Follow-On Investment Forum Speakers 2014 & Special Guests

Blair Poetschke, Director, Trade Branch, Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment and the Ministry of Research and Innovation – Successful Exits Case Study (Panel)

BlairPoetschke_webBlair recently joined the Ontario government as the Director of Trade with a mission to grow Ontario exports, encourage international technology collaboration and facilitate investment in innovative Ontario companies. Prior to joining government, Blair was a successful serial entrepreneur in London, Ontario, taking medical devices companies from start-up to global sales and manufacturing. In addition, he has been a long-time supporter of organizations that focus on economic development, acting on the Board of Directors for numerous organizations including the London Economic Development Corporation, the Techalliance of Southwest Ontario, and many more.

His background in starting and growing global companies brings a practical focus to the role of the Ontario government in facilitating trade and business expansion. As both an entrepreneur and as an investor he is very familiar with the angel investor and venture capital communities as well as Universities and business organizations, and understands what it means to be accountable to both investors and shareholders while also managing business opportunities and cash flow.

Carol Leaman, Chief Executive Officer, Axonify – Successful Exits Case Study (Panel)

Carol Leaman bwCarol Leaman is the CEO of Axonify Inc., a next generation eLearning company that makes every employee a top performer through a unique combination of daily, bite-sized, personalized learning that uses game mechanics and real brain science to drive knowledge retention. Carol is a serial entrepreneur who led the sale of PostRank to Google in 2011. Prior to that she was the CEO of RSS Solutions and Fakespace Systems both of which she grew and sold to strategic acquirers. Carol won the Sarah Kirke award for Canada’s leading female entrepreneur in 2010 and the Waterloo Region Intrepid Award for Entrpreneurship in 2011. Carol is a Chartered Accountant and sits on numerous boards. She mentors many early stage entrepreneurs in her spare time.


Frank Erschen, Director, Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario – Successful Exits Case Study (Moderator)

Frank-EFrank is an active member of the start-up community. After graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University’s business program it took him only 25 years in the corporate world (IBM, BMO) before entrenching himself in the start-up ecosystem as an angel, mentor, entrepreneur and networker. His corporate foundation prepared him for roles such as CEO/CIO of a start-up which raised $35 million and he currently chairs Powernoodle (also cofounder & CFO), Katapult Business Solutions (cofounder), and RENOMii. He is a Charter Member, Selection Committee Member, 2011 Angel of the Year and director at the Golden Triangle Angel Network (GTAN). He serves on the NAO-Ontario board, is a frequent speaker at NACO and other industry events, a member of the Investment Committee of the Laurier Start-up Investment Fund, past chair and director of Canadian Hemochromatosis Society, past director Top Hat, and was on the Laurier Board of Governors from 2005-2011. Frank is an EIR/pitch coach at Communitech, is frequently invited by accelerators and incubators in other provinces to deliver his Artful Science of Pitching workshops and 1:1 pitch coaching, and he is a perpetual resident of highways 407, 401, 8 & 7.

John Ruffolo, Chief Executive Officer, OMERS Ventures – “The Future of Canada – Our Progress as an Innovation Nation” an exclusive state of the ecosystem report

JohnRuffalo_webMr. Ruffolo is the Chief Executive Officer of OMERS Ventures, the venture arm of OMERS. OMERS Ventures invests in early to late stage companies in the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications sectors. In addition, he is also the Senior Managing Director, Innovation, with OMERS Strategic Investments.

Mr. Ruffolo serves as board chair of MMM Group Ltd., and is a board member at HootSuite. He is chair of Canada’s Venture Capital and Private Equity Association’s Government Relations Committee and a member of its Executive Committee. He also serves as a board member and committee chair at numerous other organizations including Communitech, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. In addition, he is the Vice Chair of the David Suzuki Foundation. He is a member of the Toronto chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization.

Prior to joining OMERS Ventures, Mr. Ruffolo was a Partner at Deloitte, as well as the Global Thought Leader, the Global Tax Leader and the Canadian Industry Leader for Deloitte’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) practice. He was also a member of the firm’s Tax and TMT Global Leadership teams and a member of Deloitte’s Board of Directors.

A chartered accountant, Mr. Ruffolo was formerly a partner with Arthur Andersen LLP and has also spent time as an instructor for both the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and York University’s Schulich School of Business, from which he holds a Bachelor of Business Administration.

Patricia Lorenz, Chair, Network of Angel Organizations- Ontario – 2013-14 Angel Activity in Ontario

PatriciaLorenz_WebPatricia Lorenz has been CFO of a US food manufacturer and of a Canadian discount retailer, EVP of an NYSE listed consumer electronics and medical products distributor, Director of Finance for Oracle Corporation’s Americas Division, SVP of Strategic Planning and Operations for Oracle Canada, President of a salad manufacturer, General Manager of a trade book publisher, VP Finance of a research foundation, and Director of the University of Guelph’s commercialization office in addition to having been an auditor tax accountant, and a banker.

She has chaired the board of the Network of Angel Organizations – Ontario since 2008, is a Director of Agricorp and is a former Director of the National Angel Capital Organization as well as a number of other organizations. She has a BA from Yale University, an MBA from New York University, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a Diploma in Horticulture from the University of Guelph. Professional designations include CPA, CA (Canada), a CPA(NY) and CGMA (US) and DVM (Ont).

Somen Mondal, Chief Executive Officer, Ideal Candidate – Successful Exits Case Study (Panel)

Somen Mondal Headshot WebSomen is a Canadian entrepreneur and the Co-Founder & CEO of Ideal Candidate. Ideal Candidate matches talented salespeople with their perfect sales job, maximizing the earning potential of both candidates and employers.

Prior to Ideal Candidate, Somen served as Co-Founder & CEO of Field ID until it was successfully acquired by Master Lock LLC (a subsidiary of NYSE:FBHS) in December 2012. Somen’s leadership has helped earn Field ID a spot on the Profit Hot 50 and Deloitte Fast 50 Companies-to-Watch lists.

In 2012, Somen was named winner of the Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in the “Emerging Entrepreneur” category.

Yuri Navarro, Executive Director at National Angel Capital Organization – Announcing the 2013 Report Highlights on Angel Investing Activity in Canada

yuri-navarroYuri Navarro is a strategy consultant with more than five years of experience working with government and businesses in the Ontario technology sector. In his role as Executive Director, Yuri brings his unique mixture of public and private sector experience to help expand NACO’s role as the leading organization representing Canadian Angel Investors with industry and government.

Yuri has presided over the renewal and growth of the National Angel Capital Organization since 2012 by focusing on the organization’s value to stakeholders and supporting the growth and professionalization of Canada’s Angel asset-class with resources, best practices and research.

Yuri’s time in Government included working as Policy Advisor and Chief of Staff to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, focusing primarily on developing opportunities to benefit Ontario’s Economy, and overseeing the government’s strategy for supporting Small and Medium Enterprises. As a Policy Advisor to the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Yuri was also instrumental in developing the provincial strategy on energy conservation and smart grid under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act of 2008.

In 2009, Yuri founded NAVY Global Consulting where he has worked with technology clients, mainly operating in the energy sector, to commercialize their innovative solutions and bring products to market. As an advisor to Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy, Yuri supported efforts to set up the CUE’s business accelerator program and help energy sector entrepreneurs to commercialize their urban energy innovations. Yuri is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Commerce program and George Brown College’s Financial Planning program and holds a number of designations with the Canadian Securities Institute.

Zach Lawrence, CFA Senior Director, Ohio TechAngel Funds and TechColumbus Investments – Driving Exits From The Boardroom

Zach Zach Lawrence, CFA Senior Director, Ohio TechAngel Funds and TechColumbus Investments Zach is a member of the Ohio TechAngel Funds (OTAF) and a full-time employee of TechColumbus, and he is responsible for much of the day-to-day operations of all four OTAF funds. He helps manage the portfolio of 30 active companies, and serves as OTAF’s BOD observer for several of them. For new opportunities he is deeply involved with deal flow cultivation, screening, due diligence, deal negotiation/closing, and syndication.

Zach was previously an Investment Analyst at TechColumbus, and helped manage a broad continuum of funds. Prior to TechColumbus, he had 8 years of experience as a FINRA-registered investment professional (Series 6, 7, 31, and 66), mostly spent as the lead investment analyst for a 6-person private wealth management team with over $250 million in assets under management. Zach assisted with managing the team’s discretionary investment portfolios as well as its institutional consulting division, including profiling companies for referral to the firm’s investment bank.

Zach is a CFA Charterholder, and has been selected for the past four years as a Grader for the Level III exam. He earned a Master of Accounting and Financial Management from Keller Graduate School of Management, and an undergraduate Philosophy degree from the Ohio State University.

  • BDC Venture Capital
  • Best Funds
  • Brightspark
  • Celtic House Venture Partners
  • iGan Partners
  • Investment Accelerator Fund
  • OMERS Ventures
  • Ontario Capital Growth Corporation
  • Real Ventures
  • Plazacorp
  • Round 13 Capital
  • Tandem Expansion
  • Terracap Ventures
  • Trellis Capital Corporation
  • Wesley Clover