Around 500 people attended the event at the Hilton Lac-Leamy, which was co-hosted by the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
Many of those feted had started their own business – in some cases, selling it to start up another one or two. They shared their tips for success in videos splashed on screens across the venue, which held 48 tables.
"The energy, the innovation, you don't tend to see that cluster unless you're in a room of startup entrepreneurs," said Jason Daley, president of uCreateMedia, in a video.
The recipients spoke of the personal sacrifices they made along the journey, including long hours and the need to have understanding family and friends as they did so. For two of them, the solution was to start a business together.
"It is my dream to do (business) beside my best friend and partner," said Brigida Castrucci-Aversa, co-owner of Tiny Hoppers Corp. and a 2012 recipient along with fellow owner Theresa Balys-Bertuzzi.
Some recipients chose to take their moment on stage with some style. Gowlings LLP's Eric Macramalla shimmied to the music on the podium, and The Leadership Group's Dale Stevenson was carried on the shoulders of two people from her table.
Several draws were held for prizes, with $5,570 raised for the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. OBJ has pledged $100,000 towards the foundation.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the awards. Judges spent more than 100 collective hours evaluating the submissions for this year.