Experts

Entrepreneurship Program

Entrepreneurship programming is designed for entrepreneurs with product or services based businesses who would like to start or grow.

Bill McMillan
Business Advisor

Bill has worked in the service and trade industries for over 25 years. From customer facing, to shared services and executive management, he has experience in all roles within an organization. Bill has worked across Canada, but Ottawa has always been his home base. Bill’s experience in business development has driven organic growth by expanding current and new services to existing customers and new geographic markets. Operationally he has lead change management projects improving efficiency in business workflows and processes. After many years of management experience he completed his MBA through the Executive Program at the Telfer School of Business at Ottawa University expanding his experience even further. In his current consulting role, Bill works with product and service based businesses to strengthen and grow their businesses.

Ethel Côté
Business Advisor

Recipient of the Order of Ontario, the Ordre des caisses populaires de l’Ontario and the Grade de Chevalier de la Pléiade – Ordre de la francophonie, Ethel Côté is an entrepreneur recognized for her best practice in business development with values and social entrepreneurship. Serial entrepreneurial, she is the founder of mécènESS, l’Art du développement and Institut Social, Her commitment to sustainable development has brought her to work with non-profit, charitable organizations, cooperatives, social enterprises, for profit businesses in rural and urban contexts. She has acquired over the years proven expertise in diversified funding, business management, strategic business planning, organizational development, network building as well as communication, human resource management and successful partnerships development. To date, more than 600 clients, women entrepreneurs, immigrants, youth, social entrepreneurs, etc. have used her services, 35,000 people have benefited from her training/teaching/coaching and 127,000 people are following her on social media. She was a coach at the Academy of Prescott Russell.  Presently she is a coach at the Social Innovation Workshop Mauril Bélanger and an expert at the Fabrique – La Cité.

 

Récipiendaire de l’Ordre de l’Ontario, de l’Ordre des caisses populaires de l’Ontario et de la Grade de Chevalier de la Pléiade – Ordre de la francophonie, Ethel Côté est une entrepreneure reconnue pour sa pratique exemplaire en développement des affaires et en entrepreneuriat social. Entrepreneure en série, elle est la fondatrice de mécènESS, de l’Art du développement et de l’Institut Social. Son engagement envers le développement durable l’a amenée à travailler avec des petites et moyennes entreprises, des entreprises d’économie sociale, des coopératives, des entreprises sociales en milieu rural et urbain. Elle a acquis au fil des ans une expertise éprouvée en financement diversifié, en gestion d’entreprise, en planification stratégique d’affaires, en développement organisationnel, en création de réseaux ainsi qu’en communication, en gestion des ressources humaines et en développement de partenariats fructueux. À ce jour, plus de 600 clients, femmes d’affaires, jeunes, immigrant.e.s, etc. ont eu recours à ses services, 35 000 personnes ont bénéficié de ses formations/coaching et 127 000 personnes la suivent sur les médias sociaux. Elle a été coach à l’Académie de Prescott Russell.  Elle est actuellement coach à l’Atelier d’innovation sociale Mauril Bélanger et experte à la Fabrique – La Cité.

Josephine Mensah
Business Advisor

Josephine Mensah is the owner of Oneness Career Coaching Inc. and has over 8 years of professional experience in career coaching, employment services and human resources practices. As a career coach, LinkedIn consultant and speaker, she meets clients individually and facilitates workshops for those seeking career changes as young professionals, new Canadians and aspiring entrepreneurs. Josephine also has a part-time role of Project Coordinator for the Foreign Credential Recognition Mentorship Program at Ottawa Community Immigration Services Organization, targeting internationally trained professionals in regulated professions.

Karla Briones
Business Advisor

Karla Briones is a Mexican-Canadian serial entrepreneur with retail, food and beverage, and e-commerce businesses. 

In her consulting role, Karla coaches new immigrants on how to become successful entrepreneurs in their adopted country. Karla provides business advisory to immigrant entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs who are building main street businesses from ideation through growth stage.   

Karla hosts Immpreneur Canada, a podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs about their journeys of building successful businesses as immigrants.  

She is the recipient of 2018 City of Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award, given to an immigrant who has made an impact in local economy and entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

She is also a business mentor for Futurpreneur Canada and for several local community groups.

Mark Sutcliffe
Business Advisor

Mark has been a leading figure in Ottawa’s business community for more than 25 years. A serial entrepreneur, he has been involved in several successful business launches. He co-founded the Ottawa Business Journal in 1995 and remains the co-owner and CEO of its parent company Great River Media. Mark is a partner in Sutcliffe+Whalen, a strategic business consulting firm that helps small and medium enterprises achieve their growth objectives. He is also a shareholder in Sportstats, a global sports timing company. Mark has been an outspoken advocate and activist for economic development in Ottawa and Canada. For more than a decade, he wrote a weekly column about local business for the Ottawa Citizen. He was the chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of Invest Ottawa and Algonquin College. Mark has created many of Ottawa’s major business events, including Ottawa’s Forty Under 40 awards and the BOBs, the annual Best Ottawa Business Awards. Mark is also a frequent MC, moderator and panellist at business events and economic development functions.

 Early Stage Tech Programming

Early-stage programming is designed to support entrepreneurs who are at the ideation stage of building a technology startup.

Julia Elvidge
Early Stage Tech Advisor

As past President of Chipworks, Julia Elvidge has extensive experience growing a company in the high tech industry. Her strengths include industry experience with Intellectual Property (IP) issues, international sales, strategic planning and product management best practices. Julia retired after the sale of Chipworks to its largest competitor, TechInsights, in June 2016. Chipworks and TechInsights are Ottawa based companies that sold or sell technology and patent related intelligence products and services to large Asian, American, and European electronics companies. Prior to joining Chipworks, Ms. Elvidge worked at LSI Logic Canada, a company that designed and manufactured semiconductor chips.   

Julia is an electrical engineering graduate of University of Waterloo and a member of the Canadian Institute of Corporate Directors, and has attained the Institute’s ICD.D designation. Her interests include leadership skills development and mentoring girls and women in STEM careers or business growth.

Laurie Davis
Early Stage Tech Advisor

Laurie has many years of experience in technical and business management as well as technical expertise in hardware and software development.

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.

Laurie was initially involved in the development of voice switching products. In the early 90’s he took a leadership role in Nortel’s entry into the optical networking business, holding positions in both Canada and the United Kingdom. In the late 90’s he was involved in the development of data communications products.

For the past 15 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 spent many years acting as a business advisor at Invest Ottawa and L-Spark, a business accelerator.

Laurie has recently been the Chief Operating Officer and then the Chief Executive Officer of The Better Software Company.

Pablo Srugo
Early Stage Tech Advisor

As a two-time startup founder turned VC, Pablo brings with him a wealth of experience, having founded both MyTutor, which was acquired in 2014, and GymTrack, which raised over $5M. Pablo is now a Principal at Mistral Venture Partners, where he invests in seed-stage B2B startups. Pablo’s extensive experience ranges from prototyping and finding product-market fit, to fundraising, and getting initial traction.

Rob Lane
Early Stage Tech Advisor

A serial entrepreneur, Rob Lane has been involved with building four startups. He has built B2B, B2C and SaaS companies in sectors including technology, retail e-commerce, digital media and consumer goods. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Rob held positions in several Fortune 500 companies in North America and Europe. 

Rob has proven leadership experience throughout all phases of the business lifecycle, from ideation through growth to company sale. Rob has practical experience in digital marketing, sales and demand generation, product management, partnership/channel development and business analysis. 

Rob Lane has a BS in electronics engineering, a post-graduate diploma in marketing, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).    

When not building or mentoring companies, Rob splits his time among family, running, biking, and doing charity work through Care and Sharing Exchange.

 Accelerator Program

The IO Accelerator Program is designed to rapidly and systematically accelerate the development and commercial success of innovative technology startups through a phased and milestone-based approach.

Arlen Bartsch
Specialist, B2C Sales

Arlen is a dynamic business development leader with 30yrs experience building businesses, mentoring sales, marketing, and business development personnel in global private and public sector organizations. 

Arlen is passionate about growth and has a proven track record for campaign management and product launch activities. He is a specialist in: start-up & market launch, campaign design, client relationship management, marketing & business development; global partnership development, and strategic planning.

Brock Murray
Specialist, Digital Marketing & SEO

Brock is a full-stack digital marketing specialist, who brings to the table 15 years of experience with web design, web development, graphic design, and online marketing. As Co-Founder and COO of seoplus+, a leading international digital marketing agency, Brock has helped businesses across Canada and the US establish and maintain a strong online presence.

Chris Johnson
Mentor, Marketing

Chris helps companies develop marketing plans that are metrics orientated and lead generation focused to build marketing funnels that enable accurate forecasting. With a passion of helping startups succeed, Chris has mentored more than 100 founders. Chris was the founder and CEO of dna13, a SaaS business which he grew and sold to PR Newswire in 2010. Chris brings more than 25 years of experience in finance, operations, and strategic management from some of the world’s most prominent brands including: Starbucks, RBC, Scotiabank, AEGON, Bell, HP Billiton, Alcan, EnCana, and Walmart. He provides virtual COO (operations) and CMO (marketing) consulting services via his company, Face Strategic.

Areas of Focus: SaaS marketing, corporate strategy & management, technology evaluation

Dane Bedward
Specialist, Life Sciences

Dane possesses extensive global commercialization experience in the biopharmaceutical and medical device product sphere, having held executive leadership positions with Johnson & Johnson and Genzyme Corporation, among others. After a successful career in corporate management, Dane launched and continues to run the life sciences strategic advisory company, NBot Inc. Dane has also served on a number of for-profit and not-for-profit boards. 

Dane’s EIR specialities: Medical devices, biopharmaceuticals

Donna Ronayne
Specialist, Marketing

Donna is a marketing executive with a 30-year track record of helping high-tech companies achieve market leadership and high growth. Donna recently retired as CMO from Halogen Software, where she fueled double-digit growth for over 12 years, taking this SaaS company from a start-up to a publicly-traded market leader. Before Halogen, Donna was VP of Business Development at BitFlash, and led the marketing team at QNX Software.

Heidi Hauver
Mentor, Human Resources, Leadership & Culture

Heidi is a transformational HR leader passionate about business & the field of human resources. She provides executive leadership in human resources, mentorship and coaching to rapidly growing innovative companies that either lack HR expertise and capability in-house or require augmentation of their current HR function. Heidi was named as one of Canada’s Top 25 Human Resources Professionals by the Canadian HR Reporter in 2017 and is a previous recipient of Ottawa’s forty under 40 award.

Areas of focusTransformational HR, executive coaching, recruiting

Jacques Renaud
Mentor, Product Management

Jacques is a technologist, entrepreneur, and maker. With more than 25 years of leadership experience in multiple industries, Jacques thrives at the intersection of business and technology. Twenty years after founding and leading Privasoft Corp. (sold to CSDC Systems), Jacques turned his focus to helping startups and established B2Bs achieve success, and to building Ottawa’s product development community.

Areas of Focus: Hardware, internet of things (IoT), enterprise software 

Janet Whitley
Specialist, Regulatory Affairs, Medical Devices

Janet Whitley is a biopharmaceutical regulatory consultant with a specialty in products that treat rare diseases (‘orphan drugs’) and underserved patients (HIV in the developing world). She has 20 years of both government (US Food and Drug Administration Agency, FDA) and industry (BioMarin, Gilead Sciences) experience. Janet worked on marketing approvals of Vimizim®, Brineura™, drisapersen, Truvada®, Viread®, and Atripla® in the US and global markets. While at the FDA, she was a reviewer for the approval of orphan drug applications and applications for humanitarian use devices. Janet is from the Philadelphia area and earned her PhD in neurochemistry at Indiana University.  

Coaching specialty: pharmaceutical development, regulatory strategy, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA), orphan products/rare disease

Jeff Bennett
Specialist, Client Experience

Jeff is an accomplished Client Experience Executive with a 20-year track record for delivering repeatable and scalable methodologies to grow revenue, reduce churn and create memorable customer experiences that propels organizations into the next stage of growth. He is a strategic thinker, who has the energy, talent and passion needed to attain ambitious corporate objectives and solve highly strategic business challenges. Jeff is very passionate about contributing to the success of Canadian tech companies and works hard to ensure that they each become the best version of themselves.

Jeff’s coaching specialities: Client experience, business development, strategic planning, executive leadership, SaaS

John Duff
Specialist, Technical Product Development

John is a seasoned software developer and consultant with expertise in Rails, iOS development and engineering leadership. Prior to that, John spent six years at Shopify in progressive roles as a developer, team lead and director of engineering. While at Shopify he was responsible for APIs, payments, product development, site reliability and data engineering. When he isn’t hacking on a project John is usually spending time with his wife and two kids out in the snow, hiking or playing at the park.

Rob Lane
Specialist, Fundraising

A serial entrepreneur, Rob Lane has been involved with building four startups. He has built B2B, B2C and SaaS companies in sectors including technology, retail e-commerce, digital media and consumer goods. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Rob held positions in several Fortune 500 companies in North America and Europe. 

Rob has proven leadership experience throughout all phases of the business lifecycle, from ideation through growth to company sale. Rob has practical experience in digital marketing, sales and demand generation, product management, partnership/channel development and business analysis. 

Rob Lane has a BS in electronics engineering, a post-graduate diploma in marketing, and a master’s degree in business administration (MBA).    

When not building or mentoring companies, Rob splits his time among family, running, biking, and doing charity work through Care and Sharing Exchange.

Ron Gagnier
Specialist (UX/UI)

Ron is an expert in design thinking, customer experience, product design, and customer research. He has 20+ years of experience in a diverse range of industries including data analytics, telecommunications software, medical software, and HR systems. Ron is recognized for teaching teams to use design more effectively to achieve their business goals, to drive innovation, and to increase customer satisfaction.

Rudy Richman
Mentor, Sales

Rudy has a successful track record in the development and execution of sales team strategies. He is a habitual builder of revenue generating sales engines, profitable, scalable models with predictable results. This unique expertise has guided companies to efficiently scale and monetize their sales activity. Rudy was a member of, or advisor to, the executive management teams that engineered the successful acquisitions of Protus in 2010, Granite Networks in 2013, Privacy Analytics in 2016 and 360pi in 2017 – with total exit value of more than $300M

Areas of Focus: Building revenue engines, sales team strategies, acquisitions 

Stephen Beamish
Mentor, Marketing

Stephen brings proven industry marketing best practices to technology entrepreneurs across Canada and helps them develop result-driven marketing and partnership strategies. A seasoned marketing executive with more than 25 years experience in the industry, Stephen developed an impressive track record delivering hands-on quantifiable marketing results. As VP of Global Marketing and VP of Strategic Partnerships at Mitel for almost a decade, Stephen created a number of successful SaaS marketing initiatives, including developing a software channel partner ecosystem that ultimately drove more than 50% of Mitel’s revenues. Stephen now provides virtual CMO services via his company, BlackTusk Business Solutions.

Areas of Focus: Marketing leadership, new product distribution, channel strategies, strategic partnerships

Steve Shock
Specialist, Lead Generation, Marketing Automation & CRM

Steve is a digital marketing specialist with a 20-year track record of guiding global brands through complex digital transformations.

Steve cut his teeth at Canada’s most awarded B2B agency as head of digital. In his agency tenure, he lead teams of web developers, visual design, user experience, quality assurance, and business intelligence through rebrands and marketing campaigns.

His passion is helping organizations large and small build revenue generation engines. He specializes in configuring leading-edge marketing technologies and developing campaigns that engage high-quality leads at a high velocity.

Susan Robbins Parsons
Mentor, Finance

A previous recipient of Ottawa’s forty under 40 award, Susan is a senior financial executive with extensive practical experience. Having held executive positions with GAL Power Systems, International Datacasting Corp and Kinaxis, she has garnered expertise in financial analysis, business valuations, acquisitions, budgets, as well as compliance for private, non-profit and public organizations. A seasoned mentor for technology startups, Susan has helped companies raise over $50M in venture capital fund.

Areas of focus:  Financing, cash management, international business   

Scale-up Programming

Scale-up programming is designed to help high-growth technology firms scale their businesses globally through the development of custom growth plans and introductions to valuable networks.

Danny Osadca
Advisor - Leadership
Danny is a seasoned CEO within multiple industries and extensive international experience with a proven track record of leading change, strategic focus, rapid growth achievement, building and scaling teams, brand building and more than $900 million in shareholder value realization.
Danny has worked extensively with CEOs and Boards over the last decade, including mentoring CEOs and their leadership teams, and working on overall strategy as a member of various boards.
Donna Ronayne
Advisor - Marketing
Donna is an experienced Marketing Executive with a 30 year track record of helping startups and scaling high tech companies achieve market leadership and high growth.
She has a passion for helping organizations set vision and build: strategic and operational plans; modern revenue engines; business development and product marketing programs; as well as building and leading high performing teams.
Ella Mar
Advisor - Operations
Ella Mar is principal consultant at P2Peak where she supports growing businesses bring strategic planning into the realm of clear manageable action plans and successful execution.
Prior to consulting Ella held senior management positions in Ottawa’s most dynamic technology companies, including Nortel, Entrust, CrossKeys, Espial and Irdeto, managing both small and large (up to 500) global teams. Her depth and range of experience gives her the ability to work effectively with businesses to identify strategies and opportunities.
Ella has worked with dozens of small to mid-size companies. As Virtual COO, C-level Consultant and Board Member, she has helped organizations of various stages identify their strategy, their go2market and develop and execute on their resulting operational plans.
Heidi Hauver
Advisor - HR, Culture, Leadership
Heidi is an innovative and strategic management professional who is passionate about business and Human Resources. She brings with her almost 20 years of experience in multiple industries, including private and not-for-profit sectors and has extensive networks in the community.
Focused on transformational HR, since 2007, she founded an HR practice and built three HR departments for companies from the ground up.
She is the recipient of multiple awards and other recognitions for her innovations and strategic leadership in the fields of human capital management, including the inaugural nationally recognized 2018 Leadership Agency Award for Woman of Distinction, a 2017 Top 25 HR Professional, a 2012 Ottawa Business Journal/Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Forty Under 40 Award, and a 2012 CATA Information Technology Strategic HR Leadership Award.
Jeff Bennett
Advisor - Client Success
Jeff is an accomplished Client Experience Executive with a 20-year track record for delivering repeatable and scalable methodologies to grow revenue, reduce churn and create memorable customer experiences that propel organizations into the next stage of growth.
He is a strategic thinker, who has the energy, talent and passion needed to attain ambitious corporate objectives and solve highly strategic business challenges. Jeff has worked with over 50 companies in an advisory capacity.
Paulina Yee, CPA, CA
Advisor - Finance
Paulina Yee is a seasoned financial professional with a 30-year track record of providing strategic financial advice and guidance to CEOs.
As a trusted member of executive management teams, she provides strategic financial advice and guidance to facilitate discussion and decision making. She works with early-stage startups, as well as established small and medium enterprises.
Rick O'Connor
Advisor - Technology
Rick is a proven industry executive with 25+ years of experience across the semiconductor, compute and telecom sectors. He leverages his extensive technology and system-level knowledge to help guide business teams through leading-edge product development from concept to strategy formulation to execution and deployment.
Rick is also very passionate about driving open standards-based technology deployment. Having held executive positions in many industry standards bodies, he has also founded or is leading several non-profit groups focused on areas such as standards, and open-source hardware, software, and critical computing. He has extensive contacts across the industry and is regularly invited as a speaker at key industry forums.
Ron Clifton
Advisor - Strategy
Ron is a seasoned technology leader, serial CEO, and senior level consultant with a track record of bringing new technologies and services to market. He has a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from Waterloo University with hands-on project management, operations and engineering experience that informs his business insights.  He is a registered Professional Engineer (PEng), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD).
He has helmed both publicly-traded and privately-owned companies providing emerging technologies in high-growth international markets including – aerospace, telecommunications, media and entertainment, cloud computing, cybersecurity, environmental
He specializes in identifying vertical markets and international markets for organic growth as well as expansion through mergers & acquisitions.
Rudy Richman
Advisor - Sales
Rudy is widely considered the leading sales expert in the Ottawa region currently serving as Practice Lead for Invest Ottawa’s Scale Up and Accelerator. He has also worked with almost 50 companies independently as a Virtual Chief Sales Officer and as an advisor to the Mistral Ventures portfolio companies.
He is a habitual builder of revenue generating sales engines, delivering profitable, scalable models with predictable results.
Specializing in high growth firms, Rudy’s clients are from varied sectors and industries such as telecommunications, semiconductors, Enterprise/SME/SMB SaaS, and others.
Sarah Sedgman
Advisor - Learning & Adoption
Sarah has over 20 years of experience fuelling million-dollar growth, international business expansion, and technology innovation. She’s a proven expert in building strategic business plans, learning and customer experience models, inspiring employees to achieve excellence in a winning culture, and scaling and growing companies.
As former Chief Customer Officer at Kinaxis and current CEO of LearnExperts, Sarah will help companies scale with customer success and adoption strategies, digitized learning programs, and a streamlined operating model to dramatically increase their effectiveness.