Techopia Live: Ottawa’s Searidge Technologies lands customers on layovers

Like catching a flight, if you’re selling air traffic management technologies to an airport, delays are to be expected. Ottawa’s Searidge Technologies knows that sales cycle all too well, and told a few stories on Techopia Live last week that would impress even the most veteran of travelling salesmen.

Now with a few major investors and business in 30 airports across the world, co-founders Moodie Cheikh and Alex Sauriol reflected on their humble beginnings in the National Capital Region.

“When we started out, Alex promised it would take six months to build the technology, and I kinda thought, ‘Well it shouldn’t take any more than a year to sell it, right?’ So a year and a half later, we’d have countless customers,” Cheikh told Techopia Live. “Boy, were we wrong.”

The problem with developing air traffic management solutions is the constant demand on the industry. At every moment of every day, airports around the world need to be coordinating to land flights. Introducing new forms of technology, then, requires strict regulation – a time-consuming and patience-testing process.

“How do you get everyone around the world to jump at the same time?” Moodie said. “Sales cycles, for us, you’re really speaking in terms of years.”

When the firm landed it’s first customer – an airport in Abu Dhabi – Searidge was just six people in a Gatineau basement office, and none had ever stepped foot in the United Arab Emirates.

It was on the flight over there to seal the deal, during a layover in Frankfurt, that Searidge landed its second customer.

“We said, ‘Hey, we’re in your parking lot, can we take a meeting?’” Sauriol said of the cold call.

“It was really opportunistic,” Cheikh added.

Those first few deals helped to sponsor Searidge through the early years of its growth and informed the company on how it would work with customers in the future. Rather than making sales to clients, Sauriol says the firm establishes partnerships to take Searidge’s knowledge and ideas and implement that into new technology and solutions over multi-year deals with airports.

To that end, Searidge is currently working with its British shareholder NATS on a project at Heathrow Airport.

“If we can help make Heathrow more efficient, that’s obviously something we can transfer to a number of other customers and airports that we want to work with,” Saurilo said.

To hear more about Searidge Technologies’ approach to long-term sales and the prospect of including artificial intelligence in its sector, watch the video above.