Canada’s Intellectual Property Firm

2023 Bootstrap Award winners showcase the innovation and creativity of Ottawa’s self-funded entrepreneurs

Smart & Biggar is proud to celebrate the winners of the 2023 Bootstrap Awards, showcasing the innovation and creativity of self-funded entrepreneurs in Ottawa. 

The annual Bootstrap Awards recognize and celebrate entrepreneurs in the National Capital Region that have “bootstrapped” the growth of their company to achieve commercial success. The awards are proudly presented by The Ottawa Network and national intellectual property (IP) firm Smart & Biggar.

The winners of this year’s Bootstrap Awards – outlined below – are founders and entrepreneurial businesses who have demonstrated innovation and creativity in growing their self-funded start-ups and early-stage companies in a wide variety of industries, both for-profit and non-profit, and across a range of distinct criteria-based categories. Each winner is an entrepreneur or company from the National Capital Region who has been in business for less than seven years operating successfully without having received more than $500,000 in outside funding.

This year’s Bootstrap Awards ceremony will be held in person on March 7, 2023, as part of Tech Tuesday at The Marshes Golf Course in Kanata through generous support from event sponsor Wesley Clover. The event will feature a keynote address from past Bootstrap Award winner and “Founder of the Year”, Heather Desjardins, founder of The Open Door Educational Services. Following the awards presentation, winners will participate in a panel discussion moderated by Nick Quain, of Invest Ottawa.

Smart & Biggar Principal Jamie-Lynn Kraft and Associate Irshaad Hashim, who each contributed their support in organizing this year’s program, will be at the event to help celebrate with the winners.

The Awards are also generously supported by award sponsors Aragona Agency, Algonquin College, SAASCan, Paterson & Company, PureColo, and the Capital Angel Network, with support from community partner Invest Ottawa and media sponsor Ottawa Business Journal.

Meet the 2023 Bootstrap Award Winners

Green Award | RoCo Industries Inc.
Roderick Costain

RoCo Industries Inc. has developed a new high efficiency, yet semi-flexible, photovolatic (PV) building product using plastics instead of tempered glass and metal. The impact is reduction of the carbon embodiment (50% of a comparable solar PV module), and it is light and easy to handle. This material imparts ruggedness, allows for higher throughput manufacturing techniques, and is fully recyclable with existing recycling infrastructure. RoCo has patented the core technology, the product design, and is currently patenting certain manufacturing advances to ensure protection of all building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) products created with our core technology. RoCo’s has named its first product line SparClad, a lapped siding BIPV product. Check out to learn more. 

Innovation Award | Convergence Design Services
Ben Seaman

Convergence Design Services has become an industry leader in Rugged Electronics, Aerospace & Defense, Robotics & Electric Vehicle, AI & Vision that specializes in mechanical and hardware engineering. Their skilled team of engineers has worked on everything from vision detection and classification for AI (Robotic Land based and Drone based) to Space projects. They have successfully designed Military subsystems for harsh environments for major fortune companies and helped local start-ups like PlantaForm pass EMI compliance testing. With approx. 1M in test equipment (3D Scanner, 3D printer, EMI Chamber, Spectrum Analyzer, High Speed Oscilloscope, Thermal chamber, CNC, etc.) Convergence’s engineers and designers design, prototype, and execute on the most complex projects. Learn more at

SAAS Award | CounterCrisis Technology
Don Williams, Melanie Williams

CounterCrisis Technology is a Canadian incident management technology solutions company based in Ottawa. They provide technology solutions to help customers prepare for any identified natural or human-induced hazard ranging from floods, tornadoes, and wildfires to lost or missing persons, public order incidents, and mass casualty events. The company is currently working on the delivery of a national Ground Search and Rescue Incident Command System (GSAR ICS) as part of a three-year project with Public Safety Canada. CounterCrisis Tech's primary product, IC4W, integrates readily with other cloud-based software applications commonly used by emergency management and public safety organizations as well as the military and volunteer search and rescue groups. Learn more at

Marketing Award | FanSaves
Shannon Ferguson, Kris McCarthy

FanSaves is a platform that gives fans discounts and deals from the sponsors and affiliated brands of their favourite teams, organizations and communities. Paper coupons in the game day program or for in-game activations are a thing of the past. FanSaves is a Business-to-Business SaaS platform helping sports teams and organizations increase fan engagement, activations and sponsorship revenue while tracking important customer demographics for both their team and their partners, all in one place. The FanSaves website and mobile app offer fans free access to discounts, deals and in-game activations from sponsors of teams they are fans of so they can better engage with and support local and national team partners. Learn more at

Bootstrap Capital Award | Northern Forge Studios
Nate Beacham, Jason Flick

Northern Forge Studios operates in the video game industry, specifically mobile games. Their first product, Orna, blended modern day technology with gameplay that matched the golden era of gaming and has almost reached 2 million downloads since launching 4 years ago. In November of 2022, their follow-up title - Hero of Aethric - was launched to the Google Play Store and iOS App Store and is fast approaching the million-download milestone. The studio has customers in 230 countries around the world. Learn more at

Disruptor Award | MapSherpa Inc.
Dave McIlhagga

MapSherpa is a modern manufacturer and distributor of wall maps that brings high-quality international map publisher content to market. The company’s unique approach addresses international distribution challenges, customer desire for prints on a variety of materials, and enables personalized and custom products in near real-time through secure print-on-demand technology and an international retail network. MapSherpa represents major international brands in the map industry including National Geographic, Harper Collins, TomTom and more. The company is now considered a “must have” distribution channel for creators in the map industry. Learn more at

Community Impact Award | STEM the Gap Academy
Ingrid Gayle

STEM the Gap Academy is a revolution! We are committed to eliminating the gender divide and ensuring that girls take their rightful places in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Fields, which have long been male-dominated. We are a group of Women in STEM, who have seen our fair share of injustices and challenges and we are not playing nice anymore. We teach girls the tangible skills they need for tomorrow, as well as the confidence to own their power to step out, speak up and STEM the Gap! Learn more at

Founder of the Year Award | Femade Inc.
Anusha Gandhi

Femade is a pain management centre for women, those assigned female at birth and those who have transitioned. The centre offers allied healthcare services for mental and physical aspects of health, both for those in pain and those who are taking a proactive step towards their health. Femade is a woman-owned, woman-run company. By omitting the need for a doctor's referral and avoiding long wait times, patients are being seen and heard, provided tools to manage their health and wellness, and feel a part of a much larger community of individuals who have otherwise been gaslit. Femade offers manual therapies (acupuncture, massage therapy, physiotherapy and pelvic floor therapy), lifestyle services (naturopathic medicine, nutrition, yoga) and mental health services (psychotherapy, occupational therapy, peer support, virtual and in person support groups). Femade also provides treatment opportunities through the Fem-Aid Assistance program to those who could not otherwise afford it. Learn more at

About Smart & Biggar:

Smart & Biggar is widely recognized as Canada’s leading intellectual property firm, with offices in Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. We are leaders in intellectual property and have been serving clients for over a century. Smart & Biggar operates as part of the IPH Limited group, under its own brand and independent from other IPH member firms.

About The Ottawa Network:

The Ottawa Network is a not-for-profit member-driven organization that connects entrepreneurs, students, academics, industry professionals, and government agencies to grow innovative businesses in the Ottawa region. We partner with local incubators, accelerators, government and local businesses to co-host, promote and create events that provide networking and educational opportunities for entrepreneurs in and around the Ottawa region. We understand bootstrapping to our core and want to create a community and resource where all entrepreneurs feel welcome.

Contact: Jennifer Farrell |