Bright Side of (Downtown) Business: Drayton Mulindabigwi, 23, and The Novas Group bring innovation to life

Drayton Mulindabigwi founded his innovation firm in 2021. He’s since received several awards from RBC and the City of Ottawa. Photo by Zenith Wolfe
Drayton Mulindabigwi founded his innovation firm in 2021. He’s since received several awards from RBC and the City of Ottawa. Photo by Zenith Wolfe
Editor's Note

The Bright Side of Business, presented by Star Motors, highlights business success stories in Ottawa.

Drayton Mulindabigwi, the 23-year-old CEO of an Ottawa-based innovation firm, is changing the world, one entrepreneurial project at a time.

Born to survivors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Mulindabigwi says perseverance and a desire to help people run in his family. His father has worked as an immigration consultant since the family moved to Canada in 2009, and his mother works as a nurse, although she’s trying to transition to entrepreneurship.

The desire to help people motivated Mulindabigwi to found innovation firm 20 Today 20 Tomorrow in 2021, which he rebranded to The Novas Group in September 2023. With a team of 25 employees, including around a dozen “youth innovators,” The Novas Group helps entrepreneurs realize projects that aim to have a positive social impact.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

“As much as I can scream, ‘I can go save the world,’ there’s people that have already established themselves in their industries, (built up) resources and made connections,” Mulindabigwi says.

One of the firm’s main goals is to help clients appeal to younger audiences. The Novas Group’s recent work with Invest Ottawa involved producing a promotional video for an event geared toward new entrepreneurs. Mulindabigwi says the video doubled the number of sign-ups.

The team has also worked with the Center-East French Catholic School Board and Kids Help Phone to help students access mental health resources. These clients didn’t want to use social media, so The Novas Group produced stickers with QR codes that students can scan to pull up the Kids Help Phone website. The QR codes are now displayed in about a dozen schools across Ontario.

Mulindabigwi has received awards for his work, including RBC’s 2022 Spirit of the Capital Youth Award and Ottawa’s first Youth Immigrant Entrepreneur Award in 2023. The young CEO says he didn’t understand the impact of these kinds of awards until after he received them, since he had always been more focused on making ideas come to life rather than on recognition.

“To see people resonate with (my work) brought me a lot of joy, but what brought me more joy is the people who wanted to follow in my footsteps,” he says. “It’s fuelled me to do more.”

The recognition was what inspired Mulindabigwi to publish the Citron app in May. Citron is powered by AI to give entrepreneurs market information and best practices for developing their ideas into successful projects. Mulindabigwi says the team is staying up to date with AI regulations and their databases to make sure the app’s information is accurate. 

He says he hopes Citron will help entrepreneurs grow their ideas to a point where they might need outside help.

“That’s when Novas Group comes in,” he says. “I see (my companies) almost like a spectrum.”

Mulindabigwi is currently looking for a way to measure the impact of innovation on positive social change. He also wants to eventually expand The Novas Group so it can help people connect across sectors to solve global problems. But for now, he says there’s no shortage of opportunities to innovate on a smaller scale.

“The world is full of a lot of problems, but there’s also a lot of ideas and optimism,” he says. “And the more people come together, the more they can build and bring their ideas to life.”

This column is presented by Star Motors, Ottawa’s original Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes Van dealer. Since 1957, Star Motors has provided its customers with the Mercedes-Benz “The Best or Nothing” standard in vehicle selection, service, genuine parts and certified collision repair. For your convenience, you may shop, research, chat and compare vehicles online at, visit the 400 West Hunt Club location or call (613) 737-7827 for the very best in personal service.

Get our email newsletters

Get up-to-date news about the companies, people and issues that impact businesses in Ottawa and beyond.

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.