Archive for 'community'

Lead To Win sessions starting Oct. 30th 2012

Are you (or someone you know) serious about establishing and growing a business?  Do you think you have the next killer idea/product/service but don’t know how to go about starting a successful, growth-oriented business?  Do you already have a business, but your growth has stagnated, and you need to figure out how to reinvigorate it?  If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then the Lead To Win (LTW) Bootcamp is for you.


The LTW Bootcamp will provide company founders with:

  • The knowledge necessary to establish and grow a successful business;
  • The confidence, encouragement and motivation to succeed;
  • The foundation to sell to first customers, raise funds and attract talent;
  • Access to a large and diverse business network;

All tech founders are welcome, as well as founders starting businesses in any sector.

The next session of Lead To Win is scheduled for October 29-30-31 and  November 27-28-29, 2012, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The 6 days of training are free, but you must apply!




By Natasha D'Souza

Get (free) advice for your startup: Call Guido!

Last week we launched a new site at Mercury Grove to reflect the new direction of our startup – a startup collective in Ottawa, Canada where entrepreneurs can build awesome stuff alongside worldclass designers, developers, and investors.

One of the pillars of our new direction is to provide personalized, professional feedback for startups on their business – not as a paid service, but for free.  Why?  For two reasons:

  1. We’re trying to recruit the best startups in Ottawa to join us.
  2. Your success = Ottawa’s success

I meet a lot of startups every week – and I love it.  But between, our other apps, a growing family, travel, and the mentorship I’m doing across Canada, I just can’t meet everyone.

Meet Guido.  I’ve been impressed with Guido since we first met for his startup analysis skills and experience in this space.  A little background about him:

Guido is a young and passionate entrepreneur who just arrived in Canada from Italy. In his home country he worked with EnLabs, the first business incubator in Rome. He was responsible for structuring and launching this new incubator and was instrumental in its early success. While at EnLabs, Guido worked with some of the largest venture capital firms in Europe. He was also focused on selection and providing guidance and mentorship to startups in the program. He helped to develop and nurture the startup culture in Rome, organizing events and conferences with international speakers like Carl Schramm, former president of the Kauffman Foundation.

Guido has a Masters Degree in Entrepreneurship from LUISS University in Rome where he wrote his thesis about business incubators and early stage companies.

Guido has already met with over a dozen companies in Ottawa and all have had very positive feedback on his advice and feedback.

So I urge you to book some time with him – he’ll buy coffee, and I guarantee it will be worth your time.

(photo cred to Design Sponge)

By Scott Annan

Global Entrepreneurship Week

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2011 is celebrated during the week of Nov. 14th-20th 2011.


There are various events in the National Capital Region and the OCRI website has details on some of them.

Lead To Win will be celebrating their successes on Thu. Nov. 17th from 4-7pm. To follow the conversation follow the hastags #leadtowin #GEWnews on Twitter.

Carleton University’s Technology Innovation Management program are also hosting an event for their students and those interested in attending the program.

Are you having an event? Let us know when and where.

By Natasha D'Souza

Lead To Win for Women launches

Lead To Win is a popular boot camp for entrepreneurs starting or growing a business. They are now launching Lead To Win for Women in order to help more women entrepreneurs to succeed.


If you are a women with an idea and are serious about launching a profitable growth-oriented business in Canada’s Capital Region, or you have already founded a business and are trying to develop strategies for growth, then Lead To Win for Women (LTW) is for you.

What is Lead To Win for Women?

  • LTW is a 6 day program spread across 2 sessions
  • Each day runs from 8:00am – 4:30am
  • The program takes place at 3500 Carling Ave. (the former Nortel campus located at Moodie Drive and Carling Ave.)
  • All co-founders can attend all sessions (regardless of whether they are men or women)
  • Founders for all sectors are eligible (not just tech founders)
  • You will learn everything you need to evaluate your idea, improve it, and bring it to the market, or grow your opportunity
  • You will have access to mentors, experts, and other founders who will help you develop your opportunity

The next LTW sessions are scheduled for Oct 25-27 and Nov 22-24

Applications are now being accepted so if you or if you know any women entrepreneurs encourage them to apply.

By Natasha D'Souza

Mercury Launch: Ottawa Accelerator for Startups

I’m really excited to announce the launch of a new accelerator in Ottawa for web and mobile startups called Mercury Launch.

As I’ve often said, Ottawa has world class talent and the purpose of Mercury Launch is to rally the startup community to support entrepreneurs, build some world-class companies, and start celebrating our successes.

The program is similar to Y Combinator, TechStars, Founder Fuel, and Grow Labs with one notable exception.  You have to be in Ottawa to participate.  We’ve long been an exporter of talent in Ottawa.  It’s time we start helping ourselves and to put Ottawa on the map for the amazing companies that we build!

We will be selecting 4-5 companies to start a 3-month program beginning in September, 2011.  Each company will receive $25,000 in seed funding, a kick-ass office space (working with people like you who want to change the world), access to amazing mentors and key customers, and help launching your product on a global stage.

We’re actively seeking seasoned mentors and brilliant startups – so please check out the site, tell your friends, and be part of an exciting new chapter of the Ottawa startup scene!

We will be releasing additional information over the next couple of weeks including our all-star list of advisors, mentors, funders, and first class of startups!  You can follow the progress through our new twitter account here.

(ps. Huge cred to Robert Saric and the team for building the new website.  Thanks Rob!!!)

By Scott Annan

Momentous Wants YOU (Software Developer position)

We saw you. You were at that hackathon …or was it at DemoCamp?  Regardless of where it was—we saw you, and we want you…to work for Momentous.

You were that person who:

  • Was passionate about software, and shouted it out loud
  • Thrived on a challenge and could not only handle something new, but also wanted it (Geeky algorithms? You bet! Cool new streaming software for hardware devices? Oh ya! Giant databases? Bring it!)
  • Thought code was the most beautiful language in the world
  • Had a keen eye for the user experience
  • Enjoyed working on a number of different projects, in any language you needed to (we work with .NET, Java, Perl and Python)
  • Wanted to work on products that are used by hundreds of thousands of people
  • Loved building both web apps and backend systems to power them
  • Wanted to create intelligent, elegant software, within an environment that cultivated and demanded your best
  • Loved our progressive approach to vacation (it’s not limited, if your effort toward work isn’t)
  • Appreciated our belief in feeding hunger and quenching thirst for free, at our corporate café
  • Liked to be clean, and so enjoyed our free laundry machines in the building
  • Did not smoke, and did not mind dogs roaming in the office…maybe sniffing you…and then carrying on

If this was you, we’d really like to meet again.

(Link to Momentous posting:

By Craig Fitzpatrick

The definitive list of Ottawa Technology Startup Events needs your input!

Ottawa is on the map – well the StartupDigest map that is – and we need your help to build a list of the most important events geared towards technology startups in this great city of ours. We all know there is a crazy number of startup events going on every week and this list will curate the best, must attend events across Ottawa and we need your help.

Running an event?

If you are running events targeting technology startups and would like to publicize your it, head here ( to submit it.

Interested in attending events?

If you aren’t organizing an event then you should be attending them. Head here ( and sign up for the Ottawa StartupDigest weekly email – it will arrive first thing every Monday morning with a listing of upcoming events you should be attending.

If you have any questions at all, drop me an email at rob (at) thestartupdigest(dot)com

By Scott Annan

Why can’t we make apps as good as fucking weekend hackers?

This past Friday I had the opportunity to see fifteen apps that were developed in 6 hours at HackOTT.

And they were almost all really good.

The rules were that the teams had to be 1-3 people.  They had to use local APIs (Shopify, Tineye, Freshbooks,, Pretzil, to build their apps, and they had to be cool (not sure this is official, but sure seemed like it).

As best as I can tell, the event attracted awesome, talented programmers who wanted to spend their Saturday coding – which is what most of them do for a “day job” – to see what kind of cool things they could create.

And cool things were definitely created!

So what the hell?  How can programmers build such awesome iPhone and web apps in such a short time and yet companies take months and a lot of money (if they ever actually build something) to make mediocre apps?

Here are some examples (just for fun):

1. Reservely (Brad and Jevin):

An application that allows users to select a restaurant nearby and make a reservation.  The system calls the restaurants and lets them accept or decline with a push of a button, or connect with the requestor.  (won first prize)


2. MoodVee (SelectStart Studios):

An app that lets you select from the library based on your “mood” (select a color and they’ll pull back the most popular movies that have that color predominantly on their DVD cover)

3. DateShake (SelectStart Studios):

An app that randomly selects a friend (from twitter), a restaurant (from, and a movie (from by shaking your phone.

If I had more screen shots I would post them here.  But the point is… how awesomely talented are these people and why can’t we use this model to make more awesome stuff?  I think we can.

Oh, and don’t go all “it takes a lot more than a good app to build a business” on me.  Come on.  6 hours and pure awesome.

Congrats to all who participated, and especially the sponsors and coordinators (special cred to who are late to the location-based business directory party but seem to be connecting with the community in an awesome way).

By Scott Annan

WTF is Idea Camp?

You’ll never become a success if you execute a stupid idea  (except for the slapchop/shamwow guy … though he got arrested for punching a prostitute who bit his tongue and wouldn’t let go so perhaps success is debatable. I could make a "like my nuts?" joke, but I won’t)

Ideas are important and frankly I’m sick of hearing people deride them. You need good ideas to build  successful companies.

So with that, I have an  idea for you. If you were at the last democamp, you know I pitched the concept of idea camp.

We all have a pile of ideas locked away don’t we? I bet there’s gold in them hills and it is time to let others pan the river of ideas.

Ideas launch other ideas and amazing things can happen . Sad to lock them away, especially if it could spark something in another individual who is actually in a position to execute your idea.

I have no time. I just don’t. Between running favequest, isfan solutions and some music and art side projects, work with charities + three busy kids, I’m doing everything I can. Got no more to give.

My Vision for Idea Camp

My vision for this different from democamp or teamcamp. It consists of sessions where people pitch their ideas and keep a record of them on a site for anyone to check out. No NDA, no frieNDAs … Just free, no strings attached sharing. Any visitor or community member can visit, comment and run with any idea. He or she may choose to indicate that they are going to build a prototype and invite others to join. Perhaps people could vote ideas up and down digg style. Maybe it eventually includes a funding mechanism like kickstarter. Who knows.

Who is going to Step Up? Maybe you!

I’m giving this idea away and hoping some eager soul will pick it up and run with it.  Perhaps someone that is looking to make a difference and a name for himself or herself pick.

Why would you take this on? First, imagine if this spawned some amazing new companies. How cool would it be that you made that happen! It will allow your own reputation, experience and network to grow beyond what you can imagine. What if you crack the formula and it gets mimicked around the world and you get the cred.

Anything is possible. The key is to start. I’m happy to do consult and brainstorm but that’s it. This your baby.

So, who is going to lead the charge. Ping me at Allan.isfan@gmail or attend the next demo camp and we can chat.

By Allan Isfan

Now open: Mercury Grove, a shelter for aspiring startup entrepreneurs

Mercury Grove Office

As I announced at our launch party last week, we’re opening up the Mercury Grove office to innovative entrepreneurs who are looking for an alternative to the local Bridgehead or Starbucks.  It’s a funky place located downtown Ottawa (in the Glebe) with lots of place to work, a lounge, conference meeting space, a video-recording room (coming soon), and a ping-pong room.

And it’s free (almost).

The idea behind opening up our space is that I think that Ottawa has some of the greatest entrepreneurs, talent, and ideas in the world.  But we don’t spend enough time together collaborating on ideas, discussing technology opportunities, or discussing ways we’re changing the world.  I think the more we can be surrounded by people who are facing similar challenges (trying to get launched, trying to get noticed, and trying to get paid) the more we can feed off each other’s successes and learn from each other’s experiences.

There are plenty of models out there, and I think there’s a lot of legitimacy behind them, but I also think there’s a lot of negatives.

You can go out and get your own office if you have a few employees, and this works well to build the team and concentrate on your world domination.  But it can be expensive if you’re only one or two people.  Co-working spaces are an awesome modern alternative to renting office space, but there are costs involved there too, and often these spaces develop cultures that don’t meet everyone’s needs.  OCRI and a lot of experienced executives in Ottawa have been talking about an Innovation Centre (capital I, capital C) to rival MARS in Toronto as an innovation hub, but for web startups I think this is overkill and the focus with most “incubators”, “accelerators”, and other “-ators” is misplaced on “added value” of the mentors, fax machine, and receptionists and the cost is almost always way to high for what you get (usually equity).  What I want and think others may want as well, is a raw space with an internet connection where we can build a movement to change the world.

Last year I wrote about how startups don’t need offices and was interviewed by the Globe and Mail on the same subject.  I STILL don’t think startups need an office and felt compelled earlier this year to get an office in order to receive government funding.  Otherwise, I still wouldn’t have an office.  Mercury Grove has thrived for the last 6 years as a virtual company and I think the office is unnecessary for us to continue to be successful.

But, alas, I conceded, so now I have an office.  So, I figured if I had to have an office, you don’t have to.

Now I admit, it’s a bit of a social experiment and we’ll make it up as we go, but here’s the general idea:

  1. There is no financial cost to use the space
  2. You have to be open to collaborate and share with other people
  3. You can’t be all douche-baggy (not all the time)
  4. You have to participate in some of the events

So… the next time you’re heading out to Bridgehead or Starbucks but are looking for a little more collaboration and fun with other innovative startups, come on by and plug-in.  Oh, and if you’re looking for somewhere to host an event, send an email to and I’m sure we can hook you up.

Address: 738A Bank St. (map here)
Phone: 613-237-2071

By Scott Annan