Conference signals Ottawa's transformation from telecom town to software city
Ottawa perfectly poised to lead software revolution, local innovators say
Ottawa companies are showing some SaaS these days — Software as a Service.
The growing niche is transforming our telecom town into a software city, and there was plenty of evidence on display at the first-ever SaaS North Conference at Shaw Centre this week.
While Canada's Shopify, OpenText and Halogen Software are all good examples of SaaS companies, thousands of emerging startups across the country are concentrating on developing software and apps.
Tobias Lutke, Shopify CEO and a conference speaker, said in an interview that he loves that he didn't have to travel outside the country to rub shoulders with other software innovators.
800 execs, investors
The conference — Canada's first — hit Ottawa Wednesday and Thursday, helping connect about 800 executives and investors from across North America.
I really do think Ottawa, specifically — but Canada in general — could very well be the best place in the world to create SaaS companies.- Tobias Lutke, Shopify
"They require a lot of very in-depth knowledge, which is not the kind of thing you can do in a market where people change jobs every 12 months."
Mike McCarthy and Erik Hobbins from Kanata's fusebill, a subscription billing software firm that helps companies automate billing and invoicing, set up a booth at the conference with the intention of meeting potential customers from far and wide.
Flashy orange suits
The sales team dressed up in flashy orange suits which drew stares at first, then attention to their pitch. But according to Hobbins, despite the diverse crowd at the conference, they ended up resonating most with other Kanata startups.
Terry Matthews's own Mitel pivoted from hardware to software in recent years, and as an investor, he continues to put his money into SaaS.