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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)

How Microsoft helps my Small Business

I have been using a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for over a year now, and I love it. I would have to say that it is the best machine that I have ever owned.

I co-founded Collab Space, an Entrepreneurial Community Centre here in Ottawa Canada over a year ago, and my Pro 3 was with me the whole time, day in and day out, and it has kept up with everything that I have thrown at it.

For the past month, I have been running the Surface Pro 4 as my daily driver and work horse machine, and it hasn’t skipped a beat. The Surface takes the best qualities of a desktop, a laptop, and a tablet PC and smashes them together into one amazing machine.

Why does this matter?

As a small business owner, I am constantly on the go, and I need my machine to come with me.
I have a Surface dock in my home office, and a dock at work, both attached to a dual monitor setup to maximize my screen real estate. When I need to run into a meeting, I can just grab it and go. When I have to run home at the end of the day to put my daughter to bed, I don’t have to close what I am doing, I grab and go, and plug in at home to continue working. I can work from the couch, the kitchen table, the bus, in the truck between meetings, and never have to worry about not having what I need with me.

What complements the Surface, and is a pivotal part of how my small business operates, is Microsoft Office 365. I have several employees spread over two locations, and O365 allows me to manage everything so easily.  I can quickly spin up new employee accounts and add all of the permissions they require, and have them up running quickly. O365 is also great that it can all be operated via a web browser, so if an employee forgets their machine, or if something happens to it, it minimizes the downtime.

We have just started to play with Microsoft Teams, and are excited at the possibilities and options included.

I have been writing this post on the Surface, and ended up switching to Word on my Microsoft Lumia 950XL to finished it up. I love the ease of access to my information, and how it can adapt to my working life.

I would like to thank Christine Bays, Commercial Digital Community Manager, and Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX – The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience for providing me with access to the Surface Pro 4 for the month in order to review it, and the opportunity to let the Entrepreneurial community hear my story of how Microsoft assists me in running my business.

Blair Kilrea
Co-Founder – Collab Space

Ask the Fedora: Follow Up With Everyone After a Networking Event!

This week on Ask the Fedora: Follow Up With Everyone After a Networking Event!

Transcript:

Welcome to another exciting episode of Ask The Fedora. I’m your host, Jarrod Goldsmith.

Let’s say you’re at a networking event, but you met someone a month ago, but you forgot to follow up with them. Go up to them! Say to them, “Hi … We met at the last event and I’m really sorry, but I haven’t had a chance to follow up with you. Can we still go for coffee?” At least acknowledge that you didn’t have the time to meet with them. This is a good exercise – take the time to follow up with everyone you’ve met, even if you’re not sure you’d do business with them. If you forget it make for an embarrassing conversation next time, but suck it up.

Thanks for watching. Happy Networking!

Do you have questions about networking? Tweet us at @Askthefedora.

See you next time!

Do you have a networking question you’d like to ask? Email info (at) esax.ca or tweet your question using #eSAX!

Starring: Jarrod Goldsmith of eSAX and Sax Appeal.

With help from Wasim from Storyline Productions

eSAX Networking Ottawa: Wed July 6, 2016

eSAX: Networking in Ottawa

eSAX Makes Networking Work!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016  (18:00 – 22:00)

Featuring Dylan Black (of Boom 99.7 FM) Master of Ceremonies; and

–  Stephen Partridge (International investor, advisor, board member and executive), of Start-Up Canada

– Innovation Centre at Bayview Yards 

– Le Regroupement des gens d’affaires

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 (January, April, July, and October) 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.

Event Photo Gallery:

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eSAX Networking Ottawa: Wed April 6, 2016

eSAX: Networking in Ottawa

eSAX Makes Networking Work!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016  (18:00 – 22:00)

Featuring Dylan Black (of Boom 99.7 FM) Master of Ceremonies; and

– The Honorable JIM WATSON (MAYOR OF OTTAWA)

Orleans Chamber of Commerce

Tuan Nguyen (Business Detox Expert & Serial Entrepreneur-Philanthropist)

Note: Pre-registration ends on April 1, 2016 (midnight). Student pricing is available.

 

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 (January, April, July, and October) 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.

Event Photo Gallery:

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Biggest Misconceptions about Networking

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Event (14)Networking is a highly beneficial activity that helps those wanting to grow their businesses. It’s great for those with new businesses, and those with established businesses. However, there are still those out there that aren’t sold on it. These people are missing out on a great opportunity for growth. To make sure you aren’t one of those people, let’s look at five of the biggest misconceptions about networking:

#1: It’s a waste of time

Time is our most valuable resource, and we must be careful about where we spend it. That being said, networking is not one of those activities that we should be stingy about our time. Yes, it’s important to make sure you are attending the right events, but the act of developing business connections is an important one and well worth our time.

#2: Personalities at networking events are fake

People think that those they meet at networking events are putting on their fake “sales” face, akin to the stereotype of the slimy used car salesman of days past. Why would we want to spend our time getting to know people like that?

The truth is, you may run into a few people like that, but the vast majority of people are honest and authentic. They are out there trying to meet new people and create a quality network. You simply have to make sure to say hi to enough people to find the good ones!

#3: Owners of successful business does not need networking

This misconception is dual-sided. People think that they won’t run into anyone worth meeting (those with successful businesses) because those types of people don’t need to attend networking events. It’s not true. Many sucessful business owners attend networking events to meet the up-and-comers, as well as to ensure that the newbies know about their business. For those successful business people who DO feel they do not need to network, they are putting themselves at a disadvantage. Their pool for referrals will get smaller and smaller over the years, and they won’t have new people referring them.

#4: Networking and follow-up is too much effort

For those not familiar with networking, it seems like a large amount of effort. Not only do you need to attend the event, but you also need to follow-up with emails, telephone calls, engagement on social media, coffee visits, and more! While we won’t deny that effort is involved, we will say that the more you do it the easier and more automated it becomes. When you schedule time in for the day after an event to do your follow-ups then it will not drag on, and you will get better and better at it each time you do it.

#5: There is no ROI from networking

Some entrepreneurs want to associate a direct dollar value to everything, and networking does translate into a clear ROI (return on investment). When you take into account the cost of the ticket and your time spent on the event, how much money would you have to make to make it worth it? If you consider that someone you met at one event might give you a referral a year later, it’s hard to track that directly. 

That’s why it is important for you to set certain goals for a networking event. The more you can associate a goal (such as, 10 additional people to your newsletter list) to your ROI, the better you can translate your event attendance to it.

Be sure to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!

Networking Is Building Friendships

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Event (13)

When you are just start out with a new business, you’ll find yourself eager to talk about your products or services all the time. It can be easy to overlook the fact that a successful business needs a solid foundation, made up of strong businesses and people who support you. The more people know you, and know about your business, the better the prospects for your business will be, but it is a two-way street. You must show interest in other people and their businesses, and you must be ready to support them as well. Networking is beneficial for both the parties and thus it is nothing but friendship!

Friendships take time to bloom

You COULD choose to meet someone at a networking event, and not engage with them again until the next one, but that would not lead to successful relationships. Think back to when you were in school. You didn’t consider yourself to be “friends” with the person you only saw in your 3rd period class. Your friends were the ones that you ate lunch with, and participated in extracurriculars, and went to the mall after school, and planned your next year’s schedule. If you want a strong relationship to come out of networking, you have to do the extra time. Have follow-up coffee chats, or check-in to see if the other person is planning on going to another upcoming event. 

When you meet any unknown person you do not become friends immediately. You take your time, meet with them for several times, find out what qualities is there in them that attracts you towards them and then you start relying on them. This is true in networking too. In networking once you meet any person you keep their contact, and then start to follow up with them. Of course, here you do that for prospering your business, but in the process, you make friends who stay with you for the long run.

Use events for making friends and grow your network

Anyone who considers themselves a friend to another knows that friendship is just not waste of time. You create something with people who, in the long run, help you in different ways to make your life happier and more fulfilled. Similarly, by meeting people for networking in events like eSAX you get a chance to create a long-term business relationship. However, no one will rely on you if you are only ever asking for something. Instead, you need to give something. Gradually you will find that people will develop faith in you and follow what you are saying, just like in a friendship!

Thus, networking is nothing but an activity that builds friendships, where you make friends who become helpful for spreading the word about your business. However, you have to maintain the relationship or else you will not get results!

 Be sure to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!

Networking and Job Interviewing: A Comparison

eSAX-Ottawa-Networking-Event (5)

The idea of “networking” is by no means a new one, but the term has gained popularity recently. The process of building relationships through many interactions has been a part of our human history. It is important for people to feel they know you and can trust you before they commit to a deal, and this is part of why we network.

Many new entrepreneurs may come from the traditional workforce, and while they may not be familiar with the concept of networking, they may be familiar with job interviews.  This process of asking position candidates about their skills and experience helps an employer choose the best person from a pool of people.

Short conversations

At both networking events and job interviews, time is of the essence. You must be aware of how much you are talking, and take care not to talk too much. At a networking event, the goal is to listen, and to spend time with more than one person. At a job interview, you must be concise so the interviewer can move on to the next question. In both cases, if you talk too much you may end up losing a great opportunity because the other party had to move on.

Selling yourself

In both situations, you are selling yourself. Your appearance matters, so you must dress cleanly and appropriately. Your word choice, eye contact, and body language also matter. The impression you make in your appearance and your conversation is all you have to make or break a deal. Of course, networking events allow you the chance for a do-over, if worst comes to worst.

Trust matters

In this short amount of time (in both cases) you must give off the impression that you are a trustworthy person. You must be honest, authentic and sincere and establish the ground that you will build a relationship on over a long period of time. Even if you think that a little white lie might go unnoticed, it’s not worth the risk of them knowing the truth and judging you as untrustworthy.

Mutual contract

Networking is a mutual contract wherein two professional shares their experience for mutual benefit, it’s just not a business deal. Job interviewing too is a mutual contract but it is made between the two parties wherein one shares their skills and experiences and other pay for the skills shared. You should be just as respectful in one situation as in the other. 

While some may never erase their nerves in a job interview, the best way to erase them at networking events is to practice! Be sure to get your tickets to the next eSAX Ottawa networking event!