Jun 2017

I’ve had many conversations lately about organizational values and how they can improve or impede growth in tech. It seems that many companies, both in Canada and the US, are being torn between being values-focus (respectful, kind and trusting) and being delivery-focused (fast, effective). In the eyes of many, these are at opposite ends of a spectrum.

We Canadians have a reputation for being nice - polite to a fault. In markets where customer and employee experience are critical, our inclusive and caring nature is starting to set our tech companies apart.

With our focus on talent, we know that the success of a tech company is tied directly to the ability to attract and engage the best people. While these people all want to be part of a winning team, and one that is moving quickly down the path of success - they also really want to be respected.

The most talented people we talk to want to work with leaders who create an environment where it is safe to innovate and learn - where they are trusted and given both autonomy and direction. Great people know how to get results, and they’d rather deliver those results for a company that shows them respect.

As it turns-out, a values-based organization is most likely to attract the best people. When inspired with the right mission, great people will care about customer and will deliver great solutions with speed and efficiency.

May 2017

Last week, the Kitchener-Waterloo tech community was excited to welcome the NetFlix HR Guru Patty McCord. As keynote speaker at Communitech's Tech Leadership Conference, Patty's talk was crammed with authenticity, humour and incredibly valuable lessons. Among many gems, her thoughts on retention really hit home. While most tech companies point to employee retention as a measure of successful HR and leadership, Patty dismissed this notion entirely. She sought to make NetFlix a great company to be from. "Most tech companies have a four-year vesting schedule and try to use options as ‘golden handcuffs; to aid retention, but we never thought that made sense. If you see a better opportunity elsewhere, you should be allowed to take what you’ve earned and leave. If you no longer want to work with us, we don’t want to hold you hostage."   Tech companies evolve, and as they grow they hire people who believe in the mission, and who are great at the things that need to be done. At the same time, talented people move into roles where they get to accomplish important things, where they are valued and where they get to use their strengths. As long as these 2 objectives are being met, everything is great - but as soon as a company can't utilize your best talents, it's time to move on! The growth of a company is a journey, and so is every individual's career. At various points along the way you need innovators, builders, tactical execution experts, change leaders, and people who can scale-up process and operations. These are often very different humans. Expecting that the changing needs of your business will align perfectly with the evolving strengths and career goals of any one individual is unrealistic. An employment relationship isn't like a marriage - where ideally the two parties grow and evolve in tandem. Unlike a marriage, it is ok to just be good at the first 2 years, and then move on. Yet leaders take it personally when an employee leaves to pursue the next evolution on their path, even when that option doesn't exist in their company or if they've failed to discuss future plans. Many people also feel stuck in companies that can no longer utilize their best abilities, becoming disengaged - without realizing that it is ok, and not disloyal, to seek growth and fulfillment in another setting. So how does a company manage this, encouraging people to follow their path without the trauma of turnover that disrupts the business. I believe the answer is in conversations that are transparent, honest and safe. Imagine if your managers and teammates could talk openly about their career ambitions and their strengths, and the needs of the business. If each employee knew that their best talents were needed and valued, and that their career goals would be fulfilled - of course they'd stay. But what if the conversation reveals that the paths of 'company needs' and 'employee strengths and goals' diverge? Well there should be a plan for that too. Without a manager fearing that the employee will resign, or the employee fearing for the near-term security of their job, everyone could work together to ensure that there was minimum disruption to the business and or to the individual's employment.  This might seem like a big leap of trust, and perhaps unrealistic, but the alternative is surprise resignations, and unfulfilled, disengaged or insecure workers. So take a small leap at least. To the leaders, talk to your people about their strengths, and how (or if) they can do what they are best at. Talk about career goals and whether you can offer growth in ways that matter. And to every employee, know what you are best at and identify the areas you want to grow - then talk to your leaders. Whether your paths align or not, everyone will more quickly and happily reach their destination.  

May 2017

Uber and their “culture of sexism”  may be fading slowly from the front pages, but tech companies are scrambling to review their official practices and unofficial workplace norms. We see now that a single blog post or GlassDoor rating can cripple your company brand. It’s a scary time, but we are (finally) seeing some serious focus on the culture of our tech community. There is no disputing that the innovation economy, and each individual tech company within it, will benefit from diversity and inclusion at all levels. From a pure talent supply and demand perspective, if any and every capable individual feels welcomed and valued at your company, you have a HUGE advantage. And yet, everywhere we turn, there are subtle (and not-so-subtle) signs of bad behaviour, professional immaturity and cultures that value uniformity rather than diversity. I like to think well-intentioned tech leaders are just looking to build fun, socially relaxed environments. But when drinking to excess, crass language, and offensive humour become the accepted or promoted social dynamic in your company - you exclude and offend many great employees, and significantly limit your chances of success.   Here are some recent observations. Anything sound familiar?    “We are proud of our culture. One of our values is that we are NOT a professional environment” - while aiming to create a casual authentic workplace, individuals use this ‘value statement’ to excuse offensive and sexist comments, and lewd behaviour in the office. We need an executive who fits in with our team. We need to know that we can all drink beer together.” - while this implies a harmless desire to have a team that can socialize and have fun together, it also was an indicator that drinking was part of the executive team culture.  All of our social events involve drinking, often to excess.” - from an executive who was ready to resign, because the culture supported inappropriate and immature behaviour, and excluded many women, minorities and individuals who chose not to participate in the party atmosphere. I could go on and on. There are no shortage of signals that many tech companies are either overtly or inadvertently excluding great employees who don’t live up to the social expectations of the young, party-hard, work-hard stereotype.   Want to avoid the risk of both ostracizing great talent and exposing your company to Uber-esque reputation risk?   Look at the social events in your tech community and in your company, both planned and spontaneous. Would someone of any gender, age, sexual orientation, faith or ethnicity feel equally part of the team and part of the community? Would they feel respected, included and valued? Pay attention to humour and offhand comments in your workplace. If you address and shut down sexist and offensive language and behaviour, you send a strong positive message that you value and respect every individual. You create a foundation of safety and trust that you'll need to grow your business. I should note that I’m not suggesting that we ban beer, parties or the occasional well timed F-bomb. Authenticity, fun, and socializing are all parts of what make our tech community great. We wear jeans and flip flops. Our email and slack messages are informal and witty. We may even hug a client or coworker. But we need to see that respect and mindful regard of personal differences, values and boundaries is key to building a positive culture and an inviting community.

TKO t shirt
Apr 2017

Tom Kane joined Virtek in December as VP Global Sales. As an international sales leader with extensive experience in growing and mentoring teams, he was excited to apply his learnings to help Virtek continue to grow and compete on a global level. A few months into the new role, we caught up with Tom to hear about why he joined Virtek, why they are poised for global success and how to scale a sales organization.

What was it about Virtek Vision and this role that drew you in?

Virtek is a company that helps manufacturing organizations automate some of their processes. We help with cost quality and efficiency - wherever there is high complexity low volume manufacturing. If you get into high volume like cars, robotics are really what you need at that point. What we do is we help humans do things in a much more effective and efficient way. I came from a manufacturing background originally, so I'm very familiar with the challenges that most manufacturers face. Our technology addresses an important challenge. I have an unusual background and this was like a perfect fit. 

What's your experience been since joining Virtek?

In the 5 months that I’ve been here it's been a fantastic, busy, whirlwind experience. I came into the company and immediately started working on next year's sales plan. It was a real challenge, as I was still getting to know the company, but a lot of fun. I continue to be impressed with the people here. They are fantastic and very dedicated. We have very, very low employee turnover, which is highly unusual in the KW tech industry. This is a real testament to how much people enjoy working here. It's a very team oriented, fast-paced atmosphere. We work with blue chip companies which is exciting. The young people who work here love it because there is opportunity for global travel, as we have to be on site often to help our customers solve new problems with our product. I see that as a great opportunity for most people who are starting out in their career. The experience is invaluable.

What are you looking forward to as the company continues to grow?

I'm really focused on modernizing our sales team - giving them the tools they need and the methods that are reflective of today’s B2B buying environment. The industries that we sell into have changed and our sales team has to keep pace by employing modern techniques. This is a challenge that really excites me. We’re also developing and releasing new products at a very fast pace, setting the pace for our industry. In an industry that hasn't changed much in the last 10 years, we've now released technology and products that are changing the game. We can see our competitors scrambling to keep up. I'm looking forward to Virtek continuing on this path and staying ahead of our competitors. We’ve already positioned ourselves ahead of the curve, so it’s an exciting challenge to keep in the disruptive mode. From a sales point of view, it’s important for us to capitalize on all that hard work from engineering.

How would you describe the culture and team at Virtek?

It’s one of loyalty, dedication and teamwork. It’s really top notch people who are very, very focused. We do an awful lot of traveling which requires time away from your family and friends and is a big personal commitment. In order to do that kind of travelling you have to be dedicated and loyal - and we have those people. I find it amazing that this is kind of a sleepy little company in Waterloo that nobody talks a whole lot about. But I was pleasantly surprised when I walked through the doors and found the most amazing people here. And they don’t leave the company so the culture must be fantastic. Do we have ping pong tables and hammocks? No we don’t, but we’ve got awesome people that are excited to work here everyday and contribute to really helping customers solve problems.

Virtek has been part of the local tech scene for a long time - why would you say that they are now one to watch?

In a traditional sense, I don’t know if we’re "the one to watch". However I’m excited about what we do because what we do, we do very well. We have huge market share in our space. I’m excited that we’re leading the way with new technology in engineering and it’s great to watch. When demo our new products for our best customers, it is amazing to watch their faces. It’s the equivalent of saying you’ve been driving a car your whole life and somebody pulls up with a car that can fly -  and you go "whaaat" - that is kind of the equivalent. We've brought technology into the space and big companies see this and their jaws drop to the floor - "wow, this is fantastic". That makes me really excited. I know that we are onto something that is really, truly game changing. As a sales leader that makes my job so satisfying.

What are some of the most challenging aspect about what you do?

Because of the way people buy today, they’ve got more access to information than they’ve ever had in the history of the world. With information so easy to come by, gaining mindshare when they’re doing their research is by far the biggest challenge. It’s a very busy world out there on the internet. I’m confident, because we’ve got really good, passionate people here and that’s the prime ingredient.  There’s nothing they can’t do.

Why do you do what you do? What motivates you and makes everything worth it?

At the end of the day if you’re in sales or engineering, you generally just want to help people succeed. That’s what it comes down to. If you can somehow help somebody solve a problem with cool technology that’s a great motivator. When they turn to you and say "wow, this is great. This is fantastic and we couldn’t have done this without you." - That’s gold.

Any words of advice for companies looking to scale globally?

I would suggest that they need to get their feet wet - lean in. You may be right or you may be wrong, but the more you hesitate the more you lose your opportunity. Time is always a competitive weapon. Get started and learn by experience. The depth of complexity when you work on an international scale is something that you really just have to experience yourself. Don’t delay. The more you delay, the more opportunity is lost and time is the ultimate currency so do it now - do it today.

Mar 2017

Sean Erjavec is the new EVP Sales at Bridgit. As a scale-up sales leader with global experience, he is responsible for building a team to drive revenue growth for this exciting KW start-up. Now 3 months into his new role, we talked to him about why he made the move and his approach to sales leadership. What was it about Bridgit and this role that drew you in?

  • I’ve worked outside Waterloo for the majority of my career - for Toronto, Ottawa, and New York based companies. During this time I’ve seen the Waterloo tech community evolve tremendously. There’s now a rich ecosystem of tech companies that I find very exciting. The region is exploding with opportunity and I always knew I wanted to get back at some point when the timing and opportunity was right. Bridgit checked all the boxes - great local reputation, the vision and early stage execution of the co-founders and the team, and solving an actual problem. When I look at local start-ups, they stand in a unique category - they have clients, have successfully cracked the US market, have strong recurring revenue, and have great internal/ external support. With all the checkboxes, I was really excited to help scale and grow a company in my own backyard.
What has your experience been like since you joined Bridgit?
  • It’s been great! The culture is awesome, everyone works hard, and everyone is committed to Bridgit’s success. No politics, no BS - just an overall desire to make Bridgit an even greater company and leader in the space. I have felt very empowered and supported by the co-founders and team in general - and we’ve accomplished a lot over the last 90 days. We’ve hired some great people, have had a record Q1 in terms of revenue/ sales growth and feel very excited for what lies ahead.
What are you looking forward to as the company continues to grow?
  • In short, really looking forward to scaling across the board - revenue, team, market position, product etc. We’ve got some aggressive corporate objectives but with the foundation that we’ve been able to create, I’ve got a high degree of confidence in our ability to execute collectively. I want to be able to look in the rearview mirror one day, and say, “I was a part of that”.
How would someone know that they are a good potential fit for the team?
  • Generally speaking we’re looking for bright, tenacious, and experienced people to help us scale to the next level. We’re looking for the A-players. Culture fit is important to us at Bridgit - we’re looking for people who can collaborate internally, be methodical in their approach and can think strategically. More specifically on the sales side, we’ve structured the team with Business Development who focus at the top of the funnel and Account Executives who have experience advancing and closing the sale. In terms of Account Executives, ideally individuals who have 2-5 years early-stage SaaS experience and who have demonstrated success. Looking to build a team without ego's where everyone (regardless of title) works together to achieve the goals.
What would you say are some of the most challenging/exciting aspects about what you do?
  • Bridgit has created a very strong foundation across the board which is awesome. Now it’s all about scaling and executing. We have disruptive technology, and validation in the marketplace that we do solve a problem that exists, which in turn gives us a strong sense of purpose and commitment.
  • In terms of challenge, I think of it more as an opportunity. Generally speaking we sell into a non-tech savvy industry and often times our clients are either unaware that solutions like ours exist, have invested in clunky ERP solutions that do average job solving the problem, or have been exposed to lower-end solutions. So it’s up to us to articulate the value that we can provide and challenge these companies so that they understand both the personal and corporate win. Our client retention (and expansion) is extremely high which is a testament to the value that we provide.
Why do you do what you do, and what motivates you and makes everything worth it?
  • It’s not for everyone, but I love being able to scale teams and revenue in early stage environments. Targets are often times aggressive, but the reward and sense of accomplishment when you look back is incredible. When you see a team, product, market position, and revenue scale exponentially in a relatively short period of time it’s pretty awesome.
Any words of advice for companies looking to scale sales?
  • Really understand the market that you’re going after. Where do you fit, how big is it and create a plan that you can measure against. Everyone needs to know what their role is and needs to be accountable. In early stage companies, it’s important to set goals, measure, and most important adapt accordingly. Best technology does not always win, so if you’re serious about scaling revenue/ sales, invest accordingly!

Mar 2017

Recently a friend and local tech exec met with some top engineering students, and learned that as many as 60% had plans to accept jobs with tech companies in Silicon Valley. "What can we do to convince them to stay local and build a career here?", he asked. I didn't have an easy answer. I put myself in the shoes of these young and ambitious engineers, then imagined having to advise my son as he considers job offer from some well-funded and exciting start-up, or a huge tech giant. (he's only 11, so I have some time yet). A new city, a big pay check, a high-profile company on your resume, a team of top leaders and peers from the best companies in the world. It's the flattery of being scouted for the big league. I get it. 22 year old me would have been sorely tempted. The allure and excitement of these big opportunities is as much about the adventure as it is about the day to day of the job. We definitely have companies in Canada that are building equally cool stuff. We have incredibly talented and experienced leaders to learn from, and opportunity to build a brilliant career and impressive resume. But when you grow up and study within the Canadian tech scene, the southern grass and the US dollar both look greener. I'm not suggested that we stop trying, but I think we just have to stop beating ourselves up. Wanting to seek adventure and gain experience in other markets is a good thing. But here is what we MUST do: sell our outbound talent on the dream of one day bringing it all home. Go and seek adventure if you must. Learn, grow and gather up some amazing experiences... and then come home. As Canadian employers, we must plant the seed. We must remind the great young engineering and business minds, that we appreciate their adventurous spirit and that they are critical to our innovation economy - if not now, then in the future. They have the ability to be so much more than someone sitting on the 50,000 person roster of an enormous tech company. Once they see the world and learn how things are done in other markets, remember that they'll be welcomed home. And that this will always be home. Stay tuned for my next post on how we can better sell Canadian Tech companies as a destination for global talent that is seeking adventure.  

Mar 2017

You’ve figured out employer branding and have defined your ideal team.. But how do you get that message out to your dream candidates. They are not likely looking for a job, and if they are, the recruiting messages of hundreds of other growing tech companies just sounds like noise. How do you craft a message that is actually heard - and where do you tell the story? Step 1: Tell a Great the Story Storytelling brings your brand to life and allows you to build meaningful relationships with future employees. Here are a couple of tips: Think about your Who What drives your target employees? We know that what really drives engagement and love for a job is Autonomy, Purpose (Why) and Mastery (and here is a great video by Daniel Pink that drives this message home). Talk about the people behind the brand & their passion for impact While telling your company’s origin story (similar to a Superhero origin story) highlight the people behind the brand and why this mission is important to them. Share inspiring real life accounts that your future employees will connect with. (Read our blog post on developing a hero story - link) Build your brand personality Create a distinct tone of voice across all channels that separates you from your competitors and is easily recognizable. Think about your culture, your team, your workspace - does your tone and voice reflect this? Is it consistent with the what you project to customers? Step 2: Know Where the Story will be Heard Do you know the difference between employment branding and recruiting for a specific role? Recruiting for a role is typically reactive, you focus on tactics to find candidates for a specific profile. Great branding makes recruitment MUCH easier. Branding is about always recruiting - it is the overarching message to the your broad community of future hires. To the people you are targeting AND to those who influence them it says, “YOU WANT TO WORK HERE” To get that message heard, you need to think like your prospective employees. Find them in their natural habitat. Where are the top leaders, sales executives, developers and technical experts working, playing and spending time. What events do they attend? What websites do they frequent? What are they reading? Where do they drink coffee, play games, collaborate with peers on projects? Here are a couple of ideas on how and where to proactively engage prospective hires:

  • Hackathons
  • Webinars and meet-ups
  • Sponsor events relevant to your brand
  • Industry events and trade-shows
  • Challenges
  • Community and volunteer events
  • Social media and targeted online communities
  • Sponsor podcasts
So go out there and tell your emotionally engaging, problem solving, impactful origin story! Find your tribe.

Defining the WHO
Dec 2016

“For a brand to ring true, and have real authenticity to it, it must start from the inside of the company. It must be inextricably linked to the soul - the very DNA - of the company. The company must live and breathe its brand from the inside out.”

- Daryl Weber

What is Employer Brand and Why Should I Care? Most companies understand the need for product branding - decide on your audience, then craft an engaging story and select promotion platforms.  You see the need to create brand awareness to set your product apart from competitors. It’s obvious. Yet few companies do a good job of translating these basics into creation and management of their employer brand. Same battle - different field. Let’s start by talking a little about brand in general terms. Again, if we think of product brand, it’s the image that we project to our customers and prospects, and the promise that we make when we talk about the products we build. How is your company/product unique? What value does it bring/why is it relevant? How do people feel about your product (good, bad, indifferent) How well known are you/your products? How is an employer brand different? Shift the optics from customers and prospects to employees, prospective employees and also to all of the people who influence these - the community, their friends, neighbours and family. Why does Employer Brand Matter? (hint: ITS MORE THAN RECRUITMENT) Your brand is the story that is told about your company when you aren’t in the room. When this is a positive, compelling and authentic story, you attract great people. You also build a strong culture, with great employee engagement and retention. Organic recruitment - When your recruitment message comes not only from marketing, but also from employees and from other word of mouth, it is more powerful and authentic. Motivation & Engagement - When your brand reflects purpose and instills pride, it becomes the reason why people get out of bed and go the extra mile for you and your customers. As we all know, engaged employees deliver more and produce better results. Retention - When brand reflects purpose and alignment with personal career objectives,  your team will power through tough days and stay engaged through challenges. Define your WHO So where can you start if you want to define your employer brand and craft a compelling and authentic message? Much like product branding - we start with the target market. What does the ideal team look like? Who are the ideal employees who you want to attract? Think about the company you have now. Now think about the company you want to have in 6 months, 1 year, 3-5 years. Ask yourself the following questions: Who is on your ideal team? What are their skills & experience? How are they working? These questions may help: - Who are your customers and who will best serve them? - What products do you develop now, and what’s on the road map - who will build them? - Think about your leaders and how they’ll develop strategy and execution plans - What are the characteristics of your ideal leaders? Once you’ve define the audience, you can get to:  Crafting a Message that will Inspire. Let’s get to the heart of what motivates your employees. (hint: It isn’t cash or free lunch) In Daniel Pinks video ‘The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc ) we learn that, when it comes to creative and intellectual roles, money is not a motivator. What really drives people to perform is Autonomy, Purpose and Mastery. In all of our conversations with top performers across technical, business, and leadership roles this is consistent. Money is rarely the reason, unless they feel unfairly paid now and hence undervalued. Everyone wants to make an impact - both personally by being a valued and important member of the team, and as part of a company that is doing something important. Talented professionals want to be challenged and use their unique talents. They want to be recognized and respected. They want to work with good, smart colleagues - to be part of a tribe. This means that your branding message needs to tell the story of your purpose, and how the people you hire will make an impact. You need to convey authentically that you value and care for your people, and that you trust them to make decisions. You need to show how you enable employees to grow personally and further master their craft. Think of the companies that you’ve admired as employers, and you will see that they convey these messages with their branding, and that they can tell stories of how they deliver on this promise. Does this knowledge change your story and how you would describe your company? Stay tuned for our next instalments in this series, where you’ll learn about when and where to deliver this message to the best people, and how to ensure that your company is delivering on the brand promise.

Sep 2016

Your ability to harness the talent of great designers is critical to the success of your business. It’s a fact. Design doesn’t just matter. Design is critical. Not just good design, but great design. Certainly, for the makers of consumer products and apps, it’s become obvious that intuitive and attractive designs must engage and inspire users, but design is critical for all things, in all businesses. At the Waterloo Innovation Summit last week, a theme emerged in many conversations around creativity, imagination, simplicity and beauty. The experts all agree that the next wave of technological and business advancement would be propelled by design, and our ability to connect the power of technology to designs that deliver meaning and value. When design is key to success, talented designers are your secret weapon. Earlier this week, I was excited and honoured to kick off a week of events for Fluxible. Together with the incredible Amandah Wood of Ways We Work, I led a conversation with top designers and leaders of companies to answer the question of How to be the Employer of Choice for Great Designers.

Here are the highlights:

Demonstrate that you really, truly care about design.

Not surprisingly design professionals want to work for a company that has a strong design culture or that has an authentic desire to build one. What does this mean, you ask? - Make design a priority at all stages of product development. - Give your designers a voice early in the product development process, and get them involved in timelines and other key decisions

Offer important work and an inspiring vision

This is true for most roles, but great designers need to know that they are working on solutions that matter. You don’t need to be changing the world in a monumental way, but you must show how their work will make a difference to users and to the success of the company.

Ensure that customer interaction is part of the job

A great customer experience starts with knowing the customer. So of course, your organization needs to find lots of opportunity for the design team to interact with users. Shutting them in a room with some tools and the mandate to make a mostly finished product look pretty is not ok - but it is still a reality in many companies. You must be better than this.

The team matters

All of our designers wanted to work with peers and mentors who are at the top of their game. This again speaks to creating a design culture that values the work and the voice of the designers.

It is NOT all about your funky office space

Our designers shared that they were not really impressed with expensive or hip office decor. If the styling of your space is all about show and not really functional, it will fail to impress. What matters is a workspace that reflects the culture of the team and effectively fosters collaboration and focused effort.

Tools are Important

Letting every designer use their favourite tools is nice, but not a practical solution for growing teams that need to collaborate. What is important is that you are leveraging current tools that enable design iterations and efficient development of ideas.   We know it’s daunting to many technical and business leaders, to lead a team of creatives. But a culture that encourages communication and values design, is good for all employees, customers and mostly for the bottom line.

Sep 2016

I can’t claim that I remember everything from my Economics 101 class - it was more than 20 years ago, Yikes!-  but there was an analogy about lemonade stands that has stuck with me. As I recall the lesson goes like this: There is busy beach that stretches for more than a mile and in the middle of the beach is a single lemonade stand. It is hot, the beach is crowded and the lemonade entrepreneur, Joe, is very successful. Lucky Joe. Then along comes Julie, another entrepreneur. Julie also makes great lemonade. When she sees the number of customers on the beach, she thinks “I’m going to open a lemonade stand here too!”. So here’s the question …  “Where on the beach should Julie open her lemonade stand?” As I recall, my Economics 101 classmates discussed the relative merits of either end of the beach, wondering about details like bathroom locations and sand quality. The logic was that customers would probably select the closest stand, so she should just pick the end that she liked best, and find the underserviced customers that didn't want to walk to the middle of the beach. If you also took this course, you might recall that the right answer is this: Julie should open up her business directly beside Joe. She’d then have the same access to ALL of the customers on the beach. She has to compete head to head with Joe on quality, price, and service, but Joe seems to have become too comfortable with his monopoly and she is confident she can do better. The lemonade quality improves for everyone and the best business wins. I'm sure there are some other important economic lessons in this story, but for me this is a story of accessing talent. Joe and Julie are now tech entrepreneurs who are each building a  company. Their customers are all over the world, and they are reached virtually, so office location isn’t a factor for sales.  But both Joe and Julie know that they need the best people to fuel their success, and they plan to grow a lot. So where should they build their office? Like selling lemonade on a hot beach, our tech start-ups are wise to set-up in the heart of a community that is densely populated with the talent they need.  In most cases this means engineers, but it could also mean top executives, sales and marketing pros. And if you want talent with experience in your specific technology or domain, opening up right next to your competitor is both gutsy and wise.  When someone is already in the middle of the beach ready to buy lemonade, there you are, with a more appealing front counter, a more delicious offering and a big smile. The best team, mission, culture and environment will win. We see this happening in Waterloo. Not the biggest city, but you can’t swing a stick without whacking a few software developers and fearless tech leaders. And as competition for this talent has increased, we see our entrepreneurs getting more creative in how they vie to become the top employers. We also see international tech companies taking notice and popping up new offices in our midst. We welcome this growth and this increasing competition for talent. With it comes better work environments, more focus on culture, balance and engagement, and much better lemonade.


Artemis Canada – Executive Search

We are a boutique executive search firm exclusively serving Canada’s Innovation Economy.

Our partners are the inventors, builders and leaders who are changing our world, enriching the lives of their teams, strengthening their communities and delivering valuable innovations to global marketplaces.


"I have worked closely with Kristina for approximately 15 years, reaching out to her whenever we are searching for the hardest to find skills. She understands the industry, she’s smart, she listens to exactly what we need, and she never wastes our time. Kristina, and the Artemis team, deliver time and time again. When we need an external recruiter, I find it hard to work with anyone else!"

Pete Devenyi, VP Global Software Dematic

Contact Artemis

  • 22 Regina St. N
    Waterloo N2J 3A1
  • 519-594-0913
Back to Top