Celebrating Our Origin Story
Anniversaries prompt many of us to look back at where we’ve come from. We’re amazed at how different things once were and also note the things that haven’t changed. As 14 Oranges prepares to celebrate its 13th anniversary, we took a trip back in time to 2009 to remind ourselves of where we came from and how we started.
In a mobile-first world, it’s difficult to remember what it was like before we used a smartphone filled with mobile apps to do hundreds of things throughout our daily lives.
But try to picture this.
It’s early 2009. The only iPhone on the market is the iPhone 3G. The App Store is just one year old. Google’s Android mobile OS and its accompanying Android Market storefront are brand new.
Spotify is barely known and is not even available in the United States or Canada. The Google Maps app has just become available, sending the stocks of popular GPS companies TomTom and Garmin tumbling.
Now seemingly obsolete mobile apps like Tweetie 2 made the New York Times Top 10 Web Products. Some experts were even predicting that BlackBerry would make greater strides into the consumer market than the iPhone would in the enterprise sector.
14 Oranges founder, Sylvain Marcotte is working as a VP of engineering. He has just hired an old coworker to work on a contract developing an app. His old colleague tells him he is so busy working as an app developer that he’s turning down projects because he can’t keep up.
Sylvain listens intently.
Lightbulb Moment – A Company is Born Overnight
As his former colleague describes the current market for app development, Sylvain has a lightbulb moment. He wasn’t excited about the direction his current work was taking him in and he had always envisioned starting his own company. That night, he went to bed with his head brimming with ideas.
By the next morning, it was decided. “I’m starting a company,” Sylvain announced and signed himself up for an iOS course. At the time, Mac development was still somewhat of a fringe area of development and it was similar to iOS development, so Sylvain knew he had a lot to bring to the table that could set him apart from other developers at the time.
Every Great Company Needs a Great Name
With a business idea ready, Sylvain needed a name. He knew he didn’t want to constantly have to spell out the company name, so using a fabricated word wasn’t going to work. The company needed a name that was easy to spell and still had a “.com” address available. He also wanted to ensure the name didn’t limit the type of work the company could do.
After bouncing some initial ideas around, he started putting two words together, eventually putting his favourite number and colour together.
“14 Orange?” he said out loud. It didn’t feel quite right.
“14 Oranges,” he tried. It rolled off the tongue easily and felt unique. Including the word “oranges” in the name was a fun play on the fact that he was working mostly with Apple products. The name also worked in French without requiring any translation, making it an ideal name for the Canadian market.
14 Oranges on Evenings and Weekends
While the idea was born overnight, getting 14 Oranges off the ground and up and running took a year of hard work. In that first year, Sylvain spent his evenings and weekends building 14 Oranges’ own app, called Ride Buzzer. It was the ideal way to immerse the new company in every aspect of app development and launch.
Eventually, when an exciting opportunity presented itself, 14 Oranges was well-positioned to win the contract.
US-based cable equipment provider, Arris, wanted a video on-demand app and chose 14 Oranges as their development partner. Six months into building Arris’ app, 14 Oranges secured another contract building an app for a home automation company.
14 Oranges was now busy.
Sylvain knew it was time to quit his day job.
Evolution and Growth
When 14 Oranges launched in 2009, there were many people who saw creating an app as a way to get rich quick. Many companies and individuals wanted to jump on the “mobile app bandwagon” without really understanding what was involved. With their experience, 14 Oranges was well positioned to capture that market and help their customers succeed while thousand up thousands of other apps from other ventures were failing.”
From the beginning, 14 Oranges always looked at the actual business problems behind their clients’ and potential clients’ application needs. It allowed the company to offer complete solutions to their clients’ problems, solving real issues and driving business forward for those clients.
Since 2009, 14 Oranges has deployed over 1,000 projects for 150 customers. The team has grown to 12 employees and is set for more growth in the future. The company invests in its local community and the industry through a Work Experience Program providing technically inclined students valuable work experience.
A Worthwhile Journey
While Sylvain always had the entrepreneurship bug and no shortage of ideas, he knew successfully launching a business required more than a great idea. The money to launch, the go-to-market strategy and the ability to execute were all crucial.
In 2009, with a mortgage, kids, and other obligations, it was a tricky time for Sylvain Marcotte to launch a business. But, he knew he was in a unique position to offer something the market needed. Looking back, Sylvain says launching 14 Oranges was the best decision he’s made.
It allowed him to be closer to his family and be at home while his youngest child was growing up. He’s stayed passionate about the work he does, making a difference for all of the clients 14 Oranges has worked with in its 13 years.
While the team has grown, 14 Oranges still still puts solving client problems and building and maintaining relationships above everything. This commitment to being a quality business partner is what has allowed 14 Oranges to stand the test of time.
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