Communitech’s Venture Services program is expanding to support the burgeoning number of startup companies relying on Communitech for commercialization expertise, with more new companies “walking through the doors” every week, Communitech CEO Iain Klugman said today. The program provides expertise and resources to startup companies, engaging executive-level talent from the Region.
“Part of the tech ecosystem is ensuring that the wealth of executive knowledge in all aspects of entrepreneurship is shared with others who are the future leaders of successful ventures,” said Klugman. “It’s one of the reasons that hundreds of entrepreneurs have chosen Waterloo Region for their startups.”
More than 250 early-stage companies are actively engaged with the Venture Services Program, up from 50 since the inception of the EIR program five years ago, Klugman said. In 2010, more than 7000 hours were spent by EIRs coaching startups.
Communitech continually seeds its Executives-in-Residence team with high-level executives who have experience in “C-level” jobs and can coach startup tech firms, and the program has expanded from one to a complement of six EIRs. Each EIR has experience and expertise in a particular sector and a capability essential to business success. Klugman says most EIRs continue to be active in their field, either as senior executives or entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs work with the team of advisors best suited to their business, and have access not only to the expertise needed, but also resources and connections across a range of disciplines and sectors.
The Venture Services team at Communitech currently includes the following Executives-in-Residence:
– Lillian Bass, a Chartered Accountant who provides leadership and helps get things done for fast-growing small and medium-sized businesses. Lillian was VP Finance and Operations at IGLOO Inc., an early stage business social software company, CFO for engineering company Brock Solutions, and Corporate Financial Manager for ATS Automation Tooling Systems and was involved with the inception of Angstrom Engineering.
– Marc Castel, CEO at Maintenance Assistant Inc. and formerly CEO at ROBOsky, who brings extensive experience in the private and public sectors. Castel serves as Director of Commercialization for the Ontario Centres of Excellence, and works in collaboration with Angel Investment Groups in Ontario. Castel is also the founder of the Resource Alliance, Ontario’s largest network of commercialization professionals.
– Cameron Hay, a professional from the global high-tech world, who was for six years president and CEO of Unitron and previously COO and VP Operations at Unitron; Hay also had experience at IBM and Celestica as a process engineer, and subsequently focused on both entrepreneurial businesses and global high-tech.
– Chris Howlett has been involved with Communitech since its own startup days and applies his PhD in Mathematics to helping companies solve business problems with software systems. He has held executive positions as a VP at Geosign, as CTO at Maplesoft and as CEO at Freedom Intelligence/Aruna. In his current EIR role, Howlett is CTO-in-Residence at Communitech.
– Dave Litwiller brings senior executive experience from Prinova Technologies where he was COO, as well as DALSA Corporation where he was Corporate VP Marketing and Business Development. At Prinova, Litwiller led R&D, Quality Assurance and Product Management for the company’s enterprise software development and delivery. Prior to joining DALSA, Litwiller was a design engineer at several high-tech startups in the wireless, fibre optic telecom and broadcast industries.
– Brett Shellhammer, an expert on aligning marketing, sales and services activities around product lines to build successful organizations. Shellhammer was previously SVP of Marketing at Coreworx Inc. in Kitchener, and was previously SVP of Product Management at Eloqua in Toronto and VP and General Manager of the Global 2000 and Government business unit at OpenText. Shellhammer’s experience also includes having worked with five San Francisco Bay area startups.
Communitech and the Waterloo Accelerator Centre announced in late 2010 that they would team up to ensure one-stop shopping for early-stage companies looking for help taking their business to the next level. Now startups located at both the AC and The Communitech Hub have access to the same ‘Accelerator Program’, operated by the Accelerator Centre, which includes amenities for tenants, educational programming, in-house mentors and access to the Entrepreneurship Council and the Venture Services Program.