Entrepreneurship Alive and Kicking in Ottawa
Ottawa is being increasingly recognized for its dynamic, thriving economy. No longer primarily a government town, the city is now home to many successful businesses in all sectors of the Canadian economy, led by skilled entrepreneurs and managers. Although the global pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges, many local enterprises have not only adapted to the severe adversity, but continued to grow and thrive.
Several young local entrepreneurs share in that success. Here are three of their stories.
Andrew Abraham, serial entrepreneur invested in Ottawa
Andrew Abraham, the president and managing partner of Elite Accounting, is a third generation Ottawa entrepreneur, whose successful company has continued to expand throughout the region. Andrew was recognized as Ottawa’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021.
Q: As someone who works day in and day out with small and midsize businesses, what do you see in the future Ottawa marketspace?
A: The challenges are real, but I have a positive outlook on the future of my clients’ businesses. We like to stay in close contact throughout the year. My staff and I have been encouraged by the many success stories throughout the region, including the support local businesses have received, and the way people are working together.
Q: You are now involved in a few different businesses throughout the Ottawa region. What is the catalyst for these new ventures?
A: Ottawa’s strong economic environment plays the key role in the success of these businesses.
In a constantly evolving world it seems like opportunity is all around.
Q: Where do you see your business in ten years?
I don’t see any limitations, only opportunities. I have been fortunate to participate on a number of boards as well as assist in some local start-ups. Ottawa is an amazing place to raise a family and I look forward to leaving a legacy for my two sons.
Kunal Gupta, visionary, thought leader and tech guru
Kunal Gupta has not simply embraced change, he represents it when it comes to communicating in today’s business environment. Kunal started Polar, a digital media technology provider, which has grown into an international business employing 75 people and clients in more than 20 countries. Kunal is also an avid writer and sought after speaker.
Q: You have traveled throughout the world. What brings you back to Ottawa?
A: I was brought up in Ottawa. I left 20 years ago to go to school in Waterloo, and then Toronto and New York. But I moved back to Ottawa to work to be close to family, and also because this is an excellent environment in which to achieve a healthy work/life balance.
Q: As a seasoned tech veteran, what advice do you offer to aspiring next gen entrepreneurs?
A: Three things. First, pay attention to the company that you keep. I went to the University of Waterloo and was surrounded by really smart and entrepreneurial people. I’ve been travelling around the world for a decade now, and I love being with different people because I learn so much from them. Two – ideas matter less. It’s more about getting started. Focus on the problem that you want to solve. Third – talk to customers. Customers will give you the best advice.
Q: You have had success over the years, including exponential growth during a pandemic, under circumstances many people have found very difficult. How do you balance work and play?
A: It’s been really important for me to cultivate my own personal mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, journaling, walking and more. Having something that you can turn to regularly, on a daily basis, is very helpful. It’s been transformative for me, and keeps me going strong.
Francesco Porcari, entrepreneur, visionary, and successor
SerCo Construction Ltd. has been serving Ottawa and the surrounding area in residential, institutional, retail, public works development, as well as commercial drywall for many years. Francesco Porcari, son of the late Sergio Porcari, is now president of this family-owned business, and has successfully entered the real estate market with SerCo Realty Group. Despite rising costs in the industry and increased competition, SerCo Construction Ltd. and SerCo Realty Group continue to grow and expand .
Q: During your tenure as president of SerCo, you have been able to take this business to new heights and expand. How have your working relationships contributed to successes in the Ottawa community?
A: We are noted for our workmanship and ability to maintain project schedules. I strive to build relationships based off trust and loyalty as I value our working partners. If it weren’t for these relationships, we wouldn’t be in the position we are in today. I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to branch out into real estate and property development. Being able to develop in neighbourhoods that positively impact residents and the broader community is something I take pride in.
Q: You have taken an active role in giving back to the Ottawa community. Why has philanthropy become such an integral part of what you do?
A: Over the past few years our community has done so much for me and my family. I feel I owe it to our community, especially the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, to thank them in tenfold. Two years ago, I underwent open heart surgery. I will forever be grateful for the team that saved my life and allowed me to get back to doing what I love.
Q: SerCo Construction is etched in much of the development throughout Ottawa and the region. What do you aspire for your personal legacy?
A: I aspire to continue doing what I love for years to come, along with my dedicated team, while making an impact in our community. I hope to one day work alongside my children, reminiscent of my father and I, and watch a new generation take our companies to new heights. I want my children to see that when you put in the work and go after your dreams, anything is possible.