Engineer Ali Asaria was only 19 years old when he walked through the doors of a then-unknown Waterloo-based company called Research in Motion in 1999.
Attracted by the optimism and innovation that permeated the company from top to bottom, he would go on to spend more than six years watching RIM turn into one of the world's dominant tech companies.
By the time he left in 2006, Asaria was credited with a simple little addictive app that's now found on more than 50 million devices — BrickBreaker.
"I was 19 years old," he says "I was making this game just to be silly with my friends."
That the silly program he created went on to become one of the company's first commercial successes is a testament to the organizational philosophy, he says. "RIM is a company that rewards innovation at all levels of the company," he says.
"Small things create a massive impact."
The 30-year-old has long since moved on to a new venture, as CEO of well.ca. The website is a health and wellness seller that's one of Canada's fastest growing e-commerce ventures.
The site has more than 250,000 customers and hopes to sell more than 1 million products in the near future.
Based in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, well.ca is one of a host of technology startups that are turning the region into a world capital for technology.
"There's no better place to be running a tech company than Waterloo Canada, and it's all because of the quality of engineers," Asaria says.
Indeed, the region is more than able to withstand the news that emerged Monday, that RIM is laying off 2,000 people or some 11 per cent of its workforce. It's not yet clear what type of jobs RIM has axed, but Waterloo is more than eager to absorb that level of engineering talent suddenly becoming available, Asaria says.
"Our company is having trouble hiring fast enough," he says. "It's hard to fund the growth that we're experiencing."
Click the player above to watch Ali Asaria's interview on the CBC's Lang & O'Leary Exchange.