Erin Blaskie, the director of marketing at L-Spark and a staple of the Kanata North tech community, is heading downtown for her next post with up-and-coming startup Fellow.
When Blaskie announced her departure from the local SaaS accelerator in mid-January, she received an outpouring of well wishes. Among those bidding a fond farewell was L-Spark’s Leo Lax, who called Blaskie a “guiding light” over her three years with the organization.
Amid the reminiscing was a healthy dose of curiosity as to where she would take her marketing expertise. “Can’t wait to hear who won the lottery with you!” wrote local entrepreneur Karla Briones.
It remained a mystery to even this reporter as Blaskie arranged a meeting on the ground floor of the World Exchange Plaza for an interview with her and the CEO of her new company. It wasn’t until Blaskie knocked on an unmarked door in the downtown complex that the answer came as Aydin Mirzaee, Fellow’s CEO, welcomed us into the company’s new office space.
Fellow, which develops software to help managers have better meetings and track employee progress, started subleasing space from dashboard developer Klipfolio at the tail end of 2019. Blaskie is hire No. 20 for the startup, which came out of beta testing last fall following an $8.75-million seed raise.
The opportunity to join Fellow first arose at last year’s SaaS North conference. Local entrepreneur Adrian Salamunovic, who’s a mutual friend of Blaskie and Mirzaee as well as an adviser to Fellow, suggested the two get together to discuss an opportunity to lead the startup’s marketing efforts.
What made Blaskie so well-suited for the Fellow role was the community she had built at L-Spark, Mirazee says. A key pillar of Fellow’s growth will be building up a network of managers to share best practices through multimedia projects such as podcasts and other social-focused initiatives – skills Blaskie has demonstrated not only at L-Spark but in her own brand and the business she ran for 14 years before that.
“I think Erin’s the best person in the city to do that. I don’t think there’s anyone that comes close,” Mirzaee says.
While Blaskie is proud of the many projects she helped to build during her time at L-Spark – events such as the SaaS Showcase, a focus on founder mental health through unplugged activities and a venture into co-working, to name a few – she says she’s drawn to Fellow because she believes in the product.
“Software is great, but if it can facilitate better conversations between a manager and their employee... that's extremely exciting, because I think you can actually create a bit of a manager movement,” she says.
While her departure from L-Spark comes with “mixed emotions,” she says she doesn’t expect the jump from Kanata to downtown to have a substantial impact on her connections to the west-end tech community.
“It's geographically large, but it's really a small city,” Blaskie says of Ottawa.
“I fully expect to be networking with my peers all across the city and definitely trying to encourage them to check out Fellow – so they can expect that coming down the pipeline,” she says with a laugh.
Blaskie starts her new gig with Fellow on Feb. 10.