Four local business owners are among the finalists for EY’s Ontario Entrepreneur of The Year award.
By Jacob Serebrin
The award, given by the professional services firm, is awarded based on “financial performance, vision, leadership, personal integrity and entrepreneurial spirit.”
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Among the local nominees is Jason Flick, the co-founder and CEO of You.i TV, which has made television apps for Rogers’ Shomi service as well as for Disney, YTV, Nickelodeon and Sony.
“It’s certainly the premiere entrepreneur event,” he says. “If you define yourself as an entrepreneur, this is the award to be going after.”
Mr. Flick, who is one of two Ottawa-based finalists in the media and entertainment category, says he thinks it’s it’s more than just fast growth that has him on the list.
“I think it’s the stuff that we’re delivering,” he says. That includes the television apps that company makes and the mixture of “art and science” that goes into them.
“Everything that we do, there’s certainly a chunk of it that’s rocket science, it’s really hard to do, but then we also overlay with just making it beautiful, and those two don’t come by accident,” he says.
Also competing in the media and entertainment category is David Ross, CEO of Ross Video. The diversified company sells and makes products and services for live events and video production.
This is the second time that Mr. Ross has been a finalist for the awards. He reached this stage five years ago, but didn’t apply again until now.
“I decided to wait until we were a lot bigger, a lot different than we were before,” he says. “When we were a finalist last time, I’d only just bought one or two companies. Now I’m up to 11. We were pretty focused on just a couple of product lines, and now we have 19 product lines and counting.”
For Mr. Ross, being a finalist for the award yet again is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit that he’s managed to maintain since Ross Video was founded 42 years ago.
“One of the keys when you’re running a company in tech is always ask the question ‘What’s next?’” he says. “We went from manufacturing to software, from software, to robotics, to fibre optics, we moved into television production itself and then the creation of art for television production. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of continually evolving, expanding and changing the company.”
The other finalists from Ottawa are Tracey Clark, the president and CEO of Bridgehead Coffee, and Craig Betts, the president and CEO of Katana’s Solace Systems, which makes networking middleware.
“Ottawa has been well-represented on that list,” says You.I’s Mr. Flick, who also sits on the board of Invest Ottawa. “It’s a good proof to what can be done and is being done in Ottawa by a bunch of great companies.”
He says awards like this are particularly important for companies that are in a business-to-business market and don’t often get their names in front of the general public.
Both Mr. Ross and Mr. Flick say this kind of exposure can help companies like theirs recruit top talent.
The awards, which will be presented on Oct. 27, will name winners in each of the 10 categories as well as an overall winner for Ontario. That winner will go on to the national awards, where he or she will compete for the chance to represent Canadian entrepreneurship in the international awards.