Axis Ottawa 2014 to bring international investors to capital for pitch fest

An American entrepreneur currently based in Israel wants to boost the Ottawa business ecosystem so it can “grow out” and experience the expansion seen in tech hubs such as Silicon Valley and Israel.

To that end, an event called Axis Ottawa 2014 is coming to Algonquin College on Sept. 9 and 10.

Steve Tover, one of the organizers, is CEO of Stage 2 Partners, a consulting firm that works with early stage companies to get them to the next level.

He said he was introduced to the capital when a former partner of his in a health care company became involved in a project with the University of Ottawa in 2011. He said he has been working with three or four high-tech companies in Ottawa ever since.

“One of the things we found challenging,” he said, “was raising money past that initial funding that you can get from some of the local sources.”

Enter Ed Frank, another American entrepreneur also based in Israel. He is the CEO of Axis Innovations, a company that travels around the world holding events that introduce companies to international investors.

“I approached Ed,” said Mr. Tover, “and said ‘Hey, you know, I’ve got this fantastic community called Ottawa which is a great secret. Nobody’s ever heard about it outside of Ottawa and there’s all this high tech there. Maybe we could do one of your conferences there.’ There’s a lot of companies. There’s a fantastic feeder system.”

The event has been in the works for the past six months. Mr. Frank said they had to whittle the 100 companies that applied to take part in the pitch sessions down to 20, something he said was not an easy task.

While Mr. Frank would not disclose which companies will be pitching to the international investors, he did say they represented the mobile, cyber security, medical tech, e-commerce and digital media industries.

Mr. Frank said there was a lot of interest from investors, both financial and strategic, and they will be coming from countries such as India, China, Singapore, Germany and Holland.

“We have some amazing investors that are coming to Ottawa for the first time, to seek deals and to seek companies – not early stage startups, but those that have traction that are looking to go international,” said Mr. Frank.

There will be four pitching sessions over two days with an emphasis on feedback. There are also keynote addresses, roundtable discussions, and fireside chats on a number of different topics, as well as a pitching session done by the investors so startups and others in the audience can learn what investors are looking for.

And plenty of networking.

Mr. Tover said one of the things that separates this event from similar ones is its size. It’s small, with capacity for no more than 150 people. He says that means everyone who attends will benefit, not just the 20 companies that were selected to pitch.

“The format is really effective for people that are busy people. These are investors flying all over the world. (It) gives them a chance not just to meet the 20 companies presenting, but all the other members of the ecosystem.”