So, you started a company! Now, how does a cash-strapped start-up compete for, compensate, and retain good talent in a tight market? Employee stock option plans are one of your greatest assets, and if used correctly, can be a key incentive for the employees, directors and advisors that make your company tick.

Warning: If you mess up your stock option plan in the beginning, you’re asking for a world of pain.

Join us over lunch on Wednesday, April 24, to hear from panel speakers Rob Cowan, partner at McInnes Cooper, Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO of SimplyCast, and Andrew Ray, vice president of investment at Innovacorp, as well as moderator HR expert Julie Lesperance. The panel will provide basic, but critical, legal and strategic information and tips on how your company can start taking steps towards implementing an effective employee stock option plan.


Robert Cowan, partner, McInnes Cooper – Robert practices corporate and business law with specialization in technology and intellectual property. At McInnes Cooper, he works extensively with entrepreneurs and start-ups and specializes in ownership, protection and licensing of patents, trademarks and copyrights. He is a member of the Canadian Bar Association (CBA), the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, the Licensing Executives Society, and the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. Robert is also chair of the Intellectual Property Section of the CBA (NS) and has taught intellectual property law at the Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law.

Saeed El-Darahali, president and CEO, SimplyCast – Saeed is the driving force behind SimplyCast’s all-in-one engagement automation solution, which has grown to serve clients in over 175 countries. SimplyCast is a leading provider of self-service, multi-channel communication services empowering small businesses to create, manage and track their online and offline communication and engagement campaigns. Saeed holds a masters of business administration, a bachelor of science in computer science, a certificate of human resource management and minor in economics, from Saint Mary’s University.

Andrew Ray, vice president of investment, Innovacorp – Andrew is vice president of investment at Innovacorp, where he oversees the organization’s venture capital activities. Andrew works hands-on with Innovacorp portfolio companies to assist them in building teams, accelerating their growth, achieving milestones and securing additional financing. As part of the senior management team, he leads Innovacorp’s work to find, fund and foster innovative Nova Scotia start-ups that strive to change the world.

Moderator: Julie Lesperance, owner and operator, Shine HR – Julie is a bilingual human resources professional and proud owner of Halifax-based Shine HR. As an entrepreneur raised in a family of entrepreneurs, she really gets what matters most to business owners and their teams. An HR leader with 20+ years of solid expertise gained in start-ups to large multinationals, Julie recently collaborated with Innovacorp as the HR Expert-in-Residence dedicated to providing Accelerate Program participants with access to the sound HR foundation they need to thrive and grow. Julie leads with intent and fosters wide-open communication, all while bringing a fresh and authentic perspective on what it really takes to be recognized as an employer of choice.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm (casual networking lunch: 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm)
Innovacorp Enterprise Centre
1344 Summer Street, Halifax

RSVP to Kristen Fortune via email by 4:00 pm on Thursday, April 18. Please include a question for the panel in your response.

Note to our Cape Breton friends: We’re live-casting this session to a group gathered in Cape Breton at Navigate Startup House, 37 Nepean Street, Sydney. Click here to let our CB team know you’re coming to the Sydney webcast.