Ask Me Anything

Your questions answered

Our Ask Me Anything sessions feature industry experts answering questions submitted by Communitech startups and scale-ups.

Communitech startups and scale-ups can view upcoming sessions and submit questions via the AMA Slack channel. Contact your Communitech Advisor or CSM if you need access.

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Past sessions

Ask Me Anything: COVID-19 Vaccines and What That Means for the Return to the Office

Working on a return-to-office plan? Not sure how to handle vaccination policies?

Neena Gupta, Partner at Gowling WLG, will answer your questions about what employers can and cannot ask employees when it comes to their COVID-19 vaccination status. She will also provide legal guidance on what employers should consider when creating return-to-office policies for their employees.

Ask Me Anything: Managing Your Investor Pipeline

Learn how to manage your raise from a serial entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. Much like a sales funnel, managing investors during your raise takes strategy, persistence and closing skills.

In this session, we’ll discuss how the venture capital process works, how to get investor meetings, how to pivot based on feedback and, of course, how to close your round.

Speakers: Jonah Midanik, VC and Managing Director at Acceleprise

An engineer by trade, Jonah has spent the last twenty years at the intersection of marketing and technology as a serial entrepreneur in Canada. Jonah has been lucky enough to have several different lenses on the founder journey from bootstrapping, to launching new corporate divisions, and raising 8 figures of venture capital.

Ask Me Anything: How To Protect Your Business Assets From a Cyber Attack

During this Ask Me Anything session, you'll learn how to identify your risk points and how to properly secure them so you can protect your organization from serious harm. Ensuring your business’s systems and processes are secure is becoming increasingly important. As many as two thirds of small businesses have reported experiencing a cyber attack and the number and intensity of these attacks continues to grow.

Join us for a conversation with John Svazic, Founder of EliteSec Information Security Consultants, Inc. John will answer your cybersecurity questions so you can begin to consider how best to safeguard your business.

Ask Me Anything: Market Diversification and Growth in Uncertain Times

Learn how international markets – with a focus on the E.U. – may provide growth opportunities for your business.

Topics covered:

  • How you can make strategic decisions when the operating environment and returns are unknown.
  • New markets for international trade – beyond the U.S.
  • Opportunities around the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the E.U.
  • Strategic reasons for considering the E.U. for your growth opportunities and how to get started.

Ask Me Anything: Getting Started in the Wild World of Digital Marketing

Join Vinay Nair, Communitech Growth Coach and Fractional CMO for B2B Tech SaaS companies, for an introductory primer on digital marketing as a part of your customer acquisition strategy.

Customer acquisition has become increasingly digital and the pandemic has only accelerated the adoption of digital marketing techniques – no one is looking back. How do startups think about bringing digital marketing into their mix?

Ask Me Anything: Creating Your Cap Table

One of the first steps in forming a startup should undoubtedly be creating your cap table. Sounds simple, but cap tables can get complicated quickly. And without a good one, it’s far too easy to make bad equity decisions when raising money and hiring.

Whether you’re new to this topic or need a refresher, it’s often best to learn from examples and the people that think about this every day. In this Ask Me Anything session, Francesca Puccinelli, Business Development Manager at Carta, and Sean Gomes, Partner at Gowling WLG, will discuss common questions and the framework to building an impressive cap table. They will share how a well-managed cap table can help you determine, negotiate and track ownership stakes as your company grows.

Ask Me Anything: The COVID-19 Toolkit for Businesses

Join Dr. Jim Chung, Chief Medical Officer at Air Canada, along with Neena Gupta and Tushar Anandasagar from Gowling WLG, as they talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on how your business operates.

Ask Me Anything: How To Improve the Maternity Leave Process for Your Employees

Learn how to create and implement best practices, policies and procedures in your organization that directly support parents – notably mothers – from their pregnancy announcement until their return to work.

Allison Venditti is the Founder of Moms at Work, a company that focuses on empowering moms who are returning to work after maternity leave. She will cover some of the ways your company can introduce conversations with employees who are going on leave, as well as how to keep employees updated on workplace changes, handle difficult situations, support mental health awareness and more.

Ask Me Anything: How To Determine Your Company's Valuation

Do you have a great idea? Maybe even a brilliant one? You may have the beginnings of a prototype and even a partner in crime, or two. You’re officially an entrepreneur at the helm of a company. But what is your company worth? Answering that question can be difficult. And an exact value may ultimately depend on what potential investors think. Join Laith Shukri, Senior Market Development Manager at SVB Canada and Matt Roberts, Partner at ScaleUP Ventures, as they answer your questions on how to determine your company's valuation. They will also discuss the basics of valuations, how they evolve over time and stage, and offer useful yardsticks that can help you put a dollar figure on your fledgling startup.

Ask Me Anything: Do Your Salaries Measure Up?

There are so many factors in a good compensation plan – salaries, benefits, equity and more. How do you know where to start, or how to be competitive in order to attract the best talent for your growing company? Join Jessica Good, Kristin Condon and Suzanne Harrison as they team up to help you make confident salary decisions and address some of your current compensation questions.

Ask Me Anything: Designing Your Funding Roadmap: Debt, Equity and Bootstrapping

As an entrepreneur, it's critical to be intentional about your funding roadmap. How quickly do you aim to grow? What are the business's cash flow needs? Who should be around the table? These are all important questions to answer when deciding whether to grow your business with debt, equity, organically with cash flows from sales, or a mix of all of the above. Join Mallory McKewen from BDC's Technology Group as she answers your questions and discusses these following topics.

Ask Me Anything Sessions: How CEOs Should – and Shouldn't – Handle Crisis

Navigating a corporate crisis is one of the most stressful responsibilities for a CEO. If organizations haven't properly invested in internal communication and issues management, they may find themselves with a full-blown crisis on their hands. Join this Ask Me Anything session with Conway Fraser, President and CEO of Fraser Torosoy, as he shares some of the ways organizations can anticipate, prepare for and potentially avoid their next corporate crisis.

    Ask Me Anything Sessions: How To Hire A World-Class Sales Team

    Hiring managers and internal recruitment professionals will learn strategies and tactics for sales recruitment, and talent development and retention during this session with Kristin Condon from the Sales Talent Agency. Kristin will answer all of your questions and discuss various topics. 

      Ask Me Anything Sessions: Why the Early Bird Always Wins at IP

      Are you an early stage startup still working to transform your ideas into prototypes? It's not too early to think about intellectual property (IP)! In this Ask Me Anything session, you'll learn the ins and outs of early stage IP protections and why there's no such thing as too soon when it comes to protecting your intellectual property. 

      Join us as Natalie Giroux, Managing Director at Stratford Intellectual Property, and Neil Henderson, Partner at Gowling WLG, answer your questions on early stage IP strategy. 

        Ask Me Anything Sessions: Amplify Your Employer Brand With External Candidates

        You’ve invested time and effort to create a differentiated and authentic employer value proposition, but how can you ensure you employer brand reach extends beyond a static careers page in this new work-from-anywhere environment? And event better – how can you do it for free? 

          Ask Me Anything Sessions: SR&ED Tax Credits

          The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credit is one of Canada’s largest incentive programs and awards over $3B annually to Canadian businesses. This program has evolved substantially since the 2011 Jenkins Report and the 2016 federal budget. In 2016, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) released new enforceable SR&ED guidelines affecting claims and audits in the software and technology sector.

            Ask Me Anything Sessions: Everything You Need To Know About Term Sheets

            One of the first steps to a successful fundraise is understanding – the Term Sheet.  Term sheets are designed to outline the conditions of the investment however, they can be overwhelming and complex to understand, navigate and negotiate. Join Jagruti Bhikha, Communitech Growth Coach and Angel Investor as she answers all of your questions about SAFEs, Convertible Notes, what’s negotiable, and what’s not.

              Ask Me Anything Sessions: Addressing Data Privacy In Your Organization

              Companies of all sizes are bound by privacy regulations. As a small, fast-growing company, where should you start? Failure to comply can result in significant fines, reduce customer trust, impede sales and narrow investment opportunities. However, privacy is a rapidly evolving topic and can require different approaches across borders. 

              Join us for this interactive Ask Me Anything session to hear experts share their insights on addressing data privacy challenges. Plus we’ll be asking you to contribute your thoughts on the topic. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of how privacy can impact your business and how you can start addressing the risk.

                Ask Me Anything Sessions: Why Intellectual Property is more than just patents

                This Ask Me Anything Session, hosted by Innovation Economist, Charles Plant and Intellectual Property Advisor, Alexis Conrad Black, will provide an overview of Canada’s IP landscape, as well as discuss strategies for startups to ensure that their IP helps them win in an increasingly competitive environment.

                In order to survive (and thrive!) in the innovation economy, it is vital for companies to see intellectual property differently. Tech startups and scale-ups need to embrace the creation of new forms of IP or they risk stagnating and failing. In this new realm of intellectual property, simply filing patents is no longer enough.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: How Government Funding Can Help Build Your Financial Plan

                  A third of companies will struggle to launch and scale products into the market due to a lack of funds and not because they lack customers or the ability to develop solutions. We'll help you stay laser focused on the money! Join Amanda Green and Koosha Totonchi for a look at the many ways government funding can fit into your broader strategy. 

                  What we will cover:

                  • The three main sources of early capital (private investment, government grants, committed revenues).
                  • What you will have to do to access the different sources of funds.
                  • How you can stack government funding within and between the other main sources.
                  • How to setup your firm to ensure you're eligible to apply for funding.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: How to Write (Close to) Perfect OCE Grant Applications

                  Need help writing successful OCE grant applications? Communitech and OCE are focused on working with companies in the tech space (AI, IoT, robotics, MedTech, etc.) by providing funding, supporting infrastructure programs and coaching. 

                  Join Koosha Totonchi of Communitech and John Chiappetta of OCE as they answer all your questions about how to apply and make use of government grants such OCE's NGNP and ENCQOR grants, and SR&ED.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: Navigating Early Stage Investment in Waterloo Region and Silicon Valley

                  Learn how to access the right networks and funds from your first meeting with investors all the way through to completing the deal. 

                  Jagruti Bhikha, Communitech Growth Coach and Angel Investor and J. Skyler Fernandes, Founder and General Partner, VU Venture Partners, will be sharing their views on fundraising, how to ace your investor meetings and identifying the right time to raise. They will also give an update on what's happening in the Valley right now. 

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: Implications of Work From Anywhere

                  The global pandemic forced many employers to send their employees home to work and have since discovered the benefits of a "digital-first" approach. As a result, a new form of work is emerging - work from anywhere (WFA). While there are benefits for employees, employers are struggling to understand when to say "yes" or "no" to these requests, or when to hire new talent internationally.

                  We will discuss how to make knowledgeable decisions for employee WFA requests, such as: tax compliance, employment legislation, data privacy and protection, compensation adjustments and more.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: So, You Want To Be A Unicorn?

                  It's all about economics - your company's ability to turn ideas and cash into growth. Understanding the economics of scaling can accelerate growth, reduce capital requirements and increase your chances of global success. It can also lead to the creation of a "unicorn." 

                  To understand the economics of success, or as we refer to it, unicorn math, companies need to develop an algorithm for growth. An algorithm for growth is the economic formula that numerically reflects those factors that are essential to create a world-class product or company. Join Serial Entrepreneur and Innovation Economist, Charles Plant, as he shares the fundamentals of unicorn math and answers all of your questions.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: How to Become a Successful MedTech Founder

                  MedTech companies face a number of unique challenges that are different than other tech startups.  These differences, which stem from operating in a regulated environment, include not only the regulatory pathway but also long development cycles, special controls and quality systems, unique pricing, , the need for clinical testing and others.  This Ask Me Anything session will provide an overview of the unique landscape of MedTech startups so you can make smart choices early and put your startup on the road to success.

                  Plus get all of your questions answered by our in-house MedTech Growth Coaches, Bruce Brown, Paul Weber & Peter Bloch.

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: How Will the U.S. Election Results Impact Your Business?

                  The Canadian business community is waiting to exhale as our largest trading partner heads to the polls on Nov. 3. Over the last four years, Canadian exporters have weathered a new United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement and an administration that favours America-first policies, tariff threats and bilateral deal-making to long-term trade peace.

                  Would a Biden administration return U.S./Canada trade relations to something normal? With the trade mix shifting from raw materials and autos to data, SaaS and advanced manufacturing, not to mention a border still closed to non-essential travel, is there even a normal to get back to?

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions: Employing Parents in a Pandemic

                  Featuring:

                  • Allison Venditti, CHRP, CHRL, Founder, Careerlove and Moms At Work
                  • Jim Moss, VP of Workplace Well-Being
                  • Martha van Berkel, CEO & Co-Founder of Schema App
                  • Sheri Allain, Founder, Codezilla Kids

                  Hear from a panel of experts who want to help startup and scale-up employers start the conversation with their employees as they embark on new challenges in parenting during a pandemic.

                  More resources:

                  Free mental health resources
                  Children's mental health resources
                  Workplace strategies for mental health
                  Resources for leaves of absence (Ontario Specific)
                  Contingency planning - tools and templates

                  Ask Me Anything Sessions:  The Evolution of Events: 2020 & Beyond

                  Featuring:

                  •  Kristen Gillett, Event specialists, Co-owner of Birtch Gillett Inc
                  • Leena Birtch, Event specialists, Co-owner of Birtch Gillett Inc

                  We’re cutting through all that clutter to teach you how events can seamlessly operate today, what you need to consider for the future and what cannot be sacrificed going forward.

                    Ask Me Anything Sessions: PR 101 for Startup and Scale-ups

                    Featuring:

                    •  Alex Kinsella, Principal at Kinsella Marketing
                    • Candace Beres, Communitech's Manager of Public Relations 

                    Learn what types of stories reporters are looking, how to adjust your strategies to reach new audiences and why you shouldn't be afraid of the power of social media in the storytelling process.

                    Ask Me Anything Sessions: A Look at the Fundraising Journey with Martin Basiri

                    Featuring:

                    •  Mike Kirkup, Chief Technology Officer, Encircle
                    • Martin Basiri, Co-Founder & CEO, ApplyBoard

                    Join Mike Kirkup as he sits down with Martin Basiri, Founder and CEO of ApplyBoard to talk about his investment journey. Martin chats about his story and perspective on investment and answers audience questions.

                      Ask Me Anything Sessions: Virtual Onboarding

                      Featuring:

                      •  Chris Mulhall, VP Talent & Organizational Effectiveness, PointClickCare

                      Join Chris Mulhall to discuss best practices for developing a successful virtual onboarding program. 

                      Ask Me Anything Sessions: Pandemic-Proof Pitching

                      Featuring:

                      •  Frank Erschen, Pitch Coach, Communitech

                      During this chat, they'll cover:

                      - How companies and funders reacted to the COVID-19 crisis vs. how they need to proactively plan for the future.

                      - Rediscovering risk: cash is still king, but risk is queen (queen takes king!).

                      - Business models and the new supply-demand paradox. Join us to find out what this means; hint: it’s important.

                        Ask Me Anything Sessions: How to Stay Connected While Working Remote

                        Featuring:

                        •  Pj Lowe-Silivestru, Communitech Growth Coach

                        Companies are struggling to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19, in addition, they have to figure out the new landscape of remote working. Join PJ as she explores how to stay focused on sales and marketing, product development and employee productivity while all (or most) employees work remotely. She'll take a look at some of the areas affected by this new reality and share how companies can succeed with remote workers.

                        Partnerships, Talent and Resilience in the United Kingdom

                        As the world settles into the new normal, many opportunities are emerging both here and in the United Kingdom.

                        Come meet your local partners from DIT, Invest Northern Ireland and Communitech Outposts who can help navigate your company's growth into the market, and hear from Canadian business leaders about their own journey into the UK.

                          The State of Startup Talent

                          Featuring:

                          • Marianne Bulger, CEO of Prospect.  

                          Marianne Bulger discusses the state of talent demand, and loss, in our national workforce, and what Prospect’s job market data is telling us about where we might be headed as an innovation economy.

                          COVID-19 Customer Success 

                          Featuring:

                          • Craig Wahl, Communitech Growth Coach.  

                          Craig Wahl answers questions related to customer experience and COVID-19 and covers topics such as:

                          • Messaging to and managing your customers in these constantly changing times.
                          • Why, what and how to measure your customer engagement.
                          • How to address the new ways of working with your customer facing teams.

                          COVID-19 Cash Flow

                          Featuring: 

                          • JD D'Elia, finance executive and Communitech Growth Coach. 

                           Catered toward companies new to cash flow planning or in the early stages of their cash flow planning journey, this session includes an introduction to key concepts and provides direction on how to build or enhance your company's cash flow model. 

                          COVID-19 HR Workshop

                          Featuring:

                          • Evan Campbell, Associate at Miller Thomson.
                          • Suzanne Hyatt, HR Executive and Communitech Growth Coach.
                          • Nancy Buck, Executive HR Strategist and Communitech Growth Coach.

                          Hear HR insights from each expert individually, then jointly as they tackle questions on topics from working from home and employee morale to sick policies and possible layoffs. 

                          Sales and marketing

                          Featuring:

                          • Chad McCaffrey, Communitech Sales & Customer Success Growth Coach & CRO at Meya.
                          • Heather Galt, Communitech Marketing Growth Coach & VP of Marketing at P&P Optica.

                          Struggling to figure out how your sales and marketing strategy needs to change during this strange period in our history? Wondering if maybe COVID-19 presents a new opportunity for you? Get ideas on how to adjust your sales and marketing activities during this time. 

                          Managing Revenue Operations during COVID-19

                          As the world settles into the new normal, many opportunities are emerging both here and in the United Kingdom.

                          Come meet your local partners who can help navigate your company's growth into the market, and hear from local business leaders about their own journey into the UK.

                          Speakers:

                          • Latham French, Investment Officer, with the Department for International Trade.
                          • Michael Barton, Regional Director, Trade & Investment, with Invest Northern Ireland.
                          • Azhar Janjua, Head of Communitech Outposts, Communitech.

                          Fireside chat:

                            • Lisa Grogan, CEO Overlap Associates.
                            • Jason Cassidy, CEO ShinyDocs.
                            • Ben Sainsbury, CEO Marion Surgical.  

                          Enhance Your Candidate Experience with Video

                          Presented by Sarah Solecky, Talent Acquisition Lead, Vidyard.

                          Struggling with how to create a remarkable candidate experience in our new virtual/work from home landscape? In this session we are going to chat about getting creative as brand ambassadors, how to focus on connecting with your candidates in a captivating manner, while ensuring you are hiring individuals who align with your company's vision and values. Our focus during this session is to provide insight on how to create 'white glove service' starting from the initial stages of when a job seeker applies to your posting while leveraging video throughout the entire recruitment process.

                          The Virtual Interview

                          With use of technology and some tweaks to your process, you can make authentic connections with your candidates and properly assess skills and fit. In this session we will answer your questions about how to conduct an effective and engaging virtual interview.