Xactly Design & Advertising - Denis

Xactly Design & Advertising - Denis

Xactly Design & Advertising


311 Richmond Rd, Suite 204
Ottawa, ON K1Z 6X3
613 745 2225
Owner: Denis Sabourin

Interview by Nikki Gillingham, Blue Whale Communications Photography: Marianne Rothbauer


Tell us a bit more about yourself and how Xactly got started.

My original business partner was in the advertising & design space. He was a great creator & designer, so I saw an opportunity to combine my business & communications skills, with his. I convinced him to leave his agency, and I sold my property management company. Three years later, we became too big for him, so I bought him out, and he continued to have a successful freelance career, and I became sole owner of Xactly.

You talked about first writing out a business plan on a napkin. Did you always know you wanted to start your own business?

My dad is an entrepreneur. My grandfathers where entrepreneurs. I always thought I would be an artist like my mom, but in University I started to realize that I had the entrepreneurs blood running through me. Lucky for me, I ended up being an entrepreneur in the creative world. So the way I see it, I got best of both worlds!

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since launching 15 years ago?

That if you stick to the basics in a city like Ottawa, that almost anyone can be successful. Work hard, take care of your clients, put out your best work and create a good environment for your staff, and the rest seems to figure itself out.


What does a typical day look like for you?

Most of my days consist of managing people within my companies, and keeping relationships strong with our clients & vendors. Which means I spend a lot of my days in meetings and on email.

What do you like most about working in the advertising industry?

I love helping companies grow. I love learning about so many different types of industries. I love creating a great idea, then seeing it live months later. It’s a very rewarding industry to be in.

What does it mean to you to have some clients who’ve been with you since the beginning?

Loyalty means a lot to me. We have a lot of clients that have been around since the beginning, and staff that have been around a long time too. They become family, and being able to work with family is the best.

You’re a big supporter of other local businesses. Why is that important to you?

I think its important to support local businesses, because they are the centre of our communities. I own small businesses, and every dollar means so much more to me then a big business. Plus the personal touch, customer service and quality that usually comes from small businesses is often better.


Your Westboro office space is modern but peppered with comic book and superhero memorabilia. Tell us a bit about why you decided to incorporate that into the design.

I’m a big fan of comics & movies, and wanted the studio space to feel like home and to have some of my personality in it. Hence all the comics, toys & movie references! :)

You’ve worked for a number of different clients – any Canadian companies that would be a dream for you to work with?

I think a great local company right now that’s making waves is Shopify. It would be great to work with them more closely, and to work with other great creative & business savvy minds.


What are some of your favourite types of projects to work on?

Even though Xactly evolved to be a full out advertising agency with a wide range of marketing services, my heart will always be in branding & design. I love when clients want to rebrand and count on us to do so, or have a need for high end design to get results.

What’s your favourite spot in Ottawa?

The rooftop at my house. Its surrounded by trees and has great views of Westboro Village and the sundown. The next best, would be our studio in Westboro, which has lots of natural sunlight and also has great views of the Village.

What’s in your coffee mug that gets you through the work days?

That’s easy! A Nutella latte gets my day going every day! :)


You’ve grown from a small team to two offices and 30 employees. What’s next for Xactly?

We have more plans to expand the Westboro studio, and are looking to have an office in New York City or Toronto in the next year.

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