One of Invest Ottawa’s most recognizable faces is leaving the organization to join one of the city’s fastest-growing software firms.
Jonathan Milne, who helped mentor dozens of startups over the past couple of years as Invest Ottawa’s managing director of innovation, will vacate the position effective April 7. Later next month, he’ll become director of strategic and community partnerships at business dashboard developer Klipfolio.
“You get to see a lot of opportunities when you’re at Invest Ottawa, and you get a lot of offers to join those (companies),” Mr. Milne, an OBJ Forty Under 40 recipient last year, said Friday. “This was one that was too good to say no to.”
The MBA graduate of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business said he was looking forward to working with Klipfolio CEO Allan Wille and his executive team.
“They’re all top of their game. What they’re really excited about is mentorship. They’re very much interested in helping people develop their potential, and they really want to see people grow in their capacity.”
Mr. Wille leads one of Ottawa’s hottest software companies. Now at more than 70 employees, Klipfolio is fresh off a $12-million Series-B round of investment and recently said it is aiming to hire another 40-45 employees this year alone. The firm is planning to move from its current location on Gloucester Street to a larger headquarters at the World Exchange Plaza later this fall.
Mr. Milne likened his new boss to Shopify chief executive Tobi Lutke, who built an e-commerce startup into a worldwide powerhouse while keeping the company firmly rooted in the capital.
“He wants to build something that’s going to last here,” Mr. Milne said of Mr. Wille, who helped launch Klipfolio in 2004. “They’re not here just to grow and sell (the operation).”
In his new role, Mr. Milne will report to chief marketing officer Mychelle Mollot. His responsibilities will include developing sales partnerships with incubators and accelerators around the world, working with the company’s current clients to help build their businesses and being an “evangelist” for the firm at industry conferences.
The veteran executive joined Invest Ottawa in 2013 after serving in sales and marketing roles at various firms, including IBM’s Cognos division. After starting as the economic development agency’s director of marketing, he was promoted to vice-president of marketing and communications in 2014 before being named to his current post in January 2015.
A former Cognos employee herself, Ms. Mollot said Mr. Milne brings an eclectic mix of talents to his new role and perfectly fits the fast-growing firm’s need for “utility players” who can wear many hats.
“He’s got a lot of the executive and leadership skills, but he’s also had to do so many different things throughout his career that we think he has that right mentality of ‘Look, a problem needs to be solved, I’m just going to tackle it,’” she said.
Mr. Milne conceded it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Invest Ottawa, which recently moved to the Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards and brought aboard a new CEO in former Microsoft executive Michael Tremblay. During Mr. Milne’s tenure, the agency expanded its services to startups and beefed up its marketing team, but he said it’s now time to welcome someone with different perspectives and fresh ideas.
“I think it’s time for someone else to step in and bring something new to Invest Ottawa to take it to the next growth stage,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fun the last four years growing with the organization and seeing it transform, and I think now it’s someone else’s turn to take the reins and take it to the next level.”