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The startup playmaker

Mike Gozzo, BEng 06, MBA 11
November 6, 2023
By Richard Burnett, BA 88

Portrait of a man with close cropped hair and facial stubble wearing browline glasses and a black dress shirt.

Mike Gozzo was a fast-rising star in the tech world when he was named one of Quebec’s top 25 emerging entrepreneurs in 2012 by the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Foundation. He continued to live up to the title, founding Smooch Technologies in 2015 and selling it to software giant Zendesk in 2019.

After three years in senior roles with Zendesk, Gozzo became chief product officer for Ada, which builds AI-powered customer-service chatbot platforms to improve the customer service experience for multinationals like AirAsia, Verizon, Shopify and Meta.

Gozzo oversees all Ada company product and design developments, and says his goal is to enable brands to offer VIP service to organizations of all sizes, helping them shift from reactive to proactive customer support. 

A new perspective

“After getting my MBA and deciding to pursue an entrepreneurial path, I stopped thinking in terms of career progression and following the paths that others have set out for me. Instead, I took control and decided I could write whatever story I wanted to. It was just a matter of how hard I worked that would ultimately determine whether or not I was going in the right direction. That single realization allowed me to take risks that I normally wouldn’t have because I wasn’t worried about the consequences of failure.”

Becoming a mentor

“As I’ve built up larger and larger teams, I’ve had to make the transition from doer to leader, almost like the transition from player to coach.”

The Concordia factor

“I had a cohort of friends that I’m still very much in touch with. Everyone’s spread out over the world; there are people at Amazon, Google and other big tech companies. We’ve kept that network alive and kept it going.”

Career advice

“Create your path and don’t wait. We’re living in a moment of time where there is no door that cannot be opened by anybody. You just need the courage to try.”

Giving back

“I'm a very active angel investor. I’ll write cheques to companies that are just starting up, particularly in Canada.”

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