In photo above: Left: Steve Cody, The Better Software Company. Right: Tyler Eyamie, Fusebill.
Kanata North has a long and storied history as a pillar of the Canadian telecommunications industry. It remains the hotbed of telecom innovation in Canada.
But serious tech gets done here in many market verticals. A high-growth industry that’s writing a whole new chapter in the annals of Ottawa’s tech sector is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).
According to the Economic Impact Study and Market Gap Analysis recently completed for the Kanata North Business Association by Doyletech Corp., the majority of tech companies in Kanata North are not working in telecom. Their focus is business and consumer software. A growing number of these are in the SaaS space.
A great time to be in SaaS
Why wouldn’t they be? It’s a great time to be a Canadian company in the SaaS market.
According to market research firm IDC, it’s an industry that’s growing five times faster than traditional software and expected to reach US$112.8 billion in sales by 2019. Small business and large enterprises alike are turning to SaaS to tap into the power of Big Data, and reduce their IT costs and headaches.
The benefits run both ways. SaaS vendors can build big export businesses and tap into global markets fast at a low cost, relative to the traditional software distribution model. It’s an opportunity with an ROI that’s attractive to investors.
That’s been the case for The Better Software Company, which has eager investors lining up at its door.
Building Better Software in Kanata North
The Better Software Company offers a fully integrated software solution to help small business owners improve and simplify how they run their businesses.
The company is a graduate of L-SPARK, Canada’s only Incubator and Accelerator program dedicated to enterprise SaaS.
In less than a year, The Better Software Company has grown from four to 80 staff and secured more than US$2 million in seed financing.
But why build the business in Kanata North?
Founder and CEO Steve Cody said the team considered downtown, but a number of factors kept them in Kanata North. This included parking accessibility and avoiding the rush-hour grind, as well as far more flexible lease options to expand as a tenant of the Kanata Research Park.
A great location, even greater talent
He also cited the local support networks for growing tech companies, such as Wesley Clover’s popular Tech Tuesday events, and the scenic appeal of being on the edge of green space and next door to the Marshes Golf Club. Most of all, it came down to talent.
“We realized that most of the people we wanted to hire were located in the west end of Ottawa,” Cody said.
A deep pool of talented people, flexible and affordable real estate, and access to like-minded peers also made Kanata North a natural home for Fusebill. With its SaaS billing automation platform for businesses, Fusebill has already secured more than 100 customers worldwide and expects to almost triple its headcount this year.
“There are so many little things about working out of Kanata North that fit with the culture we want to create at Fusebill, to grow it into a large company,” said CEO Tyler Eyamie.
Incubating, accelerating a new generation of cool companies
But why did L-SPARK, Canada’s only dedicated enterprise SaaS Incubator and Accelerator, decide to set up shop in Kanata North?
“You want to be where the action is and there is a great wealth of companies here,” said Patrick White, Acting Managing Director of L-SPARK.
From billion-dollar multinational Mitel Networks to Ericsson’s world-class wireless lab and a host of up-and-comers, “there is just so much knowledge, expertise, interaction and collaboration condensed into such a small area.”
With an advisory board and selection committee that includes big names in enterprise IT and leading venture capitalists, it should come as no surprise that L-SPARK has welcomed 19 strong startups into the portfolio in less than two years.
Cody believes Kanata North is only starting to lever its strengths as a leader in the SaaS space.
“There is a sense of coolness to Kanata North with the new generation of companies that are pitching their tents here,” he said.