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Meet Invest Ottawa, an economic development agency that reached its largest global audience of entrepreneurs on Hopin

Meet Invest Ottawa, an economic development agency that reached its largest global audience of entrepreneurs on Hopin
PLANNING A NEW KIND OF EVENT

Accelerating entrepreneurs across Canada 

Invest Ottawa’s flagship one-day conference, AccelerateOTT, has celebrated and supported entrepreneurs for more than a decade. The annual event is an essential fixture in the calendar of Canada’s business community, bringing together an epic line-up of pioneering investors, founders, and entrepreneurs. It also supports Invest Ottawa’s ambitions of realizing the Canadian capital’s potential as a “globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city.” 

In 2021, Invest Ottawa took AccelerateOTT hybrid for the first time using Hopin. The event focused on female founders, with the aim of ensuring their growth and success for decades to come. With a small team and tight turnaround times, Invest Ottawa needed to leverage Hopin’s ease of use to make the event a success. 

AccelerateOTT’s guestlist of influencers, ambassadors and leaders could quickly scan the agenda and register using the conference’s registration page. Automated email reminders also helped ensure high attendance, and speakers enjoyed a smooth experience with StreamYard, allowing them to get prepped backstage before going live.

To maximize engagement, Invest Ottawa used the full range of Hopin’s features as a virtual venue, using the Expo area, Networking, Sessions, and Mainstage to replicate all of the vital interactions that had made past AccelerateOTT conferences such a resounding success.

"The ability to combine the logos, the colors, and the images that we use allowed us to create something that was very integrated and holistic with the Hopin platform. It was almost as if you were being virtually teleported into our conference facility." –Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa

"The ability to host different types of chats, breakout rooms, interactive dialogue, networking sessions and a digital expo allowed our stakeholders, sponsors and partners to engage with the event in a dynamic rather than passive way."

Sonya Shorey
Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa
IT’S SHOWTIME

Connecting founders, funders, and speakers at all stages

The theme for the conference centered on the “grit and grind” that makes entrepreneurs so unique, with a focus on women founders and funders building companies that will change the world. The virtual element of the event empowered Invest Ottawa to add a new global perspective to its lineup. The organization invited changemakers from Canada and beyond to share their success secrets, with a keynote speech delivered by Canadian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Manjit Minhas. 

The speaker program also included Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of BroadbandTV Corp, who led the largest IPO in Toronto Stock Exchange history for a firm run by a female founder. A talk from Esosa Johnson, the founder of Black Women Talk Tech, was another highlight. Women founders at every stage of their business journey attended, from those seeking investment, to those building their sales strategy and navigating challenging supply chains. 

Invest Ottawa’s events team provided attendees with a high-quality, engaging live stream using StreamYard to bring up custom graphics on the fly, including Q&As and chat contributions. In total, Invest Ottawa delivered nine hours of interactive content, with six sessions, more than 25 speakers, and a pitch competition that gave out $200,000 of investment.

To engage and interact directly with speakers, attendees used the Q&A and chat features, sharing their own personal stories and getting expert advice. One-to-one networking sessions had designated times in the morning and at lunch for attendees to spend more quality time with each other. Partners and sponsors also encouraged engagement with their businesses using their expo booths to host panel discussions. Many sponsors also took part in giveaways via event-wide notification banners that encouraged attendees to submit their details for the chance to win baskets of local treats. 

One of the most exciting parts of the day was Invest Ottawa’s SheEO pitch competition. This Shark Tank-style challenge that brought nine women-led companies from Ontario together to pitch 20 female angel investors.

“It was seamless. It was almost like we were in our living room having a discussion. No matter where anyone was, the technology made it so easy. There was no time delay. There was no lag, it was instantaneous. And truly, I think everyone felt like they were right there with our speakers, with our panelists, having that discussion in a very intimate, interactive way.” –Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa
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AccelerateOTT leveraged these features for their event success

These are some of the Hopin features that helped Invest Ottawa host its first virtual conference:

  • Registration: A simple, comprehensive registration page included everything attendees needed to know about the conference. This meant Invest Ottawa's network of partners and thought leaders could easily promote the event to their networks, and the conference enjoyed its highest-ever registration as a result.
  • Mainstage: Leading female entrepreneurial figures took to the event's main stage, inspiring attendees in their own journeys.
  • Chat: Entrepreneurs supported each other, cheered on speakers, networked, and asked questions using the event chat. 
  • Expo area: Sponsors hosted panel discussions, giveaways, and offers from their expo booths.
  • Networking: Attendees only needed to click a button to join dynamic one-on-one and group video networking sessions, meeting with other founders and funders.
  • Replay: AccelerateOTT’s content was available to view shortly after the event finished. Attendees could enjoy footage of speakers they’d missed, and Invest Ottawa could share the sessions with external clients and stakeholders.
  • Integrations: Using the Twitter integration, Invest Ottawa drove engagement by encouraging attendees to amplify the conference's reach online. 
  • Customizability: Invest Ottawa customized every aspect of the event to ensure attendees enjoyed the same on-brand AccelerateOTT experience as in previous years.

"Our engagement stayed consistent throughout the whole day, so it was great to see the Hopin platform enabled us to keep people at their computers and watching live throughout the duration of the nine-hour event."

Sonya Shorey
Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa
HOW IT TURNED OUT

Unlocking a new global community of entrepreneurs with hybrid

AccelerateOTT 2021 had the most attendees of any event in Invest Ottawa's history. Along with its usual audience of entrepreneurs who work and live within a 100-mile radius of Ottawa, the organization welcomed attendees from British Columbia, Newfoundland, the East and West Coast, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The virtual format of the conference allowed the organization to improve its reach both locally and globally.

Over 1,000 attendees joined AccelerateOTT, with engagement levels remaining high throughout the nine-hour event. The conference received a superb net promoter score of 68, which is 20% higher than the industry benchmark. Invest Ottawa tracked a 30% response rate to its post-event survey, significantly improving its previous average of 20%. The organization also received positive ad hoc feedback from attendees after the conference, and the average attendee stayed for over half of the day-long event.

Eager to build on this success, Invest Ottawa plans a hybrid approach to future event strategy. This will allow the organization to broaden the scope of its mission, supporting entrepreneurs to include a new global community while continuing to serve its traditional network in Canada as well. This is a huge step forward in Invest Ottawa's ambition to create more leadership opportunities for women as entrepreneurs and business leaders.

"We are all in on hybrid events that bring together the best of both worlds, and having Hopin is absolutely critical, not just to reach those virtual participants that are outside of our region but enable all those who are in our region, inside a facility, to engage in meaningful ways with those who are not. It's brilliant." –Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa 

1,100

Registrants for AccelerateOTT 2021

68

Net promoter score

600

Competition entries across the one-day conference

"We've never had 1100 register for any event in the history of invest Ottawa [...] I can honestly say this was far and away one of our marquee events. It brought to bear a large part of our vision and allowed us to have a broad reach and impact. I couldn't be more thrilled."

Sonya Shorey
Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa

Lots of virtual audience buzz

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