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Inside Ottawa’s galas, fundraisers and networking events
A record crowd turned out for the Ottawa business community’s biggest gala of the year. Get the full story inside > PAGES 17-21
November 20, 2017 Vol. 21, NO. 3
OBJ.social PAGES 12-15
For daily business news visit obj.ca
The end of ID cards? An Ottawa startup is hoping to make the driver’s licences and health cards in your wallet a thing of the past by replacing them with an app. > PAGE 7
All eyes on Solink Local software that quickly spots fraud on security footage using AI technology lands $5M VC investment from top-name firms. > PAGES 8-9
Veteran entrepreneur John MacBeth says the TryCycle RPS app has the potential to ‘change the substance-abuse environment.’ PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
Opioid fight gets high-tech weapon Smartphone app that pairs addicts with counsellors gaining traction at home and in U.S. ‘We know we’re speaking to a market that is desperate,’ TryCycle RPS co-founder John MacBeth says of latest venture > PAGES 4-5
What’s in your intellectual property toolkit? Follow these simple steps to avoid legal headaches See page 2
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An entrepreneur’s intellectual property toolkit Simple steps to avoid legal headaches
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
t’s the legal question known to elicit grimaces in startup circles. Have you done your due diligence? If you’re a successful early stage entrepreneur, the odds are good that the answer is no; you’ve simply been too busy running a business. But there comes a point where it’s important to sit down and ask yourself some tough questions about where your legal risks lie. Do you actually own the rights to that spiffy logo you hired a freelance illustrator to design? Can your line cook quit and take the menu you spent months perfecting to a competing restaurant down the road? Intellectual property issues affect businesses across all industry sectors. While it may seem intimidating, working through these issues early on can prevent a costly and messy legal battle down the road. “There are a lot of steps you can take ahead of time to avoid potential downstream risks,” says Adam Tracey, an associate lawyer at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP and a member of the firm’s intellectual property group. Here are some of the steps he recommends his clients take:
ESTABLISH YOUR BRAND As with so many things in life, protecting your intellectual property should start with a Google search. When a brilliant name, logo or slogan comes to mind, it’s worthwhile to search to see if anyone else is already using it, or something close to it. Business owners can also check the Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s databases and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s databases. Oftentimes, Mr. Tracey finds the cursory search leads to more questions. “You may come across a name that’s too close for comfort,” he says. For example, there are plenty of “Excel” companies in the business world, including the global gum brand and the Ottawa-based employment agency. Does that mean you can use the name too? “If all you’re getting is questions and uncertainty, then it’s probably a good idea to get a legal assessment or move on,” Mr. Tracey advises.
“If all you’re getting is questions and uncertainty, then it’s probably a good idea to get a legal assessment or move on’” – Adam Tracey, an associate lawyer at Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP
BE CONSISTENT To ensure you can establish trademark rights, it’s a good policy to keep a record of every time your company’s name or branding is used, whether by you or an external source. Mr. Tracey recommends keeping a physical file containing everything from newspaper clippings to periodic printouts of your website to copies of your brochures. In Canada, unregistered trademarks are determined by longevity of use. Changing your company’s name or logo frequently makes it trickier to prove your rights. Mr. Tracey gives the example of Nike’s swoosh, which is instantly recognizable and has been consistent
through the company’s branding since the early 1970s. While styles and trends have changed, the swoosh remains the same. Inevitably, some companies opt to rebrand, whether with an update to their logo or a complete overhaul of their branding. Mr. Tracey notes that occasional changes to a company’s branding are fine, so long as they are well-documented. Another common barrier to establishing trademark rights can be the spelling or grammar used in a company’s branding. Whether it’s inconsistent capitalization, a misplaced apostrophe or incorrect spelling, small mistakes can lead to big issues in the long run.
DOCUMENT YOUR AGREEMENTS In addition to challenges from outsiders, problems can also arise within an organization. In an age where new businesses are cropping up all the time, Mr. Tracey says there tends to be a “move-fast-and-break-things attitude.” A team forms at the start of a new company and often fails to outline expectations – whether in terms of compensation, ownership or equity. “It’s easy to not worry about conflict at the beginning when everyone’s getting along,” says Mr. Tracey. “Nobody wants to talk about what happens when things go poorly.” Similarly, fledgling businesses often rely on contractors to develop parts of their product or brand. This can include graphic designers, photographers, web developers and many others. To avoid bad blood, Mr. Tracey recommends asking the tough questions before you begin any kind of collaboration. Who will have rights to the finished product? What are the terms of your employment or contract? Having a facilitator, such as a lawyer, in the room to raise delicate topics in a sensitive manner can help open the conversation and act as a buffer. Mr. Tracey adds that a trusted legal advisor will help an entrepreneur prioritize their issues and not try to force a premium package on every client. “A bootstrapped company should be focused on growing, not paying professional service providers,” Mr. Tracey says. “This is where a good lawyer will stand out.”
What can Nelligan O’Brien Payne do for you? Find a lawyer or consultant by name or contact Nelligan O’Brien Payne by email at email@example.com, or by phone at 613-238-8080 or toll-free at 1-888-565-9912 (Canada) for assistance. Go online at nelligan.ca.
PROFILE Career as entrepreneur just what the doctor ordered for health-care pioneer ExecHealth founder Sanjay Shah took a leap of faith to launch Ottawa’s first private medical clinic, but the bold move has paid off handsomely BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT SANJAY SHAH
Mr. Shah did not become a doctor as his parents had hoped, but he did marry one: family physician Bella Mehta. They have two sons, Kamren, 13, and Kiren, seven.
In his free time, Mr. Shah likes to tinker with his classic British sports car, a Triumph TR6. He works on it in the garage of his Westboro family home.
3 Sanjay Shah left a secure job to launch his own company, ExecHealth. PHOTO BY CAROLINE PHILLIPS
“I think a lot of people would like to do it, but you have to get over a certain fear of failure.” – EXECHEALTH FOUNDER SANJAY SHAH, ON STARTING HIS OWN BUSINESS
ExecHealth began by providing comprehensive health assessments to business executives and has since grown to be a full-service multidisciplinary clinic with an on-site staff of family physicians, medical specialists, psychologists, physiotherapists and registered dietitians. “It was a slow and steady build,” explains Mr. Shah.
Mr. Shah is an avid “yet extremely average” golfer and soccer player. In warmer weather, the whole family plays golf at the prestigious Royal Ottawa Golf Club.
Mr. Shah has developed a reputation for being a stylish dresser. Whether attending charity galas in his grey paisley tuxedo or more casual events with blue wing-tipped shoes, Mr. Shah always dresses to impress.
It might seem surprising, but Mr. Shah is a fervent supporter of Canada’s health-care system, noting it was there for his mother when she most needed it. Lalita was the recipient of a double-lung transplant after her own lungs began failing due to respiratory disease. The new organs bought her eight more years of life – including grandmotherhood – when she was in her 60s and early 70s. Lalita died this past February after receiving excellent care at the Élisabeth Bruyère palliative care hospital. By contrast, her sister endured a slow and painful death while suffering from the same disease in India, where she did not have access to transplant surgery or palliative care. “My mom was so well-served by the public health-care system,” says Mr. Shah. “It would have been an emotional and financial burden on our family if we had lived in the United States. Or, if we still lived in India, we’d never have had access to this top-quality medical care.”
BIOTECHNOLOGY DEGREE Mr. Shah made the leap to entrepreneurship at age 37 – still young enough to nab an OBJ Forty Under 40 award the following year. He entered the world of business ownership with two degrees, a bachelor of science in biotechnology from Carleton University and an MBA from Syracuse University, and 11 years of work experience that included sales gigs at big pharmaceutical companies before he moved into marketing research. The signs had always pointed to a future in commerce for Mr. Shah. Even in elementary school, his teachers’ report card comments predicted a successful career in business. “I always wanted to be an
entrepreneur,” says the graduate of the now-closed Confederation High School in Nepean. “To be perfectly honest, my parents wanted me to be a doctor.” His parents, Subhash and Lalita, had an arranged but happy marriage. They wed in 1963, only two weeks after first meeting in their homeland of India. For two years afterward, they lived apart while Subhash earned his master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Ottawa. He wasn’t used to Canadian winters and would huddle by the radiator to stay warm. By 1965, Lalita had moved to Ottawa to join her husband and start a family. Her husband worked as a public servant with Health Canada while she held down a cashier’s job at Kmart. Even though the couple played it safe with their careers, they were the ultimate risk-takers by leaving India to start a new life in a foreign country. “Who knows what my life would have been like if they hadn’t immigrated?” says Mr. Shah. “Running a business can be a grind, but it pales in comparison to them. Being a cashier at Kmart isn’t the most glamorous job in the world. They worked hard.”
Mr. Shah was involved in a failed startup with friends in the early 2000s. They managed to secure exclusive data rights from the English Premier League for use in an online fantasy game, and sold the idea to Sportsnet. “It ultimately failed because we all kept our day jobs and worked on the business during off-hours. My big lesson learned from that was that I was going to be completely dedicated to my next venture.”
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
anjay Shah was on a family holiday with his wife and newborn son in Hawaii when he found the beachinduced inspiration to quit his job and follow his dream of running his own business. Maybe it was the Pacific Ocean breeze or maybe it was the better life perspective that one gets after becoming a parent. Whatever it was, Mr. Shah used that 2005 vacation – which he took while on six months of unpaid parental leave – to solidify the foundations for ExecHealth, the first private health-care clinic in Ottawa. “After the six months, I handed in my resignation and said, ‘I’m going to give this thing a try,’” recalls Mr. Shah, 50, while speaking in his downtown office on Albert Street, where the walls are adorned with images shot by Ottawa-based landscape and wildlife photographer Michelle Valberg. It can be financially precarious to jump from a comfortable job as a salaried employee to being the owner of a business, Mr. Shah acknowledges. “I think a lot of people would like to do it, but you have to get over a certain fear of failure.” Today, ExecHealth is the go-to clinic for many of the city’s top professionals from CEOs to partners at large law firms looking for concierge-level medical care. Patients pay an annual membership fee and in return get a higher level of care and service. Doctors perform annual physical examinations of two to four hours long, allowing them to better detect early signs of illness and disease before they develop into serious health problems. “We find undiagnosed issues in about 30 per cent of the patients who come in here,” said Mr. Shah. From the start, Mr. Shah made the decision to fund his business without using partners or private investors. “We always put our patients’ needs first,” he says. “Outside investors can put pressures on you in terms of pursuing profits. My view is that if you’ve got a good business model and you’re doing the right things, then the money will follow.”
LAUNCH PAD ‘Early warning system’ gives opioid addicts new weapon in fight to stay clean Local startup’s app pairs patients with counsellors in effort to pinpoint those most at risk of relapse BY ADAM FEIBEL firstname.lastname@example.org
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
ith Canada and the United States in the throes of an ongoing opioid crisis that has resulted in thousands of overdose deaths, an early stage Ottawa startup believes business can help with addiction recovery in ways health experts haven’t tried yet. The opioid crisis has quickly become the most pressing and widely publicized public-health issue in North America. Data suggests nearly 2,500 Canadians died from opioid overdoses last year, numbers that represent a staggering rise over the past few years. Leaders in both Canada and the United States have noted the severity of the epidemic, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying all levels of government “won’t rest” on seeking lasting solutions and U.S. President Donald Trump recently labelling the crisis a “national health emergency.” With TryCycle RPS, entrepreneur John MacBeth wants to use mobile technology to create a “shift” in the system of addiction treatment in order to prevent relapses. The startup is the latest venture for Mr. MacBeth, who has a 20-year background in mobile technology that includes founding local companies Mobileyes Consulting and Northern Apps. His new firm’s product is a dashboard platform licensed by a clinical practitioner paired with a smartphone app that a patient uses to enter daily updates on how they’re doing in recovery. The program allows for realtime tracking of a patient’s health and needs, so practitioners can identify in advance which of their patients are most at risk of relapse and in need of intervention. “It’s an early warning system for reusing,” says Mr. MacBeth, the firm’s CEO and co-founder. “It sounds simple, but it’s taken a few years to crack the code.” At the heart of the system is a proprietary, patent-pending, cloudhosted algorithm that processes a patient’s regularly submitted “journal entries” containing answers to a set of predefined assessment questions designed to help addiction counsellors identify the risk of relapse.
Ottawa entrepreneur John MacBeth believes the app his firm developed will improve opioid addiction treatment. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
“We determined that there was a pretty significant opportunity, if we took a very disruptive approach, to possibly change the substance-abuse environment. I believe absolutely that small business is what’s going to fix this.” – TRYCYCLE RPS CO-FOUNDER JOHN MACBETH
The system has led the company to secure “sophisticated” partners, including the Rushford centre for addiction and mental health in Hartford, Conn. The idea is to allow overwhelmed counsellors to monitor patients digitally and focus their attention on acute cases that require immediate care. “We determined that there was a pretty significant opportunity, if we took a very disruptive approach, to
possibly change the substance-abuse environment,” Mr. MacBeth says. “I believe absolutely that small business is what’s going to fix this.” He says the company asked why health experts hadn’t yet effectively tapped into a device that many people use on a daily basis – a smartphone – to collect data and monitor patient progress. “Not having an ego was one of our
greatest advantages,” he says. “We could ask those seemingly stupid questions and be able to interpret differently from the people who are doing this every day. You have some extremely talented, very committed people, but they’re just overwhelmed. They couldn’t see the forest for the trees. It’s one of those unique opportunities where someone from the outside comes in and says, ‘Hey, what about this?’”
KEY PARTNERS Mr. MacBeth began working on the project in 2013, and TryCycle was officially incorporated in February. The product is now in clinical trials with key partners in Ottawa and Connecticut. Its latest deal is with the Canadian Nurses Association, which ordered 500,000 licences. Mr. MacBeth says that from a business standpoint, the most obvious beneficiaries are insurance companies, particularly in the U.S. market, with whom TryCycle is having conversations “all over the map.” Keeping a patient in recovery and avoiding relapses can save hundreds of millions of dollars in health insurance costs, he says. The company plans to generate revenue through licensing its product as well as selling the “extremely valuable” metadata that it collects.
CHANGE LOG IBIONICS REACHING MILESTONES WITH BIONIC-EYE TECH Early stage life sciences company iBIONICS has had “a phenomenal year of growth and learning,” says CEO and co-founder Suzanne Grant. The company, which is developing a bionic-eye system to restore vision in people with retinal degenerative diseases, has reached combined private and public funding goals of $2.5 million (U.S.) and added another $1.5 million in grants; it also expects to finalize additional pre-seed financing in the next two quarters. The firm has secured an exclusive worldwide licence for its prototype and has recently celebrated several other business and technical milestones. Ms. Grant and iBIONICS were also chosen to exhibit at the Accessibility Innovation Showcase at the Invictus Games in Toronto in September. RARELOGIC ADDS NEW EMAIL MARKETING SOFTWARE Email marketing firm RareLogic launched a
Workshop on Internet of Things & Design Thinking Thursday, Nov. 23 at 6 p.m. Innovation Centre, 7 Bayview Rd. More information at asqottawa.ca
A rising number of respondents believe Ottawa is similar, is not more innovative than other similar-sized cities.
TECH EMPLOYERS EXPAND WITH NEW HIRES “Ottawa’s business ecosystem continues to grow at an unprecedented pace. Ottawa has a proud history of expertise in sectors such as telecommunications, software and many more. Now we are seeing the emergence of 5G, software-asa-service (SAAS), autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and bio-technology. Multinational brands such as Nokia, Huawei, IBM, Mitel, Ciena and Amazon are continually expanding their operations in Ottawa, while home-grown companies such as QNX, You.i TV, Ross Video, Klipfolio and Shopify will collectively hire thousands of people within the next few years.” —MICHAEL TREMBLAY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, INVEST OTTAWA This data is part of the Ottawa Business Growth Survey. Conducted by Abacus Data and made possible by Welch LLP, the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and the Ottawa Business Journal, the survey gathered input from hundreds of local businesses. A free 40-page report can be downloaded at www.ottawabusinessgrowthreport.ca.
FENTURY TAPPING PARENT FIRM and present: and present: TO HELP WITH EXPANSION Financial technology startup Fentury continues to make progress with its personal financial adviser app as it pivots from a B2C strategy to a fully B2B product. Due to the to enjoy breakfast His Worship Jim Watson A unique opportunity to enjoywith breakfast with HisMayor Worship Mayor Jim Watson change in strategy, Fentury has decided toA unique opportunity remain a division of its parent Salt Edge, and hear from business and community leaders about issues critical to and hear from business and community leaders about issuesOttawa. critical to Ottawa. rather than following its original plan to spin off from it. The app can connect to Guest Speaker:Guest Speaker: more than 2,500 banks from 60 different Honourable Catherine MarcMcKenna Seaman, Chairperson countries. Fentury has also landed its first Minister of Environment and Climate Change National Capital Commission implementation in a Latvian bank, completely Thursday, April 27, 2017 December 11, 2017 Monday, revising its mobile banking experience, and is Location: OttawaLocation: City Hall Ottawa City Hall currently negotiating with more major banks Registration: 7:00 a.m. Registration: 7:00 a.m. Buffet Breakfast: 7:30 Breakfast: a.m. Buffet 7:30 a.m. in Europe, says Lisa Terziman, one of the Presentation: 8:00 a.m. Presentation: 8:00 a.m. firm’s co-founders.
Breakfast Series Breakfast Series Mayor’s Mayor’s
INDIVIDUALINDIVIDUAL TICKETS: TICKETS: $35.00 + HST (Ottawa Chamber Members) $35.00 + HST (Ottawa Chamber Members) $50.00 + HST (Non-Members) $50.00 + HST (Non-Members) Startup Co-Founder 101: How to Find the Right Partner CORPORATE TABLES OFTABLES 8 WITH SIGNAGE: CORPORATE OF 8 WITH SIGNAGE: $245 + HST $245 (Ottawa Chamber Members) + HST (Ottawa Chamber Members) Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 6:30 p.m. $350 + HST $350 (Non-Members) + HST (Non-Members) WorkAway Offices, 900 Lady Ellen Pl. More information at fi.co/events
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Startup Funding 101: How to Raise Money for Event Sponsors:Event Sponsors: Your Idea Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 6:30 p.m. My Byward Office, 78 George St. More information at fi.co/events Protect Yourself: Contract Basics Thursday, Dec. 14 at 9:30 a.m. Innovation Centre, 7 Bayview Rd. More information at investottawa.ca
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SAAS NORTH Wednesday, Nov. 29 to Thursday, Nov. 30 Shaw Centre, 55 Colonel By Dr.
new product this month that’s designed to help businesses further improve their email-based marketing. In addition to its flagship product that aims to put an end to “one-size-fits-all” email blasts using custom-tailored messages, the firm’s latest product, Emailable, is designed to optimize businesses’ email lists by identifying and eliminating invalid or unused addresses. It does so by testing each email and automatically unsubscribing any address that results in a bounced message and by identifying “risky” addresses that are not likely to interact with content.
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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
LinkedIn Ottawa Meetup: The Future of Entrepreneurship Tuesday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m. Westin’s TwentyTwo Ballroom, 11 Colonel By Dr. More information at eventbrite.ca
The firm currently includes three-full time employees and six consultants and plans to add up to four more members by the end of this quarter, depending on financing. Bootstrapped to this point, the company is currently in a family-andfriends funding round and expects to launch a seed round in the first or second quarter of next year. Meanwhile, Mr. MacBeth says he’s itching to bring the product to market. “We know we’re on to something,” he says. “In 20 years of experience in sales, we’ve never been able to get to a paper contract as fast as we’ve been able to get it here. We’re getting phone calls returned by really senior people within 24 hours. That’s never happened before … We know we’re speaking to a market that is desperate.”
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
TECHNOLOGY “For us, it’s a great start, and the opportunities beyond Ontario are huge. As smartphone penetration in Canada gets deeper and deeper, it becomes the de facto standard in my mind.” – BLUINK CEO STEVE BORZA, ON THE FIRM’S PILOT PROJECT TO BUILD AN APP THAT STORES DIGITAL ID CARDS
Bluink CEO Steve Borza says the company’s new pilot project could eventually make ID cards a thing of the past. FILE PHOTO
Ottawa’s Bluink wins $1.2M contract to store Ontario ID data on smartphones Pilot project could eventually render physical driver’s licences, health cards obsolete BY DAVID SALI email@example.com
potential in developing countries where many citizens don’t have formal ID cards but smartphone penetration is deep. “There seems to be a huge appetite for this sort of thing in other countries,” he explained. “We’re excited to be able to take the solution to export markets beyond Canada.” ANGEL FUNDING Now at 14 employees, Bluink expects to expand its headcount to 20 over the next six months and is projecting annual revenues of $1.5 million by the end of 2018. Bootstrapped for the first three years of its existence, the company recently received funding from the Capital Angels Network. Mr. Borza said he’s eyeing another venture capital round down the road, but for now he’s concentrating on delivering on the proof of concept and seeing what further market opportunities arise from it. “You can quite frankly spend a lot of time running around trying to raise money from VCs,” he said. “A lot of people are interested in this solution, so if a VC presented us with the right offer, valuation and strategic connections, then we’d absolutely look at it. But it’s not my main focus right now.”
TIME-SAVING METHOD It will also speed up access to services such as medical care, he added. With the touch of a button, all of a patient’s relevant OHIP information can be instantly downloaded to an electronic registration form during visits to hospitals and clinics, saving time and cutting down the potential for fraud or human error. “(Staff) can focus on what they do best, which is providing health care,” Mr. Borza said. Users with existing ID cards will be able to register for eID-me directly from their smartphones and will also have the option
of renewing documents such as their driver’s licence through the app without having to go to a ServiceOntario centre or website. All data is encrypted, Mr. Borza said, and users will not need a separate password to access the app. They’ll also have the option of an adding an extra layer of security through safeguards such as requiring facial recognition or fingerprint biometrics to access the platform. Bluink’s CEO said the app could ultimately be synched up with corporate security systems, allowing workers to bypass the time-consuming process of verifying their identity before logging on to servers or databases. “Having a single e-identity that can be used throughout a nation, I mean that’s pretty huge,” Mr. Borza said. The company launched its 12-month proof-of-concept in October and aims to start testing the app at medical clinics and universities next spring. It expects to begin marketing the concept on a limited trial basis next summer, charging users a onetime licensing fee. Mr. Borza said eID-me is already attracting interest from as far away as South Africa. He sees huge market
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
n upstart Ottawa software company is testing an app it says could one day make all those photo ID cards jamming up your wallet a thing of the past. Bluink, which has been working on its password authentication technology since 2014, has won a contract with the Ontario government to develop a platform that would store electronic versions of driver’s licences, health cards and other government-issued ID on a user’s smartphone. CEO Steve Borza said the $1.2-million pilot project could eventually render physical versions of such documents obsolete. “For us, it’s a great start, and the opportunities beyond Ontario are huge,” he told OBJ. “As smartphone penetration in Canada gets deeper and deeper, it becomes the de facto standard in my mind.” The provincially backed Ontario Centres of Excellence is funding 75 per cent of the project under the new
Small Business Innovation Challenge, a program launched last spring to help SMEs bring new technologies to market. Bluink has teamed up with several other partners on the pilot, including Crypto4A, Canadian POS and Carleton University. The app, called eID-me, will allow users to protect their privacy by revealing only as much information as necessary to prove their identities, Mr. Borza said. For example, the app can be set to show a cashier at the LCBO or a doorman at a bar a user’s age and photo but not his birthdate or address.
VENTURE CAPITAL Kanata firm’s video surveillance software catches eye of VC heavy hitters Investors in Solink’s new $5M funding round include big-name Chicago firm with portfolio that features Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space-X BY DAVID SALI firstname.lastname@example.org
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
or a small Ottawa software firm in a nascent industry, Solink is making quite a name for itself in the North American investment community. Solink’s cloud-based subscription software uses artificial intelligence to analyze video surveillance footage at restaurants, retail outlets and banks in an effort to detect fraud. The system works by “mining” through security footage at stores, banks and restaurants to spot suspicious transaction trends and patterns of behaviour – and pinpointing exactly where and when the activity occurred. A pioneer in a fast-growing field, the 29-person firm has seen its revenues skyrocket since its launch seven years ago. Solink was named one of OBJ’s Startups to Watch in 2014 and one of the city’s fastestgrowing companies in 2017 with three-year revenue growth of 227.6 per cent. Investors have taken note. Earlier this month, the company closed a $5-million funding round that featured heavy-hitting venture capital firms from Canada and south of the border. Toronto’s Generation Ventures, which is headed by former Bay Street lawyer and high-profile business executive Geoff Beattie, led the latest round. Other investors were ScaleUP Ventures, a Toronto-based early stage technology fund with a fintech portfolio that also includes Ottawa’s Fusebill; the Business
From left, Solink CEO Mike Matta with Chris Beaudoin, head of the firm’s growth team, director of customer success Chelsea Sterling and former Kanata North BIA executive director Jenna Sudds at the recent Best Ottawa Business Awards. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
Development Bank of Canada’s IT Venture Fund; and Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, whose eclectic investments cover everything from Little Caesars pizza joints and Dunkin’ Donuts shops to Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors and SpaceX. Solink CEO Mike Matta doesn’t mask his enthusiasm when discussing his new roster of equity partners, and for good reason. After all, there can’t be many other Ottawa startups sharing portfolio space with Elon Musk. “We’ve always known that what we’re doing is an inevitability,” Mr. Matta says matter-of-factly.
“It just kind of helped us to know that people with capital who can help us fuel and scale the business also felt that. They didn’t think it was a crazy investment. These are investors that have invested in iconic companies that have gone on to redefine everything that we know of today in technology.” Valor Equity first entered Mr. Matta’s radar when he read a news article on the fund back in 2014. The private equity firm had taken the quick-service restaurant industry by storm, investing in chains such as Little Caesars and Dunkin’ Donuts and using a combination of software, engineering know-how and “lean
manufacturing” techniques to squeeze the most out of those operations – even going as far as counting the number of steps it takes to make a pizza. ‘DATA-CENTRIC’ VISION “I remember reading (the article) and just kind of being sold on everything they were saying and the need for data in physical space and being able to make decisions that are very data-centric,” Mr. Matta explains. “They had applied it to some of the most unsexy industries like fast food.” Knowing the firm would soon be seeking a followup to its initial $5-million
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injection of equity, Mr. Matta coldcalled Valor’s Chicago office last year. He managed to land a face-to-face meeting with an analyst, who was impressed enough with Solink’s software to invite fund partner Jon Shulkin to have a look. After viewing a demo, Mr. Shulkin called in Valor founder and managing partner Antonio Gracias. “They basically signed up on the spot,” Mr. Matta says. Generation Ventures vice-president of investments Laura Lenz is equally bullish on Solink’s future. “I think it’s something like three million hours of video surveillance goes unwatched every minute, so what’s the point of putting up these cameras if you’re not doing anything with it?” she says. “I think Solink has figured out a very sophisticated way to analyze the data and present it to the customer in a real-time manner.” As its investment partners’ pedigrees suggest, Solink believes its future market opportunities extend far beyond stopping theft in the workplace. Mr. Matta says a good chunk of its latest VC haul will go toward R&D aimed at expanding the software’s capabilities. He says the technology could help employers track workers’ movements via video, for example, and use that data to find ways of making employees more efficient.
“I think it’s something like three million hours of video surveillance goes unwatched every minute, so what’s the point of putting up these cameras if you’re not doing anything with it? I think Solink has figured out a very sophisticated way to analyze the data and present it to the customer in a real-time manner.” – LAURA LENZ, VP OF INVESTMENTS AT TORONTO’S GENERATION VENTURES
It could also provide a valuable window into customers’ spending patterns to help identify up-selling opportunities – for instance, if surveillance footage consistently shows a customer in a particular vehicle ordering a doughnut with his double-double, a cashier can be alerted to that preference and remind him to purchase a sweet treat to go along with his morning java. ‘A SOURCE OF INSIGHTS’ Mr. Matta compares it to websites such as Google that target ads at specific users based on their web-surfing habits. “This doesn’t come from thinking of video as a security product,” he says. “It comes from thinking of video as a source of insights and a source of data. The ability for us to translate that historical
insight into ‘what can I do right now’ is important.” Solink had initially sought a $4-million raise to get it through the next 18 months, but Mr. Matta says investors have been so taken by the company’s potential it easily exceeded that goal. A monthly email blast updating curious investors on the firm’s progress has grown from about 20 recipients to nearly 200. “We got a ton of interest from investors in San Francisco, in Boston, New York, Toronto, Seattle, just from publishing those monthly updates,” he says. About 300 customers – big names such as New York Fries, Tim Hortons and Wendy’s among them – now use Solink’s software at 1,600 separate locations. Mr. Matta says the company is poised to sign two major food-service customers
6.50% of Ottawa households are food insecure
that “have the potential to double our business.” Ms. Lenz says getting buy-in from top executives at major chains will be essential for Solink to prove its credibility to a broader range of clients. “I think if they can demonstrate that large corporate retailers, restaurants are purchasing this and it’s a decision from head office to disseminate through to all their franchisees, I think that would definitely help the company,” she says. With the company’s monthly recurring revenues growing at the brisk rate of nearly 10 per cent, Mr. Matta says he’s aiming to hit the $100-million mark in annual revenues within five years. “We’re trying to build a company that is going to be here for the long haul,” he says. “That’s our focus.”
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COMMENTARY Buying better buildings Ottawa architect Toon Dreessen explains how the public sector can spark more innovative designs – while saving money – by rethinking procurement processes
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017 OBJ.CA
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rocurement is the process used by large organizations such as governments to buy goods and services. There is an expectation – and a requirement – that purchasing goods and services in the public sector will be in a competitive, open and transparent environment so that best value is delivered for taxpayers. Key to this is that phrase, “best value.” Procurement departments exist in municipal, provincial and federal governments to deal with everything from pencils and toilet paper to professional services such as architecture and engineering. That’s, of course, one of the challenges: buying pencils isn’t like buying architectural services. We can describe a pencil down to the nth degree: It’s a hexagonal strip of wood with a graphite core that can be sharpened and has a metal tab at the back holding a pink eraser. We know pencils, and we can ask suppliers to give a price for one box, or 100 boxes of the same, identical pencil. But we can’t do that with buildings. No two buildings are exactly alike. The sites, context and requirements are different. The design has to be different. And even where they are similar, they are fundamentally different. If they weren’t, then all our libraries, schools and community centres would look exactly the same, all across the city, province and country. HIGH-QUALITY BUILDINGS Unlike “stuff,” architecture doesn’t come out of box, neatly packaged and ready to go. It’s an iterative process that takes skill, effort and time to get right. And that is the challenge: procurement seems to be being managed by risk transfer specialists who routinely redefine standard words, modify terms and conditions of standard contracts to contradict laws and regulations as well as to narrowly define scope and deliverables in an attempt to control an outcome. Part of the problem is that once the procurement is done, and the contract is awarded, the end user or client is stuck with the decisions of the procurement office. One of the goals of most procurement departments – as mandated by politicians, planners and users – is quality. Everyone wants a high-quality building. So what defines that quality? In addition to beauty, durability and
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The design for the Harriet Brooks research lab in Chalk River was procured under a Quality Based Selection model. PHOTO COURTESY DREESSEN CARDINAL ARCHITECTS
budget, the building has to work: it has to perform the function for which it was designed. The building has to have lasting value, because it’s going to be here for generations. The building also needs to fit with its context, and respect how a community might change over time, and anticipate the context of tomorrow. Many RFPs, and departments, state that quality is the goal and that they use Quality Based Selection with only a small part of the fee score of an RFP being price. Small might be 10 to 30 per cent of the total. But here is how that’s flawed: As soon as any price component is considered in evaluating services, it becomes a feebased procurement. LIFE-CYCLE COSTS Suppose there are three respondents to an RFP where 70 per cent of the score
is technical and 30 per cent is price. One person is very qualified, and gets 68 out of 70. Another gets 66. Suppose I go into the RFP knowing my technical qualifications aren’t as strong and get 62. But because I know this, I lowball the price. So I get the most points for price with a total score of 92. That means the most technically competent needs to lower their price in order to get 25 points and beat me with a score of 93 or higher. If they are the most qualified, why should they lower their fees to reduce their value? You could say that this is the architect’s problem; if they want to keep cutting fees to win work, that’s up to them. But by driving fees to the basement, we lower the level of effort that goes into design ideas that innovate. Without designs that innovate, we don’t get the great buildings we need. And because solving problems on paper
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Without designs that innovate, we don’t get the great buildings we need – before something gets built – is always cheaper than fixing it after the fact, cutting back on design services is the last place it makes sense to reduce efforts, especially when we remember that they constitute less than one per cent of the life-cycle cost of operating, designing and constructing a building. Put another way: reducing the services in design can have an enormous impact on the life-cycle cost. Cutting back on design services will cost more in the long run. But it gets worse.
A BETTER WAY We know that there is a better way to do this. In 1972, the Brooks Act was implemented in the United States. For 45 years, it has been illegal to use price in scoring RFPs in all federal government procurement, across 49 of 50 U.S. states and hundreds of municipalities. The track record for quality in procurement is well known, and well documented. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, in its Decision Making and Investment Planning Guide, notes that there is an 11-fold increase in lifecycle value by using Quality Based Selection. The case studies, examples and reports showing that this results in better procurement are exhaustive. Canada is lagging behind, stifling innovation in public sector procurement and devaluing the contributions of leading innovators in climate action with outdated, inefficient and sometimes illegal procurement practices. If we want better outcomes, we need better input. Improving procurement to deliver better value results in better buildings that meet the challenges of innovation, lasting quality and better value for all Canadians.
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Toon Dreessen is president of Ottawabased Dreessen Cardinal Architects and past-president of the Ontario Association of Architects.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
QUALITY BASED SELECTION Many RFPs fail to understand that this is a relationship. They use terminology that makes no sense, and borders on the illegal, or uninsurable, and sets up conflict from the start of what can be a multi-year relationship. For example, the use of the word “ensure” is often used to ask that the architect carry out certain tasks. But it has a specific legal and insurance definition. So it’s impossible to ensure that a building permit is issued. What if there is an outstanding legal challenge to the ownership of the property? Some procurement departments say that this isn’t what is meant by the use of the word ensure, but then why say it? That would be like asking a lawyer to ensure the outcome of a trial. Is it reasonable, or fair, that an RFP ask that the architect provide services that our unreasonable or border on the illegal? Let’s take a look at LEED, in procurement. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a well-known framework for understanding and recognizing sustainability. It’s been widely adopted and has great brand recognition. It is points-based, so one gets a point for each measure taken. For example, if you add a bike rack, you get a point. But what if the building doesn’t need a bike rack? What if no one will use it because it’s a secure site or military campus? That bike rack, and the shelter around it, costs money not only up front, but over the long term to maintain. When an RFP asks that the architect ensure LEED Gold, the architect is going to do all they can to make sure the points are reached, even if the building doesn’t need that bike rack. In a conventional RFP, there is no opportunity to talk about why LEED Gold
is the standard and what alternatives there might be. Under a Quality Based Selection (QBS) model, architects could propose options and alternatives that might be in the client’s best interests. The RFP could state that the objective is a highly sustainable building that shows a lasting value for the investment. In a QBS model, I could propose that the building could meet LEED Gold. Alternatively, I could propose reaching current net zero target of an 80-per-cent reduction in greenhouse gases. I might be able to propose that a modest two per cent budget increase might result in a 100 per cent reduction in greenhouse gases, demonstrating leadership in climate action. Showing how achieving a complete net zero results in better value, with zero utility operating costs over the lifecycle of the building could be better overall quality in the built environment. This is the sort of value and quality that our governments are looking for. And governments are ideally positioned to make that investment because they are going to own, operate and maintain these buildings for generations. But current procurement models prevent that interaction. They do this because the RFP model is set up to score points for procurement departments and get the lowest price.
Stories and photos by Caroline Phillips
Philanthropy awards celebrate Ottawans ‘eager to make a difference’
the best job in the best city in the whole world, and I witness miracles every day because of all of you.” The awards dinner included such special guests as Mayor Jim Watson and television personality Sarah Freemark. Returning as presenting sponsor was WCPD Foundation, represented by Peter Nicholson. The evening also saw the official launch of OBJ’s collaborative Giving Guide, a new printed and online publication that’s intended to be a central resource in helping the business community better connect with local charity groups. The crowd rose to its feet with applause after hearing how Outstanding Youth Award recipients Hannah, 16, Sophie, 14, and 12-year-old Cece Weider helped to create a unique fundraiser called SleepOUT for Youth for the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. The sisters, who attend Glebe Collegiate, Ashbury College and Turnbull School, wanted to raise awareness over youth homelessness by sleeping outside City Hall for a night with their parents. The initiative started after Hannah had a chance encounter with a homeless girl in her neighbourhood. A subsequent family conversation turned into a call for action. The grassroots movement that started in 2012 has created a ripple effect, growing into a mass overnight sleepout involving hundreds of youth and community members. It’s also raised more than half a million dollars. “It turned out there were a lot of youth who were eager to make a difference; they just didn’t know how,” said Hannah. “We stand here today as simply three of the hundreds of youth that made the sleepout such a success, and of the thousands of Ottawa youth who want to
contribute positively to their community,” she also told the room. Then came the reality check from middle sister Sophie. “Don’t get us wrong; working with teenagers isn’t easy,” she goodhumouredly told the room. “They’re not organized at all, and every year we get at least five people asking to sign up the day of the sleepout or asking if we have an extra tent because they totally forgot. “And, yes, it takes a bit of work to get them moving at the start, but once they get going, youth are a force.” The sisters thanked their parents, Kate and Mike Weider, who’s the CEO at Clearwater Clinical, and made sure to invite everyone to join them at this year’s SleepOUT happening on Nov. 30 at TD Place stadium at Lansdowne. Cancer survivor Tom Spence received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser award for raising more than $250,000 over the past 15 years for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Do it for Dad. The room heard how he’s no stranger to commitment, having been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa for 40 years and an employee of Surgenor Pontiac Buick for 59 years. Spence thanked his former employer, friends and family, particularly his wife, Terry Spence, whom he described as “my rock.” The Ottawa Catholic School Board received the Outstanding Philanthropic Group award for having raised more than $3 million in goods and monetary donations over the past 10 years for the Shepherds of Good Hope. PBC Group, represented by president and CEO Paul Bouzanis and his wife, Celine Bouzanis, was awarded Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist for its support of the YMCAYWCA National Capital Region.
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Three sisters raise awareness of youth homelessness after the oldest comes face-to-face with a teenage girl begging for change outside their neighbourhood grocery store. A man toils away at a car dealership for 59 years while quietly serving as a shining example of service to his community. Thousands of students and their teachers champion Catholic social justice by gathering money, food and clothing, while also donating their time year after year to help the poor and needy. These are just a few of the beautiful and inspiring stories shared with a crowd of more than 350 at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 23rd annual Ottawa Philanthropy Awards, held at the Shaw Centre on Nov. 14. The dinner hands out awards to individuals and businesses who generously give so much of their time, money or resources in order to make Ottawa a stronger community. “Nobody has to make a donation, nobody has to volunteer, nobody has to stand up for the underprivileged, and yet we have the privilege of witnessing this every day,” Jennifer Van Noort pointed out during her passionate acceptance speech for 2017 Outstanding Fundraising Professional. She’s vice-president of philanthropy and leadership giving for The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, which she thanked. “My cup runneth over. There are no words to express how grateful I am to all of you.” As challenging as the job of professional fundraiser might seem – what with having to ask people for money all the time while competing with other multimillion-dollar campaigns – you’d never know it listening to Van Noort. “I will tell anyone who will listen: I have
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From left, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser recipient Tom Spence with his wife, Terry, and John Ouellette, vice-president of philanthropy at the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Kate Weider and her husband, Mike Weider, received a big shout-out from their daughters, from left, Sophie, Cece and Hannah, as they received the Outstanding Youth Award at this year’s AFP Ottawa Philanthropy Awards.
Jack Silverstein, vice-president of financial development for the YMCA-YWCA National Capital Region, with Celine and Paul Bouzanis, recipients of the 2017 Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist award.
Shoppers Drug Mart landed the Outstanding Corporate Philanthropist award for its work with the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health, particularly in the area of women’s health. The evening wrapped up with the presentation of Outstanding Individual Philanthropist to Cuckoo Kochar from DCR/Phoenix Group. In 2013, he donated $1.2 million to Carleton University to encourage outstanding students from India to come to Carleton.
HUNDREDS TURN OUT TO HONOUR LAWYER, PHILANTHROPIST GREENSPON If you had to name Ottawa’s most famous practising lawyer, it would probably be Lawrence Greenspon, a criminal defence and civil litigation lawyer with an undeniable soft spot for the underdog. He’s well known, not only for the work he does in the justice system but for what he accomplishes beyond the walls of the Ottawa courthouse at 161 Elgin St. With his endless energy, he’s chaired fundraising campaigns, sold off live auction prizes at galas galore and has risked making a fool of himself for charity, doing everything from ballroom dancing to boxing. Greenspon was the man of the hour at the Jewish National Fund of Ottawa’s Negev Dinner, held Nov. 6 at the Infinity Convention Centre. The annual JNF dinners are organized in cities across Canada to honour individuals who have
demonstrated excellence in community leadership as well as dedication to Israel. The evenings also raise funds for projects in Israel, to be chosen by the honouree. Greenspon, along with his wife Angela Lariviere, selected a cause that helps children with special needs. Aleh Negev-Nahalat Eran is a unique rehabilitation village, located in the Negev desert, that serves as a home for children and adults with complex disabilities. Greenspon and Lariviere spent some time volunteering at the facility and meeting its young residents during a recent trip to Israel. The keynote speaker was Israeli war hero Doron Almog, who made it his life’s mission to establish the Aleh Negev. The dinner was chaired by Greenspon’s good friend, David
Feldberg, from Desjardins Financial Security Independent Network. The interesting thing about Greenspon, said Feldberg, “is that he doesn’t see people by religion, colour or creed. He sees everybody just as people, and he treats everybody very kindly. He’s a great person who’s given so much to so many people.” The sold-out 530-person dinner was emceed by Rabbi Reuven Bulka, with lawyer Howard Yegendorf performing the hamotzi, or blessing over the bread. The room heard how Greenspon was very close to his Polish-born stepfather, Paul Orlan, who was taken to the concentration camps at age 14 and later liberated by the Americans at Auschwitz at age 18. Orlan’s parents and his sister, Maja, after whom Greenspon’s daughter was named, did not survive the Holocaust. Greenspon grew up hearing
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From left, dinner chair David Feldberg with the Jewish National Fund of Ottawa’s 2017 Negev Dinner honouree, Lawrence Greenspon, and Rabbi Reuven Bulka.
the stories and discussions about how the rights and freedoms of Jews had been trampled on by the state during the Nazi oppression. “Because of the truths my father told me, it should come as no surprise that I do what I do. But, when it comes to the ‘how’, Dad always said: ‘If you want to make yourself bigger than the next guy, stand up on a chair. Don’t dig a hole for that guy.’ So I ask you, those of you who are standing up on a chair in our community and beyond, keep doing it.”
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Cancer foundation the big winner at Grand Casino Night Don’t worry, nobody blew their child’s college fund or lost their home at the Welch Grand Casino Night held Nov. 8 at the Shaw Centre. Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, Welch LLP brought back its gambling-themed benefit. The evening raised nearly $25,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. The 500-plus attendees were given $500 in funny money to use at the gaming tables and toward the purchase of raffle tickets for various prize packages. On hand to officially welcome everyone was Micheal Burch, managing partner of Ottawa-based accounting firm Welch. Attendees included James Baker, CEO of award-winning recruiting company Keynote Group, and his wife, business partner and co-founder, Donna Baker, along with Heidi Hauver. She recently joined forces with Keynote and has assumed the roles of chief human resources officer and managing partner. Also spotted was lawyer Lisa Langevin,
From Welch LLP/Welch Group Consulting are, from left, marketing co-ordinator Stef Reid with managing partner Micheal Burch, digital marketing specialist Anas Kaadan, director of marketing Kyle Turk and event co-ordinator Adriana Sgabellone at the Welch Grand Casino Night held in the Trillium Ballroom of the Shaw Centre on Nov. 8.
who made partner earlier this year at Kelly Santini LLP. Langevin has put her name forward for the cancer foundation’s
popular charity boxing event. It’s looking to add, for its first time, female “white collar” boxers to Fight for the Cure.
CUDDY UP CLOSE Across the canal, at the National Arts Centre, legendary singer-songwriter Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame once again headlined the popular Up Close and Unplugged benefit held that same night. Now in its 13th year, the invite-only Up Close and Unplugged benefit is a successful collaboration between the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the National Arts Centre Foundation. Past performers have included Matt and Jill Barber, Alan Doyle and Colin James. Peter Charbonneau, a former senior executive at telecom company Newbridge Networks, co-chaired the benefit with fellow cancer survivor Stephen Greenberg, president of property management company Osgoode Properties, and Gregory Sanders. He’s past board chair of the cancer foundation and the head of the tax group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall. The gathering of 150 business leaders, sponsors and philanthropists enjoyed a three-course dinner followed by an intimate performance from Cuddy, who always puts on a captivating show, in the NAC’s transformed Fourth Stage.
r, a parochial and unsophisticated politician who succeeded more because of luck than skill. Canada’s withering financial situation. Some wrote he embarrassed the country by staying out of the war in Iraq. They criticized the Clarity
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ght to government. They often credited his successes to his finance minister, rival and successor, Paul Martin. erviews with key figures of the time and careful analysis, Chretien made the critical decisions that positioned Canada for the 21st century
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Lawyer Danny Fernandes and his wife, Sandra Guttmann, also a lawyer.
Local Habitat for Humanity CEO Alexis Ashworth, with chair Bob Ridley.
Dennis Laurin owner of Laurin General Contractor with his wife Andrea.
Richard Lauzon, from BMO Private Banking, with Bonnie McLeod.
BYAs Early Bird Tickets Now Available From left, Cynthia Pitsiulak performs Inuit throat singing From left, Rahul Kochar, vice-president with Phoenix Homes, with Annie Aningmiuq. and his wife, Simran, with Melinda Karlsson and Erik Karlsson.
STEPPING UP FOR CHARITY: STEEL TOES GALA RAISES $120K FOR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY bedroom townhome of their own. Her little guy will get his own bedroom (painted blue, he’s already decided). “I keep imagining what pictures are going to go on the walls,” Aningmiuq told OBJ.social. Aningmiuq came to Ottawa to go to college, leaving behind her small Inuit community of Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, Nunavut. She now works fulltime as an engagement co-ordinator for the Community Foundations of Canada. She entertained the audience with a throat-singing performance that night, joined on stage by Cynthia Pitsiulak.
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COCKTAIL PARTY The previous night, Habitat for Humanity was lucky enough to receive a net total of $100,000 from the Malhotra Family Foundation’s annual Share Party. The cocktail party was held at Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, a new boutique hotel on Dalhousie Street owned by the Malhotra family. The party was light on speeches and heavy on fun. Foundation co-founder Shawn Malhotra briefly thanked the many business sponsors, telling them how “humbled, amazed and very, very appreciative” he and his wife, family foundation co-founder Louise Malhotra, were for their support. Malhotra, along with his brother Neil Malhotra, are vice-presidents at Claridge Homes.
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Single working mother Annie Aningmiuq tried saving enough money for a down payment on a home for her and her son. But, as is often the case, life kept getting in the way. “I’ve had to use the money for other things,” she told OBJ.social in the days leading up to Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes & Stilettos “Full Moon Gala.” Some 370 attendees, including Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Mayor Jim Watson, gathered Nov. 4 in the Trillium Ballroom of the Shaw Centre to raise $120,000 for Habitat for Humanity GO. For the past 24 years, the nonprofit organization has been working with its community partners, donors and volunteers to build decent and affordable housing for low-income families. Returning as presenting sponsor was Laurin General Contractor, owned by Dennis Laurin. He agreed to donate a further $5,000 if the room could collectively match that number before the night was over. It did. Guests heard how construction is underway on phase one of Habitat’s largest development to date, Leacross Landing in Orléans. It’s building townhomes over the next three years to serve 16 families, including Aningmiuq and her four-year-old son Hunter. They are currently renting a small room in a house but will move into an interest-free-mortgaged, three-
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The annual Christmas Cheer Breakfast is one of our community’s most well attended and supported charitable events. Join local business professionals and residents on December 8th at The Westin Ottawa for a delicious breakfast and delightful time in support of local charities.
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BEST OTTAWA BUSINESS 2017 RECIPIENTS
‘So many leaders we should be proud of’ Lansdowne visionary John Ruddy, Calian CEO Kevin Ford among homegrown business titans honoured at record-setting ceremony BY DAVID SALI firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO of the Year Kevin Ford speaks to the crowd after receiving his award at the BOBs. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
2017 BOBs recipients: CEO of the Year: Kevin Ford, Calian Best New Business: Sampford Advisors; Collab Space; numbercrunch #NextBigThingOTT: Contextere; The Growcer; MasterpieceVR
Deals of the Year: Shopify (technology); Ottawa 2017 (tourism); Assent Compliance (finance); CBRE (real estate); Mad Radish (retail); Canopy Growth (global markets)
Rainbow Foods/Brightside Capital (sustainability)
Best Performance: Ottawa 2017 (marketing); University of Ottawa food services (customer experience); You.i TV (export); Ottawa Tool Library (social entrepreneurship); Kinaxis (HR); Kinaxis (co-op); Giatec Scientific (sales);
Best Business: Welch LLP; Assent Compliance; Shopify
#SeriousTechLivesHere: ThinkWrap Commerce (company of the year); Solink (team of the year)
Newsmaker of the Year: BlackBerry QNX Lifetime Achievement: John Ruddy
CEO OF THE YEAR Shopify’s Harley Finkelstein kicked off the lively black-tie event with a video in which he virtually skateboarded around the firm’s downtown headquarters while urging the city’s business leaders to build ambitious, world-beating enterprises. Comedian Tom Green, who grew up in Gloucester, then welcomed everyone to the festivities via a pretaped video from Las Vegas, where he’s got a regular gig at Bally’s casino. Entrepreneur David Chilton of Wealthy Barber fame added a video tribute of his own, congratulating the night’s recipients. One of the evening’s biggest stars was CEO of the Year Kevin Ford, who has headed Calian Group since early 2015. Known for his humble, downto-earth demeanour, the 53-yearold Ottawa native credited Calian’s nearly 3,000 employees for their hard work and dedication in building a $275-million-a-year company. “I’m not really an award guy, to be honest with you,” he said with a smile. “But I’m so proud to be here tonight because I really look at this as a recognition of the amazing team we have at Calian.” Mr. Ford also took time to acknowledge leaders such as Royal Ottawa CEO George Weber and Ottawa Hospital president Jack Kitts for their contributions to the community. “When I look around the city, there’s just so many leaders I think we should be proud of,” he told the crowd. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else. In Kevin Ford-speak, I think this city is freaking awesome.”
From left, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce chair Ian Sherman with Lifetime Achievement Award recipient John Ruddy and OSEG chief executive Bernie Ashe. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON
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ith thousands of visitors set to flock to Ottawa for this week’s Grey Cup festivities, it was only fitting that the man who did more than anyone else to bring the championship game to the nation’s capital took centre stage on Nov. 15 at the year’s biggest business event. Trinity Development Group founder John Ruddy was among more than two dozen individuals and companies feted at the Best Ottawa Business Awards as a who’s-who of community leaders looked on. And with the 105th Grey Cup slated for TD Place stadium at Lansdowne Park on Nov. 26, the timing could hardly have been better. Mr. Ruddy, 65, was the driving force behind the redevelopment of Lansdowne and the subsequent return of CFL football to Ottawa in 2014. For that and a host of other accomplishments in a career spanning four decades, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Introducing his friend to the audience, Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group CEO Bernie Ashe proudly pointed out that the Grey Cup is “a game that would not have been played in Ottawa but for John.” Paying tribute to Mr. Ruddy’s “ferocious competitive spirit,” Mr. Ashe praised the commercial real estate titan and OSEG partner for his “sharp intellect,” his wisdom and his willingness to look beyond the financial bottom line in his quest to build a better city. “He put his money where his heart was,” said Mr. Ashe, who took home a BOB award himself in 2015 for CEO of the Year. “Few will leave the community better than they found it. Many try. John will.” A low-key man who shuns the spotlight despite being the linchpin of dozens of major development projects, Mr. Ruddy called Lansdowne “one of my proudest building projects in Ottawa to date” because it brings people from across the city together. In addition to building more than 27 million square feet of big-box retail space across the country, the Ottawa native has donated millions of dollars to health-care, arts and community organizations through his Trinity
Development Foundation. “What’s really important in our community is the people within the community,” said Mr. Ruddy, a lifelong football fan who played the game while studying architecture at Carleton University. “I took some big chances, worked hard and relied on a bit of luck.” In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, the BOBs also honoured the CEO of the Year as well as top-performing companies in several categories, including best businesses and deals of the year. A record crowd of nearly 750 people turned out for the gala at the Westin Hotel, which also featured a bit of star power – both local and international.
BEST OTTAWA BUSINESS 2017 RECIPIENTS BEST BUSINESS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Welch LLP Welch LLP, Ottawa’s largest regional accounting firm, prides itself on following Richard Branson’s sage advice: “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business.” Sixteen partners under managing partner Micheal Burch maintain the personalized service of a small firm that distinguishes Welch from other large firms. A positive family atmosphere and the constant challenges of the work have built a close-knit team with low turnover at Welch’s offices in Ottawa, Renfrew and Toronto. The longest-serving employee has been with the firm for 70 years. Most of the partners have worked their way up from staff accountant or co-op student positions. In the past year alone, Welch has added 53 staff and expanded its service offering with a new director of U.S. tax services. Revenues continue to grow at a steady pace of more than 10 per cent annually. Clients hail from 11 different sectors, from automotive to not-forprofit. Some clients have even been with Welch since its inception almost a century ago. It’s only to be expected that such a mainstay of the community is also a big community supporter. Welch earmarks $200,000 a year to sponsor local charitable events. This fall, Welch is hosting its second Grand Casino event in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Last year’s Grand Casino raised more than $30,000.
Assent Compliance Assent Compliance’s industry sector may not sound all that exciting, but 70 per cent headcount growth over the past year and two rounds of venture capital suggest it’s doing something right. The company offers a software-as-aservice platform that helps enterprises collect the data necessary to keep their global supply chains in compliance with local and international regulations. It’s an emerging market space that Assent Compliance is in fact helping to define. The company’s biggest competition comes from the status quo – the internal, manual programs used by its customers and potential customers. That means Assent Compliance is positioning itself as a thought leader – one that has attracted the attention of investors. In less than a year, the company secured two rounds of venture capital worth a total of $60 million. Operations have expanded to the U.S. and Europe, with many new clients among the Fortune 500. Assent Compliance has invested that capital to strengthen its leadership, acquire new talent and build a company culture that drives performance and excellence.
The staff at Welch LLP enjoy a little down time. PHOTO COURTESY WATERBRIDGE MEDIA
This culture is reflected in a formal corporate social responsibility program and an emphasis on giving back to the community. Assent’s employees and leadership are heavily involved in initiatives such as Fight for the Cure for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, Children’s Wish Foundation, Big Bike for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and various other local community initiatives.
with a “Build a Bigger Business” contest – thousands of later-stage companies were given the challenge to scale up from revenues of around $1 million to $50 million or more. The winners got to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.
Shopify It all began with CEO Tobias Lütke just wanting to sell snowboards online. Today, Shopify has democratized online retail with an out-of-the-box e-commerce platform that handles everything from marketing and payments to secure checkout and shipping. Entrepreneurs are freed to focus on their business and let the technology take care of itself. More than 500,000 businesses have turned to Shopify for their online storefronts. The company recently unveiled plans to hire another 300 to 500 full-time employees for an expanded Waterloo facility after announcing a new 200-person office in Toronto earlier this year. Shopify started the year with a bang when it announced as part of its multichannel strategy a deal with Amazon that allows merchants dealing in U.S. dollars to integrate an Amazon sales channel through their Shopify accounts. A string of other deals and partnerships have followed, earning Shopify this year’s BoBs award for Technology Deal of the Year. Shopify’s leadership has never hesitated to support the local community, including other entrepreneurs. Supporting entrepreneurship is baked into its corporate strategy. One example is its annual “Build a Business” contest. This year, Shopify teamed with Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris to up the ante
Sampford Advisors Ed Bryant founded Sampford Advisors because he saw a clear void in the marketplace – mid-market Canadian tech companies lacked a dedicated advisory firm to help them navigate a merger or acquisition. Larger companies could always turn to a big financial institution or multinational professional services firm, but these avenues were often not the right fit for a smaller firm, especially in high-tech. Bryant understood this from experience –he’d served as CFO of Ottawa’s Conversant Intellectual Property Management and worked for 16 years with investment banking giants Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley. And given Ottawa’s resurgent tech scene, it only made sense to found such an advisory firm here. Since January 2016, Sampford has grown to a team of six and expanded with a Toronto office without any external funding. In its first year of operation alone, the advisory closed some US$350 million in M&A transactions. To date in 2017, Sampford has handled Magor’s sale to Harris Computer and WiLan’s acquisition of International Road Dynamics (IRD). Sampford is profitable and continues to plough surplus capital into a national growth strategy. Bryant and his team credit their growth to their strong client commitment and having more M&A expertise than anyone else in the Canadian mid-market.
BEST NEW BUSINESS
Collab Space It only makes sense that a facility intended to support startup businesses and foster collaboration is itself the product of collaboration. Businessman Emile Salem, who built much of his career in the local construction and renovation industry, and savvy entrepreneur Blair Kilrea teamed up to create Collab Space in 2015. By the end of that year, they had expanded to a 20,000-square-foot facility in Nepean to accommodate rapid growth with 45 members. The following year, membership grew to over 200. Collab Space continues to add about four members per week thanks to word of mouth and social media exposure as “the place to be” for Ottawa startups. Complete with offices, boardrooms, an education room for larger groups, and optimized co-working spaces, Collab Space is not merely a place to conduct business; it’s a community culture built to connect entrepreneurs and mentors, conduct accessible workshops and seminars that encourage growth and diversification, and grow networks. Salem and Kilrea have brought on board such notable mentors and advisors as Peter Stewart, formerly of Invest Ottawa, and Geoff Strotmann of the Small Business Association of Canada. Profitable from day one and completely self-financed, Collab Space continues to expand its programs to help entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level and get the mentoring they need to beat the odds. numbercrunch New businesses live or die by how well they crunch the numbers. Just look at these numbers: Half of new businesses fail before five years. A common issue is lack of an experienced person to handle the books. That’s why Susan Richards and Craig Hung decided to create their own business, numbercrunch. With a roster of virtual CFOs, controllers and bookkeepers available on demand, numbercrunch offers a fresh solution for startups, small businesses and even mid-sized companies. The key is streamlining data collection to provide executives with the right information in a cost-effective manner, because decisionmakers who know their numbers can make better decisions. The founders are themselves accountants with backgrounds in entrepreneurship and mentorship. Their energetic team includes qualified and enthusiastic accountants and bookkeepers with a variety of unique skillsets. Numbercrunch has of course kept its own numbers inline. It’s self-financed and been profitable since its inception in
BEST OTTAWA BUSINESS 2017 RECIPIENTS
2014, with revenue growth averaging 50 per cent a year. The number of local client companies is nearing 70. While its clients hail from a variety of market sectors, numbercrunch works heavily in the tech sector with unique accounting expertise in the software-asa-service business model. Numbercrunch is now expanding its service offering to include full-time placements better suited to the internal accounting needs of mid- to large-sized organizations.
DEALS OF THE YEAR Technology Shopify As we said in Shopify’s Best Business profile, it’s been another heady year for Ottawa’s ecommerce darling. Online and mobile retail is a complex and rapidly evolving market. Consumers now have so many paths to purchase, the market demands partnerships across the industry ecosystem to give retailers the resources they need to succeed. The Shopify team has been busy securing such partnerships by first targeting its largest market – the U.S. Shopify began 2017 with deals already in place with the sales channels of Facebook, Pinterest and Messenger. In January came a deal with Amazon that allows U.S. merchants to integrate an Amazon sales channel through their Shopify accounts. In June, Shopify teamed up with Buzzfeed so U.S.-based merchants can reach hundreds of millions of potential customers through that platform – users can tag their products for use in the viral content site’s product campaigns. The next month, eBay followed – as of this fall, U.S.-based Shopify merchants can list and sell their products on eBay using their Shopify account. Then came Instagram in October. As with Buzzfeed and eBay, Shopify merchants will be able to tag products in their Instagram posts from their Shopify accounts. This allows consumers to tap on a product and buy it on the merchant’s checkout without ever leaving the Instagram app.
Finance Assent Compliance Less than a year after it secured a series-A round of venture capital worth $20 million, Assent Compliance made headlines again with a series-B round worth $40 million in July. Taking the road less travelled is obviously paying off. Assent Compliance has become a major force in an emerging market, securing a string of Fortune 1000 clients. Its software-as-a-Service platform helps enterprises collect the data necessary to keep their global supply chains in compliance with local and international regulations. According to CEO Andrew Waitman, no other Canadian tech firm has secured such a large combination of series A and B rounds in such a short period of time. When he joined the 12-year-old company in 2014, it had 25 employees. The latest financing round is expected to help it boost its headcount to 325 within the next 12 to 18 months. Maryland’s Greenspring Associates led the latest round of financing. Other investors included Volition Capital, OpenText Enterprise Application Fund, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program, RBC and additional private investors. Assent Compliant’s ability to attract big multinational clients is rare for a software-as-a-service company at its stage, Greenspring managing partner John Averitt told OBJ. Most growing enterprise software firms focus on landing small and medium-sized clients before graduating to the big guys.
Retail Mad Radish Nine years after he brought tea retailing to the masses with DavidsTea, entrepreneur David Segal has returned to his native Ottawa to change how Canadians look at healthy fast food. Driven by the rightful conviction that many Canadians would like to find something healthier than burgers, nuggets and fries when they need to grab a quick meal, Segal has launched a new venture called Mad Radish.
His first two Mad Radish locations opened in July, one downtown at the corner of Albert and Metcalfe streets, the other near Bank Street and Fifth Avenue in the Glebe. His co-founder is Stephanie Howarth, the former head of marketing at DavidsTea. Mad Radish features an upscale menu devoid of red meat, with hearty and satisfying salad and warm bowl options with catchy names such as Off the Waldorf, Dill with It and Fired Up Chicken. “Diet is one of the biggest health issues of our time,” Segal told OBJ. “Someone needs to make the investments in time, money and energy to really change the fast-food model, and we intend to do that in Canada.” Segal made additional headlines when he announced Mad Radish wouldn’t accept cash, taking the lead on a trend toward cashless, digital transactions. Segal founded the first DavidsTea location in 2008 with his cousin. He resigned from that business in 2016. Today, DavidsTea is a public company with more than 200 locations across Canada and the U.S. Global Markets Canopy Growth Consumer brands are locked in a battle to stay relevant in the hearts and minds of consumers. So when Constellation Brands, maker of Corona beer and Kim Crawford wines, decided it needed a new partner for new products, where did it turn? Why, Canopy Growth, Ottawa’s star in the medical marijuana trade, of course. The days are quickly ticking down to when pot becomes legal for general consumption in Canada. That paves the way for an explosion in consumables that include marijuana. To stay ahead of evolving consumer trends and market dynamics, Constellation Brands wants to cook up some marijuana-infused
19 Mad Radish employees serve up healthy fast food. PHOTO COURTESY WATERBRIDGE MEDIA
Real Estate CBRE Limited The final signatures hit the dotted line only a couple of months ago on the largest real estate deal in Ottawa’s history. A consortium of investors purchased the Constitution Square office complex on
Albert Street downtown for $480 million. The value of the deal is more than twice that of the previous record-holder – the federal government’s purchase of the former Nortel campus on Carling Avenue for $208 million in 2010. CBRE, the Canadian arm of the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm, brokered the deal along with RBC. “I think it’s testament to the strength of the Ottawa investment climate right now,” CBRE vice-president Nico Zentil told OBJ. “It complements a lot of various investors’ strategy, which is to own very core assets in core markets. It’s a top-three building in the city, and the investment strategy is conducive to owning the top buildings in the top markets.” The buyers of the 1.06-million-squarefoot space include Greystone Managed Investments, Canderel and Canstone Realty Advisors. Regina-based Greystone becomes the majority owner, while Montreal’s Canderel will take on the roles of property and leasing manager. Toronto-based Canstone will act as asset manager. Constitution Square had been jointly owned since 2005 by Oxford Properties, the real estate arm of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension fund, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
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Tourism Ottawa 2017 Inviting a giant mechanical dragonhorse and its eight-legged nemesis to the nation’s capital for the Canada 150 celebrations is no small undertaking. For the Ottawa 2017 team, La Machine’s four-day run in late July represented a satisfying climax after a two-and-a-half-year effort to host what is arguably the largest and most complex theatrical production the city has ever seen. Some 750,000 people flocked downtown to take in the spectacle. Guy Laflamme, executive director of Ottawa
2017, likened it having two extra Canada Day celebrations. What did that mean for local businesses? The torrent of social media activity generated by the event included comments from downtown eateries that ran out of food and completely underestimated the floods of customers. And beyond that, it was a darn cool feather in Ottawa’s cap that helped the city boost its global profile as a must-see tourist destination. The price for Long Ma and Kumo to stomp around downtown has been tagged at around $3.5 million. As a private organization supported by all three levels of government, Ottawa 2017 succeeded in forging partnerships with private sector partners and other levels of government to reduce the bill to only about $512,000 for the City of Ottawa.
BEST OTTAWA BUSINESS 2017 RECIPIENTS
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
beverages for the Canadian market. But it needs a quality source. At the end of October, Constellation and Canopy announced a $245-million deal for a 9.9 per cent ownership stake in Canopy. The news drove up Canopy’s share price by 20 per cent. The company finished October with a market cap of $2.77 billion. Canopy chairman and CEO Bruce Linton said the partnership marks the first time that a major wine, beer and spirits producer has invested in legal marijuana. Constellation has annual revenues of about US$6 billion. The resulting products will initially be for sale only in Canada. Constellation said it will not market such products in the U.S. or any other market unless it is legally permissible to do so at all government levels.
Bull Crashed Ice in March, attracted more than 200,000 people despite extremely cold weather. In July, La Machine drew some 750,000 spectators. Strong social media and web traffic indicate Ottawa 2017 succeeded in enhancing Ottawa’s reputation as a vibrant city and one of the best places in the world in which to live, work and play. The New York Times, Lonely Planet and other major media outlets named Ottawa a top travel destination for 2017.
in the Dining Hall to help students feel included, from the traditional Thanksgiving meal to chic five-course dinners, a Mexican Mariachi band and a Chinese New Year menu.
Export You.i TV The television industry is changing fast. Streaming video, multiple screens and over-the–top video offerings are becoming the new normal. That’s why major media brands such as Customer Experience Turner Broadcasting, Crackle, Corus Food Services, University of Ottawa Entertainment and Rogers are turning to What do you do when you get a D? Buckle You.i TV to get the flexibility and reach down and do better. they need to remain relevant to today’s In 2010, MacLean’s annual university connected consumer. ranking gave the University of Ottawa How? With an app development a D for Food Services. This led to a platform called the You.i Engine. This platform makes it easy for media brands to create stunning video experiences on any device screen, to turn TV viewers into users, buyers and fans. And the word is getting out. In its last fiscal year, You.i TV grew its exports as a percentage of total sales by 80 per cent thanks to engagements with Sony Crackle and Turner. The North American sales team has expanded across the U.S. with the addition of 14 staff. New partners are being trained in Colombia, Russia and Sweden. Today, the You.i Engine is powering millions of current, in-market app installs for 14 major brands. It’s quite a leap for a company that not long ago derived 90 per cent of its revenue from the domestic market. Heading into 2018, less than 10 per cent of You.i TV’s revenue will come from domestic sales. And a new, more The Ottawa 2017 team has a lot to smile about. PHOTO COURTESY OTTAWA 2017 economical app development platform, You.I Engine One, promises to attract a whole new customer segment. BEST PERFORMANCE road map for improvement with 26 recommendations and a new vision Social Entrepreneurship Marketing statement: “Eat, learn, live uOttawa. Ottawa Tool Library Ottawa 2017 Connecting people in an inviting culinary How often do you find yourself in need Big. Bold. Brief. Transform. Connect. destination.” of a tool for a project that you can’t afford Immersive. Move. Authentic. Twenty-five of those recommendations to buy, likely won’t need again or can’t These principles guided the Ottawa have been implemented and the proof, find to borrow? And then there are always 2017 marketing team as it worked as they say, is in the pudding. Customer tools that need a little TLC to save them to position Ottawa as the place for satisfaction scores have risen enough to from rusting away in a landfill. all Canadians to celebrate the 150th put uOttawa’s Food Services on track to Enter the not-for-profit Ottawa Tool anniversary of Confederation and create a achieve “best in class.” Revenues have Library (OTL). positive reputation for the nation’s capital shot up by 144 per cent in less than a Offering everything from hand and that will pay dividends for years to come. decade as more students chose to eat in power tools to garden implements and A private organization supported by the Dining Hall. Food Services relies on kitchen gadgets, OTL isn’t just a place all three levels of government, Ottawa an advisory committee, bi-annual town where you can borrow what you need, 2017 set itself some lofty goals: Bring halls, mobile rating tools, sentiment you can learn to use it, too, through 1.75 million additional tourists to Ottawa surveys and focus groups to continuously workshops and classes for all skill levels. in 2017, generate more than 2.5 million improve the customer experience. There is even a Repair Café to get more hotel room nights over the course of the This effort has extended beyond life out of what you have. OTL is a place year and stimulate hundreds of millions improving the quality, diversity and where makers of all stripes can come of dollars of new activity for the local and affordability of the menu. For students together to socialize and talk shop. provincial economies. in residence (uOttawa has about 4,400), This model promotes a better The year isn’t over yet, but all the dining hall is often a home away from ecological balance and minimizes waste indications point to bulls-eyes across the home. The Dining Hall was therefore and impact on the environment through board thanks to a co-ordinated marketing redesigned into a state-of-the-art 24/7 sharing, repair and reuse. That limits strategy that blended traditional and facility. Family-style seating encourages the number of tools manufactured and non-traditional media channels. Many students to sit together and get to know underused, as well as associated waste events sold out instantly. The first, Red each other. Staff develop special events in packaging and transport, and diverts
material from landfill. In fact, OTL recycled almost 1,500 pounds of metal last year otherwise destined for the trash. This social and environmental focus makes OTL different from the typical tool rental outlet. OTL nurtures community and creativity throughout the city by installing libraries in public spaces and partnering with charitable organizations that also rely on the library for their projects, such as StopGap and Hidden Harvest. HR Kinaxis Kinaxis has gone through many iterations over its 33-year history, but its greatest watershed moment came three years ago. This provider of cloud-based supplychain management solutions went public and earned a place in the Magic Quadrant for business intelligence and analytics platforms from influential market research firm Gartner. This sparked a new phase of growth for the company, which put a fresh emphasis on managing talent. Over the past couple of years, Kinaxis has engaged in an “employee value proposition review” – a formal effort to understand why people join the company, why they stay and why they might leave. This insight has been used to shape the company’s branding and recruitment strategies. Kinaxis also realized it had to double down on leadership development due to a strong correlation between employee engagement and leadership effectiveness. This led to a leadership development program with elements that included success profiles, feedback surveys, leadership coaching and development training. The results? Attracting, hiring and retaining top talent has become a much more targeted and effective process. Internal resources for employee engagement and training have been better deployed to benefit the company and its workers. Co-Op Kinaxis Kinaxis has been frequently recognized as a top employer in the Ottawa area, but that alone isn’t enough to attract the best and brightest talent in a competitive labour market. This provider of cloudbased supply-chain management solutions often plucks its apples from the tree. Kinaxis has a long history hiring co-op students in Ottawa and that commitment continues to grow each year with its business. The company uses co-op students to fill full-time roles within the organization. Many co-op placements find a job offer from Kinaxis waiting upon graduation. Kinaxis hires from both college and university programs in a variety of disciplines, including commerce and
BEST OTTAWA BUSINESS 2017 RECIPIENTS
Since 1978, this family-owned retailer has continued to set the standard in the Ottawa area for natural and organic food Sales products as well as a comprehensive Giatec Scientific assortment of vitamins, supplements and The Internet of Things is all about adding other natural health products. connectivity to everyday objects. For the For its 60 full-time employees, team at Giatec Scientific, that includes Rainbow Foods offers a highly concrete. competitive health and dental benefits Giatec has developed smart IoT-based plan, and provides health and safety technologies that use wireless sensors training beyond legally mandated and mobile apps for real-time monitoring requirements. The company has also of concrete. From ensuring an optimal reduced its environmental footprint mix for long-lasting durability and by cutting paper usage by 50 per cent, performance to assessing the condition investing $20,000 into retrofits to reduce of existing concrete infrastructure, Giatec electricity consumption and switching to gives contractors and engineers the reliable more fuel-efficient vehicles. insight they need. But the most telling progress is found Giatec has averaged 100 per cent on the supply chain side, where Rainbow annual growth over the past seven years. Foods has changed its product mix to It doubled revenues last year and is on support local vendors and emphasize Fair track to double them again in its next fiscal Trade products. year. Such impressive growth is thanks to The result? A material bump in a big international push and a marketing profitability. Full-time employee turnover strategy that blended the best of the old has fallen below the industry average. and the new – email and old-fashioned Local product selection has doubled from cold-calling combined with new software 15 to 30 per cent of inventory. Rainbow and a growth-hacking campaign through Foods was also recently recognized with social media. a “retailer sustainability” award from the The result? Giatec has doubled the Canadian Health Food Association. number of agreements signed with international partners and increased partnership revenue by 33 per cent. NEWSMAKER Giatec now has more than 100 recurring enterprise customers in 70 countries as BlackBerry QNX well as eight partner ready-mix companies, Cars that drive themselves. including the largest ready-mix company The stuff of science fiction is now a in the world, LafargeHolcim. The most serious business driven by billions in exciting client it acquired this year was R&D taking place around the world. Canada’s own PCL Construction – Giatec’s According to a 2015 report from the first national supply agreement. Conference Board of Canada, the country could reap $65 billion in potential Sustainability benefits from autonomous vehicle Rainbow Foods/Brightside Capital developments, mainly from fewer For a socially conscious retailer, putting collisions, less time in cars, fuel savings good food and virtuous consumer and reduced congestion. products into your cart goes far beyond But Canadian industry and selection and quality. The Rainbow Foods particularly Ottawa’s high-tech team focuses on three core areas: human community are not about to stand on the relations and employee engagement, sidelines and wait for initiatives in the operational excellence and supply chain U.S. and Europe to bring driverless cars impact. to our roads.
business, technical writing and various IT-related positions.
The numbercrunch team won a best new business award. PHOTO COURTESY WATERBRIDGE MEDIA
At the end of 2016, BlackBerry QNX announced a new $100-million “innovation centre” in Kanata dedicated to developing software for connected and self-driving vehicles. The centre is expected to create up to 650 jobs. The Kanata North Business Association subsequently held an autonomous vehicles summit in January to discuss ways of turning Ottawa into a research hub. Then Ford, a partner of BlackBerry QNX, announced in March it would spend about $338
million to create an Ottawa Research and Engineering Centre focused on developing autonomous driving technology. All this has prompted local politicians to promote Ottawa as a global test bed for driverless technology. In October, Ottawa saw its first live demonstration of the technology when a car equipped with BlackBerry QNX technology took to Leggett Drive. It marked the first time an autonomous vehicle connected to city infrastructure on a Canadian road.
This annual event will examine trends and opportunities in the city’s business sector and provide an insightful forecast about Ottawa’s economic future. This event will include: • Guest Speakers: Mr. Robert Black, Executive Vice President of The Katz Group Mr. Rick Daviss, Executive Director, Downtown Arena Project, City of Edmonton • Presentation by Douglas Porter, CFA, Chief Economist & Managing Director, BMO Financial Group • An important update from Mayor Jim Watson
Shaw Centre – Trillium Ballroom 11 am - Registration and Networking 11:45 am - Event Commences 1:30 pm - Event Concludes
Ottawa Chamber Members: $60 Non-Members: $75 EVENT SPONSORS
CORPORATE TABLE OF 10 Ottawa Chamber Members: $540 Non-Members: $675
The Ottawa Tool Library has a wide range of implements. PHOTO COURTESY WATERBRIDGE MEDIA
Register now at OttawaChamber.ca
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Company/Address Phone/Fax/Web The Westin Ottawa* 11 Colonel By Dr. Ottawa, ON K1N 9H4 613-560-7000 / 613-560-7359 thewestinottawa.com Ottawa Marriott 100 Kent St. Ottawa, ON K1P 5R7 613-238-1122 / 613-783-4228 ottawamarriott.com Fairmont Château Laurier 1 Rideau St. Ottawa, ON K1N 8S7 613-241-1414 / 613-562-7030 fairmont.com Delta Ottawa City Centre* 101 Lyon St. Ottawa, ON K1R 5T9 613-237-3600 / 613-237-9114 marriott.com/YOWDM Courtyard by Marriott Ottawa East 200 Coventry Rd. Ottawa, ON K1K 4S3 613-741-9862 / 613-741-4913 marriott.com/yowoe Lord Elgin Hotel 100 Elgin St. Ottawa, ON K1P 5K8 613-235-3333 / 613-235-3223 lordelgin.ca Hilton Lac-Leamy 3 Casino Blvd. Gatineau, QC J8Y 6X4 819-790-6444 / 819-790-6408 hiltonlacleamy.com Hilton Garden Inn Ottawa Airport 2400 Alert Rd. Ottawa, ON K1V 1S1 613-288-9001 / 613-249-8729 ottawaairport.hgi.com Novotel Ottawa 33 Nicholas St. Ottawa, ON K1N 9M7 613-230-3033 / 613-760-4767 novotelottawa.com Brookstreet 525 Legget Dr. Ottawa, ON K2K 2W2 613-271-1800 / 613-271-3541 brookstreet.com Holiday Inn Ottawa East 1199 Joseph Cyr St. Ottawa, ON K1J 7T4 613-744-1060 / 613-744-7845 hiottawaeast.com Cartier Place Suite Hotel 180 Cooper St. Ottawa, ON K2P 2L5 613-236-5000 / 613-238-3842 suitedreams.com Les Suites Hotel Ottawa 130 Besserer St. Ottawa, ON K1N 9M9 613-232-2000 / 613-232-1242 les-suites.com Sheraton Ottawa Hotel 150 Albert St. Ottawa, ON K1P 5G2 613-238-1500 / 613-238-8497 sheratonottawa.com Crowne Plaza GatineauOttawa 2 Montcalm St. Gatineau, QC J8X 4B4 819-778-3880 / 819-778-3309 crowneplaza.com/gatineauottawa Extended Stay Canada, Ottawa Downtown* 141 Cooper St. Ottawa, ON K2P 0E8 613-236-7500 / 613-563-2836 extendedstayamerica.com Four Points by Sheraton Hotel & Conference Centre Gatineau-Ottawa 35 Laurier St. Gatineau, QC J8X 4E9 819-778-6111 / 819-778-3647 fourpointsgatineau.com Andaz Ottawa Byward Market 325 Dalhousie St. Ottawa, ON K1N 7G1 613-667-4500 andaszottawa.com Albert at Bay Suite Hotel 435 Albert St. Ottawa, ON K1R 7X4 613-238-8858 / 613-238-1433 albertatbay.com Travelodge Ottawa West 1376 Carling Ave. Ottawa, ON K1Z 7L5 613-722-7600 / 613-722-2226 travelodgeottawa.com
LARGEST HOTELS (RANKED BY NUMBER OF GUEST ROOMS)
Free Internet?/ Room service?/ Price range Parking/ Restaurant?/ (high season/ No. of No. of CAA rating guest rooms low season) employees Pool?/Fitness centre?
Owner/ General manager
Y $42 (valet) 4
SCG Aquarius Ottawa as general partner of SWA Ottawa Ross Meredith
WestinWorkout; RunWestin; Heavenly Bed; Heavenly Bath; Service Express; Starwood Preferred Guest; express checkout; business centre; concierge; 37” LCD TV; refrigerator
$259 to $850 $189 to $450
Y Y Y Y
$199 to $549 $129 to $299
Y Y Y Y
Y $27 (valet) 4
InnVest REIT Stephane Pelletier
Spin Kitchen & Bar restaurant; Starbucks; meeting room including Summit revolving room and executive meeting floor; concierge levels and lounge; Marriott Rewards Program; 24-hour fitness club; Lobby Business desk; 37” HD TV; refrigerator
$239 to $709 $239 to $709
Y Y Y Y
N $30 4
Capital Hotel LP Claude J. Sauvé
Business centre; work desk; iron/ironing board; bathrobe; hair dryer; 24-hour room service. Members of Fairmont President’s Club receive complimentary high-speed Internet access.
$199 to $309 $159 to $199
Y Y Y Y
Y $21 4
Delta Hotels & Resorts Zubair Siddiqi
Two-line phones; voicemail; in-room coffee maker; free newspaper; 42” HD TV; express checkout; business centre; Delta Privilege Program; Meeting Maestros Program and amenities; fitness centre; indoor pool; iPod/MP3 clock radio; SmartDesk
$159 to $289 $129 to $249
N Y Y Y
$189 to $599 $159 to $459
Y Y Y Y
Y $30 3
Gillin Engineering and Construction David Smythe
Complimentary in-room coffee/tea and local calls; free Wi-Fi; business centre access for all guests; restaurant; Starbucks; 24-hour fitness centre; sauna and lap pool; 13,000 sq. ft. of meeting space
$239 to $499 $239 to $499
Y Y Y Y
Y Complimentary 4
Casiloc (Resto-Casino) Alain Miroux
Five minutes from Ottawa; renovated guest rooms; 24-hour room service; mini-bar; 47” HDTV; three two-line phones; in-room safe; free newspaper; business centre; fitness and spa; heated indoor and outdoor pools open all year; 51,000 sq. ft. of conference space
$119 to $209 $119 to $209
Y Y Y Y
Bona Building and Manage- Soundproof rooms; HDTV with cable and premium channels; secure Y remote printing; two-line telephones with data port and voicemail; ment Co. Complimentary restaurant; 7,200 sq. ft. banquet facilities; 24-hour business centre Franco Falcucci 3.5
$169 to $429 $169 to $429
Y Y Y Y
Y $23 3
Satorias Bruno Beaudion
Albion Rooms Restaurant; six meeting rooms with natural light; newly renovated fitness centre with indoor pool; complimentary HSIA; ergonomic work area; LCD TV; in-room safe; mini fridge; MP3 alarm; tea/coffee machine; windows that open
$199 to $499 $119 to $399
Y Y Y Y
Y $12.95 4
Brookstreet Hotel Corp. Nyle Kelly
Perspectives Restaurant; The Marshes 18-hole championship golf course; Options Jazz Lounge featuring sushi and live jazz seven days a week; Au Naturel Spa with 13 treatment rooms; fitness studio; pools; games room; business centre
$169 to $240 $139 to $169
Y Y Y Y
Y Complimentary N/A
Holloway Property Jean-Pierre Benjamin
$169 to $399 $129 to $399
Y Y Y Y
Y $30 N/A
Heidi Webster Heidi Webster
Fully equipped kitchen; separate living and dining area; private balcony; banquet facilities featuring floor-to-ceiling windows; indoor pool/sauna/whirlpool; restaurant; playroom; playground; shuffleboard court; courier services; 24-hour business centre; indoor parking; 1,500+ sq. ft. penthouse; weddings; pet friendly
$169 to $925 $119 to $925
Y Y Y Y
Y $22 3
Westmont Hospitality Group Chris Pierce
Condo-sized suites; full kitchen; separate living/dining area; private balcony; ensuite washer/dryer; complimentary 24-hour business centre and fitness centre; indoor pool/hot tub/sauna; meeting rooms
$169 to $425 $139 to $325
Y Y Y Y
Y $27 3
Chateau Ottawa Hotel Yolaine Charette
Carleton Grill and Sasha’s Bar; restyled traditional and Sheraton Club level rooms with Sweet Sleeper bed; HD TV; Sheraton Fitness programmed by EXOS; Sheraton Club Lounge, lobby business centre
$159 to $999 $119 to $799
Y Y Y Y
Y $18 3
Michael Rosenberg Michael Lucas
$149 to $189 $109 to $149
N N N Y
Y $14 3
HVM Canada Hotel Management LLC Amie Hussick
Suites with kitchens; voicemail; free local calls; catering and A/V support
$149 to $189 $115 to $149
Y Y Y Y
Y $15 4
35 Laurier LP Jason Trottier
Breakfast, coffee and local beer; free bottled water; smoke-free; close to Canadian Museum of History; bright meeting rooms; A/V support
$199 to $349 $149 to $199
Y Y N Y
Y $30 4
Claridge Homes Matt Graham
Complimentary Wi-Fi; minibar with non-alcoholic beverages and snacks (replenished daily) and a welcome beverage upon arrival; restaurant; rooftop lounge; lobby bar; fitness centre open 24 hours; pet program; 4,500 sq. ft. of meeting space split into six Andaz Studio spaces; green energy
$119 to $299 $109 to $199
N N N Y
Y $21.95 3
WND John Cosentino
One- and two-bedroom suites with full kitchens; separate living and work space; free newspaper; free local calls; free laptop-size in-room safes; business centre; meeting space
$105 to $195 $105 to $195
N N Y N
Y Complimentary 3
Holloway Property Jean-Pierre Benjamin
Bona Building and Manage- Mini-fridge, microwave and wetbar in all guest rooms; access to Y 43,000 sq. ft. of meeting and event space; 24-hour fitness centre; ment Co. Complimentary full-service restaurant, The Bistro, serving Starbucks coffee Franco Falcucci 3
7,100 sq. ft. of meeting space (up to 200 people); three boardrooms; executive floor; Internet kiosk; indoor pool; Reza’s Restaurant & Bar; tuck shop; fitness centre
12 extended-stay suites; complimentary Wi-Fi; 15,040 sq. ft. of meeting space without pillars with capacity from five to 500 guests; pool; 24-hour fitness centre; therapeutic bath and sauna; business centre with computers; La Jardiniere restaurant
Waterpark; complimentary breakfast service every day
FOR THE RECORD People on the move Leonovus appointed Eric Lee vicepresident of business development for the United States. Mr. Lee was formerly the global account director for hardware, software, cloud and applications for Oracle, and has 30 years of sales and sales management experience. Odgers Berndtson has hired Susannah Crabtree as partner and head of its Ottawa office. She will specialize in the recruitment of senior executives in the Ottawa market, with a focus on the public and not-for-profit sectors. Before joining Odgers Berndtson, Ms. Crabtree was the Ottawa office leader at Mercer
Contracts The following contains information about recent contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements awarded to local firms. WSP Canada Inc., WSP UK Ltd., Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc., HOK Inc., HOK Architects Corp., Architecture49 Inc. HOK International Ltd., in joint venture 2611 Queensview Dr. Description: Request for proposal - Architectural and engineering services for centre block Buyer: PWGSC $127,359,752
Canada and held various senior roles with Aon Hewitt in Toronto and the United Kingdom.
Hats off TiE Ottawa recognized five local businesspeople with Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards at the organization’s annual entrepreneurship conference. The 2017 winners are: Javed Chowdhury, Quality Meat and Foods; Sadaf Ebrahim, Capital Events Ottawa; Andrew Ralph, Signal 88 Security; David José Seba, Quelque Chose Patisserie; and Riven Zhang, Motion Pay Technology. Carleton University received three awards from Excellence Canada in
Microsoft Canada Inc. 100 Queen St. Description: Informatics professional services Buyer: Privy Council Office $1,469,000
Advanced Chippewa Technologies Inc. 802 Nesbitt Pl. Description: ADP software Buyer: DND $590,174
Tiree Facility Solutions Inc. 1050 Morrison Dr. Description: Real property project management, engineering and business consulting services for PSPC Buyer: PWGSC $1,200,339
Cummins Eastern Canada LP 3189 Swansea Cres. Description: Generator maintenance Buyer: PWGSC $556,956
NRNS Inc. 555 Legget Dr. Description: Four level 3 application/software architects Buyer: RCMP $999,914
Testforce Systems Inc. 235 Menten Pl. Description: NISO for digital radio Buyer: RCMP $2,000,000
Black & McDonald Ltd. 2460 Don Reid Dr. Description: CBUS – AC replacement Buyer: PWGSC $614,222
Brawn Construction Ltd. 33 Byrd Cres. Description: Confederation Building mechanical and electrical upgrade Buyer: PWGSC $1,537,913
PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and Ellisdon Corp. in joint venture 49 Auriga Dr. Description: Request for proposal – Construction management services for centre block Buyer: PWGSC $598,077
DEW Engineering and Development ULC 3429 Hawthorne Rd. Description: Temporary building and associated utilities Buyer: Natural Resources Canada $452,000 Mishkumi Technologies Inc. 134 St-Paul St. Description: CCTV Buyer: PWGSC $434,782 Hyperion Consulting Services Inc. 577 Latour Cres. Description: ADP software Buyer: DND $417,254
Northern Micro Inc. 3155 Swansea Cres. Description: Secure KVM Switches and Cables for the Privy Council Office Buyer: Shared Services Canada $378,082 Ernst & Young LLP 99 Bank St. Description: POA – Financial advisor Buyer: PWGSC $355,950 Marshall-Gaigneault & Assoc. 81 D’Augusta Description: Speech writing services Buyer: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada $344,925 FreeBalance Inc. 411 Legget Dr. Description: Informatics professional services Buyer: Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec $341,250 Peter McKinnon 803 Fleming Ave. Description: Speech writing services Buyer: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada $315,000 WPP Group Canada Communications Ltd. 55 Metcalfe Description: Strategic communication services Buyer: Privy Council Office $292,496
Among the individuals being inducted into the Order of Ottawa for 2017 are: Amsted Design-Build founder Steve Barkhouse, Ginsberg, Gingras & Associates founder Claude Gingras, Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme, Ottawa Senators co-founder Cyril Leeder and Thyme and Again Creative Catering founder Sheila Whyte. Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme was awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and promotion of Ontario’s tourism industry.
Prebble Enterprises Inc. 2383 Frank Kenny Rd. Description: Snow removal services Buyer: Environment Canada $232,675 Freeman Audio Visual 3020 Hawthorne Rd. Description: Audio visual services Buyer: PWGSC $227,412 StaCS DNA Inc. 2255 St. Laurent Blvd. Description: ADP software Buyer: RCMP $220,543 BitAccess Inc. 290 Picton Ave. Description: Communications network software (R&D) Buyer: PWGSC $196,412 Softchoice Corp. 116 Albert St. Description: ADP software Buyer: Correctional Service of Canada $182,022 T.P. Crawford Ltd. 4549 South Clark Pl. Description: S77 – Fan-coil replacement Buyer: National Research Council Canada $177,727 Brawn Construction Ltd. 33 Byrd Cres. Description: M6 – Washrooms renovation project Buyer: National Research Council Canada $171,971
VCI Controls Inc. 9 Camelot Dr. Description: Technical engineering and maintenance services (excludes requirements related to armament, R&D and R&O) Buyer: DND $169,500 Tweedale Sewer & Water Ltd. 70 Bentley Ave. Description: Watermain extension secondary loop, area 1 – phase 6 Buyer: Industry Canada $168,257 Veritaaq Technology House Inc. 1111 Prince of Wales Dr. Description: Quality assurance specialist-analyst – level 3 Buyer: Industry Canada $155,940 Advanced Business Interiors Inc. 2355 St. Laurent Blvd. Description: Beam seating Buyer: Citizenship and Immigration Canada $150,617 Seguin Morris Inc. 620 Vernon St. Description: Variable speed drive Buyer: Health Canada $116,955
TRM Technologies Inc. 280 Albert St. Description: Informatics professional services Buyer: DND $977,351
Shopify, Klipfolio and You.i TV received Deloitte Technology Fast 50 awards for 2017. The awards recognize Canadian technology companies for their entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, rapid revenue growth and achievements. Deloitte also named MindBridge AI one of its companies to watch, while Shopify and Kinaxis were given leadership awards. Deloitte says these honours go to companies deemed dominant in their respective sectors,
with sizeable competitive advantages in high-growth markets.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Milestone Environmental Contracting Inc. 1354 Wellington St. W. Description: Middle Harbour fill site remediation dredging Buyer: PWGSC $5,343,787
Frequentis Canada Ltd. 1400 Blair Pl. Description: Communications control system Buyer: Fisheries and Oceans Canada $552,425
recognition of its commitment to providing a safe, healthy and supportive work environment on its campus. The awards were: Platinum Level Award in Healthy Workplace, Silver Level Award in Mental Health at Work and the Gold Level Award in Excellence, Innovation and Wellness for the Finance and Administration division.
BOOK OF LISTS: OTTAWA’S 2017 BUYING GUIDE
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OCTOBER 17, 2017
CONNECTED CONE PYLON IS KEEPING HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA THE STREETS SAFE
VOL. 3, ISSUE 3
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA PYLON IS KEEPING THE STREETS SAFE MADE IN OTTAWA the smart SmartCone adds safety to
LE: EDITORIAL ROUNaDTAB tech Page 4 The state of Ottaw
8 Do we deserve the title? Page
SIGNS OF CHANGE:en Page10
Saying goodbye to Halog
CONNECTING TECH IN OTTAWA
VOL. 3, ISSUE 3
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
MADE IN OTTAWA SmartCone adds safety to the smart city EDITORIAL ROUNDTABLE: The state of Ottawa tech Page 4
Do we deserve the title? Page 8
SIGNS OF CHANGE:
Saying goodbye to Halogen Page10
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single orange cone could create a smart construction site capable of securing itself, or give extra eyes and ears to emergency responders in dynamic and unstable situations.
GETTING THEM TALKING
REINVENTING THE CONE It has a built-in communications
ABOVE: THE SMARTCONE ACTIVATES. BELOW: SMARTCONE TECHNOLOGIES CEO AND FOUNDER JASON LEE HOLDS THE CONE DEVICE IN THE FIRM’S WORKSHOP SPACE. PHOTOS BY MARK HOLLERON
network. It can recognize your face. It detects motion, seismic activity, wind speed, even smells. It looks like a traffic cone. And it’s made in Ottawa. BY CRAIG LORD
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
ne year ago, Jason Lee took the stage at TiECon Canada’s annual pitchfest. In his hands was a black cylinder, a little bit bigger than a football. Over the course of his 15-minute presentation, Lee tried to convince the audience of entrepreneurs, investors and industry leaders that the SmartCone would make first responders, cyclists and construction workers alike safer. Lee was successful. The pitchfest win was a confidence boost and his firm’s first funding to date, but it was just the start of a big year for SmartCone Technologies.
CONNECTED CONE Lee, the CEO and founder of the local firm, says the SmartCone is the “missing link” in securing emergency situations. Placed inside the standard orange pylon casing or mounted separately, the device has a variety of sensors and capabilities that can either aid first responders or keep hazardous sites safe. The SmartCone is equipped with video cameras and motion detectors and can identify invisible threats such as seismic activity, dangerous wind speeds and toxic gases. It can read licence plates of passing cars and recognize faces. All of this data is fed back into a live remote control room. Its LIDAR capabilities can set up a “trip wire” of sorts that detects, for example, if
Connected solutions are in high demand, Lee says, as governments and private sector employers seek to reduce worker casualties and improve on-site safety. Lee says the company is making a splash lately with government transportation departments in states such as Florida and North Dakota, and that U.S. energy provider Exelon is making use of the cone when active power lines go down on roads. The firm has been selected for U.S. telecom giant Verizon’s Innovation Center, which provides lab support and other resources to develop smart technologies and help bring them to market. IBM recently tapped SmartCone as a global partner, entering into a reselling agreement with the Ottawa startup. “Everyone is talking SmartCone,” Lee says. Here at home, the City of Ottawa has installed SmartCones along the O’Connor bike path at Waverly Street to provide more effective signalling to drivers. Flashing lights indicate drivers should check the bike lanes before crossing O’Connor or turning onto Waverly. The cones’ sensors can detect approaching cyclists, but are smart enough to avoid activation if pedestrians walk within range or if bikes are heading in the opposite direction. On top of increasing safety, the SmartCone collects data for the city. “They’re going to take the data and measure it against complaints,” Lee says, which should better inform future traffic decisions in the area. For Ottawa, SmartCone helps the city keep up with the emerging smart cities trend, which uses connected devices to improve the delivery and efficiency of municipal services.
MADE IN OTTAWA
an intruder or pedestrian wanders into a construction site. Onboard speakers can then alert trespassers to danger. What elevates SmartCone is its easy setup and connectivity. Lee says its deployment is as simple as dropping a cone on site. The device has its own personal computing network that operates from the ground, a concept called “fog computing.” Think of the fog as the middle layer between the cloud and the device on the ground. It allows for certain processes, such as those triggered by movement, to be managed at the edge of the network instead of on the cloud’s remote servers. Combined, the SmartCone’s capabilities mean plopping down a
Since last year’s TiECon, the SmartCone team has more than doubled in size to 15 people. Lee says the firm is still expanding, especially focusing on adding to the engineering team. The company is headquartered out on Iber Road inside Stittsville’s L-D Tool & Die. The custom mould manufacturer has been incubating SmartCone since its inception, and the SmartCone has been moulded and manufactured in its workshops. Lee says being a locally made product has been a source of pride, and is quick to give credit where it’s due. Without L-D Tool & Die, the SmartCone would be no smarter than any other orange pylon on the ground. “They embrace the Ottawa manufacturing aspect, and they’re very, very good at it. From a startup perspective, having them is what made this all possible.”
TALENT OF TWO CITIES: OTTAWA PARTNERS WITH GATINEAU ON AMAZON HQ2 BID TECHOPIA.ca
2018 LOOKAHEAD: Business trends to watch in Ottawa
Legal experts from Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP share their forecasts on what LRT, legal marijuana and the city’s thriving startup scene mean for businesses
2017 was a busy year in Ottawa as tourists and residents alike flooded the city to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary.
ut a look ahead shows that signs are pointing to 2018 as Ottawa’s big year. The opening of a new light-rail line will bring true rapid transit to central Ottawa. The city’s growing tech sector will continue to attract skilled workers and companies from other Canadian cities and beyond, complementing the capital’s stable of home-grown startups. Other trends, meanwhile, will affect businesses regardless of their location and industry. The looming legalization of marijuana, for example, will force employers to rethink the rules around what activities are acceptable at work. Several lawyers at PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall LLP recently shared their thoughts on the trends and issues to watch in 2018. NEW ARRIVALS Ottawa – and much of North America – was abuzz this fall at the prospect of landing Amazon’s second headquarters. However, the focus on the global e-commerce giant overshadowed some of the other companies considering Ottawa in their expansion plans. Dirk Bouwer, a partner at PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall LLP and a member of the firm’s business law group, says 2017 saw an uptick of interest in Ottawa
from foreign companies. That’s expected to continue into the new year. “Canada has a good reputation, and Ottawa in particular is a booming city,” he says. The city’s affordable housing prices, relative to southern Ontario and other markets, are also fuelling inbound migration. Martin St-Onge, a partner at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP and a member of the firm’s real estate law group, notes that Ottawa may feel the side effects of government efforts to cool the housing market in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Region (GGHR). This past April, the Ontario government imposed the NonResident Speculation Tax. It requires those who are not residents or citizens of Canada who purchase property in the GGHR to pay a 15-per-cent tax, in addition to the province’s Land Transfer Tax and in the case of Toronto, the Municipal Land Transfer Tax. St-Onge will be watching to see whether the new tax regulations impact the GTA’s real estate market. If they do, prospective international buyers may look to Ottawa as a more affordable alternative to Toronto and its surrounding cities. Where will all these new residents live and work? Ottawa has a diverse range of housing and office space options, to be sure. But the construction of the city’s light-rail line – the first phase of which will stretch from Tunney’s Pasture to Blair Road
From left to right: Dirk Bouwer, Partner; Martin St-Onge, Partner; R. Aaron Rubinoff, Firm Co-Chairman and Partner; Joël Dubois, Partner.
and open in 2018 – is drawing developers to properties close to stations. “Time will tell how that plays out, but the kick off is really going to be next year,” says St-Onge. CANNABIS The pending legalization of marijuana is creating fresh business opportunities as growers, distributors and investors race to capitalize on the new market for recreational cannabis. “This will be one of the biggest corporate finance stories of 2018, with increasing interest as the legalization date arrives on Canada Day 2018,” says Bouwer. However, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP is also watching an impending shift in how employers must treat their employees’ possession and use of the drug. Joël Dubois, a partner and member of the firm’s litigation law group, says the legalization of marijuana will raise new HR issues. “Will someone be allowed to go smoke on their lunch break?” he asks. The firm views the impending legalization as more of a minor challenge than anything else. Only time will tell whether the use of marijuana at work will be treated much like having a beer at lunch. Nonetheless, businesses must be prepared with defensible and reasonable HR policies. NEW TECHNOLOGIES Several disruptive innovations are set to have a profound impact
on our day-to-day lives. Ottawa firms are racing to become leaders in artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and blockchain technologies, to name but a few examples. However, there’s a legal side effect to such rapid innovation and commercialization of technology. R. Aaron Rubinoff, co-chair and partner in Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP’s litigation group, predicts increased litigation over the ownership of both equity and intellectual property within tech companies in 2018. “An unfortunate consequence of Ottawa’s booming startup culture is the occasional breakdown of companies. Without proper agreements in place, it often leads to hostility down the line between founding members, especially when someone is looking to get out. Where there’s confusion, there’s litigation,” says Rubinoff. He believes the process of drafting such documents – whether shareholder agreements, employment agreements or any other type of contract – is as important as the signing. It forces team members to carefully examine all aspects of the business, better preparing them for any issues down the line.
To learn more about how Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP can help you prepare for 2018, visit www.perlaw.ca. MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
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2017 TECHOPIA ROUNDTABLE How local entrepreneurs feel about the state of Ottawa’s tech scene, the role Invest Ottawa should play, whether we really should’ve bid for Amazon HQ2 and more. BY CRAIG LORD
arlier this month, Techopia sat down with three local entrepreneurs to hear their views of the past year in Ottawa tech, how they feel the city’s industry is doing today and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. Asking the questions were Techopia publisher Michael Curran and Steele Campbell, relationship manager with Techopia partner TD Bank. They were joined by Klipfolio CEO Allan Wille, Pythian CEO Paul Vallée and Susan Richards of Numbercrunch, Givopoly and the Invest Ottawa board of directors. Over the next few weeks we’ll be releasing a full transcript of the talks on Techopia.ca, but what follows is a condensed and edited version of our Techopia roundtable. There’s a general positive feeling, an exuberance around tech in Ottawa these days. Is that hype or is it warranted?
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
VALLÉE: I’m certainly more optimistic
than I have been. When I first got started in tech, tech in Ottawa really meant optical. Really meant JDS and Nortel, and the challenge with that kind of tech is that it’s very, very big business tech. Super capital-intensive technology businesses. That meant there was a small number of very heavily capitalized, big players. That is a very home run-dependent industry. I don’t think we have home run dependency anymore. We have some home runs, Shopify being a great example of such, but I don’t think we have home run dependency anymore. That’s partly because of just how the industry has changed in general, but it’s certainly affected us here and that’s a good thing. The reality is that I do believe the tech boom is sustainable in Ottawa and in other places as well.
RICHARDS: Twenty years ago, it feels like everything was a lot more siloed.
I’d say even five years ago. We have this ecosystem now where everybody’s sharing information, people are extremely generous, it seems like we’re no longer as fussed about trade secrets and we’re more looking around to work together and share and celebrate in each other’s successes. So people are learning from experience, and learning from others’ experiences.
WILLE: We’ve been in business for a long time now too, we started in 2001. In 2001, kids coming out of school, there wasn’t as much of an entrepreneurial drive back then. And I think that’s definitely increased over the past five to 10 years. I think there’s much more of a want to not just be a hobbyist when you graduate, but actually start a business. What’s one thing you’re most optimistic about for your own company in the coming year?
RICHARDS: What’s so exciting to me is that everybody now, when they’re launching a business, is already attuned to the concept of having a CFO at their founder table. That is phenomenal for me, because this is what I do, and the business that we’ve built out is all-around management accounting. That’s the piece that’s been missing for people. They understand bookkeeping, they understand audit and tax, but they never really understood that there’s this thing called management accounting which could take the data and help them make business decisions by looking at what the key performance indicators are. Ottawa always seems obsessed to figure out where we place in Canada, or where we place across the U.S. in terms of a tech sector. Is that important?
realistically, that’s where we stand right now.
The reality is Shopify is our star today. Ten years ago, Shopify was not the story. There’ll be another story. These stories will change about the companies but what will stay constant is Ottawa will be here.
RICHARDS: It’s important for us to build
— SUSAN RICHARDS, CO-FOUNDER OF GIVOPOLY, NUMBERCRUNCH
If we think of ourselves in a race against KitchenerWaterloo, or Toronto or Montreal, then we have to think of ourselves as losers in that race. — PAUL VALLÉE, FOUNDER AND CEO OF PYTHIAN
upon this as a city. We don’t want to be seen as lesser.
VALLÉE: OK, then we are going to need some direct flights somewhere. Because we are at a place where (American investors) are struggling to find a chief executive who is willing to join boards because of the pain of even getting here.
RICHARDS: But the reason that you end up getting things like new infrastructure into an area is when you pull that together and you become bigger than the companies. The reality is Shopify is our star today. Ten years ago, Shopify was not the story. There’ll be another story. These stories will change about the companies but what will stay constant is Ottawa will be here.
WILLE: But I see that more as a Canadian thing. What does Canada need to do from a tax point of view, from a Canadian investment point of view, an attractiveness point of view, a labour markets point of view, so that we can have more, more and more Shopifys and Kinaxises and all the rest. Because when I talk to investors, it’s not, “Oh! Ottawa! That’s where all the cool stuff is happening.” It’s, “Oh, that’s where Shopify is, right?” Y’know, we need more of those. What is the gut feeling about access to capital within the market?
VALLÉE: If we think of ourselves in a race
WILLE: I think it’s really improved over the
against Kitchener-Waterloo, or Toronto or Montreal, then we have to think of ourselves as losers in that race. I think,
past few years. Again, I think it’s twofold. I think Canada has, as a whole, as a country, become more attractive. And I
think the efficiencies are better than in Silicon Valley, I think the employee loyalty is better than in Silicon Valley. I think we are building a bit of a brand that we have the universities and the talent. On the flip side, I think there’s so much money available that they need to find places where they can invest. I think we’re seeing more, predominantly U.S. firms, set up shops in India, set up shops in Israel and make more investments in Canada. So I think we’re definitely getting more access.
RICHARDS: I think what I’ll maybe focus on is the smaller businesses. So, the majority of businesses that are, as they’re launching, able to get angel money pretty easily here in Ottawa to get off the ground. But when they reach that 50100K MRR, there’s a void there. Right now, it’s difficult for a number of great Ottawa companies to be able to access capital to be able to keep their businesses growing. How important will the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards be going forward?
WILLE: I do think it’s good. I know there’s a lot of folks that I know who are involved in the incubator. I think the concentration of thinking that is happening there, the information sharing, I think this is all good stuff. I’m also hopeful that we can transition Invest Ottawa into, and take this word as you wish, more of a modern, softwarefriendly organization. Trade missions,
DO U.S. TECH JOB-SEEKERS REALLY PREFER OTTAWA OVER TORONTO? TECHOPIA.ca
To me, I think there’s an opportunity to take what IO is doing and work with the various levels of government to simplify and try to have more of a modern type of approach to what software companies and even the current hardware and traditional companies are doing in Ottawa. Was it the right choice for Ottawa to bid for Amazon HQ2?
VALLÉE: I guess it depends. I’m not privy
Trade missions, to me, put me to sleep. I don’t think we should be doing any of that anymore. — ALLAN WILLE, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO OF KLIPFOLIO
to me, put me to sleep. I don’t think we should be doing any of that anymore. That’s not our world. We’re not selling tractors, you know, to other countries in the world.
to the inner workings of the strategy behind deciding to put in this bid. I can tell you that, we three and everybody here, including the (Ottawa Business Journal), has been working really hard for our entire careers at creating this ecosystem that we’re celebrating in this conversation. I think it’s on a solid footing. I don’t think it’s that fragile. It would be broken if we won. This community cannot suddenly have 10,000 new jobs in tech and think that it is not going to ruin every small company in the city as they attempt to compete for talent with a well-funded major company like that. I like the mayor, I support the mayor, I voted for the mayor, I’m going to vote for the mayor again, I like Jim Watson, but the mayor obviously has a responsibility to all of the citizens of Ottawa and 10,000 or more new jobs in the city would be an incredible thing. I appreciate that, I really
THE COVER OF OTTAWA-GATINEAU’S AMAZON HQ2 BID BOOKLET.
do. But it would break what we’ve been working on. It would lay waste to a lot of our lives’ work. So I don’t support the bid. I hope we don’t win. If the strategy was just to increase our visibility and get on some radar that we’re not on and we don’t hope that we win, great. But it would break my heart to go through millions and millions of dollars of inducements and tax credits in order to attract a giant into the city that would end up breaking the backs of all of the entrepreneurs here, hundreds of them that are trying to establish themselves. That’s how I feel about it.
RICHARDS: What I’d just like to highlight is the effort that came together to put up this bid, I think, is unprecedented. There was tremendous investment and volunteer time from a variety of stakeholders throughout the region that I think the output of it is tremendous and reusable. When you are able to see the result, the video that’s circulated and gone viral, that’s something that just doesn’t come together unless there’s something enormous like this that presents itself to you.
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How to survive the SaaS valley of death Critical metrics for software-as-a-service startups
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
hen a new SaaS venture starts, it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of success. A great idea is born, a team comes together and praise starts rolling in. But how do SaaS startups prepare for the long, dry spell often referred to as “the valley of death?” This is the ominous term for the early stages of a company, before it achieves a sustainable level of monthly recurring revenue (MRR). “The SaaS model is sexy,” says Susan Richards, the co-founder of Ottawabased accounting firm numbercrunch. Unfortunately, the SaaS model is also entirely unique in that it isn’t driven by net profits like so many businesses used to be. Instead, success is measured through other key metrics. As a virtual CFO, Richards believes there are several measures startups should take to make it through the valley of death – all of which are informed by key SaaS metrics. For her, a company successfully leaves the valley of death once it hits an MRR of $100,000. “Once you hit a critical threshold of customers proving out product/market fit and customer acquisition costs are less than a third of the lifetime customer value you can attract investors and essentially accelerate revenue growth exponentially with VC cash injections,” she explains. “That’s what all the sexiness is about. But it’s getting to that point that’s a challenge.”
THINK STRATEGICALLY When Benbria brought Richards on board as its virtual CFO, her work largely came down to helping the Kanata-based SaaS company leverage key metrics. “It’s so critical in the SaaS model to be strategic in what you’re placing your bets on,” says Richards. SaaS companies have the unique challenge
of needing to make many small, recurring sales in the form of subscriptions. As Benbria CEO Jordan Parsons puts it, “How do you keep customers happy when they can leave at any time?” To navigate this, Richards identifies the following metrics as key to a young SaaS company’s success: Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the amount of revenue a company expects to earn in a given month. This number is especially
HAVE A BOOKKEEPER Organization is key in leveraging SaaS metrics. Without tracking revenue and expenses, it becomes easy to lose sight of where a business stands. Richards explains that numbercrunch often has clients come to them after months or even years of operation without a bookkeeper. Many realize too late that they have a mess on their hands in terms of the company’s finances. “Clean up is expensive,” she says. In an effort to support Ottawa’s startup community, numbercrunch offers free bookkeeping to startups for up to a year. “We want to help companies get it right from the start,” says Richards. “Ultimately, the spirit of what we’re doing is trying to help businesses, not just be a business for ourselves.”
important in SaaS, since most are sold through a monthly subscription fee. To attract investors, month over month MRR growth needs to be close to 10%, Lifetime value (LTV) is the overall gross income a company expects to earn from a given customer. If, for example, you expect them to stay with your company for 24 months and your monthly subscription fee is $20 and your gross margin is 80%, then the lifetime value of that customer is $384. Customer acquisition cost (CAC) represents how much it costs to convert a customer. This boils down to what was spent on sales and marketing in order to get them to “buy” or “subscribe.” The desired ratio between LTV/ CAC is at least 3:1 to demonstrate to investors that there will be a solid return on their investment. Churn refers to the rate at which customers opt-out of a service (or, stop buying). The smaller the churn rate the greater the lifetime value of the customer base. Monthly Burn refers to the amount of cash a business is losing each month. In the SaaS startup stage, burn rates tend to be high as software is developed and sales and marketing efforts begin. Runway is effectively the amount of time before a company runs out of money. It’s calculated by dividing the funds available to the company today by its burn rate. OUTSOURCE Measuring and understanding these metrics isn’t enough for SaaS startups. Successful companies also find ways to manage them as best they can. While growing a company requires that you spend money, it also means being selective in how you do so. Richards recommends SaaS startups first aim to obtain 20 paying customers while
spending as little as possible. Then, they can start to invest in marketing and sales, when a little hustle no longer does the trick. As a virtual CFO and an entrepreneur herself, she suggests selectively outsourcing to save on expenses at the outset. For SaaS, this might mean leveraging local development partners and having a 50/50 blend of employees and contractors so that you can easily expand and contract. This would allow a fledgling SaaS businesses to extend its runway with a flexible resource team. Many startups now, whether SaaS or otherwise, also outsource their financial support services. “We have the ability to have professional financial services provided to us at a fraction of the cost while we’re a young, emerging SaaS company,” says Benbria’s Parsons. While he no longer views Benbria as a “young” SaaS company, he recognizes that they’re still in a phase where outsourcing the firm’s financial services makes the most sense for their business. “Susan makes it very easy for me to stay focused on the business, instead of worrying about the financial side,” says Parsons. “She gives me a very pragmatic, realistic view about things I need to be concerned about and ways I can make changes.” Numbercrunch is a one-stop-shop for business financial services. The company offers cloud-based bookkeeping, and virtual CFO and Controller services. To learn more or to request a quote, visit www.numbercrunch.ca.
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OTTAWA IS THE SAAS CAPITAL OF CANADA A
t last year’s SaaS North conference, Sean Silcoff, reporter for the Globe & Mail, sat across from Tobi Lütke, co-founder and CEO of local SaaS giant Shopify, for an intimate fireside chat. Lütke wore his infamous flat cap. About 15 minutes into the interview, Silcoff turned to Lütke and asked, “What do you do if you get to the end of a term sheet and it says, ‘financing conditional upon relocating to Silicon Valley’?” and Lütke answered, “Ottawa has been a phenomenally good place for Shopify.” Lütke went on to say, “We have access to tons and tons of high-potential people who are straight out of university. They may not have experience, but when you bring them together and match them up with a seasoned person and invest in their career, you can almost guarantee that they’ll spend half a decade working together. “What happens quickly, especially if you get involved and help people get invested faster (Shopify, for example, has a team of 20-30 executive coaches), then they learn
faster and they become experts in their position. This sort of longevity can’t be replicated in other cities that have high turnover. I think tenure is an undervalued aspect of experience.” Lütke explained that in places such as Silicon Valley, turnover is high and people spend an average of about 12-18 months in a job. A company wasn’t necessarily a long-term career path for them, but rather a stepping stone. While this works fine for companies in the Valley, SaaS requires a much longer runway as the cycle is generally slower. You need employees who are willing to stick around for the sevento-10 year plan.
A CITY BRIMMING WITH EXPERIENCE Another cornerstone to Ottawa’s strength in this industry has to do with the experience and expertise of the executives who stayed here long after they celebrated the IPOs of the companies they helped build. Leo Lax, executive managing director of the SaaS accelerator L-SPARK, says, “We
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SHOPIFY CEO TOBI LÜTKE ONSTAGE DURING SAAS NORTH 2016. PHOTO PROVIDED BY L-SPARK. believe that we can shortcut the pain and tribulations in the execution side through the wealth of experience through the people who live in Ottawa.” For instance, Peter Becke, one of L-SPARK’s mentors, has more than 30 years of experience as an executive in the tech sector, as a vice-president at Nortel, and from holding the CEO position at several other local companies. Jennifer Francis, another of L-SPARK’s mentors, was the vice-president of the financial analytics business for IBM and spent time as the vice-president of business development at Cognos. Becke and Francis are just two examples of incredibly experienced Ottawa-based executives who are now guiding and mentoring the next generation of startups. This level of mentorship can be more difficult to find in other cities across Canada and is part of what makes Ottawa successful at growing companies.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF TALENT As Lütke mentioned during his SaaS North interview, true success comes from marrying our seasoned executives with new grads. Through this pairing, employees are more likely to work together for the long term rather than focusing on “job hopping,” a relatively new phenomenon that is pervasive in places such as the Valley. Amy MacLeod, the vice-president of corporate communications for Mitel, says, “Ottawa is a perfect place for a tech startup or a well-established business because of its pool of qualified candidates from Carleton University and the University of Ottawa, as well as Algonquin College.” We’re also seeing individual clubs being created inside universities to support the growing startup scene in Ottawa. One example is The Entrepreneur’s Club run by students at the Telfer School of Management. Whether it’s encouraging the next generation of engineers, cultivating entrepreneurship or fostering our future executives, schools are putting a heavy
emphasis on creating talent that is ready to contribute to the companies that call Ottawa home.
BIRTHPLACE OF GLOBAL COMPANIES In a report released in March of 2017 by business service provider Expert Market, Ottawa was ranked the top tech hub in Canada. Mitel, Nortel, Newbridge Networks and Cognos paved the way in the ’80s and ’90s and set the precedent for what it meant to grow a technology-focused company in Canada. Lax agrees: “Ottawa has been the birthplace and long-term home of global companies (that) dominate their respective categories.” In recent years, we’ve seen U.S. giants such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, SurveyMonkey and IBM put roots down here while homegrown companies such as Shopify, Klipfolio, You.i TV and PageCloud are making headlines.
A TRULY SUPPORTED CITY Ottawa has more than 580 software companies that employ upwards of 22,000 people. The city also has the highest concentration of talented scientists and engineers in the country. Most importantly, it has the infrastructure and resources to support startups and growing companies. Wesley Clover, Invest Ottawa, Startup Garage, Founder Institute, CENGN, Fresh Founders, and of course, L-SPARK, are just some of the key resources that allow companies to succeed here. When an entire city comes together to foster the growth of startups, specifically in the tech and software space, the sky is clearly the limit on what can be achieved. For all of these reasons, Ottawa truly is the SaaS capital of Canada. Erin Blaskie is a community manager with L-SPARK for Voice of the North.
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The sign represents a very important time, place and group of people to me, and to my family.
INSTEAD OF TOSSING OUT THE OLD HALOGEN LETTERS, SABA EMPLOYEES WERE ABLE TO BID ON INDIVIDUAL LETTERS IN A CHARITY AUCTION TO TURN THEM INTO TAKE-HOME MEMENTOS. A SMALL “O” WENT TO CONNIE COSTIGAN (LEFT), SOHALI KHAN (CENTRE) TOOK THE “L-O-A-E” AND HAWLEY KANE (RIGHT) TOOK THE BIG “H.” PHOTOS COURTESY OF SABA SOFTWARE.
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arlier this year, longtime Ottawa firm Halogen Software was acquired by Saba Software. For more than two decades, the HR software supplier had operated in Ottawa. The Halogen moniker had been around since 2001. More than 400 employees worked at the firm’s Ottawa headquarters, most of whom stayed on through the acquisition. In the flurry of changes and adjustments that followed, one of the more innocuous transitions took place on the outside of the firm’s March Road building in October: The Halogen sign came down, and the Saba sign went up. Saba’s Ottawa employees marked the old sign’s farewell with a charity auction. Selling off the old brand’s letters raised more than $1,000 for The Royal Foundation for Mental Health and The Shepherds of Good Hope. Techopia caught up with a few of the employees who opted to purchase their little piece of Halogen to find out why the letters meant something to them, and where they’ll be hanging up their pieces of nostalgia.
CONNIE COSTIGAN, vice-president of communications and brand advocacy: I wanted to support the two charities that we selected for the auction fundraiser – The Royal Foundation for Mental Health and The Shepherds of Good Hope – and this was a wonderful way to do it. Giving back to our communities is something that Halogen and Saba both care about a great deal.
Since my son Owen’s first initial is one of the letters, and he had a perfect spot on his bedroom wall, it was easy to choose which part of the sign I wanted. Having a piece of nostalgia from Halogen was also important to me. After working at Halogen for nearly a decade before joining Saba, the sign represents a very important time, place and group of people to me, and to my family. It’s part of my story. And it’s part of our new story at Saba.
SOHAIL KHAN, director, data governance and enterprise systems: I truly love what I do and what Halogen and Saba stand for. These letters will be turned into a unique, lighted shelving piece and will be displayed on the wall behind me as a reminder of the great four years I had at Halogen. Plus, what better word is there to have in your home in huge bold letters!
HAWLEY KANE, head of organizational talent and leadership development: Halogen and Saba care about, develop and celebrate our employees, and we work hard at creating an environment where people can be their best and reach their potential. I believe in our mission and in our solutions, and I wanted to celebrate the eight years I had with great people doing awesome work for our customers and for each other. My letter H hangs proudly in my office at home so those memories can live on!
OTTAWA’S KLIPFOLIO, SHOPIFY, YOU.I TV AMONG CANADA’S FASTEST-GROWING FIRMS: DELOITTE TECHOPIA.ca
Stratford Managers “leans in” to support CEO of the Year Kevin Ford Since his appointment as President and CEO of Calian Group, Ford has been using Stratford’s executive advisory and support services When Kevin Ford was appointed the CEO of Calian Group, it was his first foray into the C-suite. While the Ottawa business executive had previously held senior roles with various firms, he knew this career move would be different and quickly realized he’d benefit from some additional support. “Sometimes, you need to know what you don’t know as a leader,” Mr. Ford says. Enter Colleen Kelley and Jim Roche of Stratford Managers, a leading management consulting and services firm based in Ottawa. Since Mr. Ford moved into his role slightly more than two years ago, Ms. Kelley and Mr. Roche have served as his trusted advisors. They’ve been with Mr. Ford as Calian completed a series of acquisitions, booked record revenues and won the largest contract in the company’s history – milestones that led to Mr. Ford being named the 2017 CEO of the Year by the Ottawa Business Journal and Ottawa Chamber of Commerce. Stratford Managers assisted Calian in multiple capacities, drawing upon their team’s extensive experience leading and operating high-growth companies. “I thought it was important that I have that sounding board,” Mr. Ford says. “You can never have enough good advice.”
Trust While the relationship Stratford maintains with Calian falls largely under its CEO advisory and support services, the organization brings more than that to the table. “To me it’s not just coaching. There’s an element of challenge with regard to your thinking,” says Mr. Ford. In sessions with Stratford, he explains that while the three don’t always agree on things, they do engage in invaluable discussions. The relationship between the two organizations has evolved over two years to include the running of Calian’s executive retreats. “That was not an insignificant demonstration of the trust I have in Stratford, to get ‘inside the tent’ with my executive team,” Mr. Ford says. As Ms. Kelley explains, Stratford’s services go well beyond consultations and advice. They like to “lean in” with hands-on service delivery, engaging in work that helps ensure the success of their clients. “Even in our internal meetings, Jim and Colleen always refer to Calian as ‘we.’ And it’s not lost on me that that is an important element of the Stratford way. It’s not a bunch of consultants that are there to give you advice and then go packing,” says Mr. Ford. To learn more about how Stratford Managers can take your business to the next level, visit stratfordmanagers.com.
Time As the CEO of one of Ottawa’s largest publicly traded corporations, a father of four and a minor league hockey coach, Mr. Ford says his biggest challenge is time. While he only meets with Stratford for a couple hours every month, they accomplish a lot in that short period. Part of the strength that the team brings to the table in its meetings with Calian is the wealth of experience gained through working with other CEOs. “I have this really privileged and unique opportunity to talk to the leading executives in Ottawa,” says Mr. Roche. He gives the examples of Ross Video CEO, David Ross, who was 2016’s CEO of the Year and Kinaxis CEO, John Sicard, who was EY’s 2017 pick for Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year. Both are clients Stratford Managers has worked with closely and whose experiences they can draw upon. “The ability to leverage best practices across that network – I just wouldn’t have time to do that,” says Mr. Ford. Calian Group is a diverse company that offers professional services in the areas of health, IT, training,
engineering and manufacturing. Now in its 36th year of operation, it employs more than 3,000 people, based in both Ottawa and Saskatoon. “Because we are so diverse, we’re a hard company to understand,” says Mr. Ford. “It’s very tough to get your head around Calian.” Having Stratford assisting across so many departments avoids the need to re-educate new contractors engaged in different projects. Instead, Ms. Kelley and Mr. Roche have developed a high level of trust not only with Mr. Ford, but across the many departments of the business.
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017
Talent Stratford Managers provides Calian with several services, including executive coaching – a field that has evolved significantly in recent years. “Coaching used to be seen as something that you would give to people that had something that needed fixing. That’s not the case anymore,” says Mr. Roche, Stratford Managers’ President and CEO. One of Stratford’s greatest assets is its diverse team of experienced professionals. With team members across a variety of industries and specializations, the firm can solve any business-related issue a client might throw their way. “If there’s a really specific marketing discussion, we will
call in the right people to answer those questions. We don’t try to pretend that we know everything,” says Ms. Kelley, Stratford Managers’ Vice President and Practice Lead of Business Operations. Mr. Ford and Calian have leveraged Stratford’s pool of resources across a range of departments, including HR, branding and finance, among others. They’ve also drawn upon Stratford’s advisory and project management resources. “Everything I’ve asked, they’ve been able to bring to the table with a very capable skillset,” says Mr. Ford. Since Calian and Stratford began working together, Mr. Ford says there’s been a “pivot” in how his company is perceived, both internally and outside the organization. Previously, Calian was viewed as a conservative, dividend-paying company by investors. It’s now seen by many as a growth company.
CONNECTED CONE PYLON IS KEEPING HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA THE STREETS SAFE
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Published on Nov 17, 2017
Published on Nov 17, 2017
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