Venture Path Program Advisors

Early Stage Advisors

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

Arlen Bartsch
Early Stage Traction Advisor

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 the 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.

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.

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.

Shahzad Khan
Early Stage Tech Advisor

Shahzad Khan is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience across the entire lifecycle of the technology venture journey, from concept, to scale-up to exit. Over the past decade, Shahzad has been an active advisor for a number of tech-focused startups in Canada, the US and globally. Shahzad has practical experience in tech-driven value creations (including digitalization, artificial intelligence and big data platforms), creative bootstrapping and systematic approaches to accelerate product-market fit. He is currently leading Gnowit Inc, which he founded in 2011, to provide an automated solution to monitor web publisher in real-time, analyze the ‘firehose’ of data via artificial intelligence methods, and generate actionable board-room ready briefings that can be shared with Government relations, public relations, communications, and business intelligence customers.  Shahzad holds a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge (UK), an MSc in Information Studies from Syracuse University (NY, USA) and a BSc (Hons) in Computer Science from the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS), Pakistan. He holds 5 patents and is the author of 35+ peer-reviewed academic publications.  

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 Advisors

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.

Stephen Beamish
Advisor, 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

Dane Bedward
Advisor, 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

Erin Blaskie
Advisor, Organic Growth Marketing

Erin Blaskie is a fractional CMO and organic growth marketing advisor, to startups and scale-ups, with nearly 20 years of experience.

Erin launched her company in 2004 and spent nearly 15 years working with scale-ups in Silicon Valley and growing the personal brands of best-selling authors, speakers, and actors. Erin also spent some time working in a B2B SaaS accelerator before joining startup, Fellow, as their first head of marketing hire.

Today, Erin is back to her fractional CMO roots, working with high-growth companies, as well as teaching the next wave of digital marketing professionals. She specializes in organic marketing strategy, including content, social media, brand, and partnerships.

Cécile Chambeau
Advisor, Search Engine Optimization

Cécile Chambeau is a bilingual Search Engine Optimization Specialist with 5 years of experience in digital communications & marketing. As an agency-side SEO, she’s experienced in supporting B2B & B2C clients alike, from one industry to another, no matter the target audience. Her curiosity to learn about various demand generation approaches combined with strong knowledge in content marketing, allows her to reinforce clients’ strategies and meet their targeted results. Cécile can help client companies with SEO strategies to increase online visibility, organic traffic, and conversions as well as website audits and recommendations to improve content marketing, on-page, off-page and technical SEO.

Rachel Collier
Advisor, Public Relations

Rachel has 10 years of experience in news media and public relations. She helps her clients get high profile news coverage to unlock sales and investment opportunities.

Rachel is CEO & Founder of Third Door Marketing, a social media marketing franchise company that helps top university students learn entrepreneurship and pay for school.

Prior to Third Door, Rachel was Director of Communications for Spartan Bioscience and a journalist whose work appeared in the Globe & Mail, Ottawa Citizen, and CTV News. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Carleton University and served as Editor-in-Chief of the university’s newspaper, The Charlatan.

Rachel is an author. In July 2020, she published Maps for Makers: Systems & Stories for Changing the World.

Margo Crawford
Advisor, Human Resources, Leadership & Culture

Margo Crawford is the President, CEO and founder of the Business Sherpa Group where she and her team of more than 100 employees and associates have supported over 400 companies throughout North America (profit and not-for-profit) from formation stage through to sale. She was a co-founder of Meriton Networks and was instrumental in building a technology company with locations around the world, raising over $75M in equity financing and leading M&A transactions. Margo has been a human resources and business leader in technology companies as well as the public and NFP sectors for the past 30 years. She has worked on boards including Meriton Networks (Corporate Secretary; member of Compensation Committee), Board of Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) (Chair of the HR/Compensation Committee), Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE) (Chair of the HR/Compensation Committee), the Canadian Museum of Nature Foundation, and is a member of the Executive Committee for ICD Ottawa Chapter, the Venture Development Committee of Invest Ottawa and the SME Council of the Ottawa Board of Trade.

Margo has been recognized as a thought leader in the areas of small and mid-sized business strategy, early-stage start-ups and scaling companies, human resources, executive compensation and governance. She has advised boards and companies on a broad range of topics including creation of ESOP plans and distribution of equity, executive and sale compensation, organization structure for scale, ownership/business/leadership succession and navigating leadership challenges. Margo’s business passions lie in the long-term success of small and medium size enterprises and larger companies expanding into international markets, as well as kick-starting the careers of young professionals.

John Duff
Advisor, 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.

Ron Gagnier
Advisor, 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.

Mary Granskou
Advisor, Cleantech

With over 30 years in executive roles as a leadership, partnership and government relations expert in the environment and sustainability field.

Mary has an impressive track record of results working across sectors to advance shared solutions with governments at all levels, companies, Indigenous communities, non-profit organizations and others. She recently trekked 700 km across France just for fun and can be seen out canoeing or cross-country skiing when not working.

Chris Johnson
Advisor, Operations

Chris helps companies develop operational plans that are goal and metrics orientated with a focus on actionable business roadmaps. 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 operations, corporate strategy & management, technology evaluation, SaaS marketing

Rob Lane
Advisor, 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.

Kevin Madill
Advisor, Product Management
As a co-founder of Miovision, Kevin helped lead the company from three people in a basement with an improbable idea to a global market leader in smart city solutions. Today, Miovision’s technology is used by more than 17,000 cities around the world, employs over 200 people, and has raised over $150M in growth financing. During his 10 years at Miovision, Kevin’s main responsibility was as Chief Product Officer, where he oversaw all aspects of product management, including strategy, pricing, roadmaps, market fit, and more. He also wore a variety of additional hats, including opening a European sales office in Germany, building/scaling culture and, at times, leading the engineering, marketing, and sales teams.
In addition to his time at Miovision, Kevin spent three years working with startups in Europe, both as a full-time mentor to the portfolio companies at a well-known accelerator, Rockstart, and as CPO/CTO for a P2P car sharing scaleup, SnappCar.
Katy McFee
Advisor, Sales

Katy has spent 18 years working in Biotech and Tech. She’s worked at start-up, scaling stage and multi-billion-dollar companies growing revenue and building sales organizations. Most recently she was VP, Sales at Fullscript and EVP, Sales at Evidence Partners. Katy is the founder and principal at Insights to Action, a coaching and consulting business with the mission to help more women reach the executive ranks and transition to successful leaders.

During her career, Katy has done everything from introducing disruptive technologies to the market and building commercial organizations from scratch to scaling sales at a hyper growth company to achieve 9-digit growth in 2 years.  She loves solving the sales puzzle and determining the right structure and processes required to make sales organizations successful.

Katy is passionate about empowering women in life and business. She’s the former Chair and board member of a non-profit organization called Women Powering Technology Ottawa, helping to build this organization in its early days. Katy was the recipient of OBJ’s Forty under 40 award in 2014.

Kerry Mortimer
Advisor, Social Selling, Employee Advocacy & Employer Branding

Kerry Mortimer is the President at Mortimer Marketing Group and her expertise is in social selling, employee advocacy and employer branding. She helps develop and implement strategies to 1) enable sales teams to use social media platforms, primarily LinkedIn, in their sales tactics 2) help marketing teams mobilize employees to become brand/company ambassadors 3) support HR teams in building an employer brand that attracts and retains top talent. Over her 25 year career in Marketing, Kerry has worked with organizations of all sizes from startup to enterprise in multiple sectors, including internationally recognized brands such as Air Canada, Export Development Canada and Lufthansa Group.

Rudy Richman
Advisor, 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 

Alexander Rink
Advisor, CEO Leadership

With over 20 years of experience as a 3-time serial entrepreneur, CEO, Board Director and tech executive, Alex advises CEOs, Boards of Directors, and venture capital and private equity firms on generating growth and successful outcomes for their businesses.  Alex led 360pi, a former Invest Ottawa portfolio company, to product-market fit, profitability, award-winning market leadership and a successful exit.

Heading up M&A at the private-equity-backed acquirer, which included reviewing over 80 companies for acquisition, leading merger integrations and forging large-scale strategic partnerships, provided Alex with invaluable insight into how to position and lead companies to sustainable growth and successful fundraising and exits.

Susan Robbins Parsons
Advisor, 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   

Donna Ronayne
Advisor, 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.

Steve Shock
Advisor, 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.

Lauren Thibodeau
Advisor, Customer Success and Customer Experience

Lauren is a Customer Success and Customer Experience Executive with a 20-year track record in companies spanning start-up to enterprise, both in-house and as a consultant. Given her experience with Ace Nutrition, ARoots Natural Therapies, Assent Compliance, Cognos, iBASEt, IBM, Kinaxis, Napkyn Analytics, PointClickCare, PTC, and Wicket among others, she brings an extensive frame of reference for what success looks like at different stages of scale, across industries and business models.

Known for her unique ability to marry strategy and execution, Lauren has a proven track record of delivering multimillion-dollar revenue growth, dramatically reduced churn, and award-winning customer adoption solutions. She has led and advised global teams to implement and level up Customer Success practices including onboarding, adoption, segmentation, health scores, journey mapping, voice of the customer feedback, relationship management, executive sponsorship, renewal management, expansion management, and advocacy.

She is also founder and Chief Research Officer at SaaSCanTM, whose mission it is to empower Canadian SaaS startups and scaleups through credible, Canadian-focused SaaS metric research, set in a global context.

ScaleUp Advisors

ScaleUp gives high-potential tech companies — product-focused firms that demonstrate the ability to attain $100MM in revenue — access to hand-selected experts, industry peers, top-calibre talent, new markets, and other growth resources.

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.
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.
Kevin Madill
Advisor, Product Management
As a co-founder of Miovision, Kevin helped lead the company from three people in a basement with an improbable idea to a global market leader in smart city solutions. Today, Miovision’s technology is used by more than 17,000 cities around the world, employs over 200 people, and has raised over $150M in growth financing. During his 10 years at Miovision, Kevin’s main responsibility was as Chief Product Officer, where he oversaw all aspects of product management, including strategy, pricing, roadmaps, market fit, and more. He also wore a variety of additional hats, including opening a European sales office in Germany, building/scaling culture and, at times, leading the engineering, marketing, and sales teams.
In addition to his time at Miovision, Kevin spent three years working with startups in Europe, both as a full-time mentor to the portfolio companies at a well-known accelerator, Rockstart, and as CPO/CTO for a P2P car sharing scaleup, SnappCar.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lynn Stevens
Advisor, HR, Culture, Leadership

Lynn Stevens is the Principal Consultant at LSCS, a boutique consulting firm focused on strategic senior level Human Resources support, leadership development and executive coaching.  Lynn is also a Chair with TEC Canada, a global peer advisory organization. Lynn has been in the HR field for her entire career, operating as a strategic business partner at the executive level for the past 15 years. Lynn has both developed and delivered leadership programs inside the organizations she is a part of as well as in a consulting relationship. Most recently Lynn developed and launched a course call The Impact Method which teaches critical business skills to HR professionals.

Lynn was formally the position of Chief Human Resources Officer for Calian Group Ltd, a publicly traded company headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario. Prior to that Lynn was the Canadian Human Resources lead for Thermo Fisher Scientific.

A lifelong learner, Lynn strongly believes that leaders who continually challenge themselves and grow throughout their career will ultimately be the most effective and deeply satisfied leaders.

Pauline 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.