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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.

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

Strategic Direction

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.

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.

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.

Leo Lax

As the current CEO and co-founder of Skypoint Capital, a venture capital firm that specializes in telecom, 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 creating 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.

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.

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.

Marketing & Operations

Jamie Keeley

Jamie Keeley joins L-SPARK with a passion for communications and a dedication to community development.  With experience guiding the growth of an International start-up located in Negril, Jamaica, Jamie brings to the team insight into brand building, strategy development, marketing and sales.  Raised in the capital, Jamie studied at the University of Ottawa and holds a degree in Communications and Psychology.  Jamie is at her best as a connector, exploring avenues for partnerships that encourage collaboration and positive exchange in our physical and online communities. Building on a network of her own and the L-SPARK team’s professional relationships, Jamie is developing and maintaining a supportive ecosystem for our Entrepreneurs, and will continue to evolve a vibrant community around L-SPARK.

Ashley Lebrun

Ashley Lebrun is a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa, with a BA in Communications and Women’s Studies.

Throughout school she was involved in volunteering with several non-profit organizations.

Notably, she co-founded an annual charitable event in support of Diabetes Research at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, which ran for 6 consecutive years. Her efforts helped raise over $45,000 for the cause and she helped open an ongoing Endowment Fund at the hospital.

Post-graduation, Ashley assisted in the launch of two startups in Ottawa: one with a focus on events and fundraising and the other an administrative support business.

Ashley combines her knowledge of marketing, communications and branding, as well as her passion for supporting startups, in her role as L-SPARK’s Office Manager.

Cathryne Milburn

Cathryne Lillian Milburn is a Newmarket Ontario native who is a member of the class of 2015 at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa where she majored in Business with a specialization in Marketing. Along with school, she was the Sponsorship Director through the Telfer Marketing Association on campus and worked as a Policy Assistant at the House of Commons. Post-graduation she advocated for Deaf rights and helped build social enterprises while working at a non-profit. She then entered the Venture for Canada Fellowship program where she refined her business skills and learned the insides of the Canadian entrepreneurship scene.

Lucy Screnci

Lucy is a versatile communications professional with a Bachelor of Journalism degree from Toronto’s Ryerson University. Her diverse experience before L-SPARK includes contributing to magazine publications and working in a live television environment. As L-SPARK’s Social Media Coordinator, Lucy interacts with the community and promotes events over social platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. She also monitors activity on all social channels and actively seeks out partners and allies in both the entrepreneurial space and tech sector. Lucy enjoys combining her passion for writing and digital media in order to devise and execute effective social media strategies that continue to increase L-SPARK’s brand visibility.

Embedded Mentors

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.

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.

Chris Courneya
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.

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 Galdin

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. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors at DragonWave (DWI) and serves on the Boards of Edgewater Wireless, Signority 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 sector.

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.

Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson has 25 years experience in guiding growth in private and publicly held companies from startups to large enterprises. He has held C-level roles in Ottawa and Toronto-based organizations across diverse sectors such as enterprise software, digital media, NFP, healthcare, and financial services.  Andrew’s successes include commercializing first-generation technology at companies such as JetForm, MGI Software, FreeBalance and MD Physician Services.  In 2002, as CMO and General Manager at InSystems, he helped sell the enterprise software company to a US acquirer for $89 US million – over 4 times annual revenues.   In 2010 as CEO of MD Life, Andrew was responsible for the most widely held MD Financial fund with an investment market value of $2.92B.  Returning to his startup roots in 2011,Andrew founded Knowmads Inc., and has helped successful startups such as BlackSumac, Glitchsoft, and Tablo.  Andrew is the co-creator of Invest Ottawa’s accelerator, GrindspaceXL.com.

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.

Mike Laginski
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.

Tyler Nelson

Tyler Nelson is a seasoned technology sector operator whose 20 year career has centered on value identification, creation and transformation across early and growth stage businesses. Serving as Chairman & CEO of Adenyo Inc., Tyler led the company’s overall strategic direction & corporate development strategy raising a total of $26 million from both private and institutional investors over two years and leading to the $150 million exit in April of 2011. Prior to joining Adenyo, Tyler held the position of Vice President, Marketing & Business Development with QNX Software Systems which was acquired by Research In Motion. In 2008, he co-founded YOU i Labs, developers of 2D & 3D GUI engines for resource-constrained mobile devices.  In 2011 Tyler co-founded and was CEO of Ackroo Inc. a SMB focused provider of SaaS loyalty and rewards solutions from seed round through to a successful TSX.V listing in 2012.

Jasvinder Obhi

Jasvinder is a global citizen and serial entrepreneur and has worked in both multinational and start-up companies in advanced technologies over the last 25 years. He worked in the UK at Plessey Research, Caswell (later GEC Marconi Materials Technologies) before being invited to join JDS Fitel in Canada where he played a major role as Head of Product Management during the company’s explosive growth. He has since had a high impact in a variety of industries through numerous start up ventures including telecommunications, biometric-based security (CEO of BlueBear Networks Inc.), and sustainable development sectors, most notably alternative energies (CSO of Sunlogics Inc.). His last venture, RocketOwl Inc., was an Ottawa based company that produced cutting edge experiential e-learning games through social and mobile networks. Having a keen interest in the triple bottom line, he steered RocketOwl Inc. to be the first B-Corp in Ottawa. Its initial game, GreenSpace, was a finalist in the Canadian Videogame Awards 2012.

Jasvinder has always been a futurist, having conducted blue skies research in a number of arenas ranging from advanced materials to systems, creating disruptive products that cater to his correctly predicted market directions. In his company Strategian Inc., Jasvinder couples his extensive technical and business background with his global view of the innovation landscape, to help strengthen executive leadership through coaching and mentoring.

Jasvinder is a chartered Physicist with the Institute of Physics and is Executive Director and Charter Member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) Ottawa. TiE is the largest entrepreneurial organization in the world, with the mandate of fostering entrepreneurship and developing leadership. He holds a PhD in Physics from the University of London and has over 90 publications along with several patents.

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.

Dan Wilton

Dan Wilton believes nimble teams can do awesome things. One of those unique business individuals both technical and creative, Dan builds growth in startups by quickly cutting through the noise and focusing on customer validation. A career executive in cloud providers and web companies both local and national, Dan has also lifted dozens of web/SaaS ventures off the ground with a hands-on approach. An advocate of lean startup methodologies, Dan maintains first-hand experience growing and successfully exiting ventures. Today as an investor, entrepreneur and family guy, he is committed to helping the best Ottawa has to offer.

Advisors

Nazmin Alani

Nazmin Alani joined BDC in 2004. He is current Director of OneChip Photonics, BLiNQ Networks, Seawell Networks, and Mobidia Networks. He sits as an observer at BTI Systems. Nazmin has 25 years of experience in the communications industry and has worked with incumbent and new service providers involved in wireline, wireless and satellite communications. His work experience includes assignments in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Asia, and Australia.

Nazmin holds a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Waterloo, Ontario and an MBA from the University of Ottawa, Ontario. He also completed the Executive Telecommunications Program at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and the Entrepreneurship program at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

David Anthony

As General Manager of IBM Canada’s Federal Public Sector, David Anthony is responsible for the strategic direction of IBM’s business with the Government of Canada.

Prior to his appointment as GM of the Federal Public Sector in January 2012, David was the Client Executive for the Department of National Defence. He also served as the Client Executive for the Federal Business Cluster before that. In each of these client-facing roles he delivered creative solutions for the customer that demonstrated IBM understood their business challenges. From 1998-2004 he was a consultant for IBM’s Strategic Consulting group and specialized on SAP delivery.

Amin Bashi

Amin leads Shopify for Startups program and works with Shopify’s business and engineering teams to drive app partner success. He also works with entrepreneurs all around the world and helps them grow their accounts and businesses strategically.

Greg Boyle

Greg Boyle co-founded iMPath Networks, a leading video network supplier, in 1995, winning the prestigious New Business of the Year award in 1997 for the Capital Region. His operational leadership experience in multi-national and emerging companies has given him an intimate understanding of the issues associated with the various life-stages of a business. Greg brought this unique perspective to StoneWood Group when he became co-owner and managing partner in Ottawa in 2001. In 2011, Greg co-founded T3 Recruiting Inc. which specializes in recruitment-as-a-service at the professional and line management level. Bringing his wealth of experience from executive search, he has retained several of those clients, helping them recruit individuals for particularly challenging-to-fill roles. Greg has also sat on numerous private and NFP boards and has been active in mentoring a number of startup companies. He looks forward to bringing this unique perspective to assist promising companies under the L-SPARK banner.

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.

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.

Luc Filiatreault

Mr. Filiatreault is a successful serial entrepreneur. He has successfully founded and led six different enterprises. Five of these companies were in Software Technologies and one was in Aerospace Technology. Three of these companies were publicly traded.

He is currently managing partner in a venture capital fund named Open Text Enterprise Application Fund.

In January 2011, he joined Neuralitic Systems as CEO. Neuralitic is a private Venture Capital backed software company specializing in Mobile Data Intelligence. Neuralitic was acquired in December 2012 by Guvus a California based telecommunications company.

From 2007 to 2010, Mr. Filiatreault was CEO of Nstein Technology a publicly traded company which had operations in Canada, USA, UK and France. Nstein developed and commercialized semantic analysis software. It was acquired by Open Text (OTC.TO) in April 2010.

Prior to this, Mr. Filiatreault was CEO of PG Mensys Information Systems which specialized in Municipal Software Solutions sold across North America. PG was acquired in March 2007 by Harris Computer a division of Constellation Software. In 2002 Mr. Filiatreault founded NordTech Aerospace, a publicly traded company that did Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) of commercial aircraft. From 2000 to 2002 Mr. Filiatreault was President of BellZinc a Bell Canada division that operated the largest internet portal for small and medium businesses in Canada.

He was a co-founder of Informission Group where he occupied multiple management roles from 1988 to 2000. The revenues of Informission exceeded 100M$ when it was acquired by Quebecor in 2000.

In 2005 Mr. Filiatreault received the prestigious “Top 40 under 40 Award” from The Globe and Mail of Toronto. In 2010 he was recognized by his peers of the Québec Technology Association and was named Personality of the Year in Information Technology in Québec.

He is part of numerous Board of Directors of private and public companies and also helps different charity organizations such as United Way, Hope Air and Make-a-Wish. He is currently the chairman of the board of the Make-a-Wish (Québec) foundation which accomplishes more than 60 wished per year for children who suffer from a life threatening disease.

Mr. Filiatreault graduated in Engineering Physics in 1987 at Laval University. He is the father of 5 children.

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.

Cindy Gordon

Dr. Cindy Gordon is the CEO & Founder of SalesChoice Inc., a SaaS sales predictive analytics company (www.saleschoice.com). Cindy is active in the early-stage tech industry either as an angel, advisor, founder or board director to companies like: AcceleratorU, BubbleShare (sold to Kaboose/Disney), CoursePeer, Eloqua (Sold to Oracle), Kula, Medworxx, QuickPlay Media, TouchTownTV, etc. Former Board or Advisory roles include: Cquay, Helix Commerce International Inc. Got Marketing, Kamoon, Novator, Pinpoint Selling, etc. She is a founding member of the Toronto Maple Leaf Angels, and a Co-Founder of the CEO Fusion Center. She has held senior leadership roles with: XDLI (A Venture Capital Fund), Accenture (Partner) Citicorp (VP), Xerox (Director & GM), Nortel Networks (Group Head, Director). Cindy is well published with 14 books; her recent books include: Big Data: In the Strategic Wisdom Era (2015), Social Roots (2014). Active in the Canadian innovation community striving to advance Canada’s declining innovation rankings, she recently chaired Invest CrowdFund (CF) Canada, a division of CATA, lobbying actively to legalize equity crowdfunding (iCANADA.nu) to create more capital sources and innovation seeds for emerging technology companies. She is also the former National Chair for Canadian Women in Technology (CANWIT). She is currently the National Spokesperson for CATA. Cindy is also a recipient of the Governor’s General – Queen’s Jubilee Award for her leadership in Innovation. She is a Former Board Director of Nightwood Theatre and is active in the arts community. Academically, she has a doctorate in Innovation specializing in eCommerce, and Social Networks.

Bernard Herscovici

Bernard Herscovici is founder and CEO of Art2Wave Inc., a California/Ottawa company brining Artificial Intelligence to managing Wi-Fi networks. Prior to founding Art2Wave, Bernard was founder and CEO of BelAir Networks, successfully sold to Ericsson where Bernard became the Vice President of Wi-Fi business. Before BelAir, Bernard spent two years in California as President of Breezecom Inc. Earlier in the career, Bernard was a Vice President and Newbridge Networks. Bernard has an MBA from University of Ottawa and a Master of Science from University of Toronto and has co-authored several patents.

Martin Horne

Martin Horne has over 30 years experience in High Technology including management positions with Digital Equipment, DY-4 and Monenco Agra. For the last 20 years Martin has founded and led several venture backed companies as CEO. In 1994 he founded ProMIRA Software and in 1998 he sold it to Manugistics. In late 1998 he founded Nitidus Technology and in 1999 he sold the company to Parametric Technologies. Prior to joining LiveQoS® as CEO, Martin was founding CEO, financed and grew online Web 2.0 travel site TravelPod into the leading Travel Blog community culminating in an acquisition in late 2006 by online travel leader Expedia.

Vincent Kadar

Vincent Kadar is a global technology leader and software executive specialized in Financial Services and Telecommunications software and systems. As CEO of Telepin Software, he guides the company delivering an innovative software platform enabling digital transactions and payments for the telecom and financial services markets. He tackles global problems of financial inclusion through innovation in digital payments and the alignment of initiatives with organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Vincent was CTO of Airwide Solutions, a mobile messaging company, which was acquired by Mavenir and subsequently acquired by Mitel.  He has pioneered many technologies including launching secure mobile banking and payment products with major banks and operators in North America when working for Saraide. Prior to that, he worked at Ottawa based CrossKeys Systems Corporation and started his career at the global consulting company Accenture.

Vincent’s extensive footprint reaches all markets in the developed and developing regions. He works with global associations such as the GSMA, World Bank, and IFC driving standardization, and adoption of digital financial services and emerging payments technologies.

Ali Mahmoud

“I never lose. I only win, or learn.”

A programmer turned business guru, Ali Mahmoud has been through $4.6B in private and public technology acquisitions. His driven work ethic started at age six folding pizza boxes for 5 cents apiece in his uncle’s restaurant, having to be told to stop after filling the room with boxes. Ali studied computer science and joined a startup where he quickly became team lead. After 5 years of wearing many hats he settled into key account sales for EMEA and APAC selling large scale systems to airport executives setting the company sales record of $1.2M in a single quarter.

His love of technology and the SaaS business model drove him to move on to March Networks where he took the SaaS product portfolio and in two years grew revenues 400% and helped generate a $50M software & hardware sales funnel. In his current role at SolarWinds N-able he is head of SaaS marketing and just after 18 months saw a 10x growth in monthly qualified leads.

Connect with Ali today on LinkedIn or Twitter to help accelerate your startup’s marketing and sales.

Dan McCarthy

Dan McCarthy CPA, CGA is CFO at LiveQoS® and also has 20 years experience as Chief Financial Officer with Ottawa based enterprises including Senstar, Prior, ProMira, Gallium and Travelpod. Previous to this, Dan held senior financial positions at an international firm based in Montreal, a Toronto based venture capital firm and a venture backed startup based in East Aurora NY. Dan has also acted as a partner in a boutique M&A firm and has a number of transactions under his belt. His background includes operational responsibilities for order fulfillment, product management, engineering and manufacturing. Dan specializes in integrating operational performance and corporate models with strategy and the financial control system; always with an eye on the next financing or liquidity event.

Anne McKenna

Anne’s almost 30 years of global leadership experience in high tech at Bell-Northern Research/Nortel, BlackBerry and in recent years as a Management Consultant has provided her with the opportunity to understand and deliver in all areas of Human Resources. Anne has worked with a variety of leadership styles, company cultures and with businesses who have been at different levels of maturity in their growth and development.

Anne is well known for her relationship skills. She is able to understand the needs of an organization, to deliver on established priorities, and to offer sound guidance as it is required in the teams she works with.

A key area of expertise is recruitment. Anne has been highly valued in organizations she has worked with to deliver recruitment solutions holistically, and for her ability to leverage a high depth of knowledge in the new graduate and student acquisition/development areas to support businesses’ strategic and growth goals.

Carrie-Anne Mercer

Carrie-Anne Mercer is the Founder and Chief Marketer for Connected Accelerated Marketing (CAM), a marketing consultancy that specializes in SaaS companies and Digital Marketing. A seasoned marketing professional with almost 20 years’ experience in strategic marketing management for both SMEs and larger organizations, Carrie-Anne understands the marketing requirements of SaaS organizations. Prior to founding her own business, Carrie-Anne was VP, Global Marketing and Sales Operations for Recognia – a global SaaS based investment Research Company. There, she built a solid brand internationally and was part of the management team that lead to the successful acquisition by a leading international investment research company in 2014.  As an Advisor for L-SPARK, Carrie-Anne will lend her SaaS marketing expertise to the companies in the programs – helping them accelerate their revenue, while developing a brand. Carrie-Anne has a specialization in creating global go-to-market plans, market development, sales operations, client acquisition, lead generation and brand development. Carrie-Anne is a graduate from Carleton University in Ottawa Canada, where she currently resides.

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.

Mike Potter

Mike Potter is an entrepreneur with over 20 years of software marketing and development experience, and is currently Senior Product Manager at Signiant. Mike started his first company at the age of 19 while studying mechanical engineering at McMaster. His second company, InTheHack, was a a company built around Mike’s love of curling. At it’s peak, InTheHack.com was the largest curling community in the world, with over 800,000 yearly visitors. The company was also responsible for building the first online scoring application for the Canadian Curling Association. Mike’s third company, AddIn Social, was launched in December of 2010, and was one of 5 companies accepted into the first cohort of the Extreme Startups Accelerator. It was acquired by MyEmma in June of 2012.

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.

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.).

Ron Warburton

Ron Warburton is an experienced operator with a proven record of building successful enterprise software companies. During the early part of his career, he held progressively senior positions in engineering, product management, software sales and marketing. In 1991, Ron became President and CEO of Simetra Inc. after leading a management buyout. Over the following nine years, he grew Simetra’s enterprise software business across Canada and the U.S. and sold it in 2000. Ron is a Managing Partner in the BDC IT Venture Fund which has won the CVCA ‘deal of the year’ for three of the last four years with investments in Radian6 (acquired by Salesforce), Q1 Labs (acquired by IBM) and Layer7 (acquired by CA). Here in Ottawa, Ron has led VC investments in a number of enterprise software companies including Tarian Software (acquired by IBM), Blaze Software (acquired by Akamai), CloudLink Technologies, Klipfolio and Privacy Analytics.

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.

Matthew Williams

Matthew Williams has 19 years of systems engineering, pre-sales, marketing, product management, leadership and technology evangelism experience including 11 years as CTO of LiveQoS, a company that he founded. He has a broad technology background with extensive knowledge of LANs, WANs, Internet, WiFi, mobile networks and cloud architectures with a recent focus on maximizing the performance of network-based applications and apps. Matthew holds 7 US patents and enjoys developing innovative solutions and bringing them into the carrier, enterprise and consumer markets. Matthew hold a B.Sc. in Engineering from Queens University and has worked at multiple companies in the Ottawa area, including BNR, Nortel, Newbridge, Akara, Ciena and LiveQoS.

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