Constructing a niche: Kanata-based software firm Corfix moves to new office as revenues soar

Construction stock image

As companies across Ottawa shed office space and embrace hybrid work, Corfix is bucking the trend.

Last month, the four-year-old software startup opened a new office on Steacie Drive in Kanata after spending the last two years working out of the L-Spark accelerator on nearby Legget Drive. 

Corfix is subleasing about 7,000 square feet of space previously occupied by Tallysman Wireless, a wireless antenna manufacturer that was acquired by Kanata-based Calian Group three years ago.

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Corfix founder and chief executive Shawn Watts said that while it might make sense for some companies to downsize their physical footprints as employees spend more of their time working from home, that’s not the case for his firm.

“My employees came to me and were begging for this,” he said of the move. “It became apparent that we were outgrowing the space that we were in. We just took advantage of an opportunity to get our own space without committing a large amount of operating capital.”

The company has grown from 13 to 26 employees over the past 18 months. Watts said about half his staff regularly worked out of the L-Spark location, and he felt it was time to give them a bit more breathing room. 

He said Corfix is paying below-market rates for the space, which has 18 months remaining on the lease with Tallysman and is large enough to accommodate about 50 workers. 

The change in surroundings comes at an opportune time for Corfix, which has seen demand for its software targeted at the construction industry soar in the past couple of years.

Corfix’s platform allows construction workers in the field to seamlessly fill out certification documents and share them with managers on a mobile app. Users can also provide quick updates on how tasks are going, while managers can assign jobs to workers on site at the click of a mouse.

The bootstrapped enterprise has raised about $3 million from Watts himself, other investors and federal government programs such as the Industrial Research Assistance Program. That investment appears to be paying off. 

Watts, who told Techopia last year the company was on pace to surpass $700,000 in recurring revenues in fiscal 2022, said sales have risen “substantially” in 2023, especially south of the border.

Corfix is now selling its subscription-based software to 180 customers, up from 30 at the start of last year. The platform is used on construction sites in nine states, and U.S. customers account for about one-fifth of the firm’s revenues. 

Canadian clients make up most of the rest, but Watts is hoping to flip that ratio as Corfix makes further inroads down south.

“We believe that’s the play for us,” he said, adding he expects the company to double or even triple its head count in the next few years as it expands in the U.S. and beyond.

Watts said that while the construction industry has traditionally been reluctant to embrace new technologies, that’s changing as builders seek innovative ways to rein in costs amid rising interest rates and soaring inflation.

For years, he explained, builders on job sites have been filling out “core certification” forms – for example, paperwork that explains how a trench will be dug to ensure the process follows all safety regulations – the old-school way, by hand. 

Typically, he said, workers will then take pictures of the completed forms on their smartphone and email them to an office somewhere.

But as regulations grow more complex and put more demands on workers’ time, the need for an automated solution has become more pressing.

“Our product is a painkiller,” Watts said. “It’s very, very complicated to do this manually now.”

Corfix keeps tweaking the software with new features, such as a scheduling system slated to go live early next year that will help workers plan meetings and other events.

Meanwhile, the firm’s reach now extends as far south as Argentina, where its software is being deployed by the sister company of one of its U.S. customers.

Watts said Corfix is poised to keep growing exponentially as it responds to an increasingly receptive market.

“There’s more than we can eat right in front of us.”

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