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CONNECTED CONE PYLON IS KEEPING HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA THE STREETS SAFE

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HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA PYLON IS KEEPING THE STREETS SAFE MADE IN OTTAWA the smart SmartCone adds safety to

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MADE IN OTTAWA SmartCone adds safety to the smart city EDITORIAL ROUNDTABLE: The state of Ottawa tech Page 4

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Do we deserve the title? Page 8

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SYSTEM UPDATE

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.”

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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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FEDS’ CIO ALEX BENAY DIGITIZING PUBLIC SECTOR WITH ‘RELENTLESS INCREMENTALISM’ TECHOPIA.ca

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.

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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

CONNECTING TECH

IN OTTAWA

VOL. 3, ISSUE 3

CONNECTED CONE

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017

MADE IN OTTAWA the smart city SmartCone adds safety to

LE: EDITORIAL ROUNaDTAB tech Page 4 The state of Ottaw

SAAS CAPITAL:

Do we deserve the title? Page

HOW A MADE-IN-OTTAWA PYLON IS KEEPING THE STREETS SAFE

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Université d’Ottawa

Saying goodbye to Halog

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University of Ottawa

Help engineering student teams surpass their previous performances by supporting them on Giving Tuesday. Powered by the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED), our student teams work in a collaborative space (PITS) which provides them with the ability to work on large-scale projects, in preparation for pre-professional competitions.

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2017

PITS houses our Supermileage, Formula and Baja racing teams who are gearing up for a new season of competitions, looking to surpass last year’s successes. Our Concrete Toboggan team is also hard at work to improve their performance for their January 2018 race. PITS is also home to Ottabotics, uOttawa’s advanced robotics team, to Aerospace and Bionics teams, as well as uOStar, our Student Aeronautics & Rocketry team!

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On November 28, 2017, each dollar you donate will be matched 50¢ to the dollar by uOttawa to a maximum of $500 per donor for the first $150,000 donated. Act quickly to increase the impact of your gift!

engineering.uOttawa.ca/give

Techopia November 20, 2017  
Techopia November 20, 2017  

TECHOPIA aggregates, shares and creates noteworthy content about the technology and startup community in Canada's national capital region.