Michaela Schluessel posted an articleImmigrants develop software and IT firm with 50 employees - AOT Technologies see more
Source: Times Colonist
Author: Andrew Duffy
Praveen Ramachandran, left, and George Philip of AOT Technologies: Expertise across the applications spectrum.
Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST
Foreign brain drain huge gain for Victoria tech
Immigrants develop software and IT firm with 50 employees
Greater Victoria’s technology sector has been blessed with world-class post-secondary institutions, research facilities and a climate and setting that helps to attract both workers and companies.
It’s also evident the sector has inadvertently reaped benefits from the U.S. immigration system.
Citing the number of hurdles to clear to just study or work in the U.S., to say nothing of the length of time it takes to become a citizen, several young tech entrepreneurs have opted for Canada, and the shores of Victoria for a chance to spread their wings.
The young Indian men behind early-stage start-ups Pani Energy and HRG Infrastructure Monitoring are here because the U.S. presented problems. The rapidly expanding Freshworks Studio — also founded by Indian-born entrepreneurs — is headquartered here because visas, immigration and being able to start a business would have been much more difficult in the U.S.
It’s a story George Philip and Praveen Ramachandran, who went to school together in India, know too well.
The 37-year-old friends and collaborators founded AOT Technologies in Victoria seven years ago, after both worked separately in the U.S., but saw long and difficult paths to citizenship and a chance to start their own businesses.
In Canada, they saw a chance to once again work together, and seven years along their company is about to take flight.
AOT Technologies started with the idea of establishing a consulting and software development firm that would provide services to other companies.
This year, AOT, which first hit the $1-million revenue mark in 2015 and hit $3.3 million in 2018, will hire 20 people, bringing its payroll to 50 employees, and will have established offices in Vancouver and Seattle.
Sitting in their new Sayward Building offices — 2,000 square feet in the 1200-block of Douglas St. in the heart of their adopted city — the two founders say it’s an exciting time, and that after seven years of working to establish their business and their reputations it’s time to flex their muscles.
“We both had an idea of developing our own products and we are both passionate about software development, so we wanted a platform that would fund our ideas,” said Ramachandran. The business model includes IT consulting, contract product development for other companies and producing their software applications.
“We feel we are really on a growth track,” he said.
Rob Bennett, chief operating officer at the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, said he’s not surprised AOT is taking off.
“Their growth rate is phenomenal. I’m not surprised they are able to do it because of the sorts of individuals they are,” he said.
Bennett saw them first hand when AOT went through VIATEC’s accelerator program with a software product.
“Both AOT and Freshworks were in the accelerator and both at one point faced dire circumstances, a turning point. Their tenacity got each of them through it,” Bennett said.
“When the tough got going, they got tough. They are both rocketships and they have numbers of people both here and [India] and have the flexibility which ends up allowing them to do all sorts of contract work.”
He noted their market timing has been good.
“This is the age when everyone wants a customized app on every platform and people don’t want to ignore the web,” he said. “Well, these companies have the expertise across that spectrum.”
AOT’s growth has been paced by a steady stream of government work. Philip said the province’s new procurement strategy has opened the door to smaller firms to bid on complex and interesting projects.
That has done a couple of things for AOT, he said.
“That’s’ really helped us to grow,” he said of a firm that specializes in integrating large enterprise IT systems.
It has also enabled AOT to attract and keep top-end talent, which has been known to leave either for more money or for more interesting work.
The company has a program, again designed to keep top talent, that allows all employees to pitch a project each month. The one that gets the most votes will be funded by AOT.
“We are still in our early stages, but we have a proven business model and proven we can make high quality software ... and that we can compete and win government contracts and deliver on time and on budget,” said Philip.
He said that’s brought them to the point of serious expansion, which he looks at as an opportunity to export the Victoria advantage — collaboration.
Philip said the collegial nature of the tech sector allows small and mid-sized firms to partner to go after bigger business in places like the U.S.
“As we go outside of this market to bring [those companies] together at the table to other markets. It’s a Victoria capability we can bring,” he said.
Tessa Bousfield posted an articleA total of $45,224.40 in cash and 3,246 lbs of food has been collected for the Mustard Seed. see more
Tech community continues support of local food bank with a $51k donation
VICTORIA, BC - December 10, 2018 - A total of $45,224.40 in cash and 3,246 lbs of food has been collected for the Mustard Seed as a direct result from the 2018 VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge! The weight in food is a new record, more than doubling last year’s weight and is equal to $6,492 ($2 per pound). This brings the total 2018 value to $51,716.40!
It is our honour to continue to play a role in encouraging and directing the generous members of our community,” said VIATEC CEO, Dan Gunn. “The participants got creative with their fundraising this year; There were wine raffles, bake sales, pancake breakfasts, chili cook-offs, office parties, plenty of interoffice competition and even a push-up competition between two companies. They’ve been digging deep, having fun and making a difference as part of the VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge for over a decade and it’s because of them that many families will have food on the table this holiday season, and throughout the year. All the credit goes to our members and donors and we look forward to aiding them for many more decades to come.”
Since its inception in 2002, $2,201,714.40 worth of food and cash has been donated to the Mustard Seed through companies participating in the VIATEC Foundation Food Bank Challenge. With this year’s amount, the challenge has raised a total of $2,253,420.80!
The weight in food is a new record, more than doubling last year’s weight and is equal to $6,492 ($2 per pound)
This year’s top contributors:
Greatest Per-Employee Contributor
1st place: Aviary Technologies ($727 cash & food per employee)
2nd place: RevenueWire ($309.10 cash & food per employee)
3rd place: AES Engineering ($219.60 cash & food per employee)
Greatest Overall Contributor
1st place: RevenueWire ($12,364 cash & food)
2nd place: Starfish Medical ($7,090 cash & food)
3rd place: AES Engineering ($5,490 cash & food)
A plaque presentation took place on December 7th at VIATEC and the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s Sweater Weather Get Together event, bringing out over 300 attendees.
VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Technology is Victoria's #1 industry with a $4.06 Billion Annual Revenue, a $5.22 Billion Economic Impact and over 16,775 employees across 995 high-tech companies - and growing!)
We work closely with our members to offer a variety of events, programs and services. In addition, VIATEC serves as the front door of the local tech sector and as its spokesperson. To better support local innovators, we acquired our own building (Fort Tectoria) where we offer flexible and affordable office space to emerging local companies along with a gathering/event space for local entrepreneurs. www.viatec.ca
About the VIATEC Foundation:
A fund, held with the Victoria Foundation, that provides a simple way for VIATEC members to give back. Launched in June of 2017 (Raising $177,242 on its first day), the VIATEC Foundation is a result of seeing the philanthropic efforts of VIATEC Members being made privately or members lacking a direction for their goals. Because it is an industry that thrives on competition and challenges, VIATEC saw an opportunity to offer people a way to direct their generosity and show the Victoria community what’s possible.
About the Mustard Seed Street Church:
The Mustard Seed Street Church has been essential in fighting hunger and restoring faith to a large portion of people living in poverty, as well as the working poor, in Greater Victoria since 1975. The Mustard Seed’s operations are nearly 100 percent community funded and include Vancouver Island’s largest Food Bank, a Family Center, Hospitality programs, and addictions recovery at Hope Farm Healing Centre as well as more traditional Church services.
The Mustard Seed Street Church positively impacts, on average 5,000 individuals per month, with more than 50 volunteers keeping things running everyday. With your help, lives are transformed on a daily basis! www.mustardseed.ca
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