Six start-ups to watch have uOttawa and OTTN connections

Six startups that have shared common connections with the OTTN and the University of Ottawa were featured in the Ottawa Business Journal last week. Their annual feature on Startups to Watch showcased ten promising start ups in the Ottawa area. Out of the ten companies, six share past relationships with the University of Ottawa.

It is great to see this impact from the OTTN and the University of Ottawa. This has been through the creation of start-ups and through university / industry research collaborations as follows:
CogniVue has collaborated with a number of uOttawa professors, including Robert Laganière, Shervin Shirmohammadi on projects such as driver assistance technologies for vehicles
Exocortex has worked with Jochen Lang to bring new capabilities to their cutting edge 3D animation software that is now being used in large scale film production.
Giatec Scientific was launched with the encouragement and financial support of the OTTN though our early PoP funding programs.
Micrometrics, Proximify and Spoonity are all graduates of the Startup Garage, a program that provides cash, mentorship and support to student entrepreneurs.
These companies join a 2013’s start-ups to watch that include iWatchLife, which is commercialising research arising from Robert Laganiere’s lab, and Gnowit, another Start-up Garage graduate. It is great to see this impact on the local economy.

For more information and general resources related to industry collaborations, check out the links below.


The Start-up Garage 2012 Closes with Spoonity Delivering the Top Pitch

The 8 companies in the 2012 version o f the Start-up Garage closed off the summer with impressive showings in our first ever pitch competition. All companies demonstrated a major improvement in how they could talk about their business, which reflects the progress they have made through the summer while intensively working in the Start-up Garage.

The pitch competition challenged the companies to give their best, in front of a panel of accomplished judges, and all the volunteers to the Start-up Garage that helped us deliver the program. Apart from the judges ranking the top three pitches, the audience was able to pick their own winner by vote. After careful deliberation, and counting the people’s picks, the results were as follows:

1. Spoonity – Invest Ottawa prize
2. Remay – Deloitte Prize
3. MyOfficeTool – Gowlings prize
People’s Choice – Remay after a tie breaker between Spoonity, Remay, and Proximify

The top three in order of rank chose their prize according to the needs of their companies. This included the Gowlings prize pack, including business law and intellectual property consultation; Deloitte prize pack, including $2,500 in consulting from Ian Rathwell; and Six months no charge space at the Invest Ottawa accelerator. The winner of the people’s pick received a prize pack from the University of Ottawa.

The Start-up Garage opens its doors again on September 27, 2012, with an information session at 4:30 – 7:00 pm in the University of Ottawa, University Centre – Agora, 85 University Private (UCU) Online registration also opens at

To learn more about the pitch competition, and the Start-up Garage and its companies, check out the recent media articles:

Start-up Garage Participants learn how to employ human resources in an early stage company

Start-up Garage participants learn the basics of employment law

A successful business relies on the dedication and hard work of the team behind it. Developing the team, and keeping it engaged, while protecting the results of the team is essential. In our fifth Start-up Garage learning session, students vying for one of eight positions in the 2012 Start-up Garage received valuable advice from Melanie Polowin, a partner at Gowlings, one of Canada’s top law firms.

Melanie has plenty of experience advising Start-up Companies and the investors that fund them. She led our student entrepreneurs directly to the two most important employment issues facing their ventures:

  1. Protecting Intellectual property by making sure the company owns it.
  2. Protecting scarce resources by ensuring a start up can make changes to the team when required to keep the venture growing through challenging times.

 This means having appropriate agreements, and following proper process in getting those agreements signed with everyone that touches the business, including founders, unpaid workers and volunteers, independent contractors, and  employees. Agreements that are drafted, and signed in a manner that is consistent with the laws where the company and its employees work are essential. These are normally not agreements downloaded from the internet.

If all this sounds like too much expense, and too much trouble for your small start-up, then Melanie provided practical advice for our entrepreneurs. This included finding a firm that deals with Start-up companies in your region that may provide you with templates, and instructions on how to use them for a nominal cost. Start-up Garage offers an environment for companies with similar needs to pool resources for a variety of products and services to help the ventures grow.   

Student entrepreneurs get advice from industry experts at Start-up Garage

The participants of last night’s event now have the opportunity to take this new insight into their Start-up Garage applications and demonstrate to our review panel that they have thought about their team, and how they will engage it in their businesses through the summer of 2012. Applications are due February 22, 2012, and results will be available in March.

Students in the Start-up Garage Program discuss Operations and Business Development with Peter O’Blenis

Setting goals and implementing a system to help achieve those goals is key to building a successful business. This is a critical part of the Start-up Garage, the OTTN program that helps students build their own companies. On Wednesday January 18, 2012, Peter O’Blenis, the VP Business Development and COO of Flick Software gave students practical advice to help students vying for one of 8 spots in the 2012 Start-Garage.

Wednesday’s event was the third of four events designed to help students develop a proposal to the 2012 Start-up Garage which runs annually from June 1st to August 31st. Over thirty students took advantage of this opportunity to learn from Peter, an experienced entrepreneur with over 18 years in the software industry.

Students get one on one time with experienced entrepreneur, Peter O'Blenis

Peter stressed to students the importance of making concrete and measurable goals and objectives, and then setting up a system to ensure everyone in the venture has ownership of specific tasks, and is working towards their achievement. He is a big fan of detailed planning in short term segments (such as 90 days like Start-up Garage), and having team meetings on a daily basis, whether in person or by phone.

This active management of the venture helps teams drive towards success, and makes sure the team members are performing up to the demands required by a start up company. He stressed the importance of good employment agreements and practices that recognise the importance of each member in a small team to the success or failure of the venture. Lucky for the students, our final event this winter is on employment issues with Melanie Polowin, partner at Gowlings Wednesday February 15, 2012, 5:00 pm to  6:30, University of Ottawa. Students can register online at

 Start-up Garage is looking for student entrepreneurs who want to build their own business. It offers $20,000 in funding and other support through the summer of 2012. Visit to learn how to participate. Submissions into the 2012 program are due February 22, 2012.

Student Entrepreneurs learn how to better engage customers at Wednesday’s Start-up Garage event.

Start-up Garage hosted an impressive group of student entrepreneurs Wednesday night to learn the techniques used by the best sales people to engage customers, and turn selling into buying. The session was developed and run by Trevor Wilkins, who brought to the students insights from over 35 years of experience influencing people to buy his products, services, and ideas.

The session was dynamic and interactive, and kept the students wanting more. Trevor demonstrated how to fully engage with customers, and use elicitation to understand what they expect to take away from the purchase. Judging from the interactions between Trevor and the Start-up Garage participants, there is little doubt that these students have taken away with them techniques that are sure to enhance their businesses, as well as their careers and everyday lives.  

Start-up Garage is looking for student entrepreneurs who want to build their own business. It is offering $20,000 and other support through the summer of 2012. Visit to learn how to participate. The next event is January 18, 2012.