Top Ottawa Entrepreneurs Collaborating to Give Back to the Community

Originally published here by the Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network  (KCSBN)
From right to left: Jarrod Goldsmith, Dylan Black, Santa, Michael Wood (December 14, 2019)

What do you expect three top Ottawa entrepreneurs will be doing on a cold Saturday in December in the midst of the holiday season? I would say anything from shopping for gifts, to pitching their services, to dining out with friends and family. However, that is not what Jarrod Goldsmith, Michael Wood and Dylan Black were doing at all. Actually, these three were at the Canadian Blood Services in Ottawa, not only donating blood but also hosting a blood drive to raise awareness and attract donors on a cold December day. Their act of kindness definitely caught our attention and we wanted to know what drove them to do it, so we joined-up with them to learn more.

By the time we got to the Blood Service Center on Carling Avenue the place was full of staff, volunteers, friends, reporters, as well as other entrepreneurs who stopped by to show their support – even Santa and Captain America were there to cheer the donors! We sat down with each of these entrepreneurs to know more about their businesses, humble beginnings, key achievements, some challenges along the way, and their desire to help the community.

We started with our friend Jarrod Goldsmith, the founder and owner of Sax Appeal (Canada’s Premier Saxophone Ensemble) and eSAX (a renowned entrepreneur networking community).

Can you tell us a bit about your business and what made you start?

I started Sax Appeal in 2011 as a unique all-saxophone band. This was an entirely new concept as most people have never heard of a group like this before. With a specialty of performing background jazz or classical ambiance music for events like cocktail receptions, weddings, gala’s etc, it was very difficult to create a market for this kind of band. So I started networking to get gigs and haven’t looked back! That is why I started the networking community eSAX to bring together small businesses to help them connect within the entrepreneur eco-system. (And always having Sax Appeal provide elegant jazz music while people network is a nice touch)! Little did I know that the appetite in Ottawa for such a networking community was huge and we were supplying a much-needed demand for personal connections.

What would you consider your major achievements?

I have received many business awards over the past eight years that I am very proud of, but my greatest achievement so far had been supporting other entrepreneurs establish the right connections to grow and scale their business. “I just love it when people make connections through me; it makes the hardship worth it.” For eSAX, my major achievement must have been having Brett Wilson (Dragons’ Den emeritus), Bruce Linton (original CEO of Canopy Grown (on the day that cannabis became legal in Canada), and series entrepreneur Steve Cody (who launched Ruckify) all be featured speakers at the October 2018 eSAX event. We had over 600 people!

What would you say were the main challenges facing you as an entrepreneur?

When you have just started your business, you are everyone at once because you cannot afford to hire help. So you end up being the receptionist, the window washer, the accountant, the web developer, the graphic designer, the sales person and the president. It is time consuming! Most of us are familiar with the concept of ‘boot-strapping’, but until business really takes-off, we have no choice to literally do everything. It’s very time-consuming.

You are a very busy man, what makes you organize this blood drive on top of everything else?

Saving lives by donating blood is one of the most unselfish acts someone can do. When I talk about eSAX being a community-driven organization, it’s events like this that make it all worthwhile. About three years ago I collaborated with my friend Michael Wood (who I understand you are interviewing next), to organize a blood drive to help our mutual friend Stu Schwartz, the MAJIC 100 morning radio host who was going through cancer treatments at the time. We have been organizing these blood drives together since then, and now Dylan joined us but I will let him tell you why himself.

After talking to Jarrod, we started chatting with Michael Wood, the founder and owner of Ottawa Special Events, a Professor at Algonquin College, and a renowned Canadian musician.

What made you start a business during the peak of your musical career?

I was very lucky at a young age to do what I love, touring in a band while playing music and visiting the world. In 2009 when I decided to settle down in Ottawa, I realized there is not a good one-stop shop to host big events – where clients can rent everything they need from tables and projectors to lights and mobile stages. Therefore, I decided to launch Ottawa Special Events and the rest as they say is history.

What would you consider your major achievements as an entrepreneur?

In less than ten years, we grew to 35 full-time staff and we became an award winning party, event and audiovisual rental company. In 2019 alone, we organised key events for the city of Ottawa, including the Tulip Festival, Latin Sparks, Sense Soiree and Capital Pride, just to name a few.

Along the way to success, what would you say were the main challenges?

When we started the business we were only two people, but the demand grew quickly and it was very time consuming to do everything ourselves. We needed to find the right team that reflected our value of putting consumers first. Our key to success from the get-go are our exceptional customer service and my knowledge of Google and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which drove the company to the top.

All this success, why are you organizing this blood drive?

As Jarrod mentioned earlier, three years ago our friend Stu Schwartz, the MAJIC 100 morning radio host needed cancer treatment. The music industry here is a close-knit family so we got together and used our collective networks to help raise awareness of the need for blood donation. It was an amazing experience, we felt compelled since then to continue on our mission of leveraging our voices and networks to help the community.

At the end, we sat down to interview Dylan Black, who is not per se an entrepreneur but embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, and through his media platforms (boom 99.7, Rogers TV) and YuK Yuk events has helped so many small business entrepreneurs in Ottawa to grow.

What made you start focusing on small business entrepreneurs?

I have been in the radio business since 1997, when I was still in high school, but I would say I started getting into the entrepreneur world about four years ago when I became an MC at several corporate events and an affiliate member in many boards. I noticed that these small businesses need a voice to grow and get the word out, at the same time they cannot afford marketing and advertisements when they are operating on a start-up budget. Therefore, I started using my platform either boom 99.7 or Rogers TV to support them. In short, I do it because “I want to use my voice for good.”

What would you say the entrepreneurs’ biggest challenge today?

Promotion, getting the word out and their name recognized. It is not easy being heard and seen when there are many budding companies around. To get them seen is my mission. “I welcome entrepreneurs who reach out to me, if they do not it is a missed opportunity”. For example, I can help their charity events, which in turn helps them get their business recognized.

What would you consider to be your major achievement?

In 5 years, I collected $15,000 through the Movember campaign, raised over $3,700 for the Breast Cancer Society of Canada through boom’s #buzzforboobs campaign, and raised close to $10,000 for various charities including “Tysen’s Mission to a Million”. I also was honoured to win the United Way 2015 “Community Builder Award”, among other prestigious award.

However, my biggest achievement I would have to say is my son Maxwell James, who was born in 2017 and named after Order of Canada recipient Max Keeping and my father James. Raising my son with the values of giving back to the community is the legacy I want to leave him with.

Why are you participating in this blood drive and will you do it again?

I have donated blood 90 times since high school but this is the first time I participate in a blood drive. I want to do this in memory of my father, James Barton, who passed away at the Heart Institute this summer and needed blood transfusion. I think it is very important to have the blood drive in Christmas where people are in their most charitable spirit. As you can see, it is a great success. Over a hundred people stopped by today to show support, volunteer or donate. We collected 80 units of blood and each unit saves three lives. If you do the math, we managed to save 240 people in one day. That is a successful day worth celebrating, and we intend to do this again.

We finished this interview with these three amazing entrepreneurs feeling so inspired to do more to help the community. We actually invited and offered to help them host their next mega blood drive here in Kanata, and they seem all in. Until then, please visit the Canadian Blood Services in Ottawa or call 1-888-2-DONATE to book your next appointment today!

Originally published here by the Kanata-Carleton Small Business Network  (KCSBN)

Speed Networking Event – January 15, 2020

Build relationships through one of Ottawa’s best entrepreneur networking events for small business at the next eSAX January 15, 2020 Speed Networking Event (5-10pm). Networking has never been so fun!!

Lansdowne Park (Horticulture Building) – 1525 Princess Patricia Way, Ottawa, Ontario, K1S 5J3

Schedule:

17:00 – 18:30 Networking with performance by Sax Appeal Ottawa

18:30 – 19:30 SPEED NETWORKING portion

19:30 – 22:00 More great networking!

What is SPEED NETWORKING?

People will line-up in two rows and have about 1 minute each to quickly introduce themselves, perhaps exchange a business card etc, than move down the line to the next person. It’s an opportunity to initially connect with almost everyone in the room that would ideally lead to a future  conversation.

Note: On-line registration ENDS Friday, January 10, 2020 (midnight), but tickets WILL be available @ the door

eSAX (The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience), is an entrepreneur networking community and trade show for small business.

Powered by: Ottawa Special EventsSURE Print & GraphicsMedia Mall MarketingPita Pit Orleans and Gloucester,,Dylan BlackCanadian Institute of Mass Communication (CIMC), Sylvie DemersMobile Optician Services – Services d’Opticien MobileCrystaljoy; Ambitionary VisionarySax Appeal OttawaShawn ShoesmithJulia FurlettiSignal 88 Security of Ottawa, Musical Theatre RadioMichael LifshitzRogue Media, Barking Monkey Studio, Murilo Torres, CollabSpace and Oakwood

Help us raise funds for the CHEO Max Keeping Fund for Kids & Ability First Ottawa!

Website: https://www.eSAX.ca

Facebook (Main Page): https://www.facebook.com/eSAXnetworking
Twitter (Hashtag #eSAX): https://twitter.com/eSAXnetworking
Instagram: http://instagram.com/eSAXnetworking
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/eSAXnetworking
Meet-Up: http://www.meetup.com/eSAXentrepreneur/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/eSAX-the-entrepreneur-social-advantage-experience- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/eSAXottawa/
YELP: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/eSAX-ottawa

#eSAX Makes Networking Work!

Mentorship award to honour memory of Ottawa business leader Peter Stewart at eSAX

Mentorship award to honour memory of Ottawa business leader Peter Stewart

Peter Stewart

An Ottawa business leaders will have his name and memory honoured in a new mentorship award sponsored by numerous local organizations.

The Peter Stewart Business Mentor of the Year Award will celebrate the longtime Orléans business leader’s contributions. The award will be given to a member of the newly-merged Ottawa Board of Trade who has proven to be a leader and mentor in the community for a number of years.

Stewart told OBJ then that more businesspeople in the city should recognize the value of spending time with other companies.

“Too many businesspeople don’t get involved in their community and miss out on opportunities. They miss out on talking to other businesspeople and they miss out on hearing how other businesspeople are having the exact same struggles that they are,” he said.

Stewart died earlier this year after a battle with esophageal cancer.

Nominations are open until Sept. 23 for the award, which is sponsored by eSAX, Invest Ottawa, the Ottawa Community Loan Fund, Collabspace and the Ottawa Public Library.

The inaugural recipient will be announced at eSAX on Oct. 17, 2019


More information on the award can be found here.

Fireside Chat – October 16, 2019

Are you a small business owner looking for resources to grow? Be part of the eSAX October 16, 2019 Fireside Chat featuring an exceptional panel of women entrepreneur business leaders including Erin BlaskieAngella GoranFiona Gilligan and Terri Storey (moderated by Sueling Ching) with Mayor Jim Watson, the Ottawa Board of Trade and MC Dylan Black.

Plus nominations are OPEN for the Peter Stewart Business Mentor of the Year award! Nominate a business mentor now who has made a difference in your life. More info HERE!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 (5 – 10 pm)

Horticulture Building – 1525 Princess Patricia Way, Ottawa, Ontario

Cost: $100 in advance / $125 at the door.

Note: On-line registration ENDS Friday, October 11, 2019 (midnight), but tickets WILL be available @ the door

eSAX (The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience), is an entrepreneur networking community and tradeshow for small business.

Powered by: Ottawa Special EventsMedia Mall MarketingSURE Print & GraphicsShopOttawa.comPita Pit OrleansEast Coast LimosDylan BlackCanadian Institute of Mass CommunicationDeez-Picz & VIDZSylvie DemersMobile Optician Services – Services d’Opticien MobileCrystaljoy; Ambitionary VisionarySax Appeal OttawaShawn ShoesmithJulia FurlettiSignal 88 Security of Ottawa, Startup Canada, Invest OttawaMusical Theatre RadioMichael LifshitzRogue Media, Barking Monkey Studio, Murilo Torres CollabSpace

Help us raise funds for the CHEO Max Keeping Fund for Kids & Ability First Ottawa!

Website: https://www.eSAX.ca

Facebook (Main Page): https://www.facebook.com/eSAXnetworking
Twitter (Hashtag #eSAX): https://twitter.com/eSAXnetworking
Instagram: http://instagram.com/eSAXnetworking
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/eSAXnetworking
Meet-Up: http://www.meetup.com/eSAXentrepreneur/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/eSAX-the-entrepreneur-social-advantage-experience- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/eSAXottawa/
YELP: https://www.yelp.ca/biz/eSAX-ottawa

#eSAX Makes Networking Work!

Pitchfest – July 10, 2019

Are you a small business owner looking for resources to grow?

Pitch your business for a chance to win great prize packages @eSAX Pitchfest!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (17:00 – 22:00)

Lansdowne Park, Horticulture Building

1525 Princess Patricia Way, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5J3

Cost to pitch: $250 + tax (includes your admission) Note that a maximum of ten (10) companies will be eligible to pitch!

General admission: $50 in advance / $65 at the door

Click HERE to register

About: eSAX (The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience); is an entrepreneur networking community and tradeshow for small business to create connections, gain knowledge and promote regional economic collaboration with the Ottawa Board of Trade and community/business leaders. Here is a short promo video and overview, as well as an epic #Mannequin Challenge video.

What is a Pitchfest? A pitchfest is where entrepreneurs present in front of a panel (e.g., Dragons’ Den) to potentially win resources that will aid their business.

Eligibility  

Applicants must:

– Have been in business less than five (5) years;

– Have generated less than $500,000 in revenue since inception;

– Be headquartered within 100 km of the National Capital Region.

Prizes

Will be awarded to the top three (3) applicants as judged by popular vote @eSAX (i.e., 1st prize, 2nd prize and 3rd prize).

Each prize package will consist of multiple products / services as per details below.

Details

Participants will have five (5) minutes to explain their vision and business concept to ‘win-over’ the crowd. Live voting will be done by our entrepreneur peers in attendance @eSAX, so this will also be a great opportunity to receive considerable exposure in front of hundreds of other business and community leaders.

Deadline to apply is Friday, July 5, 2019 (midnight)

Individuals must register here and provide a business logo, website URL, Twitter account and 100 word bio to info@eSAX.ca prior to the deadline.

eSAX PITCHFEST PRIZE PACKAGES *

The following prize packages will be awarded to the top 3 (three) applicants as judged by popular vote @eSAX on July 10, 2019

 

1st Prize

Momentum Law legal services ($3,500)

BDO two 1.5 hour sessions (with a small business partner and tax partner) plus one hour session with a specialty service (US tax, FAS or wealth) ($2,500)

Ottawa Business Journal advertising ($1500)

Collab Space 3 month’s free membership ($600)

Sure Print & Graphics retractable 8ft branded banner, 500 business cards & use of their eSAX booth for the January 2020 event ($900)*

Ottawa Board of Trade two tickets to a 2019 Business After 5, two tickets to a 2019 Local Breakfast Series & two tickets to a 2019 Ottawa’s Economic Outlook event ($200)

Three tickets to the next eSAX event ($375)

Additional prizes TBD

2nd Prize

BDO two 1.5 hour sessions (with a small business partner and tax partner) ($1,875)

Steve Cody mentoring session and Ruckify Bucks (TBD)

Collab Space 3 month’s free membership ($600)

TiECon Ottawa Conference x 2 tickets ($500)

Mobile Optician Services 1 year service package ($100)

Two tickets to the next eSAX event ($250)

Additional prizes TBD

3rd Prize

BDO two 1 hour sessions (with a small business partner and tax partner) ($1,250)

Collab Space 3 month’s free membership ($600)

Dinner, Show & Night-Out Package with:

East Coast Limos ($625), National Arts Centre production (2 tickets $100), Ottawa Special Events (big screen, projector & audio $500), Pita Pit catering up to 10 people ($100),

Cartier Place Suite Hotel ($200),

One ticket to the next eSAX event ($125)

* Please contact each individual company prior to use for details

Good luck!!

Ottawa eSAX Event Review by Covert Ottawa Guy

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, I once again had the honour of attending eSAX the Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience networking event held at the Horticulture Building at TD Place. As my entrepreneurial mind gets the best of me at times, I’ve been out to this event four times now. Each time, it continues to impress me with the variety of opportunities that can be found simply by networking with the variety of people that the event attracts. Most people who attend these events are either seeking answers to their business questions or looking to provide expertise or answers for others. Additionally, many successful business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals from the business community are present, ready to engage others in conversation and share ideas.

Each time I attend this event, I am awestruck by both the professionalism and the upscale, elegant feel of the event. Jarrod Goldsmith is the brains and creator behind eSAX and does a phenomenal job of organizing this event and bringing together the business community in a unique and interactive way. He seemingly spares no expense in creating a dynamic, exciting, and enriching atmosphere to promote social and business networking.

This time around, I decided to set up a booth and experience this amazing event from the perspective of an exhibitor. This was my first set up as Covert Ottawa Guy, so I wasn’t sure how it would go over, particularly in this experienced business environment. But I was pleasantly surprised-it was amazing. At my booth, I interacted with tons of people looking to find out what’s happening in the entrepreneurial community and to build a network of service providers and meaningful partners to expand their business needs. I want to thank everyone who came to visit me at my booth, who took the time to tell me about their businesses and who exchanged ideas with me about mine. As it turns out, a whole lot of people are interested in events and event services around Ottawa!

Enough about my exhibit though, let’s get back to the show! The Horticulture Building at TD place is the perfect location for this event. There is plenty of parking, and easy access from any corner of the city. Registration is completed efficiently by an army of volunteers, eager to please, willing and capable of helping with any issues that may arise, and answer any questions that you might have. After registration confirmation, you move along to a table where your name tag and lanyard are waiting. Then you enter the trade show floor to take in the event. The entire process takes about two minutes.

Once through registration, you’ll find a lounge area with tall tables set up, and a bar area with friendly bartenders ready to serve. There are several items to choose from, but I particularly enjoyed the idea of the signature “SAX on the beach” drinks that they were serving in tall martini glasses. It is a classy touch and provides a fun topic of conversation for the attendees. A little further into the room, you’ll find the food, which is catered by Pita Pit, a personal favourite of mine since my old club days in the Byward Market. I really appreciate the offering of both vegan and gluten free options, catering to attendees with food allergies or dietary preferences. It’s always a nice touch, and really goes a long way with the people for whom it affects. For the entertainment, you’ll find the lovely “Sax Appeal” playing some great tunes throughout the night in the bar area, and there’s a great media wall set up to get shots of you and your companions for the corporate bulletin board.

In the main trade show area at this particular event, I’d estimate that there were approximately twenty different companies in attendance showcasing their products; the majority focused on marketing and sales strategies and business to business (B2B) contact management. As to be expected at an entrepreneurial trade-show, each booth was bustling with activity. It wasn’t all business services though; you could also find some other essentials, such as East Coast Limousines and Bytown Video Production.

Each eSAX event has its own theme that may include guest speakers, other networking activities or business development ideas. For this particular event, there was a “speed-eSAX” session that took place for about an hour. As I had a booth to operate, I unfortunately couldn’t take part in the activity, but judging by the reactions of the various participants, it was a huge success. Jarrod Goldsmith was up on a centre pedestal with a megaphone moderating the activity. Once again, another successful idea by Jarrod, who seems to have a knack for networking and pulling together members of the business community.

Previous events that I’ve attended have all had their respective themes, and have featured a series of fantastic guest speakers. Each event that I’ve attended has been emceed by Dylan Black of Boom 99.7 and Rogers 22, and Mayor Jim Watson has made appearances, saying a few words to the attendees prior to the scheduled guest speakers. As an example of what you might be able to expect, a highly successful eSAX last fall featured Bruce Linton from Canopy Growth, Brett Wilson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and Steve Cody, who used the eSAX event to launch his now hugely popular Ruckify app.

The next eSAX is scheduled for July 10th and is boasting an equally impressive theme of “Pitchfest”. This is the third annual eSAX Pitchest event, where small business owners are encouraged to sign up and pitch their business to seek resources to grow their business. There are incredible prizes to be won at the event for the top three businesses as determined by live peer voting. Registration is now open for either the opportunity to pitch your business, to set up a booth, or to simply attend this event. You can click here to see registration information.

Overall, I love eSAX, which is evident from how often I attend! Jarrod is incredibly passionate about it, and he works hard so that each event is unique and encourages both attendees and exhibitors to continue to return three times a year.

 

Originally posted by Ottawa Covert Guy on April 23, 2019

Tips for Leveraging YOUR Network

“Stop selling your products or services at networking events. Start building your relationships by genuinely connecting with people” Jarrod Goldsmith (Founder, eSAX – https://JarrodGoldsmith.ca).