Techopia Live went on tour this past week to OneEleven Ottawa, the latest accelerator in the capital’s ever-changing ecosystem. We sat down with entrepreneur Aydin Mirzaee, who’s running his new startup Fellow through the scale-up program, to hear how Ottawa’s tech scene has evolved over the course of his career.
Mirzaee got his start as the founder of Fluidware, a form-building software company launched more than a decade ago. He told Techopia Live that he had to start the company from a two-bedroom apartment – back then, Ottawa didn’t have infrastructure and support services like OneEleven to house and groom the city’s most-promising startups.
“There wasn’t really this ecosystem,” Mirzaee said. “Now, when I bring candidates to come in for an interview, we look like a big company.”
Fluidware eventually moved out of that apartment, growing into a 90-person company with offices on York Street before SurveyMonkey acquired the fledgling firm back in 2015. Today, the Silicon Valley tech giant has grown Mirzaee’s original team to more than 150 people and put down roots for its Canadian headquarters on Laurier Avenue, just around the corner from OneEleven’s Slater Street location.
Mirzaee says SurveyMonkey quickly learned what the rest of the world is just starting to realize: Ottawa’s tech scene is an undiscovered “treasure.”
“The more they learned and the more that they understood what Ottawa has to offer, I think they liked what they saw,” he said.
Mirzaee added that Ottawa’s underdog status is something startups should be putting to their advantage. With the roaring success of Shopify and other growing tech firms in the capital, more large companies will soon come knocking on Ottawa’s door, making resources like talent all the more scarce.
At the same time, when he talks to investors about growing a company from Ottawa, Mirazee said he doesn’t have to explain where he is. People get it.
“Ottawa’s now on the map. It’s not the Ottawa of 10 years ago,” he said.
To hear Mirzaee’s thoughts on growing company culture, and to hear scale-up and post-acquisition tips from Colleen Kelley from sponsor Stratford Managers, watch the video above.