On Wednesday, April 17th, I once again had the honour of attending eSAX the Entrepreneur Social Advantage Experience networking event held at the Horticulture Building at TD Place. As my entrepreneurial mind gets the best of me at times, I’ve been out to this event four times now. Each time, it continues to impress me with the variety of opportunities that can be found simply by networking with the variety of people that the event attracts. Most people who attend these events are either seeking answers to their business questions or looking to provide expertise or answers for others. Additionally, many successful business owners, entrepreneurs, and individuals from the business community are present, ready to engage others in conversation and share ideas.
Each time I attend this event, I am awestruck by both the professionalism and the upscale, elegant feel of the event. Jarrod Goldsmith is the brains and creator behind eSAX and does a phenomenal job of organizing this event and bringing together the business community in a unique and interactive way. He seemingly spares no expense in creating a dynamic, exciting, and enriching atmosphere to promote social and business networking.
This time around, I decided to set up a booth and experience this amazing event from the perspective of an exhibitor. This was my first set up as Covert Ottawa Guy, so I wasn’t sure how it would go over, particularly in this experienced business environment. But I was pleasantly surprised-it was amazing. At my booth, I interacted with tons of people looking to find out what’s happening in the entrepreneurial community and to build a network of service providers and meaningful partners to expand their business needs. I want to thank everyone who came to visit me at my booth, who took the time to tell me about their businesses and who exchanged ideas with me about mine. As it turns out, a whole lot of people are interested in events and event services around Ottawa!
Enough about my exhibit though, let’s get back to the show! The Horticulture Building at TD place is the perfect location for this event. There is plenty of parking, and easy access from any corner of the city. Registration is completed efficiently by an army of volunteers, eager to please, willing and capable of helping with any issues that may arise, and answer any questions that you might have. After registration confirmation, you move along to a table where your name tag and lanyard are waiting. Then you enter the trade show floor to take in the event. The entire process takes about two minutes.
Once through registration, you’ll find a lounge area with tall tables set up, and a bar area with friendly bartenders ready to serve. There are several items to choose from, but I particularly enjoyed the idea of the signature “SAX on the beach” drinks that they were serving in tall martini glasses. It is a classy touch and provides a fun topic of conversation for the attendees. A little further into the room, you’ll find the food, which is catered by Pita Pit, a personal favourite of mine since my old club days in the Byward Market. I really appreciate the offering of both vegan and gluten free options, catering to attendees with food allergies or dietary preferences. It’s always a nice touch, and really goes a long way with the people for whom it affects. For the entertainment, you’ll find the lovely “Sax Appeal” playing some great tunes throughout the night in the bar area, and there’s a great media wall set up to get shots of you and your companions for the corporate bulletin board.
In the main trade show area at this particular event, I’d estimate that there were approximately twenty different companies in attendance showcasing their products; the majority focused on marketing and sales strategies and business to business (B2B) contact management. As to be expected at an entrepreneurial trade-show, each booth was bustling with activity. It wasn’t all business services though; you could also find some other essentials, such as East Coast Limousines and Bytown Video Production.
Each eSAX event has its own theme that may include guest speakers, other networking activities or business development ideas. For this particular event, there was a “speed-eSAX” session that took place for about an hour. As I had a booth to operate, I unfortunately couldn’t take part in the activity, but judging by the reactions of the various participants, it was a huge success. Jarrod Goldsmith was up on a centre pedestal with a megaphone moderating the activity. Once again, another successful idea by Jarrod, who seems to have a knack for networking and pulling together members of the business community.
Previous events that I’ve attended have all had their respective themes, and have featured a series of fantastic guest speakers. Each event that I’ve attended has been emceed by Dylan Black of Boom 99.7 and Rogers 22, and Mayor Jim Watson has made appearances, saying a few words to the attendees prior to the scheduled guest speakers. As an example of what you might be able to expect, a highly successful eSAX last fall featured Bruce Linton from Canopy Growth, Brett Wilson from CBC’s Dragon’s Den, and Steve Cody, who used the eSAX event to launch his now hugely popular Ruckify app.
The next eSAX is scheduled for July 10th and is boasting an equally impressive theme of “Pitchfest”. This is the third annual eSAX Pitchest event, where small business owners are encouraged to sign up and pitch their business to seek resources to grow their business. There are incredible prizes to be won at the event for the top three businesses as determined by live peer voting. Registration is now open for either the opportunity to pitch your business, to set up a booth, or to simply attend this event. You can click here to see registration information.
Overall, I love eSAX, which is evident from how often I attend! Jarrod is incredibly passionate about it, and he works hard so that each event is unique and encourages both attendees and exhibitors to continue to return three times a year.