Meet Ottawa-Gatineau’s 2022 Bootstrap Award winners


A provider of free tech for seniors, an eco-manufacturer, a skincare brand, a fast-growing software firm and a pharmacy dedicated to cancer patients are among the companies honoured at this year’s Bootstrap Awards.

The annual event, sponsored by Smart & Biggar and The Ottawa Network, is a celebration of self-funded startups and entrepreneurs from a variety of categories. 

To be considered for a Bootstrap Award, entrepreneurs must hail from Eastern Ontario or Western Quebec, have been in business for less than seven years, and have received less than $500,000 in outside funding. This year’s Bootstrap Awards ceremony will be held in-person on June 7 at The Marshes Golf Course in Kanata. 

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Here is the full list of 2022 Bootstrap Award winners: 

Green Award | Re4M Design and Fabrication

Founder and CEO: Heather Jeffery

Product/service: Re4m Design and Fabrication is an eco-manufacturer of furnishings, fixtures and displays. It designs and builds custom products such as reception desks, signage and product displays out of reclaimed and rescued materials sourced from within the Ottawa area. Re4m partners with local businesses like the Museum of Nature, Habitat for Humanity Restore, Lagois Design and Build and other local companies to use materials that would typically go into landfill. The recycling-design firm has diverted roughly 9,000 pounds of waste from landfills and is the only known recycling design firm in Ottawa.

Innovation Award | Braiyt

Co-founder and CEO: Warsame Ahmed, 

Co-founder and COO: Tamey McIntosh

Vice-president of business development: Gaston Barban

Product/service: Braiyt is an Ottawa-based artificial intelligence (AI) company focusing on computer vision solutions that derives meaningful information from images, videos and other visual inputs and takes actions or makes recommendations based on that information. Braiyt’s AI services work across many sectors, with expertise in the retail industry and active surveillance. To help physical retailers compete, Braiyt developed BraiytVu, a real-time computer vision software service, giving physical stores the ability to use their existing cameras to capture data to measure retail activity to better manage their business and compete with online retail.

SAAS Award |

Co-founders: Ryan Peatt, Adam Januszkiewicz, Julian Eckhardt

Product/service: is a SaaS company that helps merchants sell more by verifying eligibility for personalized offers. Leveraging integrations with thousands of identity providers globally, users instantly verify their eligibility as part of the purchase process with no personal information provided. This ensures privacy and reduces fraud while providing a frictionless experience that is proven to increase conversion rates and reduce shopping cart abandonment. is working with global brands to verify student, faculty and military status and has completed over 100,000 successful verifications in over 150 countries since launching the service in August 2021.

Marketing Award: Bushbalm Skincare

Co-founders: David Gaylord and Timothy Burns

Director of brand and marketing: Rachel Kerr

Product/service: Bushbalm is an innovative skin-care brand that focuses on hair removal through natural products formulated for ingrown hair, razor burn, dark spots and more. Founded in Ottawa and selling worldwide, Bushbalm is challenging the beauty industry by making products for more intimate areas and has grown to over $10 million in annual sales over six years without additional investment.

Bootstrap Capital Award:

CEO: Riaz Sidi

Product/service: As one of Ottawa’s 2022 Fastest Growing Companies, is a digital marketing agency that works with high-tech startups and SaaS companies to refine and develop their digital marketing strategies. works directly with clients from digital strategy and website development, to campaign execution and analytics. 

Disruptor Award: SparkPath

Founder: J.P. Michel

Product/service: SparkPath guides students in discovering careers by exploring the real-world challenges that inspire them. Through SparkPath’s digital “Challenge Cards” and the Challenge mindset, over 35,000 students have discovered how they can find and prepare for fulfilling career paths. SparkPath has disrupted the traditional job market and career exploration approach, empowering students to seek challenges and experiences over job titles.

Community Impact Award: Connected Canadians

Co-founders: Emily Jones Joanisse, Tasneem Damen

Product/service: A national non-profit organization, Connected Canadians provides free technology training and support to Canadian seniors. Through one-on-one training sessions, workshops, volunteer experiences and customized employee training, Connected Canadians is focused on fostering digital literacy skills and reducing isolation. Many of the company’s volunteers are new immigrants to Canada with experience with technology who greatly benefit from the opportunities for conversation in Canadian workplaces. By 2030, Connected Canadians hopes to provide access to free technology training and support for all Canadian seniors. 

Founder of the Year: Varsha Chaugai, Graham Fraser

Company: Evoke Health 

Product/service: Evoke Health has developed a secure, SaaS communication platform that integrates into an Electronic Health Record System. The system allows long-term care (LTC) homes to automatically and in real-time share resident health and care information with family members and caregivers and facilitates direct communication with nursing and care home staff. Developed using rapid prototypes and real-time feedback from end-users in a timespan of five months, Evoke’s platform has helped improve staff operational efficiency and support the paradigm shift towards person-centred care and is now used in five LTC homes.

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