Small fish in a big tech ocean or how a small software company achieves success.

About company success from the Owner and CEO of 14 Oranges – Sylvain Marcotte / 10 minutes read

Sylvain Marcotte

 

Quick overview:

Birthplace: Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada

Family status: Married, has 3 daughters.

Education: B.A.Sc.Electrical Engineering, UBC.

Prior to 14 Oranges: Vice President in CounterPath Corporation managing the application development and support. Overall Sylvain has over 20 years of software development and engineering experience.

Favorite place to travel: Italy, Spain, California.

Favorite meal: Jambalaya, Poutine

Hobby: soccer, ice hockey, and skiing.

 

Sylvain, your company has been operating for 10 years already and you have reached impressive result but before 14 Oranges, it seems like you were pretty successful in your previous companies. Why did you decide to change your professional life?

 

Well, we need to take a few steps back even before I started my first job.
When I graduated from university, I had the desire to start my own company but felt I was too “green” for it so I decided it would be best to gain some experience first.
I worked for a few “startup” companies and participated in interesting projects that gave me the necessary experience I required to start a business. But yes, at some point when you have reached a top-level position it is much harder to quit and start from scratch. But anyway, the decision of having my own business was made a long time before it was just postponed. So yes it took a while but one day on my drive to work, I knew it was the right time and started it that day.

 

Why 14 Oranges?

 

As you might have guessed, we get that question a lot. Come with me and I will give you the story. Don’t worry, it is nothing too crazy.

 

Sylvain Marcotte 14 Oranges

 

The world is experiencing a digital boost so it is obvious that the software industry is growing in general but why did you choose your current focus – mobile apps development?

 

Firstly, as I mentioned I have education and experience in this area that ensured the company could achieve success. Secondly, the mobile industry has been exploding since 2008 and that are no signs of it slowing down, so it means that the demand for mobile applications is still strong. We expect to have ubiquitous access to 5G in Canada in a couple of years which only strengthen that trend further. For example, at the moment, most people spend about 5-7 hours daily on smartphones and with 5G, that number can only go up.
Additionally, we help organizations like associations, unions, cities and governments, and other public institutions to increase their presence in this digital world because in the future – mobile applications could remain the one and only source of engagement between organizations and people.

 

So it seems you are in a trending industry and you have the growing market?

 

Yes, but with a growing market, the competition is growing as well. That’s the challenge that we need to deal with.

 

How do you plan to compete then?

 

It is simple. You need to provide value to your customers and listen to their needs and make sure your services and solutions cater to their needs.

 

Sylvain Marcotte CEO 14 Oranges

 

Does this approach explains the company success? You have received a number of awards and this year 14 Oranges has been ranked once again as one of the Top App Development Companies* in Canada.

 

Success is always a combination of different factors. I would say, that for us the fundamental factor making sure our solutions can help them solve their business problems. We are not a supermarket of mobile apps. We focus on the organization or business pains and challenges and try to understand them as best we can to ensure our solutions deliver as expected.
So that’s why, for example, we offer a free demo of the mobile app to our potential customers. So the company can test it with their own customized options, modules, branded icons, and styles. And during this demo customer can test the benefits of its own mobile app even before signing a contract.
We start with a simple phone call where we evaluate your needs and make sure we are a good fit. We have actually turned down business on many occasions as we felt our services were not a good fit and would result in our customers to not be fully happy. If we see a fit, we usually proceed to further discovery to make sure we fully understand their needs and also to make sure they fully understand what we can and cannot offer. In many cases, with our Info Grove solution, we can meet their needs right away and can offer a free demo which would closely resemble the app that they would get in the end.

 

Does this mean that a customer gets a free demo version of its own mobile app?

 

Yes, exactly. And this is one of our advantages.

 

But this is time-consuming, isn’t it? Is it effective from the business point?

In this case yes, because we have our own solution – Info Grove. It is a software platform for mobile application development and content management. It is a friendly CMS designed for non-tech savvy people such as communication managers allowing them to create a full-featured mobile app quickly and easily.

How did you come up with the idea to develop your own platform?

Remember, I was talking about listening to the needs of our customers? One thing we heard time and time again was that full custom applications were too expensive and took too long to get to market. They just want something to solve their needs without having to break the bank and without any hassles on managing the system because usually, the people who deal with the app day-to-day are not IT people. That’s one reason. The other is simple: any system should work for people to simplify their life, not vice versa. So, that’s why we created our own CMS for mobile applications. It doesn’t mean that we are focused only on the Info Grove. We can develop any customized mobile app as long as it better solves their needs but in many cases, Info Grove is the right solution to solve the needs of our customers.

 

Sylvain Marcotte CEO 14 Oranges

 

According to your website profile, you can develop websites as well?

Yes, absolutely. We acquired a web development company in 2014 and have all the expertise and proven experience to deal with any complexity of websites. We have an internal team of web developers so we can manage and control the entire process. We do not outsource any of our work even though we get countless emails and phone calls from companies in India offering their outsourcing services. We value face to face meetings to again ensure our customers are served in the best possible way.

 

Talking about your internal team, and employees, what are the principles for you of hiring people?

We have a small team and every person is valuable. So I put personal attention when hiring people. I consider education and professional background, probably as would any other company, but most of all I pay attention to personal potential, the ability to make a valuable contribution to the company, and at the same time their ability and desire to learn, develop themselves because by neglecting your personal development, you cannot be flexible and adapt to the ever-changing environment.

 

How do you stimulate the development of your employees?

First of all, I give a “room” for this. And it’s not because they are allowed to work from home (laughing).
Because I give them an opportunity to come up with their own solutions, ideas, and if it is something reasonable I usually support it. Having an idea it is only a small part, but when you implement it, you consequently develop yourself and as a result of, the company as well.

 

Where do you get the inspiration?

My inspiration is my family. I spend a lot of time with my daughters and though they are grown up enough but still require a lot of attention. And in return, I get a lot of energy from them.

 

* according to Clutch Leaders Matrix.

“Working from work” day @ 14 Oranges

14 Oranges team

Starting from the title you may have the impression that we put the wrong word “work” instead of “home”, but it’s not a mistake. Once per month all employees at 14 Oranges come to the office to spend a working day in the office.

Everyone knows that it is a general practice for the IT industry that software companies usually have a friendly or flexible schedule for the employees and allow different options to manage their own schedule like flexible working hours.

14 Oranges goes further and turns this upside down. So, according to company rules employees usually work from home and once per month visit the office. So that’s why we call it “working from work” day.

Company management approach, software development specifics, as well as unified communication capabilities allow us to have this tactic and operate the company without impacting the quality and the efficiency of the team. On the contrary, people are more productive, engage more, and assume more responsibility for their tasks and the company success in general.

As expected, employees are always welcome to work from the office any time they want so naturally if someone requires the office space for a meeting or other work-related scenarios, he or she can come by at their own schedule.

“Working from work” day is usually full of meetings, discussions, sharing experiences and news. Moreover, we are all welcomed to share lunch and spend some time informally.

It is also a good opportunity for a few photos of our team.

14 Oranges team 14 Oranges team 14 Oranges team

14 Oranges Joins Wavefront’s Trusted Partner Network to Drive Digital Transformation

 

Wavefront and 14 Oranges partner to jointly deliver innovative mobile app solutions to enterprises looking to digitally transform.

 

 

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, April 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wavefront Innovation Society (“Wavefront”), a Centre of Excellence headquartered in Vancouver, BC, announced today a new partnership with 14 Oranges Software Inc. (“14 Oranges”), a premier mobile application development company. 14 Oranges is the latest addition to Wavefront’s trusted partner network, a group of companies dedicated to driving mobile and IoT innovation in Canada.

Wavefront and 14 Oranges will collaborate to deliver mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions into large enterprises. With complementary expertise and resources, the companies are jointly positioned to drive digital transformation across Canada through thought leadership and innovative solutions.

Wavefront works with mobile and IoT companies at all stages of their lifecycle and across multiple industry sectors to launch new business models, change organizational processes and enhance enterprise customers’ experiences. As an innovation intermediary, Wavefront helps large enterprises digitally transform their business by connecting them to innovative Canadian startups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

With extensive experience in product and mobile app development, 14 Oranges brings tremendous value to the Wavefront trusted partner network. Founded in 2009, the company serves a range of organizations including government, retail, entertainment and telecom clients. 14 Oranges has been a member of the Wavefront community for many years, participating in Wavefront’s Accelerator programs in the past to grow their business.

“Wavefront chose to work with 14 Oranges for their expertise in product and mobile app development,” says Christian Magsisi, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions with Wavefront. “We are thrilled to have their team support the delivery of mobile solutions into large enterprises who are looking to increase their digital capacity.”

“We are excited to partner with Wavefront to offer our services to organizations across North America. Since joining the Wavefront Entrepreneurship program in 2011, our company has benefited greatly from the mentorship, resources and connections provided by Wavefront and we couldn’t be prouder to now become a trusted partner,” says Sylvain Marcotte, CEO of 14 Oranges.

Wavefront is actively looking to expand the trusted partner network by onboarding Canadian SMEs to jointly deliver mobile and IoT solutions into large enterprise. By partnering with companies who have graduated from Wavefront’s Accelerator and Global Market Entry Programs, Wavefront continues to strengthen Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

About Wavefront

Wavefront is Canada’s leader in transforming business through mobile and IoT innovation. We are a centre for commercialization for companies in the wireless and IoT technologies space. Our vision is to build a globally relevant, nationally connected ecosystem that delivers digital capacity, competitiveness and prosperity for Canadians.

About 14 Oranges

Located in Vancouver, 14 Oranges works with the philosophy of serving our customers by understanding both your business problem and mobile application needs, delivering a complete mobile solution.

For more information, contact:
Elise Asanias, Content Manager, Wavefront
elise.asanias@wavefront.ca
(778) 331-7485

14 Oranges Ranked as Western Canada’s #1 App Development Company

Top MOBILE APP Developers in Canada in 2018

2017 was a big year for the team at 14 Oranges Software. We are delighted to announce that Clutch.co has listed us as the #1 mobile app development company in Western Canada! Also, 14 Oranges was ranked as the top app development company in Vancouver and #3 in all of Canada. Largely due to the success of our new Info Grove mobile app service, 14 Oranges saw substantial growth over the last year. To date, 14 Oranges has released over 15 mobile apps with Info Grove (with many more in the pipeline for the coming months). Info Grove makes mobile apps easier for governments, associations, and businesses by allowing them to reach their target audience with a mobile-first approach.

 

Top App Development Companies in Canada

Clutch reviewed mobile app development companies on the following criteria:

  1. Public reviews: 14 Oranges received 19/20

  2. Clients and experience: 14 Oranges received 8.6/10

  3. Market presence: 14 Oranges received 9.2/10

 

To review the complete leaders matrix for Canada, visit the link here.

To review the complete leaders matrix for Vancouver, visit the link here.

To view the full press release by Clutch, click the link here.

Mobile App Launches in 2017

Government

Associations

Other Apps

 

Look Ma! No Hands! Autonomous vehicles are coming

Autonomous Cars

Autonomous vehicles are coming. We’ve enjoyed numerous safety features added to our vehicles over the last 25 years, including anti-lock breaks, lane departure warnings and back-up camera systems, but the next generation of cars will be able to help us to eliminate or eradicate driver errors caused by fatigue, distraction or dangerous driving.

I sat down with Levi Sinclair on this week’s edition of BCIT’s Plugged-In and had a chance to discuss the benefits of these systems and how they will work.

This is not a drill: Emergency notification management apps for lockdowns

Lockdown App

Lockdowns have become the go-to safety measure for student safety when medical emergencies, online threats, and/or random acts of violence occur in our schools.

There are two types of lockdowns. The first, is the full school lockdown. This occurs when the school’s principal or otherwise designated school official decides there is an active or imminent safety threat to all the students and teachers in the school. When this threat is broadcast to the school through a coded phrase, such as “Please return to your classroom immediately and await further announcements,” this requires the teachers and students remain or return to their last class, and remain quiet or out of sight by people walking down the hall. This is meant to protect against individuals who have entered the school with the intent to harm, and is meant to isolate that individual in a way that allows the individual to be easily identified and targeted by police entering the building.

The second is a hold and secure, which is generally designed to lock out access to the school from the outside of the school, but students can be moved freely to allow emergency personnel to move through the school, generally in the case of a medical emergency.

Due to the random nature of these acts, we will likely never be able to fully predict or protect against the random nature of these events. What we will be able to do, is put tools in the hands of those responsible for calling for lockdowns to increase the probability and speed of a swift response from the necessary authorities.

One of our customer’s, School District 42 in British Columbia, has developed an app with us that captures the calling tree information needed to contact the correct authorities when a lockdown needs to be called.

Government-Apps-SD42

Whether that is a school’s principal, the fire department, the police/ambulance, school board, or adjacent schools, the school district has collected all the up-to-date phone information into a single app along with the the ability to perform PIN protected broadcast push notifications to all users of the app in the event of an emergency.

Calling trees allow principals to not only make the call for direct aid to notify authorities of a lockdown, but if they don’t get connected to that individual, they immediately see who is the next responsible official they need to call until they get the word out.

These capabilities are available now, packaged as a turnkey service, for your school district. We can have your school district trained and operation in a matter of days. Please don’t hesitate to call us, we would be glad to get your school board setup for our emergency notification service.

Looking For A Great Restaurant? We Talk About Restaurant Apps!

Urban Spoon

With Canadian Thanksgiving just behind us and American Thanksgiving fast approaching, it’s time to think about food, and what apps we are using to find restaurants today. For this episode of Evolutions 107.9’s Plugged In, I spoke with BCIT’s Zach Hodder and discussed mobile apps and services for finding and rating restaurants! I even share the story about the time Mario Batali told me what to order in his restaurant in NYC! Tune in and listen to our podcast on Soundcloud.