Ottawa Network reboots Bootstrap Awards with Wesley Clover

The Bootstrap Awards are returning in 2017 after a three-year hiatus with a new owner and a new sponsor.

The annual awards, previously put on by Bruce Firestone’s Exploriem incubator, are meant to celebrate the best of Ottawa’s self-financed companies. Shopify, You.i TV and Telepin Software are among local companies that received recognition at the event in its original iteration.

When Mr. Firestone stepped down from Exploriem in 2013, he passed the mantle to The Ottawa Network, saying that the organization was free to take on the event if it wished.

David Stein, vice-president of the Ottawa Network, says the organization is always looking for opportunities to connect individuals and companies in the tech sector. The Bootstrap Awards stood out as something left behind that still had value.

“Why can’t we do this again?” Mr. Stein asked himself. He has since reached out to Wesley Clover to partner on the awards, and has connected with local organizations such as TiE Ottawa, L-Spark and Lead to Win to spread the word and provide input on a rebooted version of the awards.

“When we can cooperate and do things together, the ecosystem benefits,” he says.

Mr. Stein says that bootstrapping has been relevant to Ottawa startups ever since the collapse of Nortel. A limited flow of venture capital in the city has meant most startups have had to tighten their laces to get their start.

“What we want to do is celebrate those people who are struggling, working their tails off, self-financing and doing it the hard way,” Mr. Stein says.

Nominations and applications are now open for the 2017 Bootstrap Awards, which will be held March 7 at the Marshes Golf Club.

Companies from the National Capital Region, including Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, are eligible if they are less than six years old with no more than $250,000 in external funding.

Categories include fastest-growing startup, the community impact award, best mobile application and best guerilla marketing campaign.

Follow this link to nominate a local bootstrapped startup.