OCE Remembers Leading Business Development Manager

February 12, 2013

Dave Doran of Kitchener-Waterloo Passes Away January 29, 2013

"Dave is awesome because he will answer anybody’s question. He will take time out of his day to answer any entrepreneur’s question and help them out as best he can. There are very few people who will do that." —Mike Kirkup, Director of Student Innovation and VeloCity, University of Waterloo

It is with sadness that Ontario Centres of Excellence celebrates the life of business development manager Dave Doran of Kitchener-Waterloo who passed away of pancreatic cancer January 29, 2013.

An engineer by trade, Dave was originally hired for the Centre of Photonics in 2009 when OCE was still a collection of individual centres. He got the job because of his combination of engineering, business strategy and planning, product management and marketing expertise, and for a reason that was unique to Dave – he left the interviewers with an overwhelming feeling of wanting to hug him. This is something that he always carried with him and part of his secret to success as a business development manager: his wonderful people skills. 

More than just a great business development manager, Dave was known for his gentleness, good humour and inquiring mind. He was very involved in the start-up community in Kitchener-Waterloo, as well as the community at large. He was a mentor, a sports coach, a dedicated family man, a volunteer and always up for a game of golf.

“Dave’s passing is heavily felt across OCE. Everyone has a story to tell or a memory to share about how he influenced their work or touched their lives,” said OCE President Tom Corr. “As someone who worked with him both here and at the Waterloo Accelerator Centre, I came to know him well as both a highly committed and accomplished professional and a man of great integrity and kindness. We will miss him for a very long time.”  

Dave’s track record speaks for itself and he leaves behind many OCE success stories in the form of high-potential start-ups. Avenir Medical is a start-up run by a trio of young entrepreneurs who Dave helped from a Discovery competition, to guiding them to create a business plan and deliver a compelling pitch, to their earliest seed funding. Today that company has secured a $725,000 round of seed funding and received many honours, including several young entrepreneur awards. One of Dave’s most recent success stories, Waterloo-based start-up Sortable was acquired by another Waterloo company, Rebellion Media and the entrepreneurs remain in place. 

Perhaps Dave’s most involved success story is that of Smarter Alloys and engineer-turned-entrepreneur Ibraheem Khan. Dave took a personal interest in Ibraheem, seeing a potential in him he might not have even seen himself. Through dedicated one-on-one coaching time Dave helped Ibraheem not only launch the company and acquire OCE funding, but also win a Martin Walmsley Fellowship for Technological Entrepreneurship and CleanTech North Innovation Company of the Year Award, both in 2011.

“Dave has inspired me because he has the engineering, interpersonal and business skills to create a successful business,” said Ibraheem Khan, Co-founder & CTO, Smarter Alloys. “Working with Dave over the past few years, I’ve tried to absorb as many of his skills as possible to help me build Smarter Alloys. This hasn’t been too difficult, since he’s also a great mentor. It’s easy to learn from Dave.” 

For his memorial celebration, we asked people inside and out of OCE who knew Dave to answer the question “why is Dave awesome?” Not one person even had to dig for an answer. In fact, most people gave multiple reasons. 

“Dave is awesome because he’s reliable, because he knows everything there is to know about how OCE works and how to get things done,” said Ross Bradsen, Dave’s Regional Director at OCE. “Dave is awesome because he knows business and he knows technology and he knows people. Dave is awesome because everyone else knows Dave is awesome.”