STARTUPS TO WATCH: Versature - Telecom provider keeps its head in the cloud

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The dolphin is one of the most highly evolved communicators in the animal world, and that is why the aquatic creature graces the logo of Versature, which got its start when founder Paul Edmond noticed communication options were lacking in the IT world.

Versature CEO Paul Emond.

When a valued employee moved to Chicago in 2003, Mr. Emond decided to try a voice-over-Internet protocol system to keep him working for the company. That employee is still with the business today, and makes calls from the U.S. using the 613 area code.

VoIP allows users to make calls on various devices over any Internet connection, using an area code of their choosing.

Although Versature has been around a few years, Mr. Emond says its use of cloud technology is only now catching on and that the company is still in its infancy.

"Cloud has now become a buzzword," he says. "Now we're in a good position to take advantage of that."

The company's annual growth is at 60 per cent and it's been profitable for the last two years.

Eighteen employees - 17 of which are in Ottawa, the other in Chicago - manage more than 3,000 clients across Canada. Local customers include Corporate Renaissance Group, Magmic and Granite Networks, alongside larger Canadian clients such as the Assembly of First Nations and Réseau Quebecor Media.

We were in the cloud before it was timely. Paul Emond, Versature’s president and CEO

A new social marketing campaign takes a playful stab at the competition, telling customers not to go extinct by choosing "Bellosaurus," "Rogeraptor" or "Teluseratops."

Versature's approach to marketing sets it apart from other service providers, and so too does its focus on IT, Mr. Emond says.

"That's where a lot of our competitors fall apart ... They think they can just jump into the industry and they forget about customer support."

Having outgrown its current office on Hunt Club Road - Mr. Emond currently shares his office, and the boardroom has been transformed into an office for three - the company is looking to double its office space in the east end of Ottawa by June. The company will hire three more employees before the end of the year, Mr. Emond says.

Year founded: 2003

Local head count: 17

Funding to date: Family and friends

Product: VoIP services for SMEs

Organizations: Corporate Renaissance Group, Assembly of First Nations and Réseau Quebecor Media.A

Geographic location: Chicago, Ottawa, U.S. Canada Hunt Club Road

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