Page 1

BEYOND BITCOIN VISION FOR THE ONE OTTAWA STARTUP’S BOLD OF BLOCKCHAIN

CONNECTING TECH

IN OTTAWA

VOL. 3, ISSUE 2

BANKING ON A BLOCKCHAIN FUTURE PAGE 2

FUTURE

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

10 YEARS OF TIM REVIEW

, “I remember people saying4 ‘Ottawa can’t do this’” Page

BEYOND BITCOIN ONE OTTAWA STARTUP’S BOLD VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN

LEAD ME ON

Michael Bell seeks leadership6 lessons from local CEOs Page

SURVEY SAYS

News on SurveyMonkey’s future in Ottawa Page 8

CONNECTING TECH IN OTTAWA

BANKING ON A BLOCKCHAIN FUTURE PAGE 2

VOL. 3, ISSUE 2

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

10 YEARS OF TIM REVIEW

“I remember people saying, ‘Ottawa can’t do this’” Page 4

LEAD ME ON

Michael Bell seeks leadership lessons from local CEOs Page 7

SURVEY SAYS

News on SurveyMonkey’s future in Ottawa Page 9


SYSTEM UPDATE

Subscribe to TECHOPIA’s weekly e-mail newsletter at techopia.ca

Smarter Alloys tackles global markets with Perley Robertson, Hill & McDougall. As a PhD student, Ibraheem Khan was for months frustrated by what he believed to be a fatal flaw in his thesis work to weld shape-memory alloys to other materials. Until he realized that he had in fact discovered something entirely new that could be worth billions of dollars.

A

s a PhD student, Ibraheem Khan was for months frustrated by what he believed to be a fatal flaw in his thesis work to weld shape-memory alloys to other materials. Until he realized that he had in fact discovered something entirely new that could be worth billions of dollars. That’s when Khan decided to become an entrepreneur. He launched his own company, Smarter Alloys, in 2011. A shape-memory alloy is a material that “remembers” its previous shape. When it is deformed, it will hold its new shape until subjected to some external force or change in temperature. Then it will spring back to its original form. Khan had inadvertently created a material that could hold the memory of two different shapes, not just one, and be tuned to change its shape with a precision of just 0.05 millimeters.

Getting to market, without losing control Despite such a wealth of opportunity and access to funding, there have been several bumps in the road for Smarter Alloys to finally have its first product – SmartArch – in the market. “Everything takes longer than you would anticipate,” said Khan. “From a business standpoint there is always a burn rate, costs – time is money. Something I have learned is always be well funded, because the last thing you want is to be looking for funds when you don’t have funds. I’ve witnessed a lot of my peers look for funding at the wrong time and pay a heavy price.” Khan’s trusted legal advisor throughout has been Tim McCunn, Partner and lawyer with the Business Law Group at PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l. “I really have fun working with young companies,” McCunn said. “That’s what makes my job exciting and colourful – the clients. It’s a dream to work with someone like Ibraheem.” McCunn has worked with Khan to assemble a trusted advisory board of seasoned high-tech executives, secure financing on the best terms for the company founders, protect the company’s intellectual property, and develop a corporate structure that reduces financial risk, by establishing subsidiaries and industry partnerships to

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Reshaping global industries Where is this useful? Take the various types of actuators used in your car or SUV to control valves, door locks and so forth. A unit that weighs 100 grams can be replaced with a shape-memory wire that weighs just three grams. The same drastic reduction in weight, bulk and materials is possible with other systems, such as the adjustable lumbar support system in the driver’s seat.

Or take orthodontics. Patients no longer must suffer through two or more years of treatment with braces, as teeth are adjusted one at a time with arch wires through painful tightening procedures. Smarter Alloys’ SmartArch archwires allow most teeth to be adjusted simultaneously with much more precision. This reduces discomfort, clinical visits and cuts overall treatment time. Other applications range from golf clubs to implantable medical devices.

TECHOPIA.CA

02 www.perlaw.ca

Tim McCunn, Partner, Business Law Group at Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP/s.r.l.

pursue opportunities in different market verticals. Practical advice that builds business “My work is all about providing practical advice, to avoid the mistakes that cause founders to lose control of their companies or spread themselves too thin chasing too many opportunies,” McCunn said. For Khan, that means getting the timely advice he needs, even if it might not be what he wants to hear. “Find a great lawyer who is on the same wavelength and stick with him,” Khan said. “Tim’s time and commitment has given him unmatched insight into who we are and what we need to get where we are going.” To learn more about how PerleyRobertson, Hill & McDougall can help grow your business, visit www.perlaw.ca.


GATINEAU COMMERCE FIRM LAUNCHES MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR ‘SMITH LABS’ TECHOPIA.ca

transaction fees for bitcoin were just a few cents, making it affordable to walk up to an ATM, put five dollars in and get five bitcoin back. “A very easy pitch point for digital currency was, ‘Oh, you should just pay me bitcoin, it’s free,’” Adham says. “It was a great way to just onboard somebody and show them the magic of this new type of currency.” Now, as the frequency of transactions per block (the foundation of the Bitcoin payment network with a set activity capacity) increases, so do the transaction fees. When the exchange rate reaches five dollars to four bitcoin, selling a skeptic on the idea of digital currency is a bit more complicated. The next step for the ATMs is likely to add ether, the digital currency born from the Ethereum network, which is being touted as a strong alternative to the popular incumbent. This presents its own problems, though. The transactions become more complex when the machine has to explain, over the course of a one-minute interaction, what the differences between cryptocurrencies are to a user who has never dabbled in digital currencies before.

SMART CONTRACTS MOE ADHAM, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER OF BITACCESS, NEXT TO A BITCOIN ATM. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

OUR DIGITAL CURRENCY FUTURE

Why one Ottawa startup is betting big on Bitcoin ATMs, smart contracts and all things blockchain

T

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

03 TECHOPIA.CA

wallet or take some out, and receive an electronic receipt sent by text message to their smartphone. It’s a simple, familiar transaction that Adham says is meant to onboard new users to the idea of using a digital currency. The first ATM was launched in Toronto’s financial district on New Year’s Day in 2014. The initial site was a hub for blockchain enthusiasts then called Bitcoin Decentral, now just Decentral. It has become an auspicious starting point for digital currencies: Adham says the origins of Ethereum actually spawned from here, too. “The founder of Ethereum (Vitalik Buterin) was the IT guy there that day. He was the one helping us setup the internet for the ATM,” he recalls. While Adham looks back on their first ATM, the efforts of three weeks’ work on the he days of considering cryptocurrencies digital currencies, are already disrupting the project, as a rudimentary product, the global a niche interest – reserved for a few still-fresh sector. Ethereum, for example, response to their innovation was immediate. brilliant but isolated programmers – are allows companies to crowdfund their own “We knew we were on to something over. Whether you’re an early adopter, a cryptocurrencies through an initial coin because we immediately got interest from all recent convert or remain a steadfast skeptic, offering, or ICO, as an alternative to raising around the world for more of these things,” blockchain’s capacity to overhaul fintech can money on a traditional exchange. Adham says. He and his team maxed out no longer be ignored. There are thousands of opportunities their credit cards and got to work mass For the unaware, digital currencies for startups to enter this market and producing their bitcoin ATMs. or cryptocurrencies are intangible, take blockchain in a new, previously Though they’re now manufactured decentralized forms of money. unimagined direction. In fact, that’s exactly through a partner in China, they were first Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, the most what Bitaccess did, an Ottawa-based firm produced out near the Ottawa International common example of digital cash, are built that now has hundreds of bitcoin ATMs Airport. The ATMs quickly spread to on the back of blockchain networks or, operating around the world. Belgium, Switzerland and across the United a series of ledgers maintained across the “I am absolutely convinced that digital States. Today, there are more than 1,000 internet. currencies are here to stay. They’re not going across the world, including a couple in One of the selling points of anywhere. They are going to be a deeper and Ottawa. cryptocurrencies is that they’re not bound deeper part of our lives,” says co-founder by the same restrictions as traditional and CEO Moe Adham. BEYOND BITCOIN currencies. Transactions are borderless, for The rise of competing cryptocurrencies example, making it easier to pay bills or send THE GATEWAY TO DIGITAL CURRENCY provides new opportunities and challenges money internationally with a bitcoin instead Bitcoin ATMs look nearly indistinguishable for Bitaccess. Counterintuitively, the surging of a Canadian dollar. from traditional models, but are connected popularity of bitcoin ATMs has dwindled, But it’s not just bitcoin anymore. Digital to the Bitcoin network instead of a personal Adham says, as bitcoin itself becomes more platforms such as Ethereum, with more bank account. Users can walk up to the mainstream. complex capabilities than acting solely as machine, put a few dollars into their digital When they were just starting out,

Blockchain isn’t limited to digital currency, though, and Bitaccess is pivoting accordingly. “Ethereum, when it was conceived, was not necessarily designed as a payment network… It was designed for what they call smart contracts,” Adham says. The foundation of blockchain is that its ledgers are maintained by a series of concurrent records on nodes (any personal computer linked to the blockchain) around the world. Instead of a centralized body such as a bank or government verifying the validity and value of a currency, these hundreds of thousands of nodes ensure that if a single record is changed on one computer, the others are there to correct it. This same concept can be applied to contracts, and Ethereum’s programming specifically allows for this functionality. Bitaccess builds smart contracts for specific use cases such as options trading and public auditing. Adham says the company is also building a product to help users secure their increasingly-digital asset portfolios. One of the firm’s goals is to add property rights to blockchain, but that may require a concession in terms of decentralization. An authoritative body would have to verify who owns a property on the blockchain in the first place. “Unless we start by putting authoritative data on a blockchain, we might lose the momentum we have now to see smart contracts become what they can truly be,” Adham says. If Bitaccess is successful, and the momentum of blockchain and digital currencies continues, these applications will pervade our lives in as-of-yet unimaginable ways. Beyond holding bitcoin or ether in your wallet, decentralized, digital records may become the norm for all aspects of ownership and public holdings. “I believe that there’s an immense opportunity in that space, and Bitaccess is really well positioned to capture a lot of that value,” Adham says.


“I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on Follow TECHOPIA on Twitter @techopiaOTT or like us at Facebook.com/techopiaOTT the stuff — then you can do pretty well.” – MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO OF FACEBOOK

GET SOCIAL

We’re trying to do something with the rigour of academia but at the pace of business. - CHRIS MCPHEE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, TIM REVIEW

TIM REVIEW’S EVOLUTION FROM LOCAL JOURNAL TO INTERNATIONAL RESOURCE BY: CRAIG LORD

F

rom its humble beginnings as the Open Source Business Resource to its status today as an internationally acclaimed journal for academics and businesspeople alike, the Technology Innovation Management Review has made its name on staying ahead of the curve. Tony Bailetti, director of Carleton University’s TIM program, launched the journal back in 2007. At the time, it was an experiment to uncover how business owners might make use of open-source applications. These questions were on the minds of local companies such as Newbridge Networks and Nortel, and Bailetti says he was approached by firms such as these to launch a publication that would provide answers. “We knew what open-source was in terms of the software; we knew how the project worked; we had no idea how it worked economically,” he says. Bailetti didn’t know it then, but the founding of the Open Source Business Resource established a precedent that the TIM Review carries on today as it explores topics such as cybersecurity, living labs and, most recently, machine learning. “The success of the journal has been that we focus on things that are new, that are novel, before they become mainstream.” Chris McPhee, the editor-in-chief of the journal, puts it another way: TIM Review goes to the places where there are more questions than answers.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

FROM LOCAL TO INTERNATIONAL

TECHOPIA.CA

04

The origins of the OSBR focused largely on Ottawa, with academics and authors drawn from the surrounding area. Bailetti says the plan was to start in the city, then expand to Ontario and finally to the rest of the world. The goal, he says, was always to be global. When McPhee joined the journal in 2010, it marked a shift away from opensource and the rebranding of the journal into the TIM Review. By then, the monthly publication had a sizeable following, but it had gone as far as it could on its initial opensource niche. It was time to take off the training wheels and see where it could go. The TIM Review straddles the line between an academic and practical journal.

NEW TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Bailetti and McPhee were out for a beer one evening, reflecting on what might be next for the journal. How do they raise their traffic from 25,000 visitors per month to 100,000? “What are we going to be when we grow up?” Bailetti asked. As part of its special anniversary issue, TIM Review undertook a topic modelling analysis of its entire archive. The team used a machine learning tool to read the hundreds of published articles and break down into specific topics what the journal has been covering. Common and connected words are identified by the algorithm, revealing clusters, or topics. Words such as data, security, and vulnerability can be grouped as “cybersecurity,” whereas co-creation, city and stakeholder would fit under “living labs.” The topics are then modelled, and articles are filtered based on how they fit in these groupings, with a few floating between. Topic modelling allows observers to step back and see the overview of an archive as massive as the TIM Review. Some topics don’t come as a surprise: Cybersecurity, for example, is a conscious focus of the journal today. But Bailetti realized firsthand that topic modelling can correct your assumptions and biases. A colleague introduced him to topic modelling by analyzing some of his students’ papers. While he was certain that “growth” was the main thrust of his Technology Entrepreneurship class, topic modelling revealed his students were writing about product features, or incorporating customer feedback – growth was hardly mentioned, and his colleague told him as TONY BAILETTI (LEFT), DIRECTOR OF CARLETON UNVIERSITY’S TIM PROGRAM, AND CHRIS MCPHEE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF TIM REVIEW. PHOTO BY MARK HOLLERON. much. “If growth is what you’re doing in your course, you better go back and tell your students, because that’s not what they’re and social innovation has earned it writing about,” Bailetti recalls him saying. international acclaim. According to a Not only was it a wake-up call as to the self-analysis on the occasion of its 10-year power of topic modelling, it was a clear sign anniversary, 70 per cent of the TIM Review’s that he needed to double down on growth in readership resides outside of the Americas. his lessons. Additionally, 56 per cent of article authors “I just blasted everybody,” Bailetti says from across its 10-year history are from the with a laugh, recalling the ensuing class with Americas, compared with 85 per cent at the his students. time of the rebrand. Examining the potentials of machine McPhee says the most exciting statistic learning and topic modelling is part of the to him, though, relates to the most popular vision for the future of the TIM Review. While articles in the journal’s history. Seven of the Bailetti says he’s seen academics do analyses 10 most popular articles were written by of journals in this way, the journals have not TIM students, instructors or local Ottawa yet adopted the tools themselves. entrepreneurs. “Let’s try something nobody else will do. “We started something here at Carleton, There’s no other journal in the world that I in our local ecosystem, put it out into the know that is doing this on a recurring basis.” world, and the content that’s rising to the top A decade from now, Bailetti and McPhee - TONY BAILETTI, DIRECTOR OF CARLETON UNIVERSITY’S TIM PROGRAM is the local content,” he says. will probably be having another beer, “I remember the pushback, people reflecting on 20 years of the TIM Review. Authors come from both sides and are saying, ‘Ottawa can’t do this,’” Bailetti recalls. With thousands more articles in the archive, encouraged to support their theories with Ten years on, more than one million topic modelling may show the uncharted lived experiences. people have visited TIM Review online, directions the journal travelled over the “We’re trying to do something with and the journal has 25,000 unique monthly decade. the rigour of academia but at the pace of visitors. It’s clear now that Ottawa can do The question on the table, though, likely business,” McPhee says. this; the questions now are about how far it will not have changed: “What are we going Its work in areas such as cybersecurity can go and how it will get there. to be when we grow up?”

Let’s try something nobody else will do. There’s no other journal in the world that I know that is doing this on a recurring basis.


HOW BRUCE LINTON’S CHAINSAW INSPIRED STEVE CODY’S NEXT VENTURE TECHOPIA.ca

TECHOPIA LIVE

In 2017, Techopia doubled down on its mission to connect you, the audience, to the local tech scene with a weekly broadcast called Techopia Live. Every week, we’ve sat down with entrepreneurs, technology executives and fascinating individuals who are getting it done in Ottawa. Now, we’ve launched a second weekly show. We’re streaming on Techopia’s Facebook page every Monday and Wednesday from Bayview Yards and KRP Properties at 12:15 p.m. If you miss the show it’s always available to watch afterwards, but if you’re not tuning in, you’re missing out on fascinating and real conversations about technology in Ottawa and beyond.

“THEY FOUND THE BEST DAMN PLATFORM TO PUT IN THEIR CARS THEY COULD POINT TO. AND THAT WAS QNX. AND THAT’S IN OTTAWA.” - INVEST OTTAWA PRESIDENT AND CEO MIKE TREMBLAY ON FORD’S INVESTMENT IN OTTAWA’S AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES SECTOR

“THE MONEY IS SECONDARY. THESE ARE PARTNERS. YOU MAY THINK YOU NEED THE MONEY, OR THEY’RE INVESTORS, BUT REALLY AT THE END OF THE DAY, THESE ARE PARTNERS. YOU HAVE TO REALLY VET WHO YOU’RE PARTNERING WITH.” - STEVE CODY, FOUNDER OF BETTER SOFTWARE CO. AND RUCKIFY, ON RAISING FINANCING ROUNDS

“THE OPPORTUNITY WE’RE PURSUING IS HUGE. THIS BUSINESS CAN’T BE A LIFESTYLE BUSINESS … IF WE’RE NOT THE NEXT PAYPAL, IF WE’RE NOT THE NEXT VISA, WE KIND OF FAILED.” - CHANGEJAR FOUNDER TOM CAMPS

“PEOPLE IN OTTAWA WANT TO HELP EACH OTHER… THIS IS A VERY TIGHT BUSINESS COMMUNITY, AND THERE’S A VERY HIGH DEGREE OF WILLINGNESS FOR PEOPLE TO HELP EACH OTHER.” - STRATFORD MANAGERS FOUNDER AND OTTAWA TECH VETERAN JIM ROCHE

- SUSAN RICHARDS, FOUNDER OF GIVOPOLY AND NUMBERCRUNCH, ON WHY YOU CAN’T FORCE GROWTH IN A STARTUP WHEN THE TIMING ISN’T RIGHT

“SOMEONE FIGURED OUT HOW TO MAKE A CHEAP QUADCOPTER… YOU WALK INTO BESTBUY, YOU’RE A PILOT… DRONES SUDDENLY WENT FROM SPY DRONES, KILLER DRONES TO COOL – AND A PRODUCT.” - ING ROBOTIC AVIATION FOUNDER IAN GLENN ON THE COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES OF DRONES

05 TECHOPIA.CA

- KANATA NORTH BIA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR JENNA SUDDS AT THE DISCOVER TECHNATA TALENT EXPO

“NINE WOMEN CAN’T MAKE A BABY IN ONE MONTH.”

- GIATEC CO-FOUNDER AND CEO AALI ALIZADEH

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

“NEW COMPANIES MOVE IN FROM THE U.S. AND ELSEWHERE, AND I THINK IT’S FABULOUS. THEY ARE CHOOSING OTTAWA, THEY ARE CHOOSING THE KANATA NORTH TECHNOLOGY PARK BECAUSE OF OUR TALENT.”

“WE STARTED WITH VERY, VERY INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND WE WANTED TO CHANGE THE CONCRETE INDUSTRY WITH THOSE TECHNOLOGIES. BUT IT WAS WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME. SO WE WENT BACK A LITTLE BIT AND WE STARTED PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES AS OPPOSED TO GOING TO SOMETHING BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY.”


SHOPIFY CEO TOBI LÜTKE TOPS SNAP, DROPBOX CEOS ON FORTUNE 40 UNDER 40 LIST TECHOPIA.ca SPONSORED CONTENT

From left to right: Chad Holliday, VP, Product Consulting at Stratford Managers; Megan Paterson, VP of Human Resources at Kinaxis; Mike D’Amico, VP & Practice Lead Human Resources at Stratford Managers.

How Kinaxis added instant bench strength to its leadership team Stratford Managers have learned the hard way from success and failure

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Kinaxis is one of those companies that demonstrates the resilience of Ottawa’s tech sector. This provider of cloud-based supply change management solutions has gone through many iterations over its 33-year history, but its greatest watershed moment came three years ago. Two things happened – Kinaxis went public and it earned a place in the Magic Quadrant for business intelligence and analytics platforms from influential market research firm Gartner. Megan Paterson, VP of Human Resources, remembers well what happened next. “Prospects actually started calling us,” she said. “Considering our history had always been fighting the giants, like SAP and Oracle, this was a big change.” But this newfound market visibility came with some growing pains.

TECHOPIA.CA

06

Gearing up for a new phase of growth Kinaxis had a history of promoting from within. Even current President and CEO John Sicard began with the company 24 years ago as a software developer. While that strategy had made for a strong and cohesive team, it revealed a few blind spots as Kinaxis’s business expanded to a dozen countries and annual revenues shot past $100 million. “We realized we hadn’t invested enough in our

leaders, and that our leaders who had made us successful to this point needed some extra tools, training and advice to keep us successful in the future,” Paterson said. Paterson and Sicard decided to lever some outside expertise. But they didn’t want to engage with career consultants. Instead, they sought to pair Kinaxis’s leaders with mentors and coaches who could speak from personal experience – individuals who wear the scars of building and leading successful businesses of their own. That led them to Stratford Managers.

The voice of experience Stratford’s consultants have lived as entrepreneurs, executives and CEOs of both small and multinational enterprises and know what it takes to scale an organization. Two years, ago, Kinaxis began working with Stratford on some human resources initiatives. This engagement has expanded to include more comprehensive engagements that have paired Sicard, Paterson and Kinaxis’s leaders for R&D, marketing and customer experience with various Stratford coaches. One-on-one coaching combines with 360 Reviews to track performance and set goals. “We want to be your trusted business advisor and the sum of these one on ones can become so much more,” said Mike D’Amico, Stratford’s VP & Practice

Lead, HR. “We can lean in and roll up our sleeves because we have all succeeded and failed in these roles. Our philosophy is to add value, not billable hours, and we look at everything we do with a client organization as a collective to see where we can add even more value.” For Chad Holliday, Stratford’s VP, Product Consulting, it’s all about helping leaders look at problems through a fresh lens. “It’s lonely at the top,” he said. “Not every leader or executive is willing to recognize where and how they can be better, but once they open up, they realize how they can benefit. Even just having a sounding board to bounce ideas off can be extremely valuable.”

Tactical and strategic advice Paterson has found great value in how Stratford helps her team develop action plans with clear and easily implemented solutions. “I’ve seen dramatic changes in our team since Stratford became involved,” Paterson said. “It has upped the calibre of leadership. I really appreciate the mix of tactical and strategic advice and counselling. No matter who I am looking for, I can always pair my executive with an ideal Stratford coach.” To learn how you can add instant bench strength to your business with Stratford Managers, visit www.stratfordmanagers.com


OTTAWA NON-PROFIT GIVES GIRLS SKILLS TO JOIN GAMING INDUSTRY TECHOPIA.ca

LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM SIX OTTAWA FOUNDERS

As part of his Telfer EMBA, Michael Bell interviewed some of Ottawa’s most successful entrepreneurs to find out how they motivate and inspire their teams BY MIKE BELL

I

t was not too long ago that I had the opportunity to sit down with some of Ottawa’s leading technology entrepreneurs as part of my Telfer Executive MBA at the University of Ottawa. I deliberately set out to explore what makes these individuals “leaders” in their fields and how I can leverage this insight to better prepare myself for my transition from the military to the private sector. The world of innovation, startups and entrepreneurship reminded me of what drew me to the military in the first place: The ability to have a direct and positive impact on the world, to be able to make things happen with my own hands and motivate others to do the same. There were six entrepreneurs who were top of mind, namely Craig Fitzpatrick, the founder and CEO of PageCloud, Allan Wille, co-founder and CEO of Klipfolio, Chris Perram, founder and CEO of FileFacets, Nazim Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of CanvasPop, Jason Flick, founder and CEO of You.i TV, and Aydin Mirzaee, co-founder and co-CEO of Fluidware, which was sold to SurveyMonkey in 2014. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised, but once they heard what I was looking to do they all made the time to sit down with me. I feel I could write a book on the lessons learned in these six interviews alone, but I narrowed it down to these five key ideas.

1

3

KLIPFOLIO CEO ALLAN WILLE

MICHAEL BELL (LEFT) STANDS WITH THE CEO OF CANVASPOP NAZIM AHMED. AHMED WAS ONE OF SIX CEOS MICHAEL BELL INTERVIEWED AS HE RESEARCHED WHAT MAKES A GREAT LEADER.

Startup leaders are the embodiment of their companies, and they therefore must live their lives in a way that reflects this. Said another way, the attitude of the company reflects that of the leadership; look around and let that sink in for a moment. This is no more important than when navigating the inevitable periods of volatility. Leaders must control their emotions, remain positive, focus and be willing to dig in and get their hands dirty alongside those at all levels. More often than not, the company will, with a strong sense of determination, rally around the leader and do whatever it takes to win.

5

PRIORITIZE YOUR TEAM

The most common theme between these lessons is how critical the team is in the success of the company. Leadership’s No. 1 priority needs to be building the team in a way that is most likely to lead to a successful outcome for all. This is often a major challenge as founders transition from manipulating ones and zeroes to influencing people, but it is do-or-die. Founders don’t scale, companies do. Building a company of innovative and intrapreneurial leaders, people who will take stock in the big dream, share the risk and the burden in making it a reality, requires giving them the space to take risks, fai, and learn to challenge you and grow alongside you. Success here is what makes this handful of leaders amongst the best of the best. Michael Bell is a graduate of the Telfer School of Management Executive MBA program and is transitioning from the Canadian Armed Forces to a career in tech.

07 TECHOPIA.CA

Ownership is an incredible motivator, but I don’t necessarily mean an employee stock option pool. I’m talking about ownership of the problem, the opportunity, the dream. When responsibility is shared, and when we have the space to lead, take risks, fail and learn, we end up with a

This is often a major challenge as founders transition from manipulating ones and zeroes to influencing people, but it is do-or-die. Founders don’t scale, companies do.

LEADERS SET THE TONE

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

2

ENSURE SHARED OWNERSHIP

PAGECLOUD FOUNDER CRAIG FITZPATRICK

FACILITATE CREATIVE CONFLICT

When we open ourselves up to the free flow of ideas, conflict is inevitable. Most businesses would seek to reduce any instance of conflict in the workplace, but what is often missed is that conflict can be the greatest source of ingenuity. When ideas are openly challenged, we are forced to consider other positions and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of our own preconceived notions, resulting in more complete solutions. In such situations, it is often leadership’s role to facilitate healthy dialogue; sometimes that means mediation to cool things down, and sometimes it means adding a little fuel to the fire.

4

DREAM BIG! BUT DON’T FORGET TO EXECUTE

Dreaming big has a lot of upside: It can keep a team aligned, inspired and motivated, and it can help companies ride out startup turbulence. But it isn’t the size of the dream alone that matters, rather the willingness to take the risks required to turn dreams into a reality. When management leads this way, they not only build credibility with their employees, but also create an environment where employees feel they have the space to grow. This often results in attracting talented people who are most likely to buy into that vision, and in turn focusing, pushing and developing them into the next generation of leaders and managers.

company of intrapreneurs willing to grind it out. To succeed in establishing such a culture, senior management must be willing to look beyond job titles and positions on an organizational chart to realize that leadership, strategic thought and creativity can be found anywhere in the organization.


CONNECTED ON THE GO Check out TECHOPIA newsfeed on your mobile device at techopia.ca

The Official Partner of Big Dreams. Like yours. We’re in the business of helping small business.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Every day, we’re committed to helping Canadian small businesses grow. With help from TD, more and more small businesses are realizing their big dreams. If you’re looking to grow your technology business, then we’re looking forward to meeting you.

Visit a branch or tdcanadatrust.com/smallbusiness

TECHOPIA.CA

08 ®

The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.


WHAT’S HAPPENING Stay up to date with TECHOPIA’s calendar of events at techopia.ca

something I jumped at,” he says. Before his stints with the aforementioned tech giants, Javaheri worked for Ottawa-based Cognos, which was acquired by IBM in 2009. The connection between Cognos, which specialized in business intelligence software, and SurveyMonkey, a firm that brands itself as “people-powered data,” was obvious to him. Surveys are what provide nuance to data, Lurie adds.

NEXT QUESTION

PEJ JAVAHERI (LEFT) AND ZANDER LURIE IN SURVEYMONKEY’S OTTAWA OFFICE. PHOTO BY CRAIG LORD.

NO QUESTION: SURVEYMONKEY PLANNING LONGTERM OTTAWA GROWTH

T

On July 17th, SurveyMonkey launched a rebrand. FluidReview, a flagship product of Fluidware, became SurveyMonkey Apply, OTTAWA-SILICON VALLEY HYBRID a product that helps scholarship and grant Lurie says the pace of growth in Ottawa will committees select their recipients. likely outstrip growth in the rest of the comThe foundations of SurveyMonkey Appany, which just surpassed 700 employees. ply are firmly entrenched in the work done The vision for the local team is “a much by the Ottawa team, both before and after more strategic investment focus than a the acquisition. back office,” complete with fully-functional “This really is the Ottawa-based busimarketing, sales, design, engineering and ness. SurveyMonkey Apply is built here, it’s legal teams. sold here, it’s serviced here and it has such Lurie’s bullish outlook for Ottawa stems world-class customers,” Lurie says. “It’s from the local team’s unique blend of soup to nuts an Ottawa operation.” startup and large company vibes. Lurie says the company is building up “I think there is an energy and a culture more technology expertise in Ottawa than in this office: It has the same esprit de corps its other locations. That’s not a one-way that a really great startup has, but it has all street, though: Javaheri says SurveyMonkey the resources and capital access of a much is working with Invest Ottawa and partnerbigger company.” ing with other local technology companies That culture is what drew Pej Javaheri, to build up the brand of the city’s tech head of SurveyMonkey’s Ottawa outpost, sector. to the company. The Carleton University SurveyMonkey is not just a California graduate has worked for giants such as IBM company, Lurie and Javaheri say. Its roots as and Microsoft in the city, but found the an Ottawa startup are firmly set, positionstartup grind he was looking for at Surveying it for long-term growth in the Capital. Monkey. “We’re at the cusp of a real leadership “Having the opportunity to work for position here in Ottawa as a company,” a Silicon Valley company in Ottawa was Lurie says.

09 TECHOPIA.CA

It wasn’t the first time a large tech company had come to the Capital to acquire a hree years ago, Silicon Valley came homegrown success, but the story didn’t knocking at Ottawa’s doorstep. Survey- end when the Fluidware’s co-founders Monkey, the Palo Alto-based survey Aydin Mirzaee and Eli Fathi signed over software provider, was calling for Fluidware, their company. a local startup with its own form-building All 75 of the startup’s staff would be applications. retained, including Mirzaee who would BY: CRAIG LORD

NEW BRAND, FAMILIAR FOUNDATIONS

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

CEO Zander Lurie tells Techopia that the company’s presence in the Capital will likely double over the next two years

stay on for a transition period. He departed the company he helped to build roughly a year ago, but not before his local team had grown to 90. Now, the team at SurveyMonkey’s York Street office is 110 strong, but when I meet CEO Zander Lurie there, he tells me that number will likely double in the next two years. That investment in the local office will eventually come with a new location as well as an Ottawa-based data centre, due to open in the next few months. SurveyMonkey’s interest in Ottawa did not end with its acquisition of Fluidware three years ago. When that deal closed, the company’s local presence continued to grow – a clear signal from its executives that Ottawa will be a growth engine for the SIlicon Valley powerhouse.

SurveyMonkey was founded in 1999. Surveys have changed since 1999. Filling out quarterly and annual reports with pages and pages of questions is no longer the norm. Today, as is the case with most business and consumer-facing applications, it’s all about mobile. Think about the last time you took a trip with Uber, or ordered food from a delivery app: You’re asked to rate the speed, efficiency and general enjoyment of the ride or delivery in a five-second interaction. Not only have surveys become condensed on the smartphone, they’ve become a critical element of the sharing economy. “Every single time you take a ride, you’re taking a survey. That data feeds the driver’s reputation, and the driver’s taking a survey about you,” Lurie says. That’s the future SurveyMonkey must operate in. Disruption doesn’t end there. SurveyMonkey is hoping to stay ahead of the curve of machine learning and big data with products such as SurveyMonkey Genius. The application evaluates a user’s questionnaire based on data drawn from the millions of surveys filed on its servers. It can tell you whether your first question is likely to intrigue a user into taking the rest of your survey, or how long a respondent might take to complete it. “We’re all about trying to disrupt ourselves,” Lurie says. “The history of innovation in the Valley goes to the folks who are planting seeds for the next few years.”


WIND RIVER AND BLACKBERRY QNX TURN OTTAWA INTO AUTOMOTIVE BATTLEGROUND TECHOPIA.ca

Université d’Ottawa

|

University of Ottawa

Collaborate with CEED The Centre for Entrepreneurship and Engineering Design (CEED) focuses on improving design, entrepreneurship education and the student experience at the uOttawa Faculty of Engineering.

Collaborate with our students and Faculty through CEED:

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

INTERNSHIPS: whether it is hiring coop students, or interns, our students can be of great value to your organization and could even become your future employees.

TECHOPIA.CA

10

CLIENT-BASED DESIGN PROJECTS: we are always looking for new and interesting design projects for our students in which they are challenged to find solutions to industry and community problems. You have an idea for a collaboration, a project or would need our students as interns in your organization; connect with us now!

engineering.uOttawa.ca/NSERC


SHOPIFY ADDED BUZZFEED AS A CHANNEL PARTNER. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT TECHOPIA.ca

INDEPENDENT GAMING STUDIOS TO UNITE IN COMMON SPACE

“The Collective” aims to be the go-to venue for gaming gatherings BY: CRAIG LORD

F

MEMBERS OF “THE COLLECTIVE” GATHER IN THEIR SPACE AT 981 WELLINGTON ST. W. FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: STEEL CRATE GAMES, THEMEATLY GAMES, JILLIAN MOOD & PARTNERS, SNOWED IN STUDIOS, BREAKFALL. PHOTOS BY CRAIG LORD.

11 TECHOPIA.CA

also finding mainstream success working with brands such as McDonald’s and the Olympic Games. There are also practical benefits to cohabitation, such as sharing resources and expertise. Snowed In has around 40 handsets that it can lend out to other studios to test their apps; Steel Crate has extensive experience in testing new tech such as virtual reality. From a personnel standpoint, there’s room for collaboration as well. Say Snowed In has a big project with a AAA developer, for example. It could contract some work to another studio short on projects. If one company doesn’t need a full-time HR rep, that person could float between the other studios as needed. If there’s enough interest in the idea, Sormany is open to expanding the space to other companies. The two floors below, if leased, would increase the capacity of the space from 60 people to 150. That could be room for a dozen more independent studios, and more than enough room for regular parties or gaming tournaments. “It’s all positive energy I want to create. There’s no space in Ottawa that specializes in gaming,” Sormany says. “Having a vivid industry in town is much more important to me than making money out of studios.”

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

ive Ottawa gaming companies are set unite under a single roof later this year with the goal of building a hub for the local sector. “The Collective,” as gaming HR and marketing professional Jillian Mood has dubbed it, consists of her firm, Jillian Mood & Partners, anchor tenant Snowed In Studios, TheMeatly Games, Breakfall and Steel Crate Games. The group will begin moving into the fourth-floor space at 981 Wellington St. W. in early November. Kivuto previously leased the now-barren, 6,000-square-foot space, and renovations will be underway until the studios set up shop. Jean-Sylvain Sormany, founder of Snowed In Studios and one of this year’s Forty Under 40 recipients, says he’s been trying to bring studios together into a space like this for nearly seven years. The last two times his growing firm had to move (Snowed In currently stands at around 25 people), plans fell through with the other firms he was talking with. “There was always something. This time around, it seems to have worked. Everyone is on board, everyone is excited about this idea.” As he says this, he’s standing in a wide, empty space as the other studio heads walk around the building. Everyone is filling the space with their ideas, plotting out where desks, monitors and murals might look best. From the entrance extends a hallway with a series of offices, ending up at a communal kitchen. Beyond that is the expansive space that Snowed In will occupy, as well as a proposed events space. There, local organizations such as Girl Force and the International Game Developers Association would host their gatherings or hold GameJams. Right now, finding space for these events is done on a per-case basis. “The Collective,” its partners hope, could become a hub for the city’s gaming industry: the go-to place to socialize, develop games and spawn new studios. Sormany hopes this space will also increase the visibility of gaming in Ottawa and act as a beacon for graduates of local gaming programs at La Cité and Algonquin College, as well as the universities in town. “There’s something like 200 new grads every year, but the industry is not there to support all of the new grads,” he says. The gaming sector in Ottawa has faced serious setbacks in recent years. Once a champion of the sector, Gigataur recently closed its doors even after landing big deals with Disney. Fuel Industries is the most recent casualty, folding its operations despite


BEYOND BITCOIN VISION FOR THE ONE OTTAWA STARTUP’S BOLD OF BLOCKCHAIN

CONNECTING TECH

IN OTTAWA

VOL. 3, ISSUE 2

BANKING ON A BLOCKCHAIN FUTURE PAGE 2

FUTURE

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

10 YEARS OF TIM REVIEW e saying,

“I remember peopl 4 ‘Ottawa can’t do this’” Page

BEYOND BITCOIN ONE OTTAWA STARTUP’S BOLD VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BLOCKCHAIN

LEAD ME ON

Michael Bell seeks leadership6 lessons from local CEOs Page

SURVEY SAYS

News on SurveyMonkey’s future in Ottawa Page 8

WE I NVITE YO U TO AN E XCE PTIO NAL FIVE- DIAMOND GOURMET EXPERIENCE Le Baccara offers French-inspired cuisine, where delectable dishes, vintage wines, courteous service and elegant decor come together in an unforgettable dining experience. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

On September 22 and 23, meet chef Martin Juneau, owner of the renowned restaurant, Pastaga, located in Montréal.

TECHOPIA.CA

12

casinolacleamy.ca

819-772-6210

18+

Techopia September 11, 2017  

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