“Create something that’s uniquely yours, but helps the planet”

My happy place is: In a business class seat on a plane, looking out the window My favourite food: My grandmother's cabbage rolls

Gabe Zichermann

Tackling the sugar crisis with a low-carb dessert that doesn’t compromise on taste.

LEARNING MORE FROM FAILURE THAN SUCCESS. Where most seasoned entrepreneurs will joyfully impart advice on how they’ve weathered setbacks in business, Gabe Zichermann is clear: he does not handle failure well. It’s one of many unexpected characteristics about this wholly non-traditional entrepreneur who, more than 25 years into his career, only now feels comfortable conceding that his ‘failures’ have been as big as his greatest successes.

In fact, Gabe now admits failure is not only an omnipresent feature of his life, he believes it’s a crucial driving force for positive change. “If I’m not failing at something actively all the time, that means I'm not trying hard enough. I think you have to learn from failure, as much or even more so than what you learn from success.”

It’s this fearless attitude that led Gabe to launch Two Spoons Creamery, a low-carb ice cream that's designed to taste as good as any of the premium ice creams out there. After a lengthy and successful career in tech and the video gaming industry, entering the dessert market even took him by surprise.

“I could have easily retreated and done things that didn't challenge me, but look at this ridiculousness. I started an ice cream company. What do I know about ice cream? I’ve spent my whole career in tech.”

An idea conceived with his former partner after they broke up, Gabe sees Two Spoons as his small contribution to help make the world a better place. “I’m aware there’s a sugar crisis right now. For people looking to reduce their sugar intake without compromising on quality, this is the product that we hope sets the standard.” Leaning into his tech roots, Gabe hopes Two Spoons can achieve something akin to Tesla: creating an innovative product that’s as good as or better than what it’s aiming to replace.

TURNING YOUR DIFFERENCE INTO YOUR GREATEST ASSET. An entrepreneur to his bones, Gabe’s natural curiosity for exploring new ideas, problems and spaces has resulted in several successful ventures, particularly in the realm of gamification. He admits it’s not all left a positive mark on the world, leading him to co-found Onward, a platform that helps people counteract the negative effects of technology.

Born in Toronto after his parents fled communism in the 1960s, Gabe credits their resilience, along with his Jewish heritage and connection to the LGBTQIA+ community, for his fearless approach to business. His grandparents were Holocaust survivors and instilled a culture within his family to be proud and to not shy away from who they were. “They meant our heritage, but I interpreted that in a more global sense to mean all the different identities I might wear.”

So, when Gabe attended a conservative business school in 1994, he wore his identity without apology. “I showed up with pride rings on and frosted tips. I was like, ‘hey, everybody, I'm the gay one!’ Of course, it went down like a ton of bricks, but it became a pattern that all throughout my career, I was always very open about being gay. It was just never a question that I would bring that identity forward into my entrepreneurial life.”

An accomplished businessperson and consummate public speaker, author and advisor to fledgling entrepreneurs, who does Gabe count as his greatest mentor? “My mom. And I know that sounds like me being a good Jewish boy and a great gay man all wrapped into one, but my mom has always been a significant influence on me - and my mom is not Liza Minnelli.”

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Presented with Pride Here is the first collection of one hundred incredible and inspiring LGBTQIA+ venture-backed entrepreneurs featured in this year's Gaingels 100.