May 7, 2008
“Always keep innovating by targeting what your market will need in the future. Once you decide on something, get it to market as fast as you can, because someone else has already thought of the same product.”
With a percentage revenue growth of over 240% over three years, Epiphan Systems took the second spot of the Ottawa Business Journal’s Fastest Growing Companies list. The Ottawa Business Journal is a weekly regional publication in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada that provides authoritative and in-depth news coverage on the sectors that comprise Ottawa’s vibrant business scene, ranging from technology to commercial real estate and corporate finance to hospitality.
As part of their criteria for applicants to the Fastest Growing Companies list, companies must be headquartered in the National Capital Region or adjacent municipalities. They must have completed three fiscal years with financials that have been verified by a third-party accountant with either a review engagement or audit. With 241.6% in total revenue growth over three years, Epiphan positioned itself as a solid second on the list, a whopping 76.8% ahead of the third place holder. The list, along with Ottawa Business Journal’s commentary and criteria can be seen here: http://www.ottawabusinessjournal.com/291507609002500.php.
The following is a transcript of the article from the Ottawa Business Journal: Stick with your plan, find a niche to dominate, and persevere.
These words of advice may sound trite, but they come from three men who have demonstrated they are words to live by if one hopes to succeed in business. A soaring loonie, fears of a U.S. recession and of that recession spilling north have done little to dampen their outlook. They have either found opportunity where others see adversity, or realized already that the only way to succeed in a globalized economy is to diversify across continents and industries so that they are insulated from a crash in any one market. They are senior executives at our top three Fastest Growing Companies and last week they shared some of their insights. They are: Jeff Lynt, co-owner and senior partner of IT professional services firm inRound Innovations; Mike Sandler, president and CEO of signal-grabbing technology firm Epiphan Systems; and Jean-Yves Martineau, founder and CTO of e-commerce firm Cactus Commerce.
OBJ: What career path led you to this business? LYNT: I have been in the service business since I was a kid; the only changes were in the type of service. Prior to starting a service management consulting practice at inRound Innovations, I spent eight years in computer support working my way through the ranks and eventually providing oversight for a $50-million operation. In every job, I’ve been very fortunate to have been mentored by some of the very best managers who taught me the importance of client relationships, fiscal responsibility and how to build teams in order to surround myself with good people.
SANDLER: I worked for Nortel for six years and then a decade with various other technology companies. I wanted to start my own business that would develop innovative products that would solve a real need in the market.
MARTINEAU: I started in media on the creative side of TV and radio, and never imagined I’d end up here. My father convinced me that electronic communication was the future, so I listened. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, my uncle arranged for me to do a “day in the life” in a couple of businesses. The first was with a small IT outsourcing company, going on field calls, it was great. The second was with an advertising agency when I was about 19 or 20. So, looking back, the exposure to both the technical and creative side of business perfectly positioned me to be in this business today.
OBJ: What philosophy or strategy did you adopt that has had the most impact on the growth of your business?
LYNT: In creating a service management practice, we identified a market that was under serviced and thus found uncontested market space within the IT service management industry. We strove to create new value with inRound’s unique service offerings and strove to shatter the value/cost tradeoff associated with this type of business. Through all of this, it was important to not focus on what the competition was doing, but instead focus on what inRound could bring to the market in way of innovative service offerings. Our own fiscal responsibility was also a key guiding principle and this was evident as we defined a strategy that focused the company on innovative and low cost solutions. And, as we stated last year in this edition, at inRound we practise what we like to call “balanced operational excellence,” with the four pillars of our company being inRound’s clients, employees, partners and shareholders.
SANDLER: “Listen to the customer” has been the philosophy that has had the most impact on the growth. If you build a good product and make sure that people want to use it, then the sales will happen.
MARTINEAU: It may sound like a cliche, but it is the absolute truth … a can-do attitude. Customers know that if there is any way to do the seemingly impossible, Cactus will do it. In the early years of our business, we were the ones called in to firefight many projects that went south. We got a reputation for being able to thrive in adversity and get the job done. Our customers loved our passion and ability to execute. Now they look to us to advise them, show them what they should be doing next.
OBJ: How have the economic factors of the past year, such as the surging loonie and the economic crunch in the U.S., impacted your business or affected your outlook?
LYNT: As an organization that develops sound IT service management strategies, inRound helps our clients to do more with less. Most organizations are looking at increasing the value they experience with their IT spend and this bodes well with inRound’s approach to guaranteeing a rapid return on investment with our customer-centric service management solutions.
SANDLER: Although our sales to the U.S. continue to grow, we have noticed a drop in the overall percentage of our sales to the U.S. Fortunately, our business is not consumer-based and most of our medical, government, military and educational customers in the U.S. are still buying. We also have a highly diversified customer base with sales to over 2,500 customers in 69 countries.
MARTINEAU: We see it as just a bump in the road. If you look at it in real terms, it’s one year in a 20-year fiscal roadmap. And the other important thing to remember is that the U.S. is not the only market in the world. Our deal with Microsoft has helped us grow internationally. So not to diminish the economic situation, as I’m sure it will be felt by many Canadian companies who primarily do business with the U.S., but there are enormous opportunities for our business worldwide. Listen, right now we’re doing this interview while I’m in Zurich!
OBJ: What has been the biggest advantage to growing your business from the Ottawa area? What has been the biggest disadvantage?
LYNT: One of the biggest advantages I find in having launched and grown inRound in the Ottawa area is the high concentration of IT-focused companies … Probably the biggest disadvantage would be the increasing difficulty in procuring business into the federal government. There has been a big push within the public sector to move business towards the large systems integrators, making it much more difficult to engage directly into the federal government.
SANDLER: The biggest advantage has been the ability to draw on engineering talent to help in the early stages of development. The biggest disadvantage has been that we don’t sell locally. Approximately six per cent of our sales to date have been from Canada and only one per cent from companies in Ottawa.
MARTINEAU: By far the biggest advantage to have a business in the Ottawa-Gatineau area is the quality of life that we can offer our employees. It’s easier to attract and retain talent when the area has so many positives to offer in terms of quality of life. The biggest disadvantage to a company like ours is the lack of direct flights to many major cities in the world.
OBJ: What key piece of advice would you give to the next generation of business leaders?
LYNT: As simplistic as this sounds, truly the best advice I could provide the next generation of business leaders is to not give up and that no matter what obstacles or hurdles are thrown in their way, to persevere. It is so true, even in business, that once you have overcome the challenges, your business comes out having evolved into a stronger organization.
SANDLER: Always keep innovating by targeting what your market will need in the future. Once you decide on something, get it to market as fast as you can, because someone else has already thought of the same product.
MARTINEAU: Know what you want. Make courageous decisions. If you believe in what you are doing, just do it.
Epiphan Video produces world-class, award-winning audio visual solutions to capture, scale, mix, encode, stream, record and play high resolution video including 4K UHD. Our customers include companies that specialize in live event production, education, healthcare, worship, manufacturing, usability, collaboration, security and transportation.
Epiphan’s field-proven product line includes live video production and video streaming systems, external USB-based video grabbers for capturing video and graphics from DVI, HDMI™, SDI and VGA sources and internal video capture cards. Our products are designed in North America and backed by rock-solid technical support.
Epiphan Video is a trade name of Epiphan Systems Inc., a privately owned company incorporated in 2003. Epiphan is based in Palo Alto, California, USA and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada with regional offices and a network of authorized channel partners and OEMs throughout the world. For more information, please visit www.epiphan.com.