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Embracing change


Inside Ottawa’s galas, fundraisers and networking events

Annoyed by all those coins in your pocket? Ottawa firm says app makes paying with virtual ‘cash’ cheaper and easier > PAGE 4 RETURNING THIS FALL

July 31, 2017 Vol. 20, NO. 20

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A hit with investors

Software firm founded by boxing enthusiasts lands $40 million in series-B funding just over a year after a $20-million investment round. > PAGE 3

Guy Laflamme, chief organizer of the city’s Canada 150 activities, says the $4-million Kontinuum exhibit is unlike anything he’s ever seen. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

Seeing Ottawa in a whole new light How historic multimedia show went from ‘mission impossible’ to ‘mission accomplished’ Montreal firm with strong local connection teams up with city to make Kontinuum a marquee event on Canada 150 calendar > PAGES 10-11

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Alana Couvrette’s month-long internship working with Adecco Canada boss was no ordinary summer job. > PAGE 12




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TECHNOLOGY Assent Compliance packs quite a punch with investors Ottawa software firm raises $40M in latest financing round in growing enterprise’s drive to become a ‘truly global company’ BY DAVID SALI


ittle did Andrew Waitman know that a casual conversation with a boxing buddy at the gym less than three years ago would change the course of his professional career. The former chief executive of Pythian was chatting with regular sparring partner Matt Whitteker, one of the founders of software firm Assent Compliance, when he mentioned he was leaving the C-suite position he’d held for more than five years.

look around.’ I didn’t know I was going to be here. But it’s worked out unbelievably well – for them, for me, obviously for the customers and the market.” The firm he now leads has made a habit of doing things a little differently than most software companies. From its location on Coventry Road in the east end – far from the tech mecca of Kanata – to its focus on the little-known field of regulatory compliance, Assent Compliance has become known for taking the road less travelled. Earlier this month, the tech trailblazer announced it has landed a $40-million series-B round led by Maryland’s

“A lot of SaaS companies, to get to that enterprise level takes a lot of time and a lot more capital. It’s definitely a very strong signal that even in the early days of this business, they were able to achieve large customers and build really trusted relationships with them.” – GREENSPRING ASSOCIATES MANAGING PARTNER JOHN AVERITT

best-in-class ratio of seven for a softwareas-a-service firm, he added. Assent’s customer renewal rate is extremely high, he said, and its major clients often end up referring their suppliers to the company as well. “When you’re hitting those type of numbers, (investors) want to investigate,” Mr. Waitman said. “They’re curious.” The CEO wouldn’t reveal the firm’s monthly recurring revenues, saying only they are between $1 million and $4 million. When the former managing director of Celtic House joined Assent in 2014, the company had fewer than 25 employees. Thanks to the latest funding, the firm expects to boost its headcount to 325 within the next 12 to 18 months. While Mr. Waitman said he couldn’t name any of Assent’s customers for security reasons, he said they include “the biggest of the big companies. I think that kind of raised eyebrows from the investors’ perspective.” Continued on page 15


Greenspring Associates. Others involved in the new round include current investors 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 private investors. The latest cash infusion comes just over a year after the 225-employee firm received $20 million in series-A equity investment. Mr. Waitman says that’s among the largest combined series A and B rounds within such a short time span in Canadian history.

INVESTOR INTEREST Founded in 2005, Assent Compliance specializes in software that ensures multinational firms and their suppliers are following an ever-growing list of government regulations on everything from human rights to health and safety standards. Mr. Waitman said Assent hadn’t planned on pursuing a series-B round until later this year, but so many investors were clamouring to get on board the firm decided to act now. “We were like, ‘Well, we should be getting while the getting’s good,’” he said with a laugh. “It allows us to focus on execution now.” In a data-driven world, Mr. Waitman explained, Assent Compliance’s key metrics are off the charts. The firm’s recurring revenues have been growing at a rate of more than 100 per cent annually for four consecutive years, while its “lifetime value” of revenues per customer compared with the cost to acquire them is “well over” the

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Mr. Whitteker suggested he come have a look at Assent’s operations. The following Monday, Mr. Waitman took a desk at the company’s headquarters, the beginning of a fruitful association that has seen the up-and-coming firm boost its headcount by a factor of 10 and attract $60 million in venture capital. “We were literally boxing the week before – we always box on Wednesday nights – and I said I was leaving (Pythian) and (Mr. Whitteker) said, ‘Would you come check out what we’re doing?’” Mr. Waitman recalled in a recent interview with OBJ. “And I said, ‘Well, I need an office, but I don’t want you to pay me because I’m going to take some time and

Assent Compliance executives Jonathan Hughes and Matt Whitteker show off the Olympic-size boxing ring in the firm’s east-end head office. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

LAUNCH PAD Change a good thing for fintech entrepreneur Ottawa startup’s app that lets customers pay with ‘digital’ coins gaining traction with merchants BY ADAM FEIBEL

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017




hortly after selling a company he had built into an industry-leading provider of Wi-Fi networks, Tom Camps was driving home from Toronto with his son when they stopped at Tim Hortons for sandwiches. That’s when he came up with an idea that turned what was supposed to be a six-month-long break to wind-surf into the beginnings of his next startup – one that now looks poised for a breakthrough in the coming year. His son went into the restaurant and came out with a couple of sandwiches and a handful of change. “He said, ‘Dad, I hate change,’” Mr. Camps recalls. “And I said, ‘I do too! Everybody hates change!’ Everybody’s got a change jar where if you pay with cash, you go home and throw the change in your change jar, and that’s where it goes to die.” His search for a solution led to ChangeJar, an Ottawa-based fintech startup Mr. Camps launched in late summer of 2014 that is dedicated to replicating the cash experience using mobile app technology. ChangeJar’s app lets customers collect and pay with their change from cash transactions using a digital wallet on their smartphones, avoiding the hassle of carrying physical coins. In contrast with card-based mobile payments, there are no transaction fees, funds are always immediately transferred and the transaction is carried out with the privacy and anonymity of regular currency. “We can reflect the values of cash with ChangeJar,” says Mr. Camps. “We are completely different than any other mobile payment app because we’re focused completely on cash.” Recently, the startup has been working on establishing partnerships with merchant aggregators such as payments and point-of-sale system companies, order-ahead apps, e-commerce payment gateways and the like. That will be a big part of a “smokin’ huge launch” this fall, Mr. Camps says.

“There’s a huge number of transactions that are cash and likely will remain cash for a long time. There are so many reasons why cash still hangs in there.” – TOM CAMPS, CREATOR OF THE CHANGEJAR APP

Meanwhile, a partnership with Interac appears to be in the works but is still not official. The company currently operates at about 25 businesses in Ottawa; the top merchant, LUNCH, does up to 140 ChangeJar transactions a day – more than it processes with credit cards. Mr. Camps won’t disclose the company’s revenues, but with major expansion plans in the works at ChangeJar, he says he’s confident the firm will “easily” have 10,000 merchants and a million end-users within a year from now. The company currently employs seven people, with two more to be added to the team this month. While debit and credit card use has been growing in Canada – due in no small part to online shopping, among plenty of other factors – cash still plays a major role in consumer spending habits. Nearly one third of all transactions were done using cash in 2015, according to Payments Canada’s latest Canadian Payment Methods and Trends report (debit and credit were used for 25 and 22 per cent of transactions, respectively). The use of cash has been gradually declining, however. Now, Mr. Camps sees an opportunity to give the age-old

ChangeJar’s app is quickly gaining favour with Ottawa merchants. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON

medium of exchange new life in the digital age. “Certainly, credit card (use) is growing. There’s no question … (but) there’s a huge number of transactions that are cash and likely will remain cash for a long time,” he says. “There are so many reasons why cash still hangs in there.” Mr. Camps points out that credit card companies charge merchants a fee every time cards are used in a transaction, which cuts into businesses’ profit margins. Instead, ChangeJar charges merchants an annual flat fee, and it charges apps that integrate it a one-time flat fee per user.

“Because there are no fees other than that, (merchants) will make their money back on the first transaction,” he says. So far, ChangeJar has raised more than $1 million in three angel rounds, along with additional investment from participating in the 500 Startups accelerator in Silicon Valley. The firm will hold another funding round in the fall that’s expected to bring in another $1 million or more. “We’ve got big stuff happening,” Mr. Camps says. “We’ve been working on this for a few years, and the cycle of testing and launching has given us something that’s not only robust but fits the market beautifully. And we’re ready to go.”


Best Business Best New Business

Best Performance in Export, Marketing, N O V Human E M B E R 1 0 Resources, , 2016 THE W E S T I N Customer OT TAWA Sales, Experience, Sustainability, Social Entrepreneurship

CHANGE LOG AETONIX WINS HEALTH INNOVATION AWARD Ottawa-based virtual home-care technology startup Aetonix has won the Mobility Health Innovation Excellence in Canada’s Health Care Sector award at the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance’s 32nd annual Innovation and Leadership Awards Gala. The award is presented by Telus to a Canadian organization that has developed a “world-class” mobility-health product. Founded in 2014, Aetonix develops a personal communication and emergency alert system designed for seniors and others with complex care needs.

acceleration hub has landed a $1.3-million funding injection from eight founding sponsors. Over the next three years, RBC, CIBC, Rogers, Algonquin College, Flex, BDO, BDC and Ottawa-based I4C are contributing investment and technology to Bayview Yards, and by extension Invest Ottawa, that builds on $38-million in anchor investment from the local, provincial and federal governments. In addition to the investment, sponsors will also collaborate with and contribute to the innovation community in Ottawa.

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Be part of the fastest growing region in Canada! Opportunities in Kingston, Brockville, Perth, Smith’s Falls, Carleton Place, Haliburton Highlands, Kemptville, Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering, Ottawa, and more!

Selling to the Government Monday, Sept. 11 at 12 p.m. Invest Ottawa, 7 Bayview Rd. More information at Ontario150 and OCLF Present: Pitch-it Ottawa! Thursday, Sept. 21 at 5 p.m. Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W More information at AJ Plant Regional Owner Not intended to solicit Brokerages under contract.


Startup Canada Awards (Ontario) Thursday, Aug. 24 at 5:30 p.m.


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CALENDAR Building a Culture of Innovation Friday, Aug. 18 at 9 a.m. The Code Factory, 100 Gloucester St. More information at


For more information, please e-mail or call 613.236.7029 ext.136

BAYVIEW YARDS GETS $1.3-MILLION CASH INFUSION Ottawa’s innovation and business

‘Resiliency by Design’ with Steven Woodward Tuesday, Aug. 1 at 11 a.m. Marshes Golf Club, 320 Terry Fox Dr. More information at

Submit your nomination online at by September 29, 2017


FARMLEAD GRADUATES FROM INVEST OTTAWA Agri-tech startup FarmLead has moved on from its incubator and is now occupying its own office downtown amid considerable growth. The company, which hosts an online marketplace for grain dealers across North America, is now 31 employees strong and is fresh off a $6.5-million (U.S.) round of series-A funding. The firm moved out of Invest Ottawa’s office at Bayview Yards earlier this month and is now leasing a 2,800-square-foot space in Centretown. With more than 4,000 farmers now using its platform, FarmLead also plans to expand south of the border to a new office in Chicago.

MINDBRIDGE RAISES $4.3-MILLION SEED ROUND Artificial intelligence startup MindBridge AI has secured $4.3 million in seed funding to help the Ottawa-based company meet international demand for its fraudprevention product. The seed round includes members of the Capital Angel Network and Fresh Founders, along with funds such as MaRS Investments and Real Ventures. Earlier this year, the firm was chosen for the Bank of England’s FinTech Accelerator.



CONTEXTERE LANDS INVESTMENT FROM LOCKHEED MARTIN Emerging artificial intelligence software startup Contextere has landed a $1.1-million (U.S.) investment from Lockheed Martin, allowing the Ottawa firm to develop and deliver an AI agent for aerospace and defence maintenance personnel. Headquartered at the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards, Contextere is an industrial Internet of Things company focused on using AI to help workers perform tasks such as engine repair more safely and efficiently.

Kanata North #SeriousTechLivesHere Awards

NOVEMBER 15, 2017

COMMENTARY Latest tech boom brings wealth – and a wealth of optimism In his latest column, Jeffrey Dale traces the history of Ottawa’s ups and downs as a technology hub – and explains what makes this growth cycle different from those in the past

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ach spring, Invest Ottawa brings the capital’s innovators, creators and inventors together for a oneday conference called AccelerateOTT. This event is both inspiring and introspective, and this year’s edition was no exception. The audience heard from Ottawa’s newest generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders – people like Klipfolio’s Allan Wille and Harley Finkelstein of Shopify fame – about their successes and how the world of business is changing. Speakers also talked about the local tech renaissance that has been fuelled by firms such as Mr. Wille’s and Mr. Finkelstein’s. It made me think about the previous cycles of booms and busts I’ve witnessed in Ottawa’s tech sector – how highs just as dramatic as the one we’re experiencing today were followed by some tough reality checks. Upon the recent death of Antoine Paquin, a star of the previous tech boom in the 1990s, I remembered him as the “it” guy of that growth cycle. I then thought back to legendary entrepreneurs such as Mitel founders Terry Matthews and Michael Cowpland, who were the poster boys of the first tech boom I witnessed in the late ’70s and early ’80s. It got me to wondering if the current surge is different from those previous ones in any way. Ottawa has had three big boom cycles in the span of my career. I graduated from university in the early ’80s and joined an environment in which industry was adapting world-changing new technology in a massive way. Mini- and microcomputers were changing how companies were managed and operated. The Nortel/BNR digital switch was globally transforming voice and data networks. Ottawa was well-positioned to thrive in this context, with its growing base of researchers from the private sector, federal labs such as the National Research Council and our academic institutions. That environment spawned a wave of new tech companies such as Mitel, Cognos, Jetform and Systemhouse. These firms created thousands of jobs, but more significantly, they created wealth by being publicly traded. The bust did come eventually, but luckily for Ottawa, the underlying demand for

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Shopify’s hugely successful 2015 IPO helped usher in a new era of wealth for the city. FILE PHOTO

these companies’ products and services remained. So while their stocks took a beating, most of the companies rode out the bust cycle. This was the foundation upon which Ottawa’s tech sector was built. The next growth cycle was what became universally known as the “dotcom” boom of the late 1990s. However, if you lived and worked in Ottawa, it was really the “telecom” boom. After the United States deregulated its telecom monopolies in the 1980s, the demand for new equipment and services in the sector exploded. This period featured some incredible successes for Ottawa firms, including the late Mr. Paquin’s Skystone Systems, which he sold to Cisco for $87 million US in 1997. This was also the era of Newbridge, Tundra, JDS and Nortel. Those who worked in the tech sector at that time could hardly believe the growth, the salary raises, the job offers and the availability of investment capital. Between 1998 and 2001, more than $2 billion in venture capital was poured into Ottawa startups such as Zenastra, Innovance, Liquid Computing and other long-forgotten flash-in-the-pans. The subsequent bust happened before most of these ventures were able to monetize their businesses. The difference between this boom and

the previous one was that while we had some incredible early entrepreneurial successes and a massive inflow of VC dollars that created tens of thousands of jobs, the underlying business opportunities evaporated around 2001. HARD CRASH The subsequent crash was hard. Thousands of jobs disappeared over a period of just six to 18 months, and the city lost companies such as Nortel and JDS that had anchored the tech sector. Without a successful exit through a merger or IPO, Ottawa’s startups did not generate much lasting wealth in our city. Still, was that ever a fun time to be in Ottawa. (Now I sound like my parents remembering the good old days.) Which brings us to today – the mobile-enabled, shared-economy world. AccelerateOTT showcased the new talent and ideas that are propelling our current local boom. Hundreds of new companies are being launched in Ottawa every year by a new generation of entrepreneurs. Their excitement and enthusiasm is inspiring, with Shopify this boom cycle’s shining star. Shopify has been able to create a large number of jobs and a supporting ecosystem, but it is the company’s hugely successful 2015 public offering that is

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creating lasting wealth. Currently, the firm has a market cap of more than $9 billion on about $400 million in annual revenue and no operating profits. The e-commerce giant has created more than 100 local millionaires thanks to successful business execution, market timing and the IPO. Although I am not one of those millionaires, I am glad I own some Shopify stock and have been able to share in its success. Shopify is not alone as a successful Ottawa-based tech firm that went public. Kinaxis has a market cap of more than $2 billion on annual sales of just over $100 million. Each of Ottawa’s boom cycles has been about 20 years apart, or one generation of separation. Although the current generation might not realize it, its success is built on the successes of the previous generations that created and grew the city’s tech sector. During the previous boom cycles, we all thought that up was the only direction we were going. But history does repeat itself and eventually the cycle turns down. I believe the difference this time around is that the underlying global opportunity of our current tech leaders will sustain any downturn. While the stocks could have shocks as they adjust to more historical norms, the businesses will

The business models of the new generation of companies are driven and managed by what is essentially real-time analytics. This ability to access market intelligence and gather immediate customer feedback was not possible during the past boom cycles, and as a result companies in those eras often missed key indicators or responded too late to changes in the market continue to grow and prosper. Why? The business models of the new generation of companies are driven and managed by what is essentially real-time analytics. This ability to access market intelligence and gather immediate customer feedback was not possible during the past boom cycles, and as a result companies in those eras often missed key indicators or responded too late to changes in the market. Companies such as Nortel and JDS, for example, did not have the real-time data to foresee the market collapse in telecom equipment in 2000. From a wealth generation perspective, the success of today’s firms is a phenomenon we have not seen before.

Emerging startups can expand into new international markets more quickly and with less cost than ever before. And mature companies are also demonstrating their ability to completely disrupt old business models with new technology, enabling them to launch new business lines while continuing to grow their existing customer base. The rate of growth, ability to adjust to customer demands and the use of technology to disrupt old business models are giving companies unprecedented market valuations. The high valuations are being better realized in companies that are going public. It’s great to see the city’s newest generation of business leaders celebrating

its successes and accomplishments. However, history does have a habit of repeating itself, and Ottawa’s tech entrepreneurs need to be prepared to manage their way through the inevitable boom-bust cycles. The true measure of entrepreneurial leadership is how each new generation builds on the foundation laid by its predecessors to help leave the economy stronger for the next wave of Mitels and Shopifys and their creators.

Jeffrey Dale is the president of Snowy Cloud and the former president of the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation.


Building a life and career in Renfrew County Home offices, high-tech employers complement quality of life


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easily enjoy the amenities of a major urban centre, such as world-class museums and major league sports, without the traffic congestion, high real estate costs and overly dense housing developments. “I can have a house with trees, overlooking a beautiful view that in the city of Toronto would cost $5 million,” he says.

lumber mills and wood-based manufacturers expanding. Lavern Heideman & Sons Ltd. announced in November 2016 that it is investing $16.9 million to update its facility. The expansion is expected to bring 18 new jobs to the region. It’s growth like this that leads Mr. Smith to believe Renfrew County holds potential for new businesses. To him, the ability to do business – no matter what field you’re in – all while being immersed in nature adds up to an ideal lifestyle. While he admits it’s not for everyone, Mr. Smith argues that it all comes down to thinking about what you want in life. “A little box surrounded by other people in other little boxes? Or a house with a big garage where you can have a workshop or a giant garden or whatever is your heart’s content?”


With high-speed internet available throughout Renfrew County, he believes it’s a viable and – for some – better option than big cities such as Toronto. “It’s an extraordinary place to live on the pure quality of life issues,” says Smith. “I can hike, I can camp, I can fish. You name it, I can do it.” With Ottawa just next door, Renfrew County residents

As part of his professional work at the University of Waterloo, Mr. Smith advises students to look for more than a career after graduation. He says areas such as Renfrew County can offer both job opportunities and a high quality of life. Historically a logging region, it has since developed to include an array of manufacturing businesses, including Arnprior Aerospace. The firm designs, fabricates, assembles and integrates components for global commercial aircraft manufacturers and has a 165,000-square-foot facility in Renfrew County. In August 2016, Arnprior Aerospace won two major contracts from Boeing to manufacture parts for its new 777X line of aircraft. The region hasn’t forgotten its roots, however, with many

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

arry Smith’s Renfrew County property offers many things, including a great view, a quiet atmosphere and soaring pine trees. It also affords Mr. Smith the ability to work from home – which may come as a surprise given he’s a professor at the University of Waterloo, located more than 400 kilometres away. Mr. Smith is a lifelong resident of the region and an expert in economic development and entrepreneurship. He recently made the case for Renfrew County as a viable place to live, work and do business in his keynote speech at the Renfrew County Economic Development Summit in Eganville. “It used to be important to be near your customer,” says Mr. Smith. “Now, if you’re running any kind of decent venture your customers are everywhere. And you couldn’t possibly be near them all.”



ariety of Ottawa’s 8th Annual Help Kids Grow Up Charity Golf Tournament absolutely crushed its fundraising goal for this year. This summer’s tournament presented by GAL Power, hosted nearly 144 golfers representing over 70 sponsoring organizations July 11th, 2017. Participating golfers were granted the rare opportunity to play at the prestigious ClubLink Eagle Creek Golf Club in scenic Dunrobin, Ontario. Despite the intermittent rain showers, players persevered through the ten on-course skill events including the chipping / putting contests, the longest drive, straightest drive, and even 4 hole-in-one contests with cash prizes to be won! Tournament highlights included; tall can beer sampling from the Bud Lite Girls, Bud Light on tap on-course (4Refuel), and the musical stylings of DJ Joel from Birdsong Entertainment that could be heard across the course.

Ottawa Charity Golf Tournament crushes fundraising goal, raises $80,000 for children

Soshal Group foursome (Photo credit: Francesco Raimondi)

Both Eagle Creek staff and tournament volunteers provided participants with HKGU’s unique brand of hospitality, while generous sponsors kept them fuelled throughout the day with breakfast (Vibra-Sil), lunch (CIBC Commercial Banking) and dinner buffet (Eaton & WESCO) accompanied by complimentary wine (DCT). There were numerous opportunities to network throughout the day including a posttournament hospitality hour (Jim Peplinski Leasing) with complimentary draft beer and finger foods.

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

As if the day couldn’t get any better, all players received several complimentary registration gifts, had the opportunity to participate in the silent and live auctions, win donated raffle draw prizes with a total value of over $3,500, and crown the top foursome with the coveted top team award.



During the tournament banquet dinner Variety of Ottawa proudly presented a cheque to Children’s Wish for $10,000 towards funding their charitable initiatives. PLATINUM LEVEL:


Anita Wilson (Executive Director of Variety of Ottawa) & Rishma Mangat (Director of Marketing) (Photo: Francesco Raimondi)


This tournament is made possible by the tremendous support of GAL Power. They have made a 10-year commitment to raise over $680,000 through this event. GAL Power, one of Canada’s leading providers of power and temperature control rentals solutions has earned leadership status by consistently supplying highperformance generators over the past 30-years. Visit


As a result of this year’s tournament, Variety of Ottawa and Canadian Foundation for Children with AIDS (CFCA) will receive more than $80,000 in net proceeds – an increase of $7,000 over 2016, to be used for critical children’s care programs. Over its first eight years, total sponsorship support from the HKGU tournament has now reached the $500,000 plateau. Variety of Ottawa will continue to support programs in partnership with CHEO, Children’s Wish, School Breakfast Programs and many other individual child support organizations and families. CFCA will continue to use its portion of the funds to expand AIDS relief programs in the subSaharan area of Africa, including building additional livestock and greenhouse programs to increase the nutrition levels of the communities that it supports. Next year’s 9th Annual HKGU Charity Golf Tournament is Tuesday, July 10th, 2018 at the Eagle Creek Golf Club.

Allan Snelling LLP, Algonquin College, Darcy McGee’s Bar & Grill Orleans, 4Refuel, Gervais Towing, Hi-Power, KPMG, Leystone Financial Services & Great West Life, Max Bounty, OSEG, Rhodes & Williams, Safety House, Triangle Pump, & 2G Energy.



Advanced Vibration & Sound Control

Thank you to our BRONZE LEVEL, TEE BOX, PRIZE sponsors, and VOLUNTEERS. See the complete list of sponsors on the HKGU tournament website sponsor section.

Visit the tournament website for more info about this year’s event and the 2018 tournament at Contact Bill Garbarino, tournament director, at for available sponsorship opportunities.

TECHNOLOGY Ranovus putting Ottawa tech back on the hardware map Kanata firm’s cutting-edge products that make cloud more energy-efficient catching eye of government, major investors on both sides of border BY DAVID SALI


OPENING A POP-UP STORE Tarek Hassan launched his first enterprise, GongFu Bao, serving traditional Taiwanese steamed buns out of a food cart stationed at a busy downtown intersection near Confederation Park. But to expand and fine-tune his offerings, Hassan used a increasingly popular strategy: a pop-up shop. The term typically refers to a temporary storefront in a high-traffic area, such as a shopping mall or busy street. In Hassan’s case, the entrepreneur took his food truck menu indoors to Fontenelle Restaurant. He pays the owners a flat rate to use the restaurant and takes over the space for his “one-offs” after Fontenelle’s closes for the day at 2 p.m.


“We’re trying to make sure that there’s at least a couple of (hardware) successes here. If we can make it happen and make it visible to people, then I think people will take more chances.” – RANOVUS FOUNDER HAMID ARABZADEH

Ranovus will continue to expand its market and prosper. The data centre industry currently has the same carbon footprint as the airline industry, he said, but is growing at a much faster pace. Finding more efficient ways to power its servers is a major priority for the industry’s main players, he added, and that’s where he believes Ranovus can help. His said his company’s data-connection hardware uses only a quarter of the power of today’s prevailing technology and runs at 25 per cent of the cost. The company plans to use the latest infusion of equity to continue developing and refining its technology. Ranovus hopes it can attract new talent intrigued by the challenge of creating world-beating hardware. “We’re trying to make sure that there’s at least a couple of (hardware) successes here,” Mr. Arabzadeh said. “If we can make it happen and make it visible to people, then I think people will take more chances.”

Retailers, meanwhile, may take over a vacant storefront for a reduced rental rate for a short period of time or until the landlord finds a full-time paying tenant. The Quartier Vanier BIA has prepared several tools to help entrepreneurs across the city find both pop-up and permanent locations for their businesses. Visit to access these resources and learn more.

Pop-up benefits Ottawa e-commerce giant Shopify has identified seven key benefits to pop-up shops: 1.

Testing new revenue streams


Engaging customers


Creating “get it while it lasts” urgency through limited-time offerings


Marketing merchandise around a sale, season or holiday


Educating new customers


Going to where your customers are



Generating brand awareness


general,” he explained. “Software is much easier. You can add money and people and you usually solve the problem. But with physics, you put money and people and you may get nothing.” Fortunately for Mr. Arabzadeh, Ranovus quickly proved it was indeed on to something. A year after it launched, California-based Azure led the initial venture capital investment, triggering a wave of interest in his own country. “Once I had the term sheet from there, I got back here and then everybody wanted to participate,” he said. “The opportunity was validated.” Ranovus now has about 50 employees, roughly 40 of them at its Kanata headquarters and the rest at offices in Mountain View, Calif., and Nuremberg, Germany. Mr. Arabzadeh won’t disclose the firm’s revenues, but says the company is continuing to grow at a healthy clip. Although the firm has yet to turn a profit, Mr. Arabzadeh has high hopes that

Pop-ups are typically a win-win for entrepreneurs and their short-term landlords. As in Hassan’s case, an existing restaurant may turn over their space outside normal hours of operation to another business to help cover their rent and the cost of restaurant equipment that’s otherwise sitting idle.

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

hile the capital’s new generation of technology companies focuses largely on software, Kanata startup Ranovus is making its mark in a different sector. The five-year-old company develops technology that makes it cheaper and more energy-efficient for clients to store information in the cloud. The growing firm is proving that hardware can still be a lucrative enterprise even in the post-Nortel era that has seen software makers such as Shopify and Kinaxis dominate the local tech scene. Last month, the trailblazing company got another boost on its path to scaling up. Ranovus landed $5.5 million in federal funding through Sustainable Development Technology Canada, which works with Canadian companies to bring early-stage clean technologies to market. “We’re doing something that nobody else is doing anywhere in the world,” says Ranovus chief executive Hamid Arabzadeh, adding his firm sells its technology to three of the world’s five biggest data centre service providers – a group that includes Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft. It’s the third major injection of capital for Ranovus, which previously raised $18 million US in the fall of 2014 in a round that included OMERS Ventures, the venture arm of the Export Development Corporation, BDC Venture Capital, Deutsche Telekom and Azure Capital Partners of California. That investment followed an $11-million US round a year earlier. An engineering graduate of the University of Waterloo, Mr. Arabzadeh knows his stuff when it comes to hardware. After serving in various roles for Nortel’s optical group during that firm’s heyday as a tech colossus, he left in 2003 to work for CoreOptics, a California outfit that was bought out by Cisco in 2010. He launched Ranovus in 2012 with $1.5 million in seed capital from his own pocket, various angels, former Nortel colleagues and other investors. Mr. Arabzadeh said he initially didn’t bother to seek additional funding from what he calls very risk-averse Canadian venture capital firms. “You’ve had a lot of failures, unfortunately, on the hardware side, and core technology is something that investors don’t have an appetite for in Canada in



Kontinuum sound and light show a glittering achievement for Canada 150 team MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

Multimedia exhibit in unfinished LRT station makes history – thanks in large part to renowned Montreal entertainment firm with strong Ottawa connection





hen Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme was seeking a partner to help pull off his unprecedented plan to build a multimedia exhibit in an unfinished LRT station, he knew the winning bid practically the moment he saw it. “When we got to Moment Factory’s presentation, I had tears in my eyes,” the chief planner of the capital’s Canada 150

celebrations said. “I was so impressed with how they had managed to read my mind.” With a budget of $4 million, the Kontinuum exhibition is the most expensive and elaborate of the multitude of events on Mr. Laflamme’s Canada 150 calendar. Set in the downtown Lyon LRT station, the underground sound and light show is being billed as the first exhibit of its kind in a metro station that’s still under construction. It’s an unconventional idea to say the least. Mr. Laflamme conceded there have been more than a few times since he

proposed the plan when he wondered if it would ever come to fruition. “With this kind of ambitious, incredibly complex and challenging project, inevitably you have moments where you doubt. Quite often, I was going, ‘Oh my God, why did I get into this?’ “Now I realize why we are the only city in the world that has ever done this. It was such a mission impossible type of project that I understand why nobody else was crazy enough to undertake this kind of massive undertaking.” Still, Mr. Laflamme said he never

doubted he had the right partner in Moment Factory. Founded in 2001, the Montreal-based multimedia company has become renowned for making the nearimpossible practically routine. Twelve companies submitted bids in the first stage of the RFP process. When that number was whittled down to three finalists 18 months ago, Mr. Laflamme said Moment Factory was the clear choice. “They have been beyond amazing people to work with,” he said. Moment Factory’s work has been displayed around the world everywhere

“It’s hard to say no when someone like Guy Laflamme comes to you and says, ‘Hey, guys, you want to pitch on this project where we’re going to take an LRT tunnel and transform it into this completely new experience?’” – MOMENT FACTORY CO-FOUNDER AND GLOUCESTER NATIVE SAKCHIN BESSETTE

11 Ottawa 2017 executive director Guy Laflamme (facing page, far left) and his team worked with Montreal’s Moment Factory to create Kontinuum. PHOTOS BY MARK HOLLERON


85,000 people have already booked tickets. About 16,000 curious spectators filed through on Kontinuum’s first full weekend to witness its unique visual effects, even more than organizers had anticipated. “It is beyond what we were expecting,” Mr. Laflamme said. “The public’s reaction is overwhelming.” Mr. Bessette said his company’s most important goal is to create compelling multimedia exhibits that the public can experience together. Mr. Laflamme said in this case, it’s clearly “mission accomplished.” “It’s hard to say no when someone like Guy Laflamme comes to you and says, ‘Hey, guys, you want to pitch on this project where we’re going to take an LRT tunnel and transform it into this completely new experience?’” Mr. Bessette added. “What we do is we create entertainment that brings people together.”

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

from airports to rock concerts to the facade of the Parliament Buildings. After working with musical acts such as Nine Inch Nails, the firm hit the big time in 2012, when Madonna chose it to provide 3D visual effects for her Super Bowl halftime show performance. As it happens, the 250-employee enterprise also has a strong connection to the capital. The creative force behind the company is Ottawa native Sakchin Bessette, who launched Moment Factory with a couple of friends from Montreal’s rave scene when digital imaging technology was still in its infancy. Born and raised in Gloucester, Mr. Bessette attended De La Salle high school in Lowertown before studying photography at Montreal’s Dawson College and “then just jumped into the hot soup and learned by doing stuff. There’s no school teaching what we do, really. Especially in the late ’90s and the beginning of the 2000s, this was kind of like a non-existent industry. Our industry’s grown and we’ve grown with it.” The 42-year-old has kept close tabs on the Kontinuum project from Montreal and said he’s happy his firm has been able to play a defining role in one of his hometown’s signature Canada 150 events. “We’ve been lucky and people have trusted us and believed in us enough to give us opportunities that have helped us kind of innovate and grow,” he said. “Obviously, I’m personally attached to this project and to the city. It’s quite an inspiring project.” However, it’s also been fraught with a host of logistical and technical hurdles – everything from ensuring all the work met stringent fire and safety codes to installing complex lighting and sound equipment in what is still a dark, dusty transit station in progress. “Creating magic in a construction site is quite challenging,” Mr. Bessette noted. And it all took place in what Mr. Laflamme called “record time.” Ottawa 2017 and Moment Factory had only about two and a half weeks to put the elaborate Kontinuum production together once the Rideau Transit Group, which is overseeing construction of the Confederation Line’s 13 LRT stations, vacated the site in mid-June. Mr. Laflamme himself was still helping put the finishing touches on the paint job just hours before Kontinuum opened for previews on July 15. “The show must go on,” Mr. Bessette said. “We’re not in this business because it’s easy – we’re in this business because we want to push and discover new types of entertainment and touch people in new ways so that they feel different types of emotions and experiences that they haven’t experienced before. That doesn’t necessarily make our life easy, but it makes it exciting, that’s for sure.” Kontinuum is free and runs every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. until Sept. 14. The site can accommodate up to 420 visitors at a time, and Mr. Laflamme said more than

TRAINING Internship with Adecco Canada boss a sweet summer gig for U of O student Last-minute decision to apply for national competition pays off with ‘unique opportunity’ for 22-year-old Alana Couvrette BY DAVID SALI

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017




s far as summer jobs that look good on a resume go, “CEO of a Fortune 500 company” has some pretty serious cachet. So when Alana Couvrette was selected as the winner of Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month internship over 2,300 other applicants, she knew it was an opportunity that was simply too good to pass up. “It was pretty overwhelming, but in the best possible sense,” the 22-year-old University of Ottawa student told OBJ in mid-July after returning from her monthlong stint at Adecco’s Canadian head office in Toronto. “It was really a unique learning opportunity.” The paid internship offered Ms. Couvrette the chance to work and travel with Adecco Canada president Gilbert Boileau. She visited several of the global HR conglomerate’s other Canadian offices in Ontario and Quebec, sat in on meetings with VPs and other high-level execs and took part in conference calls to Europe and other parts of North America. After 10-hour days in the office, she spent her evenings working on an innovation project that she will submit in early August as part of a second competition with 47 other interns from around the world for the chance to be Adecco’s global CEO for a month. The winner will work side by side with Adecco Group chief executive Alain Dehaze at the company’s world headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. It’s made for a hectic summer, but Ms. Couvrette said it’s all been worth it. “I still can’t really believe it,” she said. “It’s really a privilege to be able to experience something like this.” A board member of the Young Professionals Network of Ontario, Ms. Couvrette originally heard about the competition when Adecco e-mailed her early this year and asked her to spread the word about the contest on social media. She’d applied for similar programs in the past with no success. Finally, the day before the mid-April deadline, she clicked the application link, sent off a résumé and figured that would be that. “I said, ‘There’s no way.’ I submitted it and I didn’t think twice about it.” Three weeks later, she received an e-mail

notifying her she’d made the first round of cuts. She and 29 other finalists from across Canada were asked to submit a 1,000-word essay describing how their values aligned with Adecco’s, along with a 60-second video making their case for the position. On May 2, Ms. Couvrette was told she’d made the four-candidate shortlist. Next up: an interview with Mr. Boileau via Skype for which she had just 48 hours to prepare. Ms. Couvrette turned to family friend Richard Eaton, a local talent management consultant, for advice. “That was the best 40 minutes I’ve ever spent on the phone with someone,” she said. “He gave me tons of useful tips. He kept telling me, ‘You have to possess and project self-confidence. If you’re not confident, they won’t be confident in you.’ That stuck with me from the moment he said it, and it still does today. It’s something I think about all the time.” With a chance to work in downtown Toronto, just a stone’s throw away from the Blue Jays’ home field at Rogers Centre, she hit her interview right out of the proverbial ballpark. DOWN-TO-EARTH CHAT “You always get nervous with Skype, especially since technology tends to be kind of wonky sometimes,” she said. “It was a really down-to-earth conversation; it wasn’t at all what I was expecting, in a good sense. (Mr. Boileau) clearly took the time to read through and watch all of my video and read through my application. He asked very specific questions based off things I had mentioned in my application. I really appreciated it.” She’s now back in Ottawa, waiting to see if she makes the first round of cuts for the global competition. Ten finalists for the exclusive internship will compete in a “boot camp” in early September. By that point, Ms. Couvrette is slated to be back in the classroom finishing her final semester at U of O. But should it come down to it, she said, she’d happily postpone her graduation until next spring. “I don’t know exactly what I would do, but I’ll make it work. It’s worth it for an opportunity like that. But this is thinking way too far ahead,” she said. Although she’s studying political science and public administration, Ms. Couvrette said she’s always been drawn to the world of business. Her father Paul is a well-known local photographer who’s run his own portrait

Alana Couvrette beat out 2,300 applicants for the chance to work with Adecco Canada president Gilbert Boileau at the firm’s Toronto head office. PHOTO PROVIDED

“I’ve always felt that it’s not necessarily only your degree that matters. It’s yourself as a person and your attitude and your personality.” – FOURTH-YEAR UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA POLITICAL SCIENCE STUDENT ALANA COUVRETTE, WINNER OF ADECCO CANADA’S CEO FOR ONE MONTH COMPETITION

studio in Centretown for more than 40 years. His daughter appears to have inherited some of that entrepreneurial spirit. “I grew up not watching (cartoons), I grew up watching Donald Trump on the Apprentice saying, ‘You’re fired!’” she said, laughing. “From a young age, the business environment was always there.” Ms. Couvrette said the experience has taught her a valuable life lesson: If you

don’t take risks, you’ll never experience the resulting rewards. “I had applied to a lot of contests and I got a lot of nos,” she said. “You have to fail a lot of times before you succeed, really. And if I hadn’t pushed myself one more time to apply for this, then I wouldn’t have been here. I’ve always felt that it’s not necessarily only your degree that matters. It’s yourself as a person and your attitude and your personality.”

OBITUARY ‘People wanted to be led by him’ Tributes pour in for former Cognos CEO Ron Zambonini, who died earlier this month at age 70 BY DAVID SALI & PETER KOVESSY


ob Ashe still remembers the sage words of his mentor, Ron Zambonini, when Mr. Ashe succeeded the veteran tech executive as CEO of Cognos in 2004. “Ron told me from the start, just be yourself, like he did,” Mr. Ashe told OBJ a couple of days after his former boss’s death. “It was something we preached at Cognos, that people just be comfortable with who they were.” Few took that mantra to heart more readily than Mr. Zambonini, who died July 23 of lung cancer at the age of 70. In a career that spanned three and a half decades, the native of Scotland gained legions of friends and admirers, both for his business acumen and for a down-toearth manner that was spiced with a hint of showmanship. This was, after all, a man who once

pledged to deliver a quarterly conference call naked if a Cognos product failed to meet sales targets. (The software ended up exceeding expectations.) “More than most, he put himself out there on behalf of the company and its people in ways that very few people could,” Mr. Ashe said. “People wanted to be led by him, people wanted to be around him. He just had this incredible ability to get people onto his team.” Tributes poured in from across the tech world for the former executive, who was named OBJ’s CEO of the Year in 2002 and turned one of the city’s most promising tech firms into a global software powerhouse. In Facebook tributes, friends and former colleagues praised Mr. Zambonini as a “larger than life” figure and a “true and honest leader.” Born in 1946 in Motherwell, Scotland, to a family of Italian heritage, Mr. Zambonini moved to Canada in the 1970s and worked as a programmer

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before joining Cognos in 1989 as vicepresident of research and development. In a 2002 interview with OBJ, Mr. Zambonini recalled that morale was low when he joined the company as it struggled to find a place for its core

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Ron Zambonini in the early 2000s. FILE PHOTO

product in the software market. “People were down. People had lost a little bit of faith,” he said. “My biggest challenge was motivation – getting people to get excited and believe in themselves again. It wasn’t any big technical idea. We just got the product up and running.” He was named president and chief operating officer in 1993 before becoming the company’s CEO in 1995, replacing founder Michael Potter. “He had a lot to learn and a lot to do, and he accomplished that by getting people to the table to help him,” Mr. Ashe said. “People wanted him to be successful.” During his nearly decade-long run at the helm of Cognos, Mr. Zambonini was credited with helping to grow the firm beyond its business consultancy roots and into a global business intelligence software leader that was ultimately acquired by IBM in 2008 for $5 billion. Continued on page 15

THE LIST 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 9 11 11 13 13 15 15 MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017




15 15 15

Company/Address Phone/Fax/Web Emond Harnden LLP 707 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K1S 3V1 613-563-7660 / 613-563-8001 Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. 1400-340 Albert St. Ottawa, ON K1R 0A5 613-238-2022 / 613-238-8775 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP 300-50 O’Connor St. Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2 613-238-8080 / 613-238-2098 Raven, Cameron, Ballantyne & Yazbeck LLP/s.r.l 1600-220 Laurier Ave. W. Ottawa , ON K1P 5Z9 613-567-2901 / 613-567-2921 Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP 2600-160 Elgin St. Ottawa, ON K1P 1C3 613-233-1781 / 613-563-9869 Norton Rose Fulbright Canada LLP 1500-45 O’Connor St. Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4 613-780-8661 / 613-230-5459 Hicks Morley 2000-150 Metcalfe St. Ottawa, ON K2P 1P1 613-234-0386 / 613-234-0418 Kelly Santini LLP 2401-160 Elgin St. Ottawa, ON K2P 2P7 613-238-6321 / 613-233-4553 Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP 1300-55 Metcalfe St. Ottawa, ON K1P 6L5 613-236-3882 / 613-230-6423 Lister-Beaupré 301-200 Catherine St. Ottawa, ON K2P 2K9 613-234-2500 / 613-234-2501 Bird Richard 508-130 Albert St. Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4 613-238-3772 / 613-238-5955 Borden Ladner Gervais LLP 1300-100 Queen St. Ottawa, ON K1P 1J9 613-237-5160 / 613-787-3558 Langevin Morris Smith LLP 190 O’Connor St., 9th floor Ottawa, ON K2P 2R3 613-230-5787 / 613-230-8563 McMillan LLP 2000-45 O’Connor St. Ottawa, ON K1P 1A4 613-232-7171/613-231-3191 Champ & Associates 43 Florence St. Ottawa, ON K2P 0W6 613-237-2441 / 613-232-2680 Dentons Canada LLP 1420-99 Bank St. Ottawa, ON K1P 1H4 613-783-9600 / 613-783-9690 Mann Lawyers LLP† 710-1600 Scott St. Ottawa, ON K1Y 4N7 613-722-1500 / 613-722-7677 Power Law 1103-130 Albert St. Ottawa, ON K1P 5G4 613-702-5560 / 888-404-2227 Soloway Wright LLP 700-427 Laurier Ave. W. Ottawa, ON K1R 7Y2 613-236-0111 / 613-238-8507 Tierney Stauffer LLP 510-1600 Carling Ave. Ottawa, ON K1Z 0A1 613-728-8057 / 613-728-9866



Year established in Ottawa


Lynn Harnden Jacques Emond


Employment and labour law for unionized and non-unionized employers; wrongful dismissal claims; human rights and harassment complaints; human resources training; employment contracts; workplace policies; sick leave management; WSIB; OHS


David Migicovsky


Grievance arbitration; pay equity; judicial review; disciplinary proceedings; employment contracts; wrongful dismissals; human rights; labour relations; collective bargaining; disability claims; employment disputes and recruitment practices


Janice Payne


Wrongful dismissal; severance packages; constructive dismissal; layoffs; employment contracts; human rights and discrimination; harassment and workplace violence; class actions; pension; benefits; occupational health and safety; employment standards


Andrew Raven


Bilingual law firm specializing in the areas of union-side labour law; employment law; human rights law (including pay equity); constitutional law (including the Charter) and judicial review of government action.


Mark Josselyn


Counsel and representation in multiple aspects of employment law, labour relations and workplace safety.


Karen Jensen


Full service management-side: employment contracts/disputes; wrongful dismissals; human rights; labour relations; grievance arbitrations; OHS; severance packages; executive compensation/liability; collective bargaining; disability claims; recruitment


Lisa Mills


Human resources law and advocacy for employers. Full service in both official languages, with expertise in pension and benefits law; litigation; regulatory prosecutions; WSIB matters.


J.P. Zubec


Human rights; discrimination; disability and employment standards claims; wrongful dismissal; WSIB; employment contracts; termination packages; pay equity; non-compete and non-solicitation clauses; employment policies and procedures; compensation.


Claire Vachon


Employer/management-side; collective bargaining; employment contracts; wrongful dismissal; human rights; severance package advice; executive compensation/liability; workplace policies; recruitment practices and workplace management; labour relations


Andrew Lister


Bilingual employer and employee side labour and employment lawyers: wrongful and constructive dismissal; human rights and harassment complaints; WSIB; Occupational Health and Safety; collective bargaining; employment standards; pensions and benefits


Caroline Richard


Management-side labour and employment law providing advice and representation on human rights; workers’ compensation; labour relations; occupational health and safety; collective bargaining; workplace violence/harassment investigations.


Dan Palayew


Full service; employment contracts; wrongful dismissals; human rights; labour relations; severance package advice; executive compensation/liability; collective bargaining; disability claims; employment disputes; recruitment practices; benefit plans


David Capra


Employment contracts; wrongful dismissals; human rights and labour relations; severance package advice; executive compensation and liability; collective bargaining; disability claims; employment disputes; recruitment practices


Martin Thompson


Full-service business law firm serving public, private and not-for-profit clients in the areas of international trade, information technology / intellectual property, business law, regulatory, employment, civil and commercial litigation, procurement and competition law.


Paul Champ


Employee-side representation for wrongful dismissals, severance, discrimination, and the duty to accommodate. Also federal public sector labour.


Catherine Coulter


Full service. Employment law for employers including wrongful dismissal; corporate reorganization; employment contracts; executive compensation; employment practices/standards; hiring and termination procedures; privacy and restrictive covenants


Colleen Hoey


Advises and assists employers, employees and unions to resolve employment-related disputes. Also provides human rights-related legal assistance to service providers.


Mark C. Power


Fully bilingual law firm specializing in management-side labour and employment law (hiring, dismissals, grievances, collective agreements and employment standards), constitutional law, human rights law and judicial reviews.


Alan Riddell


Full service


Dana Tierney


Full service except collective bargaining.

No. of labour or employment lawyers

Services offered

WND = Would not disclose. *Did not respond to 2017 survey – using data from previous years. †Effective October 2, 2017, 7 of the lawyers from Burke Robertson will join Mann Lawyers Should your company be on this list? If so, please send details to This list is current as of July 26, 2017. © 2017 by Ottawa Business Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be reproduced by any method in whole or in part without written permission by Ottawa Business Journal. While every attempt is made to ensure the thoroughness and accuracy of the list, omissions and errors sometimes occur. Please send any corrections or additions by e-mail to OBJ lists are primarily compiled using information provided voluntarily by the organizations named. Some firms that may qualify for the list are not included because the company either failed to respond to requests for information by press time, because the company declined to take part in the survey or because of space constraints. Categories are drawn up in attempt to gather information of relevance to the Ottawa market. Research by Patti Moran. Please send questions and comments to

FOR THE RECORD Assent Compliance’s ability to land Fortune 1000 clients impresses newest investors Continued from page 3 That ability to attract multinational clients is rare for a SaaS company such as Assent, said Greenspring managing partner John Averitt. He said most growing enterprise software firms focus on landing small and medium-sized clients before graduating to the big guys. Not Assent Compliance, which began signing up Fortune 1000 firms practically right out of the gate. “A lot of SaaS companies, to get to that enterprise level takes a lot of time and a lot more capital,” said Mr. Averitt. “It’s definitely a very strong signal that even in the early days of this business, they were able to achieve large customers and build really trusted relationships with them. “We’ve been impressed with the products that they’ve delivered to date and the road map of products that they have on the horizon,” he added. “I think our capital will further drive some of that product R&D.” Assent is playing in a field with few other major competitors, Mr. Waitman said, adding the firm wins about 80 per cent of the contracts it bids on. Collecting data on regulatory compliance is a daunting task most big companies are more than happy to hand over to Assent, the CEO said. “All these issues, you need to get information from your supply chain.

Today, it’s done in an incredibly arduous, tedious and time-consuming way. So our value proposition is quite compelling.” In addition to further developing its suite of products, the firm plans to use the latest funding to beef up its sales and marketing teams and expand its reach in Europe, a move that will require significant investment, Mr. Waitman said. “You can’t go into Europe halfassed,” he said, noting customers on the other side of the Atlantic might ask for additional services and features that will need to be incorporated into new versions of Assent’s software. “That’s a big push for us next year.” It’s all part of Assent’s bid to become “a truly global company,” Mr. Waitman said. To offer an idea of the kind of scale he’s talking about, he invokes the name of another well-known Ottawa software success story. “We’ve got a long way to go to be a Shopify, but our series A and our series B are bigger than their series A and their series B,” he said with a chuckle. “Now their series C (a $100-million round in 2013, 16 months before the firm went public) was really big. We’ll see. Whether we can execute as well as Shopify has, whether we can grow to the scale that they have, we’ll only know in five to 10 years.”

Friends mourn Zambonini’s death One of the industry’s most colourful chief executives, the flamboyant Mr. Zambonini was known to dress up as William Wallace from Braveheart, Zorro and Scottie from Star Trek. “The showmanship probably helped more in the sales area,” Mr. Zambonini said in a 2004 interview with the Globe and Mail. “When you go down to the Americans’ (software) kickoffs, your people want to see the CEO’s willingness to go out on a limb. They want to see that brashness. You have to be credible too, but to put on a Braveheart costume – it’s a question of building up a persona.”

“He was a role model, really. He was just a down-to-earth, solid guy, and people just loved him for it.”

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The anecdote illustrates Mr. Zambonini’s strengths as both a tenacious salesman and inspiring leader. However, the high-tech executive often joked that there was one skill that eluded him for much of his career. “I’m not a super-techie,” he said in 2002. “I (once) found that the person in the next cubicle was doing stuff twice as quickly as me with half the number and lines of code. That’s when I knew I was destined for management.” However, his friends describe a man who was very different away from the office – a devoted father and, later, grandfather who enjoyed spending quiet time with family and excelled at his favourite pastime, playing bridge. A few years ago, Mr. Zambonini and his wife Gail moved to Toronto to be closer to their son Paul and their two grandchildren. “He had a big public persona, but he was a private guy,” Mr. Ashe said. “He loved a movie at home at night with his wife, a quiet night out at the shows, as he called them. He was not a flamboyant character in his personal life. He was a role model, really. He was just a down-to-earth, solid guy, and people just loved him for it.”

province of Ontario Buyer: Parks Canada $3,500,000 Johnson Controls Canada LP 30 Edgewater St. Description: Federal Building Initiative – CBSA, Rigaud, Quebec Buyer: PWGSC $1,902,667 Banfield-Seguin Ltd. 35 Armstrong St. Description: HC advertising creative services Buyer: Health Canada $1,525,500 Ibiska Telecom Inc. 130 Albert St. Description: SA & A services Buyer: DND $1,500,000 Raymond and Associates Roofing Inc. 3091 Albion Rd. Description: Roof replacement – 1030 Innes Rd., Ottawa Buyer: PWGSC $1,072,300 Maplesoft Group Consulting Inc. 1545 Carling Ave. Description: Materiel management rationalization initiative Maximo-Oracle financials systems integration Buyer: Canadian Coast Guard $1,021,000

People on the move BLG Ottawa has welcomed three new team members. Carina De Pellegrin comes to the firm from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and will be working in the intellectual property group (general). Andrew Paterson was an articling student with BLG and now joins the firm as a lawyer working in the commercial litigation group. Jacky Wong comes to BLG from Jensen & Company and will be working in the intellectual property group (trademarks). Tetra Bio-Pharma appointed Bernard Fortier to the position of CEO. Andre Rancourt, the previous interim CEO, will take the position of chairman of the board of directors. Andre Audet will step down as chairman but will continue to serve as a board member.



The following contains information about recent contracts, standing offers and supply arrangements awarded to local firms.

MONDAY, JULY 31, 2017

Continued from page 13 Under his watch, the company grew its revenues from a reported $120 million US to more than $683 million US in 2004, when it also posted a $101-million US profit before Mr. Zambonini announced he was retiring as CEO and moving to the position of chairman. The timing of Cognos’ explosive growth was especially important to Mr. Zambonini’s adopted home, as it came when many Ottawa technology companies were drastically slashing spending and reducing their headcount in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble bursting.


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Ottawa Business Journal July 31, 2017  

Local Ottawa business news, start ups, technology, real estate, marketing, tourism, entrepreneurship, local commentary, reader comments, peo...

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