A High Class Problem

Here is a nice problem to have: your company is growing too fast. After a couple years of survival and recovery stories, it’s nice to hear that a few technology companies around town are having a huge “problem” with growth. With compelling products and services being effectively marketed and efficiently sold, companies can’t help but grow.

But a few companies hit the sweet spot of market timing and/or a significant partnership and take off like a rocket. A few examples: Vivonet signed a deal in May with a massive customer that compels them to ship five times the point of sale terminals that it has cumulatively shipped to date! Avigilon, the BCTIA Emerging Company of the Year, has seen explosive growth in Europe for its HD video surveillance systems. Pareto Logic has grown immensely on the back of its unique affiliate marketing strategy. Elastic Path is knocking the cover off the ball with huge client wins, such as Symantec, and the massively successful Olympic e-store. Other explosive growers include IQ Metrix, Vision Critical and Make Technologies, all of whom have seen significant uptake of their new products.

Isn’t it nice to have a company’s sales forecast exceeded?

When these disruptively positive changes happen in a company, there is initial celebration at the good fortune. But before the champagne gets sticky on the floor, the realization hits that the Company has changed. Now you need to meet expectations of these new customers; you have to deliver new services and customer care. Your billing and accounting systems might need an overhaul, and your communications strategy needs to keep up. Your hiring practices might go out the window, as you look to accumulate bodies in seats. The company needs to finance the new inventory and/or manage cash flow better.

When you start to drink from the firehose, it is hard not to get wet. Solving these issues is a challenge to management as they transition from start-up to globally-recognized technology company.

In talking with the CEOs or investors in some of the rapidly growing companies in BC, several themes emerge that are remarkably consistent. To be closer to global markets and customers, companies are expanding with US and European offices. All are concerned with access to the type of talent a growing company needs : customer care, sales (direct, channel, inside) and operations (expanded capacity to deliver product or services). Every one of the CEO’s and investors wants to grow a huge BC-based company and not necessarily sell. If they are a “10 year overnight success” then they are exploring ways to get some liquidity for early shareholders and investors, such as adding a private equity firm that will happily buy existing shares. Vivonet did this type of transaction in May.

I am very excited about this new crop of high flyers in the local technology industry, even if they have “problems” to solve. We should be so lucky as to see more like them.