Archive for 'Ottawa Tech'

eBook for Technology Entrepreneurs

Recently a group of talented individuals in Ottawa launched an ebook on Technology Entrepreneurship. It’s relevant to any technology startup that wants to be successful in their domain. It covers various topics of interest from Business Models, minimal viable products to managing employees and more.


The editors are none other that Dr. Tony Bailetti (Technology Innovation Management, Carleton University) and Brian Hurley (President and CEO, Purple Forge Corp), with a forward by Denzil Doyle (Chairman, Doyletech Corporation.

It’s available on Amazon, check it out you won’t be disappointed.



By Natasha D'Souza

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

IRAP’s the new Dragon: VC Recruiting & Vetting

I just got an email from IRAP (who have recently been singing a familiar tune here in Ottawa: that they have no money for startups) that surprised and bothered me enough to stop building my business and write this blog post.

Here’s an excerpt from the email:

Subject: IRAP-Sponsored, VC Pitchfest Opportunity in January

Body:IRAP in the National Capital Region is organizing an event around mid-January for early stage IRAP client companies in the ICT, digital media, and mobile sectors looking for VC financing.  IRAP has arranged to have at least five Toronto VC’s available.  The Toronto VC’s feel they are missing potential investment opportunities in the Ottawa area.  Critical mass of start-ups makes it worthwhile for VC’s to come to Ottawa and see the companies in one day.

…. IRAP will select the top 25 – 30 companies based on submission of one page executive summary (see the attachment for an example).  The company selection process will be completed by IRAP ITAs who will choose the best candidates amongst their client base in the target industry sector of VC’s.

The format of the “event” is a typical dragon’s den format where each company is bestowed 5 minutes of valuable “VC time” to pitch.

I know what you’re thinking -> “Hey, awesome that IRAP is bringing money to Ottawa.  I gotta get my pitch polished up!”.  But that wasn’t my reaction.  Here’s what’s wrong with this:

  1. At what point did the government (more specifically, my tax dollars) get in the business of doing VC’s job of recruiting portfolio companies?
  2. What skills and background does IRAP have in “selecting the top 25-30 companies”?  What objective criteria will they use?  Should the government be implementing any program that is completely subjective?  How does an IRAP field officer have the VC skills to do this?
  3. Um… what does IRAP do?  Is this part of their mandate?

This falls into the same pathetic bucket as most programs run by the government and administered by government groups (see OCRI, OCE, etc…).  ”We’re just trying to help startups succeed”.  Really?  Are you?  If you looked long and hard at IRAP “client companies”, is a dragon’s den event helpful?  Is creating efficiency for VC’s the big problem we have here in Ottawa?  Or could this be a justification for continued government funding – a line item on a list of “great things we’re doing for startups”.

If you’re a great startup, you can contact those VCs directly – they’d love to talk (and I’ll make an intro).

If you’re the government, we want our money back please.

By Scott Annan

FranchiseBlast in the News – Helping Franchisors Run their Business with Software


Local Gatineau Startup, LavaBlast, that empowers franchises by delivering end-to-end software solutions to help manage operations was recently in the news as an example company that is leading the way in helping local Canadian companies adopt digital technologies. Lavablast is the brainchild of Jason Kealey and Etienne Tremblay and their lead software product is called FranchiseBlast.

As per the company’s official blog post, the government’s new Digital Technology Adoption Pilot Program (DTAPP) helped local franchise Boomerang Kids adopt digital technology from Lavablast to make their franchise operations more efficient – this in turn helped them grow their business as it led to less time spent on operational detail and more time on growing the business. This goes to show what all of us know well – which is software can really make the difference between success and failure. It’s good to see local companies playing a role in leading the software as a service revolution.

By Aydin Mirzaee

Shopify Raises $15 Million…

I knew this was coming so it’s nice to see it announced today.  Shopify has just raised a $15 Million Series B investment from Bessemer, FirstMark, Felicis, and Georgian.  For those of you who don’t know, these are all top tier firms.  Tobi writes a great blog post on this and you can also read the official press release here.

I’ve had the pleasure of being there at the inception and its amazing to see it get to this point.  This is a massive success for Ottawa.  Congrats Tobi and the whole Shopify team… 

On a surprising note, for some reason the press release does not feature a picture of Harley. 

PS:  Note the retro original Shopify logo above by Justin Palmer.

By Scott Lake

Let’s get a Canadian Digital Strategy included in the election

Below is a post copied from local startup hipster Fred Boulanger (from Macadamian):


Digital Economy Strategy

As I might have shared in the past, I’m on the board of the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC). Our mission, among other things, is to understand our overall competitiveness as a country and foster the use of ICT in all sectors of our economy, both public and private. We have been working on a proposal to the powers that might be in government on the hill called Digital Economy Strategy (DES).

I’m calling on you to reach out to our fearless politicians to ask them about it and what they intend to do about this huge oversight in the making. The ICT industry is a big part of the Canadian economy, but it can be a lot bigger. Let them hear our voice! Whoever you will be voting for, get the digital economy strategy on their radar. Here are their twitter handles: pmharper, M_ignatieff, jacklayton, GillesDuceppe, and ElizabethMay

Today I’m posting to raise the awareness of DES because I think it matters to everyone in Canada much more than we realize. The population in general in Canada is drunk on the success of our natural resources. Canada is so rich in natural resources that our government is ignoring the digital economy.

Canada has huge challenges in this regard:

  • Chronic underinvestment in information and communication technologies in all sectors and layers of the economy. Compared to our American business equivalent, we underinvest to the tune of 15% to 70%.
  • Our own government as a model user, or lack of model user I should say.
  • Building a world class infrastructure; although it much more than just broadband, we actually used to lead in broadband adoption.
  • Building the digital skills for tomorrow and our demographic challenges.

Our productivity as a nation depends greatly on our adoption of information technologies at all levels. We can’t depend on a low dollar anymore. Our resource rich soil has taken care of our loonie. We have to invest to be competitive.

Our government has a role to play in helping our companies, especially our small and medium companies, adopt information technologies. I hate to use Walmart as an example, but here it’s a good one. When Walmart decides it will no longer buy from companies whose systems can’t connect to Walmart systems in a certain way, all its suppliers upgrade their information systems to comply period. The federal government could help Canadian businesses be the most advanced businesses in the world regarding information systems by doing the same thing, although not as drastically! The federal government could employ encouraging measures to use the newer systems, by paying less taxes if businesses decide to do so. I’m sure there are many other ways.

Our government has a responsibility to encourage more Canadian innovation. It is doing various things and yet misses the most important. It needs to open its door more to Canadian companies’ technologies. It is absolutely impossible for our companies to sell their products to our own government because it takes so long it dies in the process. To be fair, a small step has been achieved, thanks to ITAC. In the last budget a very very small fraction of the overall buying budget was made available for managers to cut through the red tape and allow for smaller companies to get its products in demonstration mode.

Our government needs to understand that infrastructure is an enabler. This is more than broadband, and broadband 10x the download rate we now have access to is about to become a mere necessity! To get out of the economic crisis, extreme spending measures were taken to build roads and other infrastructure projects. There is a lot of ICT infrastructure to build in our country and yet not a single dollar was made available for those projects. It could have been a great opportunity to engage in upgrading some of those systems that are running on hardware that can’t be serviced anymore and so darn expensive to maintain from a software standpoint because they are still punch cards!

Our government has to wake up to the fact that getting kids to go into science is a must for the economic strength of our future as a nation! The more businesses that are started and developed in Canada, the better off we are. To start businesses, we need people willing to start those businesses. It takes a special type of person to start a business; someone who sees a problem and sets out to resolve it. Who are the best trained problem solvers you might ask? As it so happens there is a direct correlation between the number of graduates from engineering schools in a country and the number of entrepreneurs a country produces. Let’s get on the get on!

Call our politicians on it!


You can read and comment on the original post here:

By Scott Annan

Guaranteed Interview shows how to nail your 90 second startup pitch


Local startup entrepreneur Ken Seville of Guaranteed – a program offered to employers that will guarantee an interview for military veterans who do not have a broad network in private industry – nails his pitch on the Business News Network (link here).

What Ken did especially well?

  1. Clearly described what his company does up front
  2. Provided context on the need and the market size
  3. Mentioned some well-known customers
  4. Outlined a killer team
  5. Defined what he was looking for and what he would do with it
  6. Closed with a great tagline that was memorable

Congrats Ken!

Here is the link again.

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

FundChange Launch by local startup IdeaVibes


In case you haven’t heard one of the 17ish episodes on CBC Radio about local startup IdeaVibes (run by Mercury Grove drop-in Paul Dombosky) – they’re doing some awesome stuff in the crowdsourcing / crowdfunding space that is gaining a lot of attention from national charities and businesses.  With reason, IdeaVibes is cutting administrative costs for worthy causes by significant amounts threatening a bunch of existing players.  Paul’s a great guy and his business is getting the attention it should!

At the start of 2011, Ideavibes completed development of its Crowd Engagement Platform – a hosted solution that is capable of running two types of campaigns. crowdsourcing and crowdfunding.

Last week, Ideavibes took the splash page off a new initiative with sponsor TELUS, called Fundchange ( Built on the Ideavibes Platform, this website is one of Canada’s first crowdfunding sites for charities focused on projects or doable ask type funding.

While crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are not new – the Ideavibes Platform is unique in that it makes launching ideation and funding campaigns easy and affordable for organizations of any size.

On Wednesday, Fundchange presented cheques to the first crowdfunded projects and TELUS also presented matching dollar cheques for these projects as well. The first to successfully crowdfund their projects were; The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, LiveWorkPlay, and FitSpirit.

Check out Fundchange at to learn more and fund an interesting project today.

By Scott Annan

MediaMiser lands a cool Mil!

Yesterday local news aggregator and awesomator MediaMiser announced that it closed a million dollar in financing from the BDC and RBC.

From startup CEO Brett Serjeantson:

“This funding isn’t needed to keep the doors open,” stated Brett Serjeantson, MediaMiser’s chief executive officer and chief technology officer. “Rather, it’s needed so we can blow the doors off.”

What are they going to do with all that money in the bank?  They claim to be hiring 15 new staff to help drive more business.  But StartupOttawa insiders know that they’ve recently hired local newsy celebrity Jim Donnelly (formerly of the OBJ) and we also know that a million dollars will barely cover his annual expense account.

Still – it may be a good time to clean up the CV on Linkedin…

By Scott Annan