‘Pitchfest’ provides dose of confidence to contestants
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.
Jaison Dolvane of Espial.