#OttawaInc – Legend

Jul 28, 2016

Date Founded: 2002

Number of Employees: 80     

What they do: Software Solutions for Recreational Facilities 


Mobile technology is now so ubiquitous; society at large has grown accustomed to any good, service or piece of information being available with the simplest of swipes. It has impacted industries of all breeds, as companies race to provide end users with the solutions they need.

While other global players battle for screen time in the realms of transportation, accommodation and romance, Legend from the UK, has quietly been building a software empire within an industry ripe for transition.

Founded in 2002, Legend has been helping community recreational centers register and keep track of guests. Today, they have moved that same core service onto smartphones, while continuing to add more features.   They now serve over 1,000 installations around the world and are on pace to add 150 each coming year. They recently decided to expand their operations from its headquarters in York, England and have opened their first international office in Ottawa, Canada. Invest Ottawa spoke with one of Legend’s directors, James O’Brien, about how the firm specifically helps their clients and why they chose Ottawa to expand into North America.


James O’Brien - Legend Software

James O’Brien – Legend Software

Say I don’t work in technology – explain to me what you do? The problem you solve?

 Legend helps recreation centres to improve the customer experience. From fast, effective self-service access, to managing activity and tracking skills/fitness (especially the progress of children) our mobile and tablet solutions are transforming every aspect of customer experience to help build long-term relationships. We also help operators be more responsive and have better data. 

What was the light bulb moment that sparked the idea?

Today customers routinely self-register, order and pay online and download tickets to a mobile app; remotely manage household utilities or even motor vehicles via mobile (see Tesla’s ‘summon mode’ feature), or use apps like Uber not only to order a taxi but also for food delivery or healthcare transport.

 We recognised that recreation centres need a more efficient way of interacting with customers; one which reflects their expectations on a device they all carry! Whether its mobile sites that make it quick to search for, register and pay for courses, or in-centre kiosks that enable customers to manage their account without having to wait for a receptionist.

 But this is just the start as mobile devices can be used far beyond removing the reliance on the front desk. For example, coaches and trainers can use the portable technology during sessions to record the progress of children taking swimming lessons (or any other type of sports course).  Tablets enable the coach to note each student’s attendance and progress in real-time.

Product Shot copy

Legend Software Product Shot

 What makes you stand out from competitors?

Our software is a single, centralized solution incorporating a database which integrates with online and smartphone transactions (i.e. bookings and rentals). The technology displays a rich functionality which has a wide range of applications throughout the entire organization.  We have also developed specific functionality for camps, such a membership management; ticketing, advanced reporting, Business Intelligence applications and more.  

What made you choose Ottawa to enter the North American market?

When we performed our initial due diligence, we shortlisted Ottawa or Toronto as possible locations for our Canadian headquarters.  We ultimately chose Ottawa as it has a smaller city vibe that is very family-friendly and offered great lifestyle opportunities. This was important for me personally since I have a young family to settle. I’m particularly excited about introducing my son to Canada’s national winter sport and going to watch the Ottawa Senators in action! On a business level, Ottawa has a close-knit technology hub in places such as Kanata, which is important to us as we grow.

What words would you use to describe the Ottawa Ecosystem?

As mentioned above, Ottawa is very family-friendly and embracing. There’s no shortage of people willing to help. Invest Ottawa has also been hugely useful in giving us a ‘soft landing’; everyone has been very proactive with us, as a young business, in providing both advice and accessibility to services such as legal, accountants and office space.

Which resources in Ottawa will you be using to grow and scale?

The local universities and colleges are also an excellent resource for hiring local talent, whilst Ottawa Business Association runs a number of Business Initiatives which help with local recruitment.

What Ottawa companies (besides Shopfiy) excite you?

 Without naming specific outlets, there are a tremendous number of independent retailers in Ottawa, which in itself is exciting – seeing businesses stand on their own two feet and thrive! And having been part of Invest Ottawa’s Soft Landing Program, working alongside many tech startups from around the world has been impressive to work with at the early stages of our journey and is inspiring.


Read more about Ottawa’s ecosystem here

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