Last week my son and I, who is almost nine months old, visited Invest Ottawa for the first time since we came back from our family vacation to Ireland.
I had applied to the Invest Ottawa Pre-Accelerator Program earlier in the year and when I returned from our trip, was delighted to see they wanted me to meet with one of their Early Stage Advisors, Julia Elvidge, for an interview and overview of my business concept.
I documented the experience as I wanted to show other parents what it is like to visit ‘Ottawa’s One-Stop Business Acceleration Shop‘.
We pulled onto Bayview Road and were lucky to get a parking spot on the street, near the building entrance. There’s free two-hour parking, which is perfect for me, as you never know how long a baby or toddler will last at a meeting or workshop before you need to make a swift exit.
There’s also a paid parking lot outside the building and I have parked there before when I had a longer visit. Sometimes the pay meter doesn’t work (it’s a City of Ottawa one) so if this happens to you, keep your spot and tell reception – you may just get free parking that day, as I have also done before!
There aren’t many restaurants or cafés super-close to the building, unless you’re willing to take a stroll towards Parkdale, but there is a nice café on-site with healthy sandwiches, snacks, coffee and light refreshments.
There are also comfy booth-style seats in that area, but you can also venture out to other seats throughout the open-concept style building.
But be warned, there is only one baby change table on site and it is on the main floor, opposite to reception, so you may want to stay near there too. I did have photos of these areas from previous visits but I don’t have them handy right now!
The main thing you need to know about that space is you don’t need to book it in advance or register at the kiosk, you can simply meet a contact for coffee (I believe) and use the space.
When you arrive, you are greeted by a funky reception area, with staircase to upstairs workshop and training rooms and an entrance to a big event space where conferences and the like are usually held.
This is where you sign in to meet your Advisor at the tablet kiosk. If you’re having trouble, just ask reception and they’ll notify your guest.
This is also where Emilio, one of the building managers, stopped me to inform me about the baby change table. I already knew about it, as I had advocated for it to be installed and it was officially added to the building in October 2018.
I love that staff will welcome you when you arrive with children and fill you in about the facilities, if this is your first visit.
I met my Early Stage Advisor, Julia, who had booked us a training room over a longer period of time to account for feeding and changing my baby, very thoughtful!
She even offered to hold him and let him play with one of her bracelets when he decided the room was a bit boring and he was tired of listening to me pitch.
He’s crawling now and rooms are of course, not baby-proof, so don’t be like me and forget your baby toys and distractions! I had brought the snacks and diapers, as well as my iPad with a landing page to show her the concept, but I failed on the multi-sensory front.
But babies are flexible and half the time they are bored by their regular toys anyhow, right? They much prefer people’s faces, wallets, keys, jewellery and things they aren’t meant to play with most days. So we made do and Julia was a very calm and understanding Advisor, she made me feel so comfortable and I’m looking forward to seeing her again. She also agreed to take a selfie with us to document the occasion…and took the photo for us as I had my hands full!
My other Invest Ottawa Business Advisor, Karla Briones, is equally wonderful, and I’ve written about my experiences meeting with her here.
So what are you waiting for, when are you going to visit Invest Ottawa with your kids to attend a workshop, discuss your business idea or simply meet a contact for coffee?
Register to access these free business advisory resources (funded by three levels of Government and partners), they’re ready and waiting for you to help support your innovative ideas!
To learn more about the ‘Babies, Business + Breakfast’ program, subscribe for future emails at bit.ly/BabiesBizBreakfast.