according to Nedic.

“Our competitors will post retirement homes online based on who’s paying them. We take a different approach, providing all profiles complementary to the retirement homes,” explains Nedic.

What can you learn from them?

Push your ideas forward.

Embrace difference.

Pick people who will make you stronger and make you do better work.

Just. Do. It. 

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