‘Pitchfest’ pro­vides dose of con­fi­dence to con­tes­tants

Ottawa Business Journal - - TECH BRIEFS - – OBJ staff

It was the “sexy event” at the re­cent TiECon Canada 2014 con­fer­ence, one Invest Ot­tawa staffer said, but many of the con­tes­tants rep­re­sent­ing their startups in the “Pitchfest” said the con­fer­ence was much more than just an op­por­tu­nity to win $50,000 in cash and en­tre­pre­neur­ial ser­vices.

For the record, Koneka CEO Pier­reOlivier Charlebois had the win­ning pitch but he said be­fore learn­ing of his vic­tory that the money won’t make much of a dif­fer­ence.

“It’s great that TiE fo­cuses on men­tor­ship – you know, pay it for­ward. It’s re­ally some­thing that has helped me in my jour­ney as an en­tre­pre­neur, to be work­ing with sea­soned peo­ple that have been around the block a cou­ple times and are able to share with young en­trepreneurs,” he said.

Koneka is an Ot­tawa-based soft­ware company that has cre­ated a plat­form to cre­ate com­plex doc­u­ments quickly, mak­ing the re­quest-for-pro­posal process much eas­ier.

Mr. Charlebois said the Pitchfest was an op­por­tu­nity not just to make his case to the panel of judges but to a room full of in­vestors, peo­ple he said were lis­ten­ing closely to his re­quest for a strate­gic in­vest­ment of $1 mil­lion.

“A lot of peo­ple are bid­ding on RFPs, so they came to me … and they ac­tu­ally took my card,” he said.

Kanwal Rekhi, co-founder of TiE Global, was one of those peo­ple. He is also co­founder of In­ven­tus ven­ture cap­i­tal firm.

“He ac­tu­ally came to me and said … this was an in­ter­est­ing space,” said Mr. Charlebois. “Call us and maybe we can do a Skype con­fer­ence. Ob­vi­ously I will follow up, so it’s great to be con­nect­ing to those global in­vestors.”

Mr. Charlebois said it was a short drive for him to meet in­vestors from all around the world.

Vi­talHub Cor­po­ra­tion, Shin­gle Life, SanE­coTec and Cu­mu­lus Den­tal were the other con­tes­tants in the Pitchfest.

Cu­mu­lus Den­tal CEO Marc Lamarre was try­ing to sell the judges on his company that is de­vel­op­ing dig­i­tal de­vices and soft­ware for

den­tists and hy­gien­ists. While he didn’t win the ac­tual com­pe­ti­tion, im­me­di­ately after his pitch, he said he was al­ready a win­ner.

“The con­tacts we make here are phe­nom­e­nal,” he said. “The fact that I had the op­por­tu­nity to pitch was, for our company, a startup – you get to talk to some re­ally in­flu­en­tial peo­ple, some re­ally deep­pock­eted in­vestors and we’ll just ben­e­fit from it. There’s no doubt.”

The two-day con­fer­ence fea­tured plenty of speak­ers and fireside chats as well as panel ses­sions cov­er­ing top­ics such as In­ter­net of Things, ro­bot­ics and cy­ber se­cu­rity.

ESPIAL REV­ENUES UP IN Q3

Ot­tawa-based Espial Group had a record­break­ing third quar­ter, the TV on-de­mand soft­ware company re­ported last week.

Rev­enues for the third quar­ter were $5.1 mil­lion, an in­crease of 32 per cent com­pared with $3.8 mil­lion in the same quar­ter last year.

EBITDA in­come was up to $700,000 in the three months end­ing Sept. 30, com­pared with $400,000 in the same pe­riod last year. Net in­come was $200,000 for the quar­ter, com­pared with a $300,000 net loss last year.

“In Q3, we con­tin­ued to in­no­vate and demon­strate lead­er­ship around our RDK and HTML5 prod­ucts. We made good progress this quar­ter, in­clud­ing show­cas­ing Euro­pean Dig­i­tal Video Broad­cast (DVB) at IBC, which ex­pands our abil­ity to tar­get Euro­pean Pay TV ser­vice providers,” Espial CEO Jai­son Dolvane said in a state­ment.

Li­cens­ing rev­enue was down about $1 mil­lion com­pared with the third quar­ter last year, but pro­fes­sional ser­vices rev­enue was up more than $2 mil­lion. Main­te­nance and support rev­enue was fairly sta­ble, yearover-year.

Espial’s gross mar­gin for the third quar­ter was 72 per cent, down from 86 per cent the same quar­ter last year.

As of Sept. 30, the company had $15.8 mil­lion in cash and cash equiv­a­lents.

SOFT­WARE FIRM BOUGHT

Open­jive, a lo­cal soft­ware de­vel­op­ment company that builds col­lab­o­ra­tive so­lu­tions for the Mi­crosoft plat­form, has been ac­quired by Tek­Savvy, a south­west­ern On­tario-based In­ter­net provider.

Tek­Savvy is based in Chatham but has an of­fice in Gatineau.

The company said in a re­lease the Open­jive ac­quis­tion will add to its bench strength in Gatineau, al­low­ing it to be­gin of­fer­ing soft­ware-as-a-ser­vice and pro­fes­sional sys­tems in­te­gra­tion ser­vices.

FILE PHOTO

Jai­son Dolvane of Espial.

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