"Coffee with Guido" involved the "full-time community guy" and startup advisor at local software firm Mercury Grove, Guido Giordano, meeting more than 80 local entrepreneurs over a cup of java.
Of those, four companies were selected to be the inaugural startups in Mercury Grove's community-led business accelerator.
More than 50 well-known names in Ottawa's tech community, such as former Protus CEO Joseph Nour and TravelPod founder Luc Levesque have signed on as mentors to advise these early stage companies, which will also receive $25,000 in seed funding in exchange for "nominal" equity in their company.
But Mercury Grove founder Scott Annan says his goal extends far beyond helping a small number of startups get off the ground.
"The goal is not to run an accelerator, but create an ecosystem," he said in an interview.
"If the program is a success, we'll have four companies that will attract financing to Ottawa, signalling there are things going on here."
At a launch party at Mercury Grove's Glebe offices this week, Mr. Annan said he wanted to divert attention away from the people behind the accelerator and instead focus the city's attention on supporting startups.
For example, Ottawa residents can use the products created by local businesses and provide feedback, Mr. Annan said, sharing an anecdote of opting to use FluidSurveys rather than SurveyMonkey for online questionnaires.
Getting to know local entrepreneurs and introducing them to one's network is also helpful, as is spreading awareness by talking about the work being done by Ottawa startups, Mr. Annan added.
This isn't the first time Mr. Annan has attempted to launch a business accelerator. Last fall, Mercury Launch failed to get off the ground after several investors pulled out.
This time around, he said he didn't attempt to secure any government or institutional money. The new accelerator is completely funded by the local tech community.
Unlike the previous iteration, which was to be a clearly defined four-year program, with two "classes" of startups a year, the Mercury Grove program is less rigid, with no defined timelines for startups to graduate.
"We're going to work with (them) until they either implode or explode," he said.
"We want people to say, 'We're successful because of Ottawa, not in spite of it.'"
One of the four startups working with Mercury Grove is Openera, which develops a cross-cloud content manager that helps professionals quickly find files across different platforms.
Its founder, Peter Lalonde, said his ultimate goal is to build a help support the following generation of startups.
"It's a cycle. I'm going to get funded, I'm going to build a successful business and reinvest," he said.
"Giving back to the community that helped me get here is far more rewarding than (just) profits."
The other three companies are:
NDstorefont: Turnkey e-commerce platform for naturopathic doctors to sell natural health products to patients.
ProjectSpeaker: Attempting to eliminate agents in the professional speaking circuit by directly connecting speakers with conference planners.
Vegan Cuts: Digital storefront selling socially-conscious, high-quality products by boutique stores across North America.