Simon Ferragne is president and CEO of Montreal-based TrackTik Inc.
TrackTik’s boasts it is the industry’s only all-in-one security operations management software platform, offering security service companies complete control of every aspect of their business.
TrackTik enables customers to streamline operations, and improve business development, through easy-to-use mobile and web-based technology, customized implementation, and technical support, and a personalized sales toolbox.
Since the company’s launch in 2013, TrackTik has grown to 71 employees, with more than 200,000 users at 105,000 facilities in 30 countries. For 2018, they are due to set up local offices in Europe.
TrackTik experienced a two-year revenue growth of 826 per cent, and won the Startup Canada Global Entrepreneurship Award for the Quebec Region, and was named number 15 on the 2017 Start Up 50 ranking of Canada’s Top New Growth Companies by Canadian Business and PROFIT.
TrackTik provided the technology for security on Parliament Hill, for Canada Day 2017.
What made you want to create TrackTik ?
Simon Ferragne: I think, since the beginning, my passion was always to solve real life problems with technology. So, I really saw an opportunity for a market that was underserved by technology.
I went to see a company locally – gated with two full time security guards – and I said, ‘I have this technology that could help you run your business. Have more technology for your guards, centralize all data.’ He did not believe me. I created a prototype in two weeks, and came back, installed it, and they were really blown away by it. I realized that there was a real solution there.
We really focused and listened. We worked with all our clients, and built our system based on suggestions. We found our niche, and we really worked hard with our clients to build a solution that would make their life easier.
What was a big hurdle over the course of your entrepreneurial journey?
Simon Ferragne: I’m from an engineering background. I always thought I was going to build software, sell software, people are going to subscribe, things are going to go like this.
I was not ready for the reality of building a culture, and a team around it. We brought someone in from HR, and we really focused on building a culture where people will join the mission, and really work hard to obtain the objective.
We surrounded ourselves with amazing people that are coming in every day, and believing in the mission.
The company’s growth has been tremendous. What was behind that?
Simon Ferragne: Well, on the business side, there is the timing aspect of it. We have the right products for the right time. It was like that for a bunch of companies.
Let’s be honest, in the first year of any company, there is chaos. As you double or triple in size – like we did the first years – you need to refine every role.
We hired people that are passionate. It’s about hard work, listening consistently to our clients, and focusing on bringing real value. To be honest, it’s crazy hard work. That’s really the key.
Tell me what you learned as a manager?
Simon Ferrange: I think you become the Chief Motivation Officer. A lot of people look up to you and look to you for motivation. This becomes your main role, to show them reasons why they’re working where they’re working.
As you evolve, you have to always bring the vision with you, the vision of every level. That really makes the steering of the company go pretty well.
How do you keep up with developing technology?
Simon Ferragne: It’s a never ending developmental cycle that we have. We want to serve clients better; we want to add features, value, improvements to our platform.
We brought some new management, that’s been growing our engineering team. We also have a very good software engineer working for us, with a lot of experience. We keep growing and scaling it. We’re speaking with our clients to see what the most important thing for their business is, and aligning everything makes us able to keep track of everything.
I think that’s what puts us apart. Our main competitors in Europe and the US developed an application fifteen years ago, and didn’t touch it since then.
Things have changed in the industry. Things have changed in technology.
We cannot sit down on what we’ve built in the last years and say, ‘I can bank on that and not invest.’ As we go international, there’s more regulations and modules, so we keep adding and adding to it.
What advice would you give upcoming entrepreneurs?
Simon Ferrange: Having ideas is just the beginning, everyone has them, and ideas are worth zero. The best advice I can give is, stop looking around, and execute. Find a real life problem and try to solve it. Focus 100 per cent on it. Work on it for a few months, speak to clients, find their reasons for using the product, and pivot if you have to.
You have to sacrifice your personal life, and really do a few years of going crazy on the idea. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you are going to fail. Take those people who tell you that you are going to fail as great motivation to throw it in their face in a few years.