What they do: Software as a Service (SaaS)
Date Established: 2009
For startups, competing against large companies in the market tends to be quite intimidating. Some may try to contend with existing powerhouses, however there are other ways of growing a business. In some cases, small companies partner with big ones to leverage their resources. There are many advantages to this for both sides, as startups offer mature partners access to new customers, innovative products and management practices, and small companies benefit by gaining experience in the market. One example of this comes from local Ottawa startup Martello Technologies, a private company that develops fault & performance management solutions for unified communications (UC) systems. The startup works with high tech powerhouse Mitel Networks (also based in Ottawa), offering MarWatch software as a service (SaaS) for their unified communications systems. We met with Martello’s CEO Bruce Linton to discuss his company:
Explain what your company does to someone who is not in the software industry.
Traditionally businesses would buy what’s called a PBX phone system, which would reside in their building and would be connected by wires to the phones in the desk. The company would hire somebody to manage this (all applications from video to voice). Today, this is increasingly moving into the cloud, and what we do at Martello is provide SaaS that manages and monitors the performance of these systems. This helps service providers run a better service.
What kind of problems do you help clients solve?
We help them find and fix a variety of problems that could be impacting the user experience.. If you’re using the same wire/bandwidth/ pipe for your voice or video calls, sometimes they compete and all of a sudden your voice quality starts to deteriorate. We see where the competition is for the limited available bandwidth. That kind of problem can happen from time to time or can occur on a constant basis. We also see how much traffic there is at any time of day and the functions that can lead to a problem, then we shape how you respond to these problems.
As you said, your business is expanding. Do you see your headquarters staying in Ottawa?
Yeah, absolutely. Our headquarters are in Ottawa because Mitel’s headquarters are in Ottawa. It’s pretty interesting when you think that the headquarters of a company with that many development opportunities around the globe is here. Our travel budget has gone up as they make more acquisitions, but so has our revenue.
Two powerhouse companies you work with are Mitel and Wesley Clover, who both have headquarters in Ottawa. Despite worldwide expansion, why do you think they have remained in Ottawa?
There’s a lot of gravity by the nature of the fact that Terry Matthews has been building a business in Ottawa for over 40 years; if you want to be connected, you’re better to be immediately next door. It’s been really helpful for us. People talk about all the methods of creating connections, but it’s also pretty helpful when you can actually walk into the cafeteria and the person who’s in charge of a few hundred million dollars of product line is having a coffee at the same time as you are.
Can you see this spiraling for the Ottawa ecosystem, do you think more people will follow the lead and flock to Ottawa?
I hope they do. I think unified communications and telephony aren’t necessarily as exciting as creating a social media app, but they are quite certain to have a demand. There are some benefits of working with a big strong partner.
Are there any companies in Ottawa that excite you?
I think the best news for Ottawa is Shopify. It’s great to have a hot story, and to see their stock traded up. I think you get a pretty good vibe out of Invest Ottawa because they’re really projecting the balance between all of the different borders. We have a bunch of people moving around, we have a bunch of capital that’s being deployed, so it just feels like the town is getting a more vibrant and interested in tech again.
What do you think of Ottawa as a city, apart from the business aspect?
It feels like it’s really coming back on the boom. It’s nice to see our downtown, not just our west end, being activated. It’s a different pitch when you’re offering a downtown employment opportunity that’s on par with the other activities that are going on in other major centers, whether it’s San Francisco, New York, or Toronto. That’s a good balance.
What words would you use to describe the Ottawa ecosystem?
Accelerating and balanced.
One thing never to underestimate?
The best deal is the one you close.
Bruce Linton, CEO of Martello
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