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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!