A Profile of eSAX and Sax Appeal Founder Jarrod Goldsmith

A profile of Jarrod Goldsmith

By Jennifer Leblanc

Youtube: Celebrating Entrepreneurship Featuring Jarrod Goldsmith via MDK Business Law. On Jarrod Goldsmith’s Youtube Channel

Jarrod Goldsmith, 43, has led a successful and fulfilling career in both music and entrepreneurship here in Ottawa.

Goldsmith has kept busy running a unique band called Sax Appeal as well as organizing the eSAX trade show every three months.

Goldsmith is well known in his community as a result of running for city council for the Orleans ward. “17 candidates running in Orleans is a record, it’s never been seen before. It just seemed like the right time in my life to go make more of a difference outside the business community.” He said. Goldsmith has always kept up to date and deeply involved in his widespread work.

Goldsmith began with school and music. The entrepreneur didn’t start out knowing what he wanted to do. In fact, there were no set plans for the future. He first picked up the sax in 1986 and knew that he enjoyed music even if it wasn’t something he thought of making a career out of.

After high school, Goldsmith only knew he liked music but didn’t decide to go into it at that time, rather, continued his studies. Instead he went into business at Marianopolis College, Quebec’s pre-university CEGEP program. Goldsmith came to realize he didn’t like it and that it wasn’t the course for him. In his second to last semester he branched off to anthropology. In his last semester Goldsmith took up archaeology courses which led to a McGill undergraduate degree in archaeology, and a further Master’s degree from the University of Alberta.

While greatly enjoying archaeology and music, Goldsmith didn’t see a future in either. Archaeology did, however, lead him to travel while working on digs. Goldsmith got the chance to spend a summer in both Europe and Japan, even earning school credit through McGill University. He enjoyed the experience in Asia so much that he decided to extend his stay and found a second excavation to work at. When money started to run out, Goldsmith took up teaching english as well as working at a sleep away camp for a few days. Goldsmith remembered the experience as a good one and feeling lucky to get the opportunity.

After school Goldsmith moved back to Montreal and stayed with family. He struggled to find a job and settled on being a public security officer for his municipality. That all changed in 2001 when Goldsmith met a woman at a concert that he was performing in. Him on saxophone and her on clarinet. The two connected and started dating. Soon after, she was accepted to the University of Ottawa, Goldsmith made the decision to move with her and look for work there.

While in Ottawa, Goldsmith searched for a job in museums to go with his archaeology background but had no luck. He pursued a career in the government and ended up working from contract to contract, all the while trying to earn a permanent position so he could advance. He later left this to follow other work and became an entrepreneur. “I was happy to work as hard as I could so that I could prove myself. But it wasn’t until I became an entrepreneur that I realized I’m doing it for myself now.” Goldsmith said. “I don’t have to appease other people. I want to keep doing what I’m doing so I stay in business in the future.”

Goldsmith shifted to change his life and start down his own path. He was determined to break away from work he didn’t enjoy and make a future out of his passions. He thought that there was more to life then practicing getting better at the sax or studying artifacts behind a desk for hours. Though joking, he did confirm he likes rocks more than most people.

Goldsmith set out to make a career in music.

Photo by Claude Brazeau Photography on Jarrod Goldsmith’s website

He came to build up his band Sax Appeal and worked to do everything he could to get the name out in the world. He knew that getting into music would be a tough road. “My parent’s still think I’m crazy going into music. But I wanted to make it work so I went into the band treating it as a full time business,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith quickly realized that an all-saxophone band wasn’t something people saw often and would never be hired for gigs. The average person isn’t familiar with this type of ensemble. Sax Appeal performs mostly background ambiance jazz, classical or Christmas music. One of his favourite gigs is for the Gatineau hot air balloon festival that they play every year. He explained how the balloons inflate and start to drift off to their music. Another of his favourites is for Manotick’s Women’s Day. Every year they are hired to walk up and down Main Street, while going into boutiques to perform and celebrate the day. Goldsmith believes they bring a warmth and experience to every event that always creates a special atmosphere. Their style of tuxedos and fedoras has become a signature and easily recognizable across the city.

Goldsmith enjoys making people’s lives better when he can. He explained how playing music allows him to do that. An experience that he appreciates is playing for retirement homes or long term care facilities. Usually residents in those facilities do not get the chance to see live music. He found that people suffering from dementia may not always fully be aware but they love the music. “Sometimes they cry, they dance and it’s just so much fun to see,” he said. “I was never in it for the money, I didn’t start Sax Appeal to get rich. And believe me, going into music is tough for anybody even if you’ve been around for a long time. Most of us struggle.”

Goldsmith also started up eSAX, a trade show and networking opportunity for other entrepreneurs. He always wanted to help small businesses to succeed and bring together a community. He eventually found that there was a need for an organization such as eSAX. Goldsmith hosts the events every three months, allowing for over 300 entrepreneurs to gather on a regular basis. Goldsmith continues to promote his work and bring awareness to both entrepreneurship and Sax Appeal through posting hundreds of YouTube videos and public speaking.

Jarrod Goldsmith at the last eSAX event taking place at Lansdowne Park. There was a pause in the conversation for a pick of a winning ticket.

While frequently having Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson attend, he’s also had big names such as W. Brett Wilson who was on Dragons’ Den for three seasons. He also had Steve Cody speak on launching his new business Ruckify, an online marketplace for safe rentals. Another popular guest was Bruce Linton; owner of Canopy Growth, the largest cannabis producer in Canada which is actually located in Smith Falls, about one hour from Ottawa by car. Linton spoke on Oct. 17, 2018, which just happened to be perfect timing as that was the day cannabis became legal in Canada. He’s also had experience being an ambassador for all the local area Chambers of Commerce and served on the Board of Directors for the Orleans Chamber of Commerce.

Goldsmith has always been a big supporter of helping people. One such case was when an Algonquin student approached him with help doing a documentary. Wasim Baobaid reached out to Goldsmith via LinkedIn while enrolled in the documentary film course at Algonquin. Goldsmith was quick to help and allowed Baobaid to do a documentary on Sax Appeal. Years later the two still keep in touch and frequently work together. Baobaid was able to get his start with Goldsmith and worked with him on creating his first promo videos. “He’s really on top of everything around him, he’s so organized. I asked his mother one day how he got that way, she said she taught him,” he said. “Down to earth, humble and is always willing to offer what he can. He’s straight forward. When you see him that’s him. If he can do it he will do it, if he can’t he’ll tell you and find ways to help.”

This wasn’t Goldsmith’s only connection to Algonquin. He has also been invited to regularly speak for several different courses, chatting about entrepreneurship, networking and music. He’s also done workshops and spoke to students about entrepreneurship, networking and music.

Another colleague is Shawn Shoesmith who got his placement with Goldsmith while in the event management program at Algonquin. Shoesmith is another student who later stayed working with Goldsmith and has had many opportunities through him. “He’s very personable and he’s all about making those connections in every way possible,” Shoesmith said. “It helps huge, anyone he interacts with has huge ramifications on their life and on their progress.”


Originally posted at https://jennielane396.wixsite.com/jennielane/post/a-profile-of-jarrod-goldsmith

Following cannabis legalization, Canopy CEO Bruce Linton gets rock-star treatment at eSAX for the launch of Ruckify

Originally published by the Ottawa Business Journal on October 18, 2018.
Bruce Linton
(Photo by Dave Sali)

A short interview with eSAX founder Jarrod Goldsmith

A short interview with eSAX founder Jarrod Goldsmith as originally recorded by Collab Space:


What were you doing before you started your business and what inspired you to try entrepreneurship?

Having played and studied the saxophone since 1987, the time was right to finally pursue it full-time in 2011.(This after a graduate degree in archaeology and changing government jobs for approximately 8 years) If there was ever a time in my life to really try to make it work, it was then. Being around other entrepreneurs has always been very inspiring!

Did you do a lot of networking when you got started? How did you grow your network and make it work for you?

Yes, and still do. eSAX is a networking tradeshow for small businesses. Having originally started networking to get gigs for Sax Appeal, I created this other business in 2012 to help many more people with their networking. Plus, having since created an active YouTube account with networking tips etc., it is now a valuable resource for others.

How many hours do you currently put in as an entrepreneur and how do you feel about that?

I’m always working. Since I love what I do, it’s not actually work! I’ve never counted how many hours a week I’m actually working, but let’s just say I don’t have much family-work life balance myself, even though I encourage others to!

How do you get the majority of your leads or clients now? Any tips you can share

Building credibility, trust and relationships takes time. Most of my clients are through networking, or having other people talk about eSAX, Sax Appeal or myself. Such reputation doesn’t happen overnight.

What Ottawa organizations, groups, or companies have provided support to you as a new business that you would recommend?

Collab Space is an awesome place to meet fellow entrepreneurs who often want tot help others. Startup Ottawa / Startup Canada and the Chambers of Commerce are also extremely important organization to consider getting involved in. And eSAX too of course.

Jarrod Goldsmith

eSAX – the Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience and Sax Appeal

Visit the events page here for upcoming events!

Happy networking!

How eSAX got started and why it brings the Ottawa entrepreneur community together via founder Jarrod Goldsmith!

How eSAX got started and why it brings the Ottawa entrepreneur community together via founder Jarrod Goldsmith!

Video produced and edited by Mike Landry of Talk To The Mike

Amazing Overview of the October 2018 eSAX Event Showcasing the Launch of Ruckify!

CoverageCorp perfectly captured the energy of the official launch of Ruckify at the October 2018 eSAX event, featuring W. Brett Wilson (Dragons’ Den Emeritus), Bruce Linton (Canopy Growth), Steve Cody, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, the Ottawa Board of Trade, Dylan Black (MC) & Jarrod Goldsmith (eSAX) on the day that cannabis became legal in Canada!

Video produced by CoverageCorp

eSAX (The Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience – https://eSAX.ca) is an entrepreneur networking community and tradeshow for small business.

#eSAX Makes Networking Work !

January 9, 2019

#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 among regional Chambers of Commerce. Never been to #eSAX? Check out this short video!

Wednesday, JANUARY 9, 2019 (5 – 10 pm)

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

With a special performance by Sax Appeal!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – eSAX Event, October 17, 2018


The eSAX event on October 17, 2018 (day of cannabis legalization) is featuring Bruce Linton (CEO Canopy Growth), W. Brett Wilson (previously of Dragons’ Den), Steve Cody (Ruckify), Ottawa Board of Trade and Mayor Jim Watson.

Click here for the eSAX Press Release

Fireside Chat – October 17, 2018


and Dylan Black (Boom 99.7 FM and Daytime Ottawa) – Master of Ceremonies

with a special performance by Sax Appeal!

NOMINATE someone for the 1st Annual PETER STEWART BUSINESS MENTOR OF THE YEAR AWARD! Click here for additional details. (Deadline September 23, 2018, midnight)

Pitchfest: July 11, 2018

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 among Chambers of Commerce. Events are held every 3 months (January, April, July and October); originally to coincide with the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits Program.

Featuring Dylan Black (Boom 99.7 FM and Daytime Ottawa) – Master of Ceremonies

with a special performance by Sax Appeal!

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.


  • 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
  • Note that a maximum of ten (10) companies will be eligible to pitch!


Deadline to apply is Friday, July 7, 2018 (midnight). Individuals must register and provide a business logo, website URL, Twitter account and 500 word description to info@esax.ca prior to the deadline.


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.


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.

The following prize packages (subject to change) will be awarded to the top 3 (three) applicants as judged by popular vote @eSAX on July 11, 2018*

  • Note that additional prizes will be added on an on-going basis!

1st Prize:

Ridout & Maybee LLP Patent, trademark, or copyright legal fees ($5000); Ottawa Business Journal Advertising ($1500); STELLACON Solutions Coaching Session ($1800); Founder Institute Fellowship up to 2 people ($1000 USD); West Ottawa Board of Trade Annual Membership Discount ($300); Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast x 1 ($50); Collab Space 1 month free membership ($200);

2nd Prize:

Nancy Morris 6 months business mentoring ($2497); Founder Institute Fellowship up to 2 people ($1000 USD); TiECon Ottawa Conference x 2 tickets ($500); Breakfast with Bruce M Firestone, PhD; Steve Cody mentoring session; Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Networking Breakfast x 1 ($50);

3rd Prize

Ottawa Special Events Indoor movie night package ($550) (includes big screen, projector, audio & popcorn machine); Pita Pit catering for up to 10 people ($100); Ruckify Bucks (TBD); Dinner, Show & Night-Out Package with East Coast Limos ($625), Bamboo Restaurant ($100), 8 tickets to Yuk Yuk’s ($160) and a nights stay at the Cartier Place Suite Hotel ($200)

Join us as we reshape Ottawa’s entrepreneur community and raise funds for the CHEO Foundation, Max Keeping Fun & Ability First Ottawa!

In conversation with Jarrod Goldsmith’s advice on Networking and Entrepreneurship

In conversation with: Jarrod Goldsmith’s advice on Networking and Entrepreneurship

As originally posted by Mistral Spirit on June 21, 2018


Last week, I attended a youth entrepreneurship conference in Ottawa organized by the Government of Canada. I had a phenomenal time, learned a lot, and got to meet some amazing young and veteran entrepreneurs. Among the mentors we were able to learn from was Jarrod Goldsmith, an entrepreneur specializing in networking events, and saxophone musician based in Ottawa. His companies are eSAX and SAX Appeal. You can find him below at these links:

eSAX website




He was kind enough to take some time out of his schedule a few days ago to speak with me on the phone. He shared his experiences as an entrepreneur, as well as his advice for those just starting on how to network and brand themselves. Here is our conversation:

What did your career path look like? Can you tell us a bit about your journey?

Most people these days study something in school and find a job in a completely different field. My background is in music and my specialty is actually in archaeology because I never thought music would be a viable path. It was just a passion of mine, but I kept it up on the side. I ended up doing a master’s degree in archaeology and I enjoyed it but I thought there was more to life than sitting behind an artefact, studying a rock.
So I moved to have a day job that everyone wants and needs and so that way I could do other things on the side. I kept up the music all these years. My last government job was in May 2011. And then I said enough is enough.
I finally decided to go into music full time. I heard all my life it is hard to go into music and it as even more difficult in my case because my band is only saxophones. So it’s not a very common group, nobody is going to hire us because they’ve never heard of it before.

So I learned a lot about marketing and social media, because I had no choice! I had to make this viable. There was no option or plan B. I didn’t want to go back to a government job. I realized I had to go all in to make this a success.
When you don’t have a plan B you find ways to make this work.
I started going to networking events to find gigs. At the time there were a lot of networking events in my area. You’ll see that a lot of people are there to, well for lack of a better word, “hawk” their businesses. Throw their business cards. Get customers.
This is what they’re told to do. Give your sales pitch, work on your elevator pitch. When I was making these contacts I was trying to develop long term connections because nobody is going to hire a band – this type of band – for a 600-person dinner or wedding. But they might tell someone in a year or two from now; they’ll keep me in mind.
So what I was doing without even realizing it, I was creating these relationships with people. Not trying to sell them anything but just trying to develop this trust factor.

I got tired of the way networking was being done, and so then I started eSAX.

At the time there were a lot of chambers of commerce around the Ottawa region. But business has no boundaries in a geographic region. I’ll make a gig anywhere. Now with social media these days you don’t care where they’re from.
I started eSAX to help teach small businesses and startups and students about networking.

What does eSAX stand for?

eSAX is a bit of a long acronym. But it’s the entrepreneur’s social advantage experience. Three reasons. It’s cute. It works with the band because the band is SAX Appeal. And it’s short.
The word social and the word experience is very important. With any business out there, you’re trying to develop this experience so people want to come back. And by having the word social, it differentiates it from any other event out there.

What was your experience starting out?

Most musicians they teach on the side to make ends meet. But I became very very good at e marketing and the branding side. Any passion can be turned into a business if you know the business sense. I didn’t have a background in entrepreneurship, I didn’t know anything about startups. I just went all in. You learn really quick to sink or swim.
To me a lot of it was using social media to the point that people were thinking that SAX Appeal was performing two or three times a week but the reality was that when we were starting out we were only getting a gig every four or five months.

Right now you host networking events, do music gigs, and get called to other events. What is your typical week like? Do you have one?

Well everything changes depending on the events I get called to. I was out until ten last night for an event. And I get invited to guest speak quite often.

So a typical week is going to early morning breakfasts, scheduling meetings downtown and going to events in the evening. And I book another group, so I’m a music agent as well. I like to think I’ve developed a credibility as the guy who plays music and books bands and also hosts networking events.
I’d like to think that developing this rapport with people helps your branding in the long run. It takes a long time. You’ve heard the expression “an overnight success takes about four years”? I think the reason for that is because it takes that long to develop those relationships with people.

In dealing with people so much, you’re often expected to always be on the ball. How do you deal with being tired or not feeling at your peak ability?

As soon as I put on my hat [Jarrod’s unique personal branding has to do with the fedora he wears at all the events he attends and in the videos he creates] and attend the events, I get my energy back. Being a professional means you go on regardless of what happens. Now, I’m a professional at networking. Think of it this way: if you’re not out there networking who’s selling your business?
I’ve always thought to myself, if I want to stay in business two years from now, what do I have to do now to get there? A lot of it has to do with this passion to make something out of nothing. This is the epitome of being an entrepreneur. So I started these Ask the Fedora videos to help others. It’s not rocket science. But people aren’t taught these skills.

Where did you learn these skills?

Trial and error. A lot of the things I’ve talked about in my videos I learned the hard way. Anywhere from spilling food on myself, to not having a free hand to shake, to throwing people my business cards and giving my sales pitch. I used to do everything wrong but I learned through time and time again better ways to interact with people.

Do you read entrepreneurship books?

I don’t. I never have. I just do things because I think it’s the right thing to do. I guess I’m a bit of a dinosaur in that way. I just don’t read entrepreneur books. I know I should but I just never have.

Do you read other books?

I don’t read much. I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch movies. I’m always on; I’m always working. I mean, it’s not work for me. But it also keeps me on my toes.

What is your biggest challenge in your industry?

I mean the drive to Toronto once in a while gets a little tiring. But the biggest challenge is changing things up. Businesses get stale. Businesses have to change. You have to do something different every three months. I found a format that works really well for my networking events, but I change it up each time.
For example, the one in July is a pitch fest. The one in October is a fireside chat, and I’m looking to get one of the Dragons [from the popular entrepreneurship TV show called Dragon’s Den] to attend. Things are changing all the time. I encourage people – whatever you’re doing – keep tweaking.

What are some of the biggest changes that have taken place in your profession?

Well I’m not sure how much the music has changed but people understand the need to support local. Everybody likes to support local when they can.

Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs?

Everyone needs to become known as the go-to in their field. In my case, it’s networking. Think: how else can you branch out without losing that. You know, being a specialist in everything is not going to work.
And leverage your strengths. Because I host eSAX, I’m getting calls to help other people plan events. So now I’m an event planner. Go figure. But it’s a paid gig, so as an entrepreneur, your first reaction should be yes to everything,
You know, you’ll get calls from people asking, “do you do this?” And you go, “oh yes, that’s my specialty.” Then you hang up the phone and go, “oh shit.” And you learn real fast.
In your industry and as somewhat of a “freelance entrepreneur”, you have to negotiate your own value with your client.

What was your process for learning how to price yourself?

So that’s a tough one. I’m going to talk about the music right now. When I first started, there were no saxophone quartets. At least in Ottawa. There were very few in the world.
So I based our prices on on a string quartet. And I even priced us lower than a string quartet when we first started out, just to get our foot in the door. After a few years I realized there’s no reason to be cheaper than a string quartet because we are so unique. I doubled the price.

We’re not the cheapest, but I can do that because there’s no competition.
So when I started eSAX, the events used to be free. I used to spend four or five hundred dollars for food and for everybody. And everybody was happy. I started getting twenty, then forty, then in October 2013 I had 280 people. So I realized I could start charging. I upped it to forty a person. Now it’s 65 at the door plus sponsorships and booths and things like that. You have to do market research and know what can the market bear. But you also have to see how you stand out and why they would pay more and come back.

How do you determine how much to put back in your business, and how much to keep for yourself?

I put everything back into my business.

Do you have last pieces of networking advice for people just starting their careers?

Well of course, subscribe to the eSAX YouTube channel. Obviously. Little plug plug.
Don’t treat networking as a sales pitch. Wait until someone really wants your business card before giving it to them. Then ask for their business card.

When you’re starting, of course you want to throw it into everybody’s face. Then it comes across as a sales pitch, but nobody likes that. Engage in conversation. Talk about everything else but business. Try to get them to relate. Ask questions.

Eventually the conversation is going to be brought back. Why are you at this event, what do you do, why are you here. And I would let the conversation take the time to get there.

And that’s a wrap!

Hope you enjoyed our conversation and that you learned a little something from it. Let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see more of these interview-style posts!
And of course, special thanks to Jarrod for speaking with me and sharing his story. Be sure to check out his YouTube channel, eSAX! His bite-sized networking tip videos are a fantastic resource for anyone looking to improve the quality of their interactions with others!

writing || in conversation with: Jarrod Goldsmith’s advice on Networking and Entrepreneurship