Prospectus: Examining the enduring popularity of Ottawa’s Forty Under 40

Editor's Note

In each issue of the OBJ newsmagazine, publisher Michael Curran shares his prospectus for the Ottawa business community. Read the June edition of the newsmagazine here.

Of everything that OBJ does (and it’s a pretty long list) few things, if any, match the enduring popularity of Forty Under 40.

Started way back in the late 1990s as a simple newspaper feature, the awards have grown tremendously. Here are a few numbers to back that up.

This year, there were 275 nominations started and more than 160 formally submitted. An independent panel of judges then reviewed 80 finalist nominations for about 100 hours in total.

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On April 25, when OBJ posted the 2019 list of recipients to its website, traffic spiked. That article has now been read more than 17,000 times.

All of this begs the question: why all of this interest?

I think the answer is plain to see for anyone who reads the Forty Under 40 profiles in this issue.

More specifically, I would pin the popularity on three simple facts: remarkable achievements at an early age, overcoming significant life obstacles and, of course, the continuing sense of potential.

It’s not easy to single out recipients, but take the story of Alex Dorward, the youngest recipient and the only twentysomething to make list this year.

Significant achievements? Yep, a C-level technology sector executive who has already sold a startup for a 400 per cent return.

Obstacles? Very candidly, Alex disclosed, “For much of my twenties, I struggled to maintain good mental health.” You can read the rest yourself – it’s equally jarring.

Sense of potential? Alex really summed it up with a pithy quote: “Open every door in front of you.”

If you’re like me, meaning you’re no longer in the Forty Under 40 cohort, the profiles are still inspiring to read, more than 20 years after the awards were created.

And, as I’ve mentioned many times before, I think the recipients continue to personify a sense of excitement for what lies ahead in Ottawa’s expanding economy.

Read all about it!

Talk about expanding. This June issue of OBJ counts 72 pages. In publisher parlance, I call that a “brick.”

Last fall, OBJ shifted to this new format, which we call a newsmagazine. The regular publication also took on a monthly publishing schedule, new content and new design. I’m completely thrilled with the result.

The popularity has copies disappearing as soon as they hit the street. So a couple of reminders.

First, you can check out to find nearly 300 pickup locations across the city.

Second, if you want VIP treatment, visit For a nominal monthly fee of $8, you can get a bundle of OBJs delivered by courier to your office. (Thanks to local company Fusebill for its e-commerce engine to power this monthly recurring delivery fee model.)

Read all about it.

Elsewhere in the newsmagazine

In addition to our Forty Under 40 feature, our Defence & Security section spotlights two local startups that are bringing cutting-edge technology to fields as diverse as ballistics and cannabis delivery.

Meanwhile, Techopia editor Craig Lord asks a pair of venture capitalists to share their tips for the perfect pitch ahead of this year’s AccelerateOTT, and columnist Caroline Phillips has the story of a small charity boxing event that grew into one of the city’s most successful annual fundraisers.

Read the full issue below:

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