AceTech Ontario Annual Retreat

Picture3In one week, over 100 Ontario Technology CEOs and special guests will be gathered together for the hottest networking event in town.  Where is that you ask? Why, the AceTech Ontario Annual Retreat no less!

At AceTech Ontario, our goal is to facilitate Conversations that Create Value. Members are offered the exclusive opportunity to be among a community of leading professionals in their specific field of business.  Every year, members walk away from the retreat with tools and strategies that can be put into action in each member’s company the very next day. We make sure to tap into the expertise of CEOs that have had real successes and can share practical tips from the front lines with our members.

Picture5Every retreat is a total immersion into the core of how technology businesses work and how these core principals can be put to use in every AceTech Ontario member’s company. From advanced business concepts to everyday work problems, the Annual Retreat empowers the CEO from the next day back at work, and through the next several years of career success.

Want to get on the A-List for next year’s retreat and benefit from year-round programming?

Contact Jo Ann Dizy about membership opportunities.

This year’s Annual Retreat will take place at the beautiful JW Marriott Resort on Lake Rosseau.  Many of the speakers and other highlights are outlined below.  It will be another innovative, provocative and worthwhile agenda!

Picture4In addition to the formal programming, there is optional golf, a bike tour and guided paddle tour before check in. Our traditional Casino Night sponsored by Bedford Consulting is back again with fabulous prizes! Lastly, we are excited to share that we will be taking part in a dinner cruise & ski show!  These events will not only be a great deal of fun but will provide numerous opportunities to network with all our technology CEOs and discuss issues pertinent to your business.

Our event app, which was generously provided by our member company EventMobi, has an exciting new addition…gamification! Now attendees will  have the opportunity to have a friendly competition with their peers and a further opportunity to network and win prizes.  The grand gamification prize is a private 2 night getaway for 6 at an exclusive winery in Ontario.

“The Rules of Opportunity” Keynote with Michael Hyatt, BlueCat Networks Inc.

Michael HyattMichael Hyatt, Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of BlueCat Networks Inc. and professional speaker with and the National Speakers Bureau, “Dragon”, Next Gen Den | Entrepreneur and Technology Visionary.

Michael Hyatt is a serial entrepreneur, active investor and the Executive Chairman of Bluecat, one of Canada’s most successful software companies. Michael is a weekly business commentator on CBC’s The Exchange,  CBC’s Business Panel and a Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den – Next Gen Den.  Michael is a Founding Partner at the Rotman School of Management Creative Destruction Lab and on the CEO Board of Advisors at Georgian Partners. He is also a finalist in Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a recipient of the Top 40 Under 40™ Award and chairs his family’s charitable foundation. Michael is an active speaker with Speakers Spotlight and the National Speakers Bureau.  Michael also co-founded Dyadem which was purchased by IHS (NYSE: IHS).

Keynote with Pierre Cléroux, BDC

Pierre Cléroux photoPierre Cléroux will deliver an informative presentation as he provides economic analyses and advice to our CEOs, while helping interpret economic trends and their impact on businesses.

Pierre Cléroux was appointed Vice President, Research and Chief Economist at the Business Development Bank of Canada in 2012. He is responsible for providing economic analyses and advice to the Senior Management Team, while helping interpret economic trends and their impact on businesses. His responsibilities also include all marketing and industry research activities.

 3 TECH TALKS on Strategic Change Leadership followed by a Panel Discussion on Strategies to Motivate and Manage During Change

Our businesses are constantly pivoting and our organizations are under stress to increase revenue, hire new staff, and deal with ever changing competition and a dynamic environment.  How do we deal with changes inside and outside our organizations?  How do we successfully  implement change?  And how do we best plan for change?  We want to lead into our Retreat by thinking about Growth and Change Management.

Robert Harris Mike Katchen Mark Miller Chris Rasmussen

Robert Harris
Robert Harris Resources Inc.

Mike Katchen
Wealth Simple
Mark Miller
Volaris Group
Chris Rasmussen

3 TECH TALKS on Sales, Sales Tools & Social Selling followed by a Panel Discussion

We are privileged to have three experienced Sales Professionals speak on different aspects of Sales in the B2B space, and then they will come together for a moderated panel discussion with interaction from the audience.  Some topics will include:

  1. Interdependence between sales and marketing in B2B selling, both internally and in the broader B2B ecosystem
  2. Effectiveness:  How to turn around an under-performing sales team – how to manage for success, recruiting attracting and retaining high performing sales people
  3. Efficiency:  What tools are available to increase the efficiency of our sales?
  4. Social:  How do we take advantage of Social Selling?  Is it a time waster?  What are the drivers for success?
Andrew Ford Justin Lafayette Eric Shefler bob.jpg

Andrew Ford
Sales CoPilot

Justin Lafayette
Georgian Partners
 Eric Schefler
Oracle Corporation
 Bob Vaez

3 TECH TALKS on Marketing Automation, Social Leads and Branding, followed by a Panel Discussion

We are looking forward to our three short presentations and moderated panel discussion on Marketing with our exciting lineup of experienced speakers.  They will be talking about:

  1. Social lead nurturing
  2. How can we implement Marketing Automation?
  3. Win/Loss and Churn Analysis … getting the buyer’s candid review of why you lose, and how you can win more
  4. Branding and marketing of SaaS based B2B technology companies.  What do we need to know to be best in class?  How do you turn a good marketing campaign in to revenue?
Alan Armstrong Krista LaRiviere kristy sadler Lisa Shepherd
Alan Armstrong
Eigenworks Inc.
Krista LaRiviere
gShift Labs
Kristy Sadler
Lisa Shepherd
The Mezzanine Group

Being a Leader:  The Ability to Allow Yourself to Learn Continuously

Mark Miller, CEO Volaris Group

Mark MillerMark will speak about one of the things he looks for in a leader: the ability to continue to learn. Businesses today are complicated – they can be global in nature, have consolidation going on – and needs are constantly changing. As well, customers are all expecting different things, including more interactivity with mobile application with their data or with your solutions.

All of these things are really complicated and figuring out how to navigate everything is a monumental task. It’s near impossible to figure it all out by yourself. You really need to learn from others. You need to read about different issues, connect online, find people and peers who are solving similar problems, and continue to learn. When a manager and a leader wants to learn, it sets a great example for everyone who works for them and anyone who works with them because that whole culture of learning gives the organization, whole team, and that company’s customers a real edge.

The ROI of Intentionally Building a Healthy and Happy Workplace Culture 

Jason Atkins, CEO 360Insights

jason atkinsJason Atkins will discuss the ROI of intentionally building a healthy and happy workplace culture. The talk will demonstrate the ROI in terms of:

  • Savings on candidate attraction/retention
  • Broader ROI metrics related to improved productivity, attendance and others
  • Effect of culture on client retention

How to Grow Through Acquisitions

Noam Tomczak, COO Iotum

noam tAcquisitions when done well can be an excellent way to grow both your top and bottom line. Success requires both careful planning and execution. Buying competitors can result in lower customer acquisition cost than your typical sales funnel. Additionally, margins in the target company can be vastly improved if you can integrate infrastructure and people successfully. Noam will share Iotum’s 2 year journey of growth through 4 acquisitions and lessons learned.

Aligning Your Sales Team and Your Buyers:  Driving a Sales Process to Scale Your Business

Dan Marcus, VP, Operational Excellence Intelex

daniel marcusAs your sales team grows it is imperative that you have tight processes in place not only to hit your growth numbers but so you can effectively analyze your sales KPIs, identify trends and ensure every deal and sales person has the best chance of winning. Daniel Marcus, a veteran at Intelex, will summarize the process of building a winning sales process that aligns the buyers and sellers journey with various tools, resource, job roles and KPIs.


The Importance of Context and Personalization Through Indoor Maps

Contribution by AceTech Ontario CEO Member Chris Wiegand of Jibstream

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAmAAAAAJDg2MjQxMTEyLTI3ZjMtNDY5Mi1hNzZmLTg1MjE1NTJjZjA5Yw“Location, location, location” has long been the buzz phrase for finding a home or business. It applies equally well to understanding the exact whereabouts and proximity of someone in the context of a map within a building. Knowing a person’s location in real time is the most important element in being able to enhance their Experience of Place, as well as creating a myriad of other operational value.

Anything from the mall tenant base to building control and parking systems are now capable of becoming interoperable. By using indoor mapping as the base platform to connect these disparate information systems, you provide a much more contextual end-user experience.

In its simplest form, notification and alerts can be sent out to re-direct someone around a broken escalator. In more sophisticated uses, machine learning and prescriptive responses can be applied to enhance an Experience of Place, delivering information that’s both personalized and highly contextual.

It’s important to note that “personalized and contextual” isn’t always (nor should it be) about delivering a marketing-based message. It’s great to receive an offer from your favorite retailer for a product you love, but there may be even greater value in receiving a message that directs you to a reserved parking space closest to the entrance of the store you plan to visit first.

The noteworthy, near-term opportunity is for the ‘app’ to begin to know you, your habits and preferences. It can then provide timely advice, such as the most efficient route to your next destination with suggested stops along the way based on previous behavior.

We’re already seeing these types of experiences being enabled with Virtual Private Assistants such as Apple’s Siri. This leads to the road of an ‘app-less’ world, where users benefit from the data of native apps and location awareness without actually having to download a native application. This may be the key that unlocks and marries these experiences for the mainstream.

Are we there yet? Not quite, but many of the puzzle pieces are coming together. One thing is certain: an indoor mapping platform needs to deliver contextually-meaningful information to users, based on where they are and what’s going on around them.

So what does this all mean for the stakeholders creating these end-user experiences? Likely a fairly equal number of benefits and challenges…but I’ll save that topic for next time!

Training your IT team

supportEver receive complaints from your customers about your IT support? Or are you looking for a way to improve your IT team even further?  Training your IT support on how to handle themselves when a customer presents them with a crisis or disaster could be the answer you are looking for.

We met up with Steven Rodin, CEO of Storagepipe Solutions to talk about what he expects from his IT team and how they have in turn contributed to Storagepipe’s success. Storagepipe provides world-class corporate data protection solutions, which makes their IT team a vital part of the company.

Since Storagepipe is in the business of dealing with clients’ disasters, every day their IT team faces crisis after crisis.  This normalizes what a crisis is for them despite the fact that this may be a rare occurrence for their client.  As a result, they have to treat every case with a high level of priority and have to excel at this in order to be successful.  Well, how can this help you?  Having your IT team treat every client with this level of care and diligence will improve the customer service level that your IT team is able to deliver.

So we asked Steven to provide us with some insight into his IT team.  “One of the most important aspects for our team is that our clients have a very high level of trust with them, that they have a very high level of diligence when they are dealing with our customer base and that they can handle themselves in a crisis”.  Since most technology companies are not in the business of handling disasters on a regular basis, on the occasion that a crisis does occur, either internally or externally, having IT staff who cannot handle themselves in a crisis will either cause internal damage, or damage to a relationship with one of your customers.

Speaking of diligence, Steven outlined for us two key characteristics that he has found to be vital in his IT team:

  • Problem Solving Skills & Diligence:
    Often situations arise where IT staff cannot provide a solution right away. Not only is it important to have your IT team be problem solvers, but it is also vital for them to be diligent in cases they have never seen before.  Your staff should be doing their research, consulting others and determining the root cause when finding a solution.
  • Communication Skills:
    If you have staff who are excellent problem solvers, but cannot communicate the solution properly with your clients, your customer service is going to go downhill and quickly. Not only should your IT staff be able to communicate the reason for the problem and the solution effectively, they should also be communicating the specifics of the plan to put into action and ensuring the client is on board with every step in order to provide superior customer service.

We asked Steven what a common mistake is that companies make when building their IT team and how to avoid that pitfall. Steven outlines the importance of being clear and specific about what you are looking for when building your team and what gaps in the organization are you trying to fill.  “If you are not clear about what you are looking for and have not thought that through”, says Steven, “you are bound to make a mistake in bringing on the wrong person into the wrong role”.  Once you have this established, the next step is investing in your team: “people underestimate the amount of time it can take someone to get up to speed on an initiative” explains Steven, “people need time to be trained and they need time to learn new technology and they need time to go and do their due diligence”.  He continues to explain that there is a lot of technology that already exists, and in order to have a superior IT team, you need to invest in the learning of your staff.  Often Steven finds that instead of doing this, companies will throw bodies at the problem hoping that more people on the team will equal better service.

“You don’t always need the largest team, but rather the best team”.

Maintaining Your Autonomy After Being Acquired

Contribution by AceTech Ontario CEO member Mark Miller of Volaris Group

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAk8AAAAJDBlZDQwNTI2LThmMDQtNDI1Zi1hYmRjLWNkNjY5YWFkYTUzZgFor many founders and CEOs, finding the right acquirer for their business is all about the “fit”. These sellers typically want a strategic acquirer who can best position their company for long-term success, while minimally impacting their operations.

About The Integration Process

In our experience, we have found acquisition prospects to be somewhat skeptical of integration processes. After developing their business on their own for years, sellers are understandably concerned about how integration activities will affect their employees and customers.

For some acquirers, the integration process can be extremely transactional- They take ownership of the business and “do what they need to do when they need to do it”. At Volaris, we hand-pick our acquisitions for their strong operations, talented personnel, and sustainable structures. Our integration process centers around learning about the business environment, operating the business “as usual”, and empowering the seller to maintain autonomy with an understanding of Volaris’ Key Performance Indicators.

Here are three ways that Volaris Group promotes a decentralized, autonomous model:

1. Keep Your Staff

We believe that internal resources are a key fabric of every company. They are the “talent” who build, drive, and support the inner workings of all operations. At Volaris, talent management and development is one of our highest priorities. We recognize that a business’ existing personnel pool is comprised of skilled individuals who have knowledge and expertise about their respective industry.

2. Keep Your Say

Founders and CEOs best understand the “ins and outs” of their business and industry. For that reason, Volaris generally encourages sellers to remain involved in the management of the business for as long as they would like. Whether the seller wishes to continue in their existing role, or transition to a new one, the seller’s ongoing involvement is of tremendous benefit to both parties.

3. Keep Your Culture

Successful businesses looking to be acquired generally have a sound ecosystem in place. At Volaris, we take great strides to ensure those healthy cultures remain intact. We believe that maintaining these unique corporate cultures preserves innovation and functionality at the business level, which facilitates operating success going forward.

Your Turn

Are you looking for the right strategic acquirer? Weigh the pros and cons of each type of acquirer, and ensure your needs are met at every stage of this important transaction.