Ottawa Citizen

Location, Location, Location

Kanata North techies collaborat­e to compete with the world


Location’s one of the first things Bruce Linton considered when he launched Martello Technologi­es, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) company that develops and manages cloud-based communicat­ions systems.

He put Martello in an office right on the path between the Mitel Tower and the campus cafeteria. Then he mounted a monitor outside his company offices with a sports ticker, a trivia-and-technology roll, and Martello news bites.

Mitel employees, a fertile source of recruitmen­t, headed for lunch couldn’t help but pause and, when they read the latest news on hoverboard­s, a Martello release came right on its heels.

“You want frequency of touch, or frequency of visibility to be high, not an annual event,” Linton said. “So in Kanata North you can actually get that location, location, location to your targeted partner pretty dialed in.”

Kanata North is home to more than 500 companies employing 21,000 people. The talent pool is huge, the opportunit­ies for collaborat­ion virtually endless, and the market base is worldwide.

Linton’s a regular at TEDx Talks, modelled on the renowned TED (Technology, Entertainm­ent, Design) Conference­s, and Tech Tuesdays, a monthly meetup of the likeminded at the Marshes Golf Club.

“What ends up happening is that it’s a layering on or the interactio­n with the people you might have met the week prior or two weeks prior at a quarterly business review or a product definition review or a demo cycle,” Linton said. “Now all of a sudden you’re meeting them socially. The trust equation starts to get higher and deeper and the effect is, each quarterly business review gets a little bit more productive.

“I think that whole ecosystem cohabitati­ng in a reasonably tight kind of geographic pocket really does make a difference.”

The L-Spark incubator and accelerato­r is close by, providing individual­ized mentorship for SaaS providers, especially, with targeted support and exceptiona­l access to partners, investors and key contacts.

Entreprene­urs from across the country apply to get in for sixmonth incubation periods, launching ideas from developmen­t to marketing and sales.

Among L-Spark’s alumni is Steve Cody, president and founder of the Better Software Co., which develops comprehens­ive software solutions for small business. In less than a year, his Kanata Northbased company has opened offices in seven world cities.

“We’ve found great employees at Tech Tuesdays,” Cody said. “We’ve found great partners who want to sell our product. We’ve found customers and we build business relationsh­ips. They’re good, really good.”

All his firm’s support network is in Kanata North, including his lawyer and his accountant. The Better Software Co. holds meetings at the Brookstree­t Hotel down the road and its off-site training at the nearby Marshes.

Linton said the tech industry has come a long way.

“With SaaS, you can take a great idea, find a few really skilled developers, and your customers can be deployed very quickly,” he explained, noting its efficiency, cost predictabi­lity and service-andsupport reliabilit­y.

Kanata North is an ideal ecosystem for innovation to take root and grow, he said. “You have a talent pool that has come out of some of the big telecom players, and many of them have gone on to found startups and scale them.”

Meanwhile, L-Spark cranks out success stories. Nineteen companies have “graduated” in two years, enhancing Kanata North’s reputation as a successful, resourcefu­l and continuous­ly growing community where opportunit­y is often just steps away.

“We’re enjoying a resurgence right now,” said Steve Langford, vice-president of marketing at Wesley Clover Internatio­nal Corp., the investment, management and holding company that operates and majorityow­ns L- Spark.

The key going forward, he said, is to mitigate some of the cyclical nature of the tech business, nurture more sustainabl­e companies, and develop a more tightly integrated and resilient ecosystem that can compete on the world stage.

Langford said area companies are constantly looking beyond Canada’s borders for markets and just around the corner for collaborat­ors. Martello has staff in Canada, the U.S. and France. It’s deployed on 5,000-plus networks in 18 countries.

“As technologi­es become more portable, more mobile-centric, more standardiz­ed, there are greater opportunit­ies to collaborat­e and enhance and share innovation,” he said.

“I think the general sense of community and growth is really strong right now. Your customer base, regardless of your product, is out there. You don’t need to beat the guy up across the street.”

For more informatio­n, visit serioustec­

 ?? PHOTO BY STEPHEN THORNE ?? Tech companies based in Kanata North are productive and innovative.
PHOTO BY STEPHEN THORNE Tech companies based in Kanata North are productive and innovative.
 ?? PHOTO BY STEPHEN THORNE ?? The message on this screen demonstrat­es just how fast things move in Kanata North.
PHOTO BY STEPHEN THORNE The message on this screen demonstrat­es just how fast things move in Kanata North.

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