By Nathan Rudyk
One of the coolest assignments market2world has had from Invest Ottawa in support of the 2012 edition of Global Entrepreneurship Week Ottawa (#GEWOttawa) is creating a series of success profiles for Rising Star companies. These profiles, funded with the help of The Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE), are in some cases the very first articulation of the amazing momentum being experienced by our region's hottest startups. (You can meet many of these Rising Stars at a #GEWOttawa Rising Star Awards event this Friday Nov. 16th).
Anystone's Anytune app has had nearly 100,000 iOS device downloads and is one of those apps that as a weekend guitar warrior, make me love my iPhone all over again. Wacheski says he learned to play the drums by moving the needle back-and-forth on his vinyl records to re-hear sections of 70s rock anthems. Now Anystone Technologies is poised to accelerate learning for millions of musicians with just the tap of a screen. Users can control tempo, tranpose keys and even adjust EQ to make that oh-so-awesome Alex Lifeson solo learnable by mere mortals.
Wacheski has an Ottawa telecommunications R&D pedigree that extends back more than 20 years. He says that when he was working on the concept for an earlier, related business, IT veteran Bob Huggins, now an Invest Ottawa Entrepreneur in Residence, saw potential in that company. That connection has grown into a close working relationship with Invest Ottawa.
“For companies like us that are boot-strapping and don’t have any investment yet, Invest Ottawa provides an excellent set of services and its advisory team is indispensable,” says Wacheski. “You can see that the Entrepreneurs in Residence are there because they love the entrepreneurial spirit and they love to see companies thriving.”
Launched in 2009 as Gazaro Inc., a comparison-shopping engine for consumers, the company pivoted in 2011 and re-launched as 360pi in 2012 to offer crucial price intelligence solutions strictly to retailers.
Because consumers arm themselves, at home and in-store, with price comparison and shopping tools via the Internet and on their smartphones, retailers must like-wise be prepared. 360pi’s solutions allow retailers to analyze their market position, plus identify and respond to changes in competitors’ pricing strategies.
From 2010 to 2011, the company grew revenues by a factor of 10. Revenues tripled from 2011 to 2012. Rink forecasts that revenues will nearly triple again by end of 2013. The 360pi employee head-count tripled between 2011 and 2012 and could easily grow another 50-100 per cent in 2013.
360pi's CEO Alexander Risk insists that “Not enough companies take advantage of Invest Ottawa’s market intelligence, networking events and sales seminars, which are offered on an ongoing basis.” Rink believes in 2012 Invest Ottawa upped its professionalism as a springboard for Ottawa companies aiming for successful national or international commercialization.
Kevin Carroll, Invest Ottawa’s new Managing Director of Innovation, has an expanded team devoted to getting Ottawa companies the resources they need to grow. Prior to Invest Ottawa, Carroll was a Director at the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Centre for Commercialization of Research (CCR) and also has an entrepreneurial track record spanning more than 20 years. “It’s a big challenge to build a startup. I’m grateful for the early support from Invest Ottawa,” affirms Rink. “Kevin and his team are building a local investment and innovation ecosystem that promotes investment in startups, while at the same time building great Ottawa companies, whose founders should, in turn, invest in future startups.”
ActivDox manages documents via the convergence of tablet devices, wireless communications and public or private cloud computing. The current ActivDox service specifically serves the growing adoption of Apple Inc.’s iPad in the enterprise and the company maintains strong partnerships with its visionary clients, including the U.S. Government, The County of Los Angeles, two of the top television networks in the U.S., the Anderson School of Management at UCLA and CGI Group Inc.
ActivDox began in Waterloo, but to find the necessary tech talent to grow the company, the entire startup moved to Ottawa in 2012 and began working with Invest Ottawa’s business incubator.
With direction provided by Invest Ottawa, ActivDox found and hired four software developers with document management expertise. Also, in part through Invest Ottawa contacts, the company secured several funding agreements including $1,040,000 in angel investments, $165,000 of which came specifically from Ottawa Angels, the rest from groups across Ontario.
Also with help from Invest Ottawa, ActivDox is working with the federal Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to secure further funding, and the company is raising another $960,000. When this round is completed, the company will have met its target of $2 million in total angel funding that will be matched with $1 million in Government of Canada Federal Development loans.
ActivDox CEO Hans Downer lauds Invest Ottawa Entrepreneur in Residence, Andrew Jackson, who provides his own strong background in document management having worked as a senior executive in JetForm Corp., sold to Adobe Systems Inc. in 2002. “Invest Ottawa supported ActivDox in many ways. Andrew introduced me to valuable networks and provided access to stellar market intelligence, which our team could not have located on its own,” says Downer. “With market intelligence stating iPad deployment in the financial vertical is stronger by a factor of 5 to 10 over any other market vertical, Invest Ottawa helped us refine the target market for ActivDox. Invest Ottawa offered fantastic service: in three days ActivDox received two rounds of valuable market intelligence.”
ActivDox will be available on Windows and Android tablets by 2013. According to Downer, his goal is to create a high performing, talented team — following in the footsteps of CEOs who have grown billion dollar companies. In 2013, ActivDox forecasts first year revenue to reach $1.6 million. By 2015 the company forecasts growth to $12.5 million.
Want to meet and learn about more of Ottawa's Rising Stars? Then come out and join us at this Friday's award ceremony at the SIDEDOOR Contemporary Kitchen and Bar, 20 York Street, in the Byward Market.