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History & Story

The idea for L-SPARK starts with a conversation at a coffee shop with a startup founder who was recently accepted, among hundreds of applicants from around the world, to attend Y Combinator.

While I shared in his enthusiasm, I also had to ask WHY GO?! He told me, Y Combinator would give him the visibility his company needed.

So I asked myself – why were bright enterprise software entrepreneurs concluding Silicon Valley was their best option? Could they stay and build in Ottawa, or even Canada?

I firmly believe the answer is a resounding yes. Ottawa has been the birthplace and long-term home of global companies who dominate their respective categories.

After all, the city has an undeniable track record of tech success. And though they might be greying at the temples, the executives who grew up in the heydays of Blackberry, Mitel, Nortel, Newbridge Networks and Cognos have a wealth of experience. The IPO successes of these companies might have faded from memory, but their legacies have created a foundation of talented executives in our city.

We created L-SPARK to highlight Ottawa’s talent, domain expertise and operational know-how. Furthermore, with U.S. tech companies like Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, OpenText, Survey Monkey, IBM, Google, and others setting up local development centers, it’s no wonder we are poised to be Canada’s capital of SaaS.

With support from Wesley Clover, chaired by noted tech leader Sir Terry Matthews, in partnership with the National Research Council under CAIP (Canadian Accelerator & Incubator Program) we launched L-SPARK.

Leo Lax

Leo Lax

Executive Managing Director
L-SPARK

Canada’s Destination for SaaS

There has not been one central destination for Canada to grow a strong SaaS community. We are it! Canada has produced some of the top leaders in today’s SaaS marketplace. However, early stage Canadian SaaS companies are struggling to scale up into globally competitive firms that generate large revenue. L-SPARK is the point of concentration for enterprise SaaS and cloud companies to connect with Canada’s SaaS experts.

Investment and Corporate Partnership Opportunities

Begin to develop a network of angel investors, institutional investors and VC firms.

Take advantage of L-SPARK’s partnerships with the following companies for special rates for infrastructure, software and other resources. Also receive introductions to technical experts and access potential VAR partners.

  • Google logo
  • Microsoft BizSpark logo
  • Wesley Clover logo
  • Shopify logo
  • Export Development Canada logo
  • Information Venture Partners logo
  • Relay Ventures logo
  • OTEAF logo
  • Capital Angel Network logo
  • Infinite Ventures logo
  • Mistral Venture Partners logo
  • HubSpot for Startups logo
  • Naavon Capital logo
  • IBM logo
  • OpenText logo
  • Mitel logo
  • Grand Banks Capital logo
  • AWS Activate logo
  • Rho Canada Ventures logo
  • Citrix logo

Strategic Direction

Erin Blaskie

Erin Blaskie joined L-SPARK with a fervor to tell the stories that matter in the startup and entrepreneurship space. Having spent fifteen years as a marketing consultant for large corporations and brand new startups, Erin has expertise in branding, product launches, content creation, social media and creating passive revenue streams. Erin is also a TEDx speaker and a Google Certified Speaker and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post and more. Erin is excited to be working alongside the L-SPARK team as well as the mentors and companies that call L-SPARK home.

Marco Janeczek

Marco Janeczek’s current work circles around startups, accelerators and early stage venture funds. Marco was the founder and CEO of a number of startup companies, including Yostro, Zooppa, DomainsIncome, Ottawa Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, Planet Domains and was VP of Sales EMEA at Decisyon. Marco commits most of his time to the local startup ecosystem by advising a number of technology companies at the accelerator level, including gbatteries (Y Combinator), Zikera (FounderFuel), Memopal (Pi-Campus), OnTab (DMZ Ryerson), SecurifyLabs (VENUS) and Pcsso (PlugandPlay). Marco is the founder and has been involved as director/advisor to accelerators such as Infinite Area, VENUS Cybersecurity as well as CDET and H-FARM in the past. Marco is also the co-founder of the Infinite Area Alliance program between accelerators and incubators as well as Infinite Ventures and hatchbrands ventures. Marco is always eager to hear new ideas and meet talented people, where he can assist in creating new companies.

Mike Laginski
Leo Lax

Leo Lax brings with him to L-SPARK valuable experience as a practiced veteran of both the corporate and entrepreneurial sides of the telecom sector. Leo has also served as principal for each successive telecom fund. Before L-SPARK, Leo was the CEO and co-founder of Skypoint Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in telecom. Prior to Skypoint, Leo was employed at Newbridge Networks as Assistant Vice President and member of the Chairman’s Executive Council. In this role, Leo established and directed the Newbridge Affiliates Program (beginning in 1992) and was instrumental in the launch of 16 Newbridge affiliates. He also contributed to several Newbridge merger and acquisition activities taking place in Canada, U.S., U.K. and Israel. Leo gained hands-on experience in venture funds as founder and President of Severn Bridge Investments LP, a fund created to provide an opportunity for Newbridge employees to invest in the company’s affiliates. Leo holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from McGill University and a Master of Engineering degree from Royal Military College.

Patrick White

Patrick White is a seasoned executive in the high tech sector with significant experience in startups, entrepreneurship, and business development. Patrick comes from a long history with Wesley Clover International, acting as the point man on several projects aimed at enhancing research and innovation in the Ottawa region. Patrick also actively represented the company at key industry events and consultations, and was responsible for media funding applications. An entrepreneur himself, Patrick founded Brookstreet Pictures, whereby he managed all the financial and staffing aspects of the business, as well as coordinated all sales and distribution channels. As Director of Operations, Patrick will ensure all services are delivered at a high standard, and will actively support the overall achievement of the business objectives of L-SPARK and its affiliated startups.

Mentors & Advisors

Intekhab Alam

With over 25 years of experience in Engineering and Operations, Intekhab has a strong background in product development and program management. He has served as Vice President, Research and Development at Spacebridge Semiconductors and as Vice President of Technology and Product Development at AGRA Systems Ltd. He has led international technology development programs with organizations such as the Three Georges (China), Space Application Center (India) and European Space Agency. In his many years of product development career, he has worked with small teams where he has had to establish standards and processes from ground up, as well as with large development teams spread over multiple continents. In addition to his product development experience, he has a keen interest in business development, particularly in Asia. He has spent over 20 years supporting and often leading business development efforts in China and India. In the most recent years, he directed a multi-location product development team as well as led the business development initiative to introduce the product in China. He also has significant experience in running operations, particularly during startup phases.

He holds a degree in Electronics Engineering from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom.

Danny Baldwin
Peter Becke

Peter is a global technology leader, a private equity investor, an advisor, and Board Director.

Peter has more than 30 years of experience as an executive in the tech sector, as a VP at Nortel when it was a Fortune 100 company, as CEO of venture-backed Metconnex and SiberCore Technologies, as Founder and CEO of Venturing Hills Corporation, and as CEO of Mercury Connects.

He has invested in companies as an angel investor with Purple Angel and the Capital Angel Network, as an investment Director with the Investment Accelerator Fund (IAF), as a corporate investor with Nortel Ventures, and has served as an Operating Partner with a Private Equity Fund. He has advised seed/early stage funds.

Through Venturing Hills Corporation, he has mentored and advised CEOs and entrepreneurs on strategy, business/corporate development, financing and M&A initiatives.

Peter has served as a Board member or on the Advisory Board of many corporate, venture, community and education boards, including most notably: Creation Technologies, Ottawa Hydro and Telecom Ottawa; the Nortel Ventures Board and the Capital Angel Network; The Ottawa Partnership (TOP), OCRI, The Vision Awards, and the Canadian Forces Human Resources Advisory Board; and the Queen’s MBAst, University of Ottawa EMBA, and Ashbury College.

A lawyer by profession, Peter (Queens LL.B, MBA) was called to the Ontario Bar in 1982.

Cigdem Binal

Cigdem Altay Binal has extensive experience in the technology vertical wearing multiple hats ranging from executing developing new business and marketing strategies, transforming business models as well as creating product roadmaps, launching new products, overseeing supply chain and managing vendor and partner relations. Starting her career in Nortel Netas in software design, Cigdem later advanced to electronics procurement and project management in Arcelik. She has worked in Turkcell initiating M2M SaaS business models. While with Encore Networks, Cigdem was responsible for the development of business plans and go-to-market strategies for Europe. As a member of L-SPARK’s Business Development team, Cigdem will identify and build relationships to facilitate partnerships for affiliated startups from the New York City office. Cigdem has a Bachelor of Telecommunications Engineering from Sabanci University, Executive MBA from Bosphorus University and Master of Science in Integrated Marketing from New York University.

Pierre Blais

Pierre is a seasoned software business leader responsible for three successful M&A.  He has a computer programming background with over 30 years of experience in management, sales and revenue growth, strategic planning, enterprise sales, marketing, and customer services. He built a success story company (software automotive industry) and sold it to the North American leader Reynolds and Reynolds. Then, he continued his career at Reynolds for 11 years of which he was the VP and General Manager for Canada. In April 2005, he joined MultiCorpora as the new CEO to provide a translation management system to the language industry. In March 2014, the company had made significant market progress and MultiCorpora was acquired by the RR Donnelley Company.

Barbara Cain

Barbara Cain is the Principal of Twiga Solutions, providing executive consulting services to technology organizations. She has over 20 years of experience working in the enterprise software industry where she held a variety of roles in Product Management, Product Development, Strategy, and Customer Support.

Most recently at IBM, Barbara was Vice President of Business Analytics Product Management, with responsibility for product strategy and direction of the Business Analytics product portfolio. This included driving high growth initiatives; with 3 new products brought to market in 6 months. Prior to that, as Vice President, Systems Optimization Competency Centre, she led a team of hardware and software engineers to develop optimized solutions that effectively leveraged IBM technology; culminating in the launch of the IBM PureSystem Expert Integrated Systems family of products.

At Cognos, Barbara was Vice President of Customer Success and Support. She led a global team in transforming their systems and practices to drive higher customer success and loyalty. Barbara has had extensive experience with mergers and acquisitions, and was instrumental in Cognos’ successful acquisitions of Adaytum, Frango and Applix.

Barbara gravitates towards roles that allow her to work collaboratively with smart technologists and customers to translate customer needs into lasting technology solutions.  She loves to share knowledge and experiences, perhaps thanks to starting out her career as a teacher. She holds a B.Sc. (Mathematics and Chemistry) and a Higher Diploma in Education from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

EA Clarke

EA Clarke is Managing Partner of StoneWood Group, a boutique executive search firm focused in the high-tech market place. He launched his search practice after a successful 25-year entrepreneurial career during which, he has been involved in acquisitions, private placements, strategic partnerships and IPOs. He has also been a corporate director, shareholder and founder of companies involved in the high-tech market space. His operational strength is with enterprise software companies holding senior executive positions in Human Resources, Sales, Marketing and Business Development with companies such as Cognos, Jetform, Fulcrum, NetActive and Level Platforms Inc. As a former senior executive and CEO of his own company, EA understands the fundamentals of a successful business, and is well positioned to identify and qualify high calibre executives and business opportunities to early stage companies as an advisor for L-SPARK.

Jim Davies

As Chief Technology Officer, Jim Davies is the driving force behind the strategic direction of Mitel’s unified communications solutions portfolio and its evolution beyond today’s technology horizon. Appointed as CTO in 2003, Jim brings a working history rich in research and development and business experience within telecommunications. His intimate understanding of the constantly unfolding dynamics of IP communications technology has placed him at the forefront of Mitel’s next-generation strategies, ensuring the company is persistently growing in new and innovative directions.

Since joining Mitel in 1998 Jim has held the roles of Vice President of R&D and Vice President of Solutions Management. In these roles he was deeply immersed in product development and the creation of go-to-market strategies for Mitel’s communications solutions portfolio. His contributions and leadership were crucial in advancing Mitel to the front of an emerging multi-billion-dollar IP communications market.

Prior to Mitel Jim worked nine years in R&D roles at Nortel Networks where he acquired broad product development experience in hardware, ASIC, embedded software and applications.

Jim is a proud graduate in electrical and mechanical engineering from Queen’s University.

Laurie Davis

Laurie Davis has 25 years of experience in technical and business management as well as technical expertise in hardware and software development, telecommunications and data networking. Laurie graduated from the University of Alberta with a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation, he joined Bell-Northern Research (BNR), where he specialized in the development and introduction of new products. He held increasingly more senior positions within BNR, and later Nortel Networks, ultimately becoming Vice-President responsible for a number of new products. In the late 90’s he was involved in the development of data communications products. For the past 10 years, as a member of Purple Angel and a founder of both the Ottawa Angel Alliance and the Capital Angel Network, Laurie has been an active angel investor, investing in many local companies. He has also spend many years acting as a business advisor at Invest Ottawa.

Anil Dilawri

Anil Dilawri is the Managing Director of Save it like Sully – a professional presentation training and coaching company. Anil has worked with many individual leaders and groups from various industries including technology, oil & gas, financial services, healthcare, industry associations, government and mining. Prior to Save it like Sully Anil held senior positions in research & development, product marketing, communications, and consulting with Hill & Knowlton Strategies, March Networks, and Cognos Inc. (now IBM). Anil is a regular guest lecturer at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. In 2013 he was selected as one of the Ottawa Business Journal’s Top Forty Under 40.

Susan Englehutt

Susan Englehutt is the founder and creator of The Way Buyers Buy. A born simplifier and visual thinker, Susan is an expert sales and marketing consultant and trainer. Her speciality is in helping the leaders of technology and services companies. She has been a consultant to huge Fortune 50 companies like Verizon, IBM, Microsoft, and Dell and to small and medium companies too. The Way Buyers Buy is an extraordinary program that helps CEOs and their sales and marketing teams shift into the buyer’s mindset, steer toward conversations with the most profitable buyers, accelerate past the competition, and arrive at predictable sales and marketing results. The Way Buyers Buy is a proven guide for building repeatable sales and marketing processes and getting buyers faster. Susan loves working with nimble and innovative companies who need quick solutions. So she has taken her big-company, big-price-tag experience and created a simple, powerful, and fun system. And it works.

Eli Fathi

CEO of EFEI, building the next Start-up. Co-founder & co-CEO of Fluidware Corporation from 2008 to 2014 until the acquisition of the company by SurveyMonkey & worked on integration until April 2015. An Internet software company, Fluidware offered Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback with 2 products: Fluidsurveys; online survey tool & FluidReview; online Application management tool.

In 1986, Eli founded Applied Silicon Inc. Canada to provide engineering consulting services. Following an investment from Newbridge Networks in 1996, the company (Telexis) shifted focus to video over IP solutions, growing to 180 employees. Telexis was acquired in May 2000 & became March Networks. Eli also founded in 2002 OrbitIQ Inc., a business accelerator company with globally-deployed channels to market.

Eli is involved with the community & high tech community in particular by serving on a number of Boards including: Community Foundation Ottawa (CFO) starting in 2012. Eli also serves on the Board of C-Com, a publicly traded company on the TSX-V since 2007. Served on the Ottawa Center for Research & Innovation (OCRI) from 1999 to 2007, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce (OCC) from 2004 to 2009, the Ottawa Community Loan Fund (OCLF) Board from 2008 to 2012 & 1 year in 2009 on the Editorial Board of the Ottawa Business Journal. In 2004 was Recipient of the Order of Ottawa for Economic Development, & was the Recipient of OCRI 2004 Civic Entrepreneur of the Year award. Since 2008, Eli organized & chaired yearly Corporate & Community Social Responsibility Conferences at Algonquin College in Ottawa www.ccsr-conference.com. Eli Co-authored a book on Software project management & had 12 publications.

Harley Finkelstein

Harley Finkelstein is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and the Chief Platform Officer (CPO) at Shopify. He has a background in startups and eCommerce, and started his first company at age 17 while a student at McGill. Harley completed his law degree as well as his MBA at the University of Ottawa, where he co-founded the JD/MBA Student Society and the Canadian MBA Oath. Harley serves as a mentor and advisor to a number of entrepreneurial organizations and incubators, including Founder Fuel, Extreme Ventures & Invest Ottawa.

Jennifer Francis

Jennifer Francis is the Principal of Cafe Noir Consulting. She has 30 years of experience in the high technology industry working in a variety of areas including software development, marketing, product management, business development and executive management. At IBM, she was the Vice President of the Financial Analytics business, a global high growth business consisting of both organic and acquired products. Prior to that she was the Vice President of Business Development at Cognos, managing their mergers and acquisitions, including the successful acquisition of Applix, as well as their technology partnerships, and Vice President of the BI Business bringing the award winning ReportNet product to market. Jennifer has extensive startup experience both inside a startup as Sr Vice President of Products at Watchfire (acquired by IBM in 2007), as well as through M&A and partnerships with startups at Cognos and IBM, working with Lead to Win, an organization to help Ottawa area startups get established and grow, and has a number of angel investments. Jennifer is co-chair of the board at Capital Angel Network, a board member at Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health and a    board member at Women Powering Technology Ottawa chapter.  Jennifer holds a BMath from the University of Waterloo.

Hans Galldin

Hans Galldin is a seasoned software business individual with over 30 years of experience in a wide range of activities including business development, sales/marketing, general management, product development, and customer support and services. He has served in executive management positions at Unisys, Cognos and IBM. Hans also has extensive experience with early stage and start up companies. He served as President of NVision, Skywave and Databeacon. Extensive experience in international business, market development, sales and product marketing. A team focused and results oriented individual.

Paul Gardner

Paul Gardner works closely with companies in transition and helps venture firms structure and operate.  Most recently Paul was interim CEO of Toon Boom.  Other interim-mandates include Real Ventures (CFO), Entrust (corporate development), Syntegrity Group (COO), and Multiple Capital (investor).  Venture clients include Corus, Avrio Capital, Build Ventures, and Scale-Up Ventures.  Previously, Paul was a venture capitalist with McLean Watson and business development manager with Microvitec PLC in England.  Paul is an investor and mentor to a number of start-ups and accelerators including L-Spark and IDEABOOST.  He sits on the board of Jewish Family Services and the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation’s Investment Committee.   Paul holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Claude Haw

Claude Haw is President of Venture Coaches, an investment and management consulting firm, and Executive Leader, Strategy & Governance at Business Sherpa Group, a management consulting firm that offers flexible, sustainable and affordable solutions for resourcing small business teams. He serves on the Board of Directors at Air Inuit, VigilantCS, Portia Learning Centre, Mindtrust and PSHSA. He is a professional engineer with more than 30 years in a variety of technical, general management and investment roles in the technology and not-for-profit sectors.

Claude attained ICD.D certification and received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal in 2012. In 2013, Claude co-edited and published the book Business Models for Entrepreneurs and Startups: Best of TIM Review which is available at amzn.to/1aLNtYe.

Kevin Higgins

Kevin has been a founder and senior executive of several software companies including FreeBalance Inc. and Fuego Digital Media QSTP-LLC, and has built these businesses from initial concept to millions of dollars in annual sales.

He has raised angel and venture capital for these companies and is an angel investor in others. Kevin has also assisted other technology companies as an advisor, part-time executive and board member through Reid-Eddison Inc. and the former P.J. Gardiner Institute at Memorial University.

Kevin has spent the past several years in Doha, Qatar at the Qatar Science & Technology Park as CEO of Fuego Digital Media QSTP-LLC and has recently returned to Ottawa on a permanent basis.

Kevin’s goal is to develop a new technology venture or accelerate a promising company’s growth by applying his skills and experience to the strategy, marketing, sales, delivery, people and finance challenges of the business.

Kevin holds a B.Sc. in Physics from Carleton University.

Bob Huggins

Bob Huggins is a life long entrepreneur, angel investor & mentor. Over the past 6 years, he has worked with over 300 start-up companies assisting them as they brought their products and services to market traction. Working closely with entrepreneurs and their companies he specializes in strategy and go-to-market positioning in an Internet driven world.

Bob is best known as a pioneer in the digitization of historical newspaper images and other historical image documents. His company Cold North Wind, founded in 2000 was the first to digitize the entire history of newspapers in their original published form. Canada’s two largest newspapers, The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star made their collective histories available to the world in 2001. The PaperofRecord.com collection was acquired in ‘secret’ in 2006 by Google and announced publically in 2008.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson has over 25 years experience guiding growth in private and publicly held companies from startups to enterprises. He has held C-level roles across Canada in diverse sectors such as software, media, NFP, healthcare, and financial services.  Andrew’s successes include commercializing first-generation technology at companies such as JetForm, InSystems and MD Financial.  In 2011 Andrew founded Knowmads Inc to help guide dozens of startups such as BlackSumac, Tablo, and The Better Software Company.  Andrew’s own methodologies anchor the business accelerator programs GrindspaceXL.com and L-SPARK.com where he can often be found leading workshops.

Chris Johnson

Chris is a software and communications executive with 25 years’ experience in financial, operational and strategic management positions. Chris was Founder and CEO of dna13, a SaaS software company sold in early 2010 to PR Newswire. As CEO of dna13 he developed extensive operational and business planning experience having raised north of $11M in venture capital. At dna13, Chris focused on delivering value through a highly metrics-driven approach.

Prior to founding dna13, Chris managed a successful digital communications firm and has played senior management roles in both software and technology organizations. Previous experience includes corporate strategy and communications for Canada’s largest telecommunication firm; Bell Canada. While at Bell, Chris provided corporate strategy and counsel and launched numerous PR campaigns designed to broaden the scope and commercial viability of the company. In addition, Chris helped launch Bell Actimedia; a partnership between Sympatico and American Internet giant Lycos Inc., paving the way for the portal’s tremendous success. Bell Actimedia was eventually acquired by Yellow Pages Group and was subsequently purchased by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Ontario Teachers’ Merchant Bank.

Ken Leese
Rob Menard

Rob has over 30 years experience in development and management of software projects and products.

Rob co-founded Televitesse, a NewBridge Affiliate, in 1994. He built an excellent development team creating technology for transmission and searching of live video. Capabilities considered ahead of their time included pausing, rewinding, and searching live television. Televitesse was purchased by Telexis which subsequently became March Networks. Rob has wide technical knowledge in areas of video processing, image processing, LANs, WANs, databases, Cloud Architectures, SaaS, Geographic information systems, radar tracking, and vector graphics.

Rob has managed and supported delivery of software products to governments, telephone utilities, including NYNEX and Bell Atlantic, electric utilities including NY ConEd, private companies, and the United Nations. He has defined standards for software development and project management in 5 separate companies. Rob has experience integrating processes and standards during corporate mergers. He has coached managers on software project management and inter-organizational communications. He also has experience as a board member.

Rob holds a B. Math, Honours Computer Science from University of Waterloo.

Rob has significant intellectual property management experience having 4 patents to his name.

Aydin Mirzaee

Aydin Mirzaee co-founded Fluidware in 2008 and was responsible for running two very successful SaaS businesses: http://FluidSurveys.com & http://FluidReview.com. The company was bootstrapped and grew to over $10M+ in sales and over 90 people in staff. After 6.5 years, Fluidware was acquired by SurveyMonkey (the world’s leading online survey company). Aydin currently serves as General Manager of FluidReview within SurveyMonkey.

Jamie Petten

Jamie led marketing for Canadian SaaS Accelerator, L-SPARK and is most passionate about developing Canada’s tribe of SaaS entrepreneurs into globally competitive companies! Jamie launched L-SPARK as a member of the founding team in 2014 and has since supported 36 portfolio companies in raising over $24M in angel and venture capital funding to date.

Most recently Jamie co-founded SaaS North– Canada’s first conference designed to connect 1000+ technology founders, investors and executives to learn, network and grow over a 2 day annual event in Ottawa, Canada. The conference boasts a lineup of local and international experts including executives from Microsoft, Salesforce, SurveyMonkey, Hubspot, Hootsuite, Shopify and FreshBooks.

Previous to L-SPARK Jamie was instrumental in the launch of a Canadian owned resort in Negril, Jamaica. During her four year tenure, Jamie grew the business to multi millions in annual revenue and 30 employees. During this time The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel was recognized by the International Hotel Awards, World Travel Awards and Tripadvisor Awards of Excellence and continues to be ranked the #1 Hotel in Jamaica on Tripadvisor.

Jamie has developed insight into brand building, strategy development, marketing and sales and has been featured in Techcrunch, Entrepreneur, IT Business Canada and earned coverage for the brands she represents in the Financial Post, Globe & Mail, Fortune, CNN Travel, ABC News & more.

An advocate for women in tech, Jamie enjoys mentoring young women through the Technovation program. Every year, Technovation invites teams of girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems through technology and is fostering a generation of future leaders in tech.

Susan Richards

Susan Richards is an entrepreneurial accountant with 20 years of corporate accounting experience in the Ottawa tech sector. Susan has served the last 13 years as CFO to over 30 Ottawa SMEs in a part-time, full-time or contract basis.

In 2012 Susan left the security of full-time employment and began providing virtual CFO services to Ottawa companies. Susan provided services branded as “CasualCFO” as a reference to the adhoc CFO demands that arise at startups for a casual, ongoing relationship. Recognizing a need for modernized bookkeeping and accounting support for small businesses, Susan co-founded Numbercrunch.ca in 2014.  Numbercrunch is an Ottawa-based virtual accounting support team targeting startups to mid-sized companies with a solution that grows with their business with teams of bookkeepers, controllers and CFO services combined.

An entrepreneur at heart, in 2012 Susan also co-founded Givopoly.com (online marketplace for gift delivery), which has now expanded to Toronto and Vancouver. Susan understands first-hand the challenges that entrepreneurs face when growing a business organically. Givopoly supports over 150 locally owned businesses through it’s collaborative business model.

Susan has received a few key awards throughout her career, notably in 2009 the CMA Ontario Business Leadership Award for “Business Intuition” and in 2010 Susan became one of the youngest CMAs in Canada to be awarded the prestigious Fellowship designation.

Today Susan is actively involved in the community, supporting causes around local economic development and gender equity.  Susan serves on the Board of Directors of Invest Ottawa (Executive Committee, Chair of Finance & Audit committee); on the Board of Equal Voice (Executive Committee, National Treasurer); and Advisor at AmbiSHEous.

Elza Seregelyi

Elza has over 25 years of leadership and consulting experience across the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. From her roots in Bell-Northern Research/Nortel, where her team was recognized with several awards for innovation and impact, to her own consulting business, Elza is known for her ability to synthesize complex issues and diverse perspectives. Elza is also an experienced facilitator, and provides strategic planning, management, program development and evaluation services for a wide range of organizations. She loves working with entrepreneurs, helping them to clarify their business model and connecting them to resources to drive their success. She is the co-creator of Invest Ottawa’s business acceleration program, GrindSpaceXL.

Elza holds a Bachelor of Engineering and Management from McMaster University and an M.B.A. from the University of Ottawa. More recently, she completed the inaugural Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation at the University of Waterloo (2012). Elza has served on the Boards of several local and national not-for-profit organizations.

Don Smith

Don Smith has more than 30 years of experience in the communications technology industry, including more than six years at Mitel Corporation from 1979 to 1986, where he was promoted to the position of Executive Vice President in 1981 with global responsibility for sales and marketing. Following his career at Mitel Corporation, he became President of AIT Corporation. He successfully took AIT public in 1993. In 1996, Don founded and was president and CEO of Cambrian Systems Corporation. In December 1998, Cambrian Systems was acquired by Nortel Networks Corporation and from then until 2000, Smith was VP and General Manager of OPTera Solutions, a division of Nortel. In January 2000, Smith was promoted to President of Optical Internet at Nortel. Don served as the Chief Executive Officer of Mitel Networks Corp., from 2001 to 2011. He Holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Imperial College, London University (U.K.).

Mike Weider

Michael Weider is the CEO of Clearwater Clinical, a Mobile Medical company. Michael has over 20 years of experience as a software entrepreneur. Michael has founded two startups, Watchfire and Blaze, which were acquired by IBM and Akamai respectively. He sits on the board of four startups, advises two venture funds and is also an active angel investor. Michael is also a board member of the Youth Services Bureau Charitable Foundation of Ottawa. From 2010-2012, Michael was the co-founder and CEO of Blaze, a Website acceleration service that was acquired by Akamai in 2012. At Akamai, Michael served as a Vice President in the Web Experience product group, helping to integrate Blaze and assist with other new product introductions. From 1996-2007, Michael was the Founder, Chairman and CTO of Watchfire, the largest provider of Web Application Security testing software. Michael holds a B.S. in engineering from Queens University.

Robert White

Robert White, CPA CA CMA has over 20 year of experience in software industry finance, operations, and M&A.  Robert is an independent adviser and investor in in startup technology firm.  Preciously he led M&A globally for IBM’s analytics business closing over a dozen acquisitions which include Toronto based Varicent Software, Clarity Systems, and Algorithmics. Robert has also closed a number of divestitures.  Robert also led the post-merger integration of Ottawa based Cognos into IBM.  Robert started his software career with Ottawa based Object Technology International where he was Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.

Robert dedicates much of his personal time support organizations focused on education and entrepreneurship.  Robert is Chair of the Board of the Ottawa Network for Education, an organization which works with education, business, government and community partners to develop programs that enrich public education in Ottawa.  Robert also serves on the Board of Directors of Invest Ottawa and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.  Robert is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Telfer School of Management.  Robert is also a member of the organizing committee for the One Young World Summit 2016 Ottawa.

Robert holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Ottawa.  He graduated magna cum laude in 1992.  Robert was awarded the Trudeau Medal by the University of Ottawa in 2014 recognizing his contributions to the school and his community.  He was admitted to membership of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in 1993.  He was admitted to membership of the Society of Management Accountants of Ontario in 1994.

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