eSAX Entrepreneur Networking Ottawa Event Recap via Covert Ottawa Guy

eSAX Entrepreneur Networking Event Recap via Covert Ottawa Guy



#eSAX Event Review (Ottawa) January 11th

Post by: CovertOttawaGuy

I recently attended the @eSAXnetworking  event held at the Horticulture Building at TD Place on Bank Street. This was my first time attending this recurring event, so I went into it uncertain of what to expect. I have to say that overall, I was very impressed with both the professionalism and the truly elegant feel of the event. They spared no expense to create a dynamic, exciting, and enriching atmosphere to promote social and business networking. Jarrod Goldsmith is the brains and creator behind eSAX and did a phenomenal job of organizing this event and bringing together the business community in a unique and interactive way.

The Venue:

The Horticulture Building, @lansdowneprk since being restored and modernized, is an eclectic place to hold networking events. The open concept of the building allows for multiple layout options, while the utilization of curtain/temporary walls offers flexibility in creating an open and inviting space. As soon as I approached the venue from the outside, I experienced the excitement of the activity, the colour and lights of the booths, the people and the impressive décor going on within. It gave me a feeling of excited anticipation about what was to come beyond the entrance. The setup of the event was highly conducive and advantageous for networking in the main area, while offering a spacious secondary area to host the guest speakers and entertainment towards the rear of the building. With a bar to one side at the front of the building and the food service tables on the other, the atmosphere was very welcoming and encouraged people to spend some time mingling. The tall bar tables allowed space for this, as well as a place to sit and enjoy a drink or a snack. The addition of a photo wall featuring the eSAX logo added a glamorous feel to the room, where attendees could relish the celebrity experience of walking in on the “red carpet” (black and yellow in this case), as if at the Oscars.

I enjoyed the idea of the signature “SAX on the beach” drinks that they were serving in tall martini glasses as well as featuring their own wine. It was a classy touch and provided a fun topic of conversation for the attendees. The food was catered by @PitaPitOrleans/ @pitapitkanata (Pita Pit), which has been a favorite of mine since my old club days in the Byward Market. I really appreciated the offering of both vegan and gluten free options to cater to attendees with food allergies and dietary preferences. That’s always a nice touch and really goes a long way with the people for whom it affects.

The Trade-show:








Although I didn’t count the individual booths, I’d estimate that there were approximately twenty different companies in attendance showcasing their products; the majority focused on marketing strategies and business to business (B2B) contact management. As to be expected at an entrepreneurial trade-show, each booth was bustling with activity leading up to the speaker’s presentations. As a first time attendee, I was happy to see the interest in these products and although not as applicable to my business strategies as others, I genuinely appreciated the effort that these companies put forward to market their products in the B2B environment.


I’d like to give a shout out to King’s Lock Craft Distillery ( who set up a booth to showcase their liquor. As a Rye drinker, I can recommend their clear Rye, which they distill locally. I had the pleasure of speaking with them, and was excited to hear that they are currently aging a batch of local Rye to test on the market. You can purchase their products at their distillery, located south of Ottawa in the Prescott area (see their website for details); hopefully it will be available at the LCBO in the near future.


The speakers:

The lineup of speakers was equally impressive as the location and trade-show. Again, as a newbie to an eSAX event, I didn’t know what to expect, but with keynote speakers such as @JimWatsonOttawa (Mayor Jim Watson), @BobUrichuck (Bob Urichuck) and @ProfBruce (Bruce Firestone), with @dylanblackradio (Dylan Black) as the Master of Ceremonies, I was not disappointed. I was particularly impressed with Mayor Watson’s promotion of local businesses as he took the time to highlight some of the events coming up in the Ottawa area for #Ottawa2017, and the potential benefit local businesses. He also spoke in some detail about the newly founded (and funded) Innovation Centre located on Bayview in the Mechanicsville area.



The entertainment:

When I first arrived, I ran into an old friend of mine right away, a Stormtrooper. There’s just something about Star Wars; even if you don’t appreciate the series, you can still recognize and appreciate the familiar characters. Hiring people to dress up as Star Wars characters will never disappoint, and always makes for great conversation and photo opportunities. After about half an hour, my Stormtrooper friend was joined by his “boss,” Darth Vader. As they made their rounds together, the Empire was well represented.


A creative idea that was enjoyed by everyone in attendance was the Mannequin challenge at 8:00pm. For those of you who are not familiar with this trending idea, it basically consists of a group of people who remain absolutely still (hence “mannequin”) for a period of time in silly or unique positions, while a videographer makes the rounds. It isn’t that different from the whole flash mob (meets the Harlem Shake) concept that showed up all over social media about five years ago, but it’s still interesting and fun. It took about as much effort as expected to organize a few hundred people through multiple announcements and direction being projected over the bustle of trade-show. I think herding cats would have been easier, but after about five minutes of effort, the crowd was cooperative and froze for nearly ten minutes while the camera operator passed through each section of the room. This video will be posted on YouTube in the future, but I am not aware of the details at this time. I have to say that there were some very talented people in the room (at least in the direction I was facing), who held their positions very well, including the organizer, Jarrod, who was able to freeze his outstretched arm holding a microphone for the entire ten minutes. I can only imagine how sore his shoulder must have been towards the end.

The band, as predicted by the event name, was a very talented saxophone ensemble. I can appreciate the saxophone, as I played a tenor in high school and learned to love the sound. The stage set up was appropriate, and the acoustics in the room allowed for a great show. If you appreciate the smooth sound of the saxophone, I recommend looking them up on YouTube, searching for “Sax Appeal”(be careful of typos or autocorrect though), or checking them out at or, @SaxAppealOttawa.


Given these details as outlined above, I would highly recommend this popular event to anyone interested in the entrepreneurial and business community. It had the feel of a social ‘gala’ to a certain extent, so even if business isn’t your forte, mingling and socializing with new people can make for an enjoyable night out. With prices of $50 in advance or $65 at the door, tickets are very reasonable given the lineup of dignified speakers, the delicious catering, and the high quality and production value of the event.

Storify Recap: eSAX April 2015

Jarrod and his team of #eSAX sponsors have pulled off the latest and greatest Ottawa eSAX Networking event yet! With 230 people in attendance there was definitely a crowd, and most were enthusiastic entrepreneurs ready to mix and mingle and get their business network started! To capture the real essence and excitement of the event, we’re presenting the Storify Twitter feed of the night as a recap of the event!


The event featured: Master of Ceremonies Dylan Black (of Boom 99.7 FM) (@dylanblackradio of @BoomOttawa), Orleans Chamber of Commerce (@orleanschamber), Nancy Morris of Business Psychologist Specialist (@NancyMorris), and Dr. Wendy Knight Agard of Leadership Mentor (@WKnightAgard).

The event was sponsored by: Sax Appeal (@SaxAppealOttawa), Funhaven (@FunhavenOttawa), Gold Sponsor Dynamix Productions (@dynamixpro), Drink Sponsor Elite Accounting (@El1teAccounting), Photobooth Sponsor Investors Group Financial Services (@bmoquin), Silver Sponsors Sure Print (@sureorleans), Creative eQuilibria (@ceQuilibria), Seoplus+ (@seopluscanada), Hewett Ripley Communications (@hewettripley), Bronze Sponsors Accountapotamus (@Accountapotamus), Storyline Productions (@storylineottawa), Flashpoint Photobooth (@OttawaFPBooth). Thanks for making eSAX happen!

Read the Storify recap below:

eSAX Ottawa Networking Event Recap: Jan 7, 2015

The latest eSAX event was another great success!

Despite the extreme cold alerts we were under, we still had over 200 people make their way to Funhaven to enjoy a night of networking.

Our sponsors and guest speakers helped to facilitate connections and help empower new Ottawa entrepreneurs.

Taking a look at the Twitter feed (using the #eSAX tag) can give you an idea of how great the night was. Of course, the cold was definitely an overall theme!

Thank you to everyone who attended, sponsored, and volunteered at the event! Together we make eSAX a unique and successful Ottawa networking event!

Remember the next event will be April 8, 2015. Get your advanced tickets now!

eSAX Networking Ottawa Keep Calm

Ottawa eSAX Networking Recap: October 2014

eSAX Netoworking Ottawa Recap October 2014

We’ve had about a week to recover from a fabulous night of networking last Wednesday at the Ottawa Marriott. The event was held Wednesday, October 8 from 6-9pm. This eSAX networking event was particularly special to me, as it marked my “one year” anniversary as a networker. Last year the October event was held at Lago Bar and Grill, and while we had a beautiful view of Dow Lake and the fall foliage then, this year topped that one with the great view of Downtown Ottawa!

eSAX attendees rode the Marriott elevators up to the 28th floor where they were greeted by our Accountapotamus sponsors manning the registration tables. If you were pre-registered you could be checked off the list and after you put your business card in the fishbowl for a chance to win a door prize you headed up the stairs to the 29th floor! If you didn’t pre-register you simply had to pay the $30 charge and have your name added to the list.

The mood was instantly set as soon as you stepped into the room. Dynamix Productions had AV displays and lighting set up, and Sax Appeal was playing the smooth jazz tunes. Each attendee was given a swag bag, courtesy of new eSAX sponsor Creative Equilibria. In each bag was marketing collateral (including an eSAX pen) from businesses that opted to have their information included. This was a great option to get your marketing material directly into the hands of 275 excited entrepreneurs! The swag bags also had programs and tweet sheets printed by eSAX sponsor Sure Print and Graphics.

The 29th floor of the Ottawa Marriott is a circular rotating room. For eSAX all of the booth sponsors were set up around the exterior perimeter, so they slowly circled the room while attendees could walk the floor or step to the side to stay on the stationary platform. There was a cash bar and snacks brought around on trays by the great Ottawa Marriott staff. You couldn’t miss the fun Flashpoint Photobooth setup! Always remember to stop by their display and get your free souvenir photo printout (and code for the free digital download) with your favorite entrepreneur!

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Everyone mixed and mingled and exchanged business cards until our speakers for the night were brought on by Masters of Ceremonies Derick Fage of Daytime Ottawa. First Trefor Munn-Venn of Rhapsody Strategies came out and discussed the importance of earning and establishing trust, and then Michael Hughes of Networking for Results continued this theme with discussing how networking is about making meaningful relationships. The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce took the stage for a bit, and shortly thereafter Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson showed up to give some support and a nice speech to the crowd!

Then there was one of the arguably most exciting parts of the night – door prizes! There were lots of great prizes donated and Speak Easy monitored the tweets all night to announce the top Twitter influencers of the night! Afterwards there was more time for getting in the last bit of networking before it all closed down for the night.

We look forward to the documentary film put out by our sponsor Storyline Productions!

Registration for the January 2015 eSAX Ottawa Networking Event is already available. Make sure to purchase now to take advantage of pre-registration savings.

eSAX is an entrepreneur networking event that encourages startups to create connections, gain knowledge from featured speakers and promote collaboration among regional Chambers of Commerce. eSAX Ottawa Networking events are held every three months to coincide with the Y Enterprise Center’s Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program (OSEB).

Join the eSAX Facebook Page or connect on Twitter using #eSAX to get the latest news, tips, and networking advice.

Do you have a blog recap or review about your time at eSAX? We would love to include the links here! Just email them to and they will be added to the Event Page!

Ottawa eSAX Networking Recap: July 2014

Welcome to eSAX Ottawa Networking

Welcome to eSAX Networking in Ottawa! Grab your swag bag and get ready to meet some great people!

Can you believe we are only 11 weeks away from the next eSAX event?

This definitely makes me want to slow down and enjoy the summer, but let’s take a moment to reflect on the amazing event that Jarrod and the eSAX sponsors held this past July 9th!

The event was once again held at Funhaven. It is a convenient location 1050 Baxter Road right off the 417 Queensway when going toward Kanata. There isn’t much parking around the building, but luckily it is right next to the HUGE Ikea parking lot, and our friends from East Coast Limos were there to pick up anyone that parks in Lot E and shuttles them right to the door in style! Groups of friends could have fun in the limo, or singles could get prepared to make their first connections of the night in the form of their fellow passengers!

Bird's Eye Marketing Sponsor Booth at eSAX Networking Ottawa

David Bird discussing marketing analytics at his sponsor booth for Bird’s Eye Marketing

You wouldn’t guess it from the name or huge smiley face on the outside, but Funhaven is a great facility and 3500 square foot event center. You enter the building and walk through the room full of games (including Race Cars, Dance Dance Revolution, Bumper Cars, and Bowling) and you go back to the corner room to find the actual hub of the eSAX networking event. The room always looks elegant, and when you combine the looks with the smooth tunes coming from Sax Appeal you really feel like you’ve entered a very high-quality event.

I didn’t want this to just be a review of eSAX though, I wanted to run down what you can expect, so that any new entrepreneurs wondering if they should attend this Ottawa networking event can get a good idea of what goes on at eSAX. To begin, you walk down the red carpet and stop at the front desk and the Accountapotamus team will check your name off the list if you have pre-registered, or you go ahead and pay the at-the-door admission price. Then you are handed a program (printed by the wonderful Sure Print), a swag bag (from BFD), a $5 reloadable Funhaven game card, and this time we even got a ticket for a glass of wine courtesy of Barefoot Wine! Don’t forget to put your business card in the bowl for a chance to win a door prize, and then pick up your nametag so everyone knows who you are.

Your first hour and a half is spent wandering the room while you meet new people, check out the sponsor booths, and read the live tweets (and join in using #eSAX) that are displayed on the big screens thanks to Dynamix Productions. You’ll also undoubtedly end up in the Flashpoint Photo Booth because those folks love getting people behind their camera (especially if they can get you to wear a funny hat – the chicken hat is a favorite). They not only give you a complimentary print of your photo, but they also give you a code to go online and download it. It’s little things like these that make the eSAX sponsors so great.

Networking in Action at Ottawa's own eSAX Networking event!

Networking in action at Ottawa’s own eSAX Networking event!

While we are on the topic of sponsors lets not forget the booth sponsors. When you walk the perimeter of the room we have many friendly sponsors ready to discuss with you not only their products and services, but also life as an entrepreneur. If you are nervous about approaching someone, you can bet a booth sponsor will be glad to talk to you. You have an automatic conversation starter, since you can look at their table and see what their business is, so you can jump right in. Then feel free to ask them if they know anyone you should meet. Speaking of people who can direct you to people you should meet, make sure you meet Jarrod! He is the founder of the eSAX Ottawa networking events and he is a genuinely helpful and personable guy. Find him (in his trademark fedora), introduce yourself, and guaranteed he will introduce you to someone new!

About halfway through the event the chairs started to come out. This was great because they weren’t in the way while people were networking, but by that time I think lots of people (including myself) were ready to take a seat and enjoy the speakers. The master of ceremonies was once again Dylan Black of Boom 99.7 FM. He has such a great voice and is so great at warming the room up. He brought up the first speaker, Julie Clement from the Nepean Chamber of Commerce, who spoke about the great things the chamber does to support local business. She also announced to us that Nepean and West Ottawa would be merging into one organization to better support the community!

Door Prizes and top Twitter Influencer Prizes at eSAX Networking Ottawa

Dylan announces the winners of the door prizes and the top Twitter influencer prizes!

Following Julie was Adam Dufresne (formerly of Breakthrough Coach, now Rhapsody Strategies). Adam regularly coaches entrepreneurs, and he is familiar with the challenges that we face. At this event he came out with a jar of honey, and used it as a visualization tool as he explained that it takes visiting over 2 million flowers for bees to make that much product. As entrepreneurs we need to take the term “busy bees” to heart and model our own efforts after them. He also encouraged everyone to find someone they don’t already know and set up a coffee meeting with them so we would be sure to walk out of there with a follow-up ready to go (and I took this advice and met with Alicia of Spire Design the very next morning!)

Finally, Carlo Lombard of Start Talking Video took the stage. I’d heard great things about his video workshops, and his 10 minutes on stage proved why. He shocked the room by informing us that YouTube was now the #1 search engine, and then he had everyone switch smartphones, set to video, and each record a 15-second clip. He also reminded us that as enthusiastic as we think we are, we have to take it up a notch, but he proved that creating video content is within all of our capabilities.

After the presentations all of the speakers went up and opened the floor for some Q&A. After the quick Q&A it was time for prizes! In addition to the door prizes that were drawn from the business cards left in the fishbowl up front, there were also two prizes awarded to the top eSAX Twitter influencers at the event! The interactions had been monitored by Speak Easy (@Syncrodata) all night and they determined that the top influencers were Creative eQuilibria (@ceQuilibria) and Suddcorp Solutions (@Suddcorp). Congrats, and thanks for helping eSAX to trend!

Another great entrepreneurial networking eSAX event in Ottawa!

Jarrod wishes everyone goodnight as they leave the event.

The rest of the night is for making more connections and enjoying the music (from sponsor Helena Guzman Design). This is a great time to look around and see who you haven’t met yet that you might like to. This networking event isn’t just for Ottawa entrepreneurs, people from all over stop by (such as Ottawa native and nationally renowned magician Jaymes White, who may or may not be able to read minds, but I’m a believer after the demonstration I observed)! We also get many community leaders that drop by to meet new entrepreneurs, such as Sohrab Mohammad (from BDC), Greg Weatherdon (from Invest Ottawa & West Ottawa Board of Trade),  Denis Aubin (OSEB Consultant), Jacqueline Richards (Financial Wellness Coach), and Shawn MacDonell (from Creativision) – just to name a FEW! There are so many great people to talk to at an eSAX networking event, and it’s such a great opportunity to pick the brains of others that are so willing to offer advice. In total there were over 185 people at this event, and each one keeps getting bigger and better!

Registration for the October eSAX Ottawa Networking Event is already available. Make sure to purchase now to take advantage of pre-registration savings.

eSAX is an entrepreneur networking event that encourages startups to create connections, gain knowledge from featured speakers and promote collaboration among regional Chambers of Commerce. eSAX Ottawa Networking events are held every three months to coincide with the Y Enterprise Center’s Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program (OSEB). Join the eSAX Facebook Page or connect on Twitter using #eSAX to get the latest news, tips, and networking advice.

Writing and photos by Jessica of Hewett Ripley Communications. All opinions are my own and I am not a paid contributor. For more photos of the event, visit the “Past Event” page, which includes some professional photos from East Coast Limos

Do you have a blog recap or review about your time at eSAX? We would love to include the links here! Just email them to and they will be added to the Event Page!