Highlights, pitches, entrepreneur awards and more from TiECon Canada 2018 in Kanata

TiECon Canada 2018
TiECon Canada 2018

Let’s end the suspense: The winner of the TiECon Canada 2018 pitchfest is Aetonix! CEO Michel Paquet took the stage with his fellow pitchers to accept the award.

Following the announcement, a panel of investors from the likes of Angellist, York Angel Investors, Venture University and BCF Ventures settled in to share their insights into the world of venture capital. We’ll close the day by covering the panel on Twitter, which you can follow via the thread below. Thanks for joining us from TiECon Canada 2018.

TiECon on tech

The afternoon at TiECon Canada saw attendees break out into four separate panels on the topics of blockchain, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and sentiment analysis. Since we only have the power to be in one place at a time, you can check out our tweet threads of the blockchain and sentiment analysis panels below.

The day’s main programming will wrap up soon with the announcement of the pitchfest winner and the panel of investors. In the meantime, check out OBJ’s coverage of last night’s spotlight on Ottawa and women in entrepreneurship panels.


We’ve just seen a flurry of pitches here at TiECon Canada. Five entrepreneurs stepped up to the plate, hoping to take home a $25,000 investment plus in-kind services.

A panel of judges – plus an audience vote – will determine the victor, to be announced before the investor panel this afternoon. Here’s a quick rundown of the pitching startups.

Pat McGowan kicked things off with BlackBox, a platform that builds the supply chain between content creators and distributors. At the crux of McGowan’s pitch (aside from the fact that he arrived in a literal black box costume) was the concept of “fractional intellectual property,” where each of the firm’s 30,000-and-growing member base can keep part ownership of the content they’re creating.

Aetonix CEO Michel Paquet pitched the Ottawa software firm’s platform aTouchAway, which centralizes long-term care communication between physicians, care facilities and the patients themselves. The company was recently accepted to the Canadian Technology Accelerator in Cambridge, MA and Paquet told the audience that there’s $1.6 million in revenue in its short-term opportunity pipeline.

VigilantCS chief executive Robert Kirwin pitched his firm’s approach to compliance, an attempt to turn an administrative action into a strategic advantage. The Ottawa startup hopes to move compliance from an after-thought – something addressed when there’s an issue – to an active process. The software aggregates all sources of compliance data to give managers an overarching view of the firm and the ability to focus on individual staff to pinpoint issues where they might arise.

Adam Nihmey, CFO of TryCycle Data Systems, started with a wake-up call about the opioid crisis: “People are dying.” The Ottawa firm’s solution tracks patients with substance abuse issues by giving them an app for regular journaling. On the clinician side, the rate of engagement and the content of the answers can inform the likelihood of relapse and give care providers the chance to step in to prevent further substance abuse.

“This is something that’s never been done before. There’s never been this perpetual, digital tether between the clinician and the patient,” he said.

Nihmey also opted to skip over the team introductions in his pitch: “We’re old but we’re smart.”

Finally, Cassy Aite took the stage to discuss Desk Nibbles. The Ottawa startup, which provides helps companies keep the kitchen well-stocked, already has some pre-seed funding of $350,000. The company’s platform learns workers’ preferences through chatbot interactions and automates the delivery of a custom snackbox to the office every Monday.

Towards the end of his time, Aite improvised a bit to play off of Nihmey’s preceding pitch: “Our team is young – but we’re smart.”

Immigrant entrepreneurs of the year award

The recently re-elected mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, kicked off Friday’s TiECon programming with the presentation of the 2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In his opening remarks, Watson spoke about the value these award winners and other newcomers to Canada bring its capital city.

“They add value to our city in many ways, from the development of innovative technologies and the launch of groundbreaking companies to the creation of new jobs in Ottawa,” he said.

The following five business leaders (well, six – there’s a married couple in the crop) are the City of Ottawa’s Immigrant Entrepreneurs of the Year for 2018.

Raman Agarwal, president and CEO of Akran Marketing, was recognized for his contributions to the city across more than two decades running the business. In addition to Agarwal himself serving on the board of multiple charities and non-profits in the city, the company donates 10 per cent of all net revenues to the Akran Foundation, which supports a wide range of charitable initiatives.

James and Donna Baker are the entrepreneurs behind HR and recruiting firm Keynote Group, OBJ’s fastest-growing company this year. In addition to supporting Ottawa’s health and research foundations, Keynote and the Bakers are supporters of Hire Immigrants Ottawa and similar initiatives to promote diversity in companies.

Karla Briones runs her own consultancy in Ottawa. Not only is she a successful immigrant businesswoman herself, she runs a podcast called Immpreneur Canada that celebrates the stories and successes of other Canadian newcomers.

Hamed Zadeh is the owner of SINIX Media Group, which includes subdivisions Ottawa Print Services, MiNi Billboard and SnapLite. Outside of the business, he regularly hosts and mentors newcomers through language education and cultural integration in Canada.

Another local entrepreneur helping immigrants with language barriers is Huiping Zhang, the founder of wintranslation. She’s worked with organizations and given a number of speeches in Ottawa that can help newcomers build a career in translation services.

Coming up at 11 a.m. is TiECon’s annual pitchfest, where five startups will square off to win a cash prize and in-kind services.

In the meantime, speakers such as Cotopaxi’s Stephan Jacob and Google’s Gopi Kallayil have taken the stage. And there might have been some Bhangra dancing.


The annual TiECon Canada conference begins in earnest on Friday from the Brookstreet Hotel in Kanata.

Featuring some of the biggest names in tech and business from Ottawa and around the world, the entrepreneurship conference is hosted each year by TiE Ottawa.

We’ll be live from the floor for a full day of panels, pitchfests and awards.

At 8:30 a.m., Mayor Jim Watson will present the City of Ottawa’s Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

Following that we’ll have a series of keynote speakers, including TribalScale’s Kirstine Stewart and Google’s Gopi Kallayil.

At 11 a.m. five startups will take the stage for the annual TiECon Canada pitchfest. A previous year’s pitchfest saw MindBridge AI take top prize, which founder Solon Angel told OBJ was a “slingshot” to early success.

The afternoon will feature four technologies panels on blockchain, artificial intelligence, connected cars and sentiment analysis, followed by a panel of investors.

Stay tuned here for regular updates or follow us on @TechopiaOTT for tweets throughout the day.

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.