Tag Archives: ottawa

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 info@mercurygrove.com and I’m sure we can hook you up.

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

By Scott Annan

‘The Woz’ is Coming to Ottawa

Big news! The one and only Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder and tech icon, will be delivering the keynote address at a luncheon presented by INSA, OCE and OCRI. The session will also feature David Flynn, CTO of Fusion-io, a company which is revolutionizing storage technology.

Here are the details I know you are dying to hear:

When is this chance of a lifetime happening?

Steve will be delivering his speech on Wednesday, August 19th. The times of the event segments are:

11:30 am – Registration and Lunch
12:15 pm – 1:00 pm – Presentation by Steve Wozniak
1:00 pm – 1:45 pm – David Flynn, CTO of Fusion-io
1:45 pm – 2:15 pm – Q&A

Where is this exciting event being held?

The event is being held at the Brookstreet Hotel, at 525 Leggett Drive in Kanata

How much does the event cost?

The cost of attendance for the event is $60 plus GST for OCRI members, and $80 plus GST for non-members.

How do I sign up for the event?

To sign up, visit the OCRI page for the event and choose from online or fax payment.

Sounds like a great opportunity to grab a bite and hear the Woz speak.

By Scott Lake

FaveQuest launches Bluesfest ViewTube

Hey Everyone,

I know this is a bit self-serving but hey …. what the heck, I’m too excited to beat around the bush.

Today (April 22 to be exact), FaveQuest is launching the Bluesfest ViewTube in partnership with the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest. We have been working with the awesome Bluesfest staff to put together something for the fans that I hope you will love. If you do love it, tell your friends. If you don’t tell me. Deal?

Check the home page, news and blog post on www.favequest.com for details .


Allan Isfan

allan.isfan at favequest dot com


By Allan Isfan

LinkedIn for Busy Professionals – Seminar

LinkedIn for busy professionals is a workshop by Virtual EyeSee – http://www.virtualeyesee.com .

This session is for people that

* have signed up but don’t see the point of it
* have never signed up and are very busy to experiment
* are looking for a job
* are looking for employees
* are looking to grow their network
* establish themselves as experts in their area
* looking to connect with a specific person for a job or business

To register click here


This seminar is in 2 parts. The first goes through the basic features and the second goes through how to use this professional social network to hire employees, expand a business network, connect with more people etc….

What to Bring

1. Wireless laptop (optional)
2. soft copy of resume
3. photo
4. related links to website or other collateral

Space is limited.

The results are

* To get noticed and found
* Establish yourself as an expert
* Search/research the information you need
* Turn your network into the results you want
* find the employees you want
* find the employer you want
* connect with potential clients, employers etc.

By Aydin Mirzaee

Gazaro at Demo 2009

The Demo conference is probably the best place to launch your product/service to the world. Demo 2009 just ended and Ottawa had good representation there from local startup Gazaro. Gazaro founder, Sam Zaid, does a fantastic job at presenting what Gazaro is all about. Check out the video for yourself!

By Aydin Mirzaee

Fired Up! A Startup-Primer

Click on image to see details.

By Aydin Mirzaee

Who’s Hiring?

We’ve said in the past that this is a great climate for startups and this post is validation for that. Recently, I’ve met a number of really good people that have been approaching me looking for new job opportunities (after recently been laid off at bigger companies). We brought on board as many as we could to work with Chide.it but there are a lot more.

Specifically, if you are looking for developers or sales engineers, I know a few who are actively looking for work. If you are interested in hiring, send me an email (aydin@chide.it) and I’ll refer them to you.


By Aydin Mirzaee

Economic Downturn? Let The Startups Begin.



Amidst the plethora of news that we’ve been hearing from all industries about the economy heading towards worse times and as we hear stories of worsening conditions close to home (i.e. Nortel), I can’t help but say, let the startups begin.

There is a lot of talent in Ottawa and other cities around the world that currently work at larger corporations with comfortable, and in some cases, inflated salaries. It is exactly these conditions that make it almost impossible for them to attempt to either join a startup or begin one themselves. Times are changing and we may see more and more of this pool of talented and intelligent people move on to other things and potentially the startup scene.

We’ve seen this in the past and we have a number of local success stories coming from guys who voluntarily/involuntarily left their jobs at these large corporations and attained a level of success that they wouldn’t have achieved by staying at their previous positions. Companies like Nakina Systems, Nimcat, Fitel-Photomatrix, ObjecTime, and many many more fall under this category. Needless to say, the Economic Downturn can be looked at as an opportunity or a menace depending on how you look at it :)

By Aydin Mirzaee

DemoCamp Ottawa 10

Ladies and Gents, we’ve hit double digits! Congrats to Ottawa!

Ian Graham of The Code Factory posted on his blog yesterday that the 10th edition of DemoCamp is being held on Monday, the 29th of this month. Sign Up Here.

DemoCamp is one of the most exciting grass-roots tech events that happens in this city. There will be 6 short presentations from local groups that are presenting new and exciting technology that the’ve been working on.

Here are the presentations:

  1. Sixent – multi-profile social networking platform for sharing your life differently online
  2. FixIt Ottawa – upcoming local problem reporting tool
  3. Thinteknix – Communication / Computing solutions for SMB
  4. GiftMyList – A private gift exchange
  5. Chide.it – Will be showing two products: fluidSurveys.com and ReviewRoom
  6. Gazaro – Find the biggest sales!

Here is the location information:

  • Date: Monday, September 29, 2008 from 6pm to 9pm
  • Location: The Velvet Room 62 1/2 York Street
  • Format for 6 demos: 2 minute introduction, 8 minute demo, 5 minutes for Q&A and discussion

If you’ve been at a DemoCamp before, you know how amazing they are. If you haven’t been to a DemoCamp before, you’re in for a treat! See you there :-)

Here is the sign up link again: DemoCampOttawa10.

By Aydin Mirzaee

Founders & Funders – Ottawa

You’ve heard about Founders and Funders in Toronto (organized by David Crow) and in Montreal (organized by Austin Hill and Patrick Lauzon); well, its time for one in Ottawa. Allan Isfan of FaveQuest is organizing this event and targeting October 9th as the date of the dinner. If you haven’t heard of Founders and Founders, here is a description from Allan:

In essence, the event consists of bringing together funders (VC, Angels …) and founders for several hours of networking around a drink and dinner. Each individual in attendance is vetted by the organizers to ensure the highest quality of attendees (a bit less harsh on the guys with bags of money). The event begins with drinks and proceeds to dinner with one or two brief "speeches". No presentations, no demos but lots of elevator pitches.

If you want to apply to be invited to the event (whether you are a Founder or Funder), please get in touch with Allan directly ( @isfan on Twitter or just message him on Facebook – and of course, you could also use classic email – allan.isfan [ - at - ] favequest [ - . - ] com.

Update: This is still a tentative arrangement and interest is being gauged. If you are interested in attending and/or helping to organize this event, do get in touch with Allan.

By Aydin Mirzaee