Each year, OBJ recognizes the region’s rapidly growing firms with its Fastest Growing Companies awards. The aim is to honour the city’s top performers for substantial, sustainable and profitable growth. Recipients are ranked by their three-year revenue growth. They must have had revenues of at least $100,000 in the first of those three years under consideration. Revenues must have risen to at least $500,000 in their most recent fiscal year. The companies will be profiled online in the coming days.
For VoIP phone services provider Versature, returning to OBJ’s list of Ottawa’s fastest-growing companies – with an even faster growth rate this time around – came down to marketing.
“A couple years ago, we doubled down on sales and marketing, and I think that’s what really pushed us to the level that we’re at now,” says CEO Paul Emond, whose firm also made OBJ’s list of fastest-growing companies in 2013.
“We went from one person in sales and two people in marketing to, now, the sales and marketing team is half the company and we’re 35 people.”
He concedes it was a move that involved an element of risk.
“It’s a leap of faith,” he says. “Because you’re wondering if that investment is going to pay for itself.”
Mr. Emond says he prioritizes marketing because, after all, salespeople can’t make much headway without leads.
“What I’ve learned now, after being in this for a while, is that if you invest in marketing, the up-front lead generation, then the rest of it will follow,” he explains.
Mr. Emond says one of the key parts of Versature’s approach to marketing is tracking the return on that investment. That allows the company to quickly change gears if something isn’t working.
It’s all about getting the recipe right and then executing it at scale, he says.
Of course, that can be easier said than done. For Mr. Emond, who was one of Versature’s co-founders, part of that challenge was learning how to delegate responsibility to others.
“That was scary but also very rewarding, because we never would have been able to scale without those (marketing) people,” he says.
Local head count: 35
Product / service: VoIP phone services for business
Three-year revenue growth: 146.7%
However, Versature’s phenomenal growth hasn’t been fuelled solely by marketing. The company is also driving growth through the release of new products, such as Social Caller ID.
While regular caller ID just shows a phone number and maybe a name, Social Caller ID pulls up a map showing where the caller is located, as well as information about the individual calling and the company where they work. It can even pull up feeds from social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
“So, powerful stuff if you’re a salesperson and a call comes in and you have all this contextual data,” Mr. Emond says.
Another part of what’s driving Versature’s growth, Mr. Emond says, is the fact that his company’s products work with other cloud-based services. He says he wants his phone system to work with the tools that people are already using.
That could involve making it easier to place a call from a webmail or pulling up customer relationship management data from Salesforce when a call comes in.
The company has also launched an app that allows customers to use their cellphone as their extension.
“You could be on the road and could take calls as if you were sitting in the office – nobody would know the difference,” Mr. Emond says.
As he looks to continue to drive the company’s growth, the CEO says mergers and acquisitions could be in the cards.
2017 Fastest Growing Companies
(Three-year revenue growth in parenthesis)
Bellefleur Physiotherapy (349.9%)
Prosperity Group (281.5%)
Mishkumi Technologies (223.8%)
Honourable mention: FRAMOS Technologies (3,963.6%)