To succeed, you have to know how to deal with whatever is thrown at you. If you react well, with a glass-half-full attitude, you’ll always see the opportunity in front of you. I understand this even more today, with being more focussed on strategic efforts and less on operations. Outlook and philosophy make all the difference.
– Isabelle Bettez, Co-founder, 8D Technologies

Since 1987, Croesus has been providing sophisticated wealth management solutions to financial institutions across North America. Nearly 10,000 investment professionals use their platform to collectively manage over $900 billion in assets.

Founded in Montreal in 1996, 8D Technologies (8D) develops and implements solutions that combine software and hardware for intelligent transportation in various urban mobility sectors, including parking and bike sharing. With more than 4,000 energy-efficient terminals deployed on four continents and tens of thousands of bikes, the company enables its millions of users to pay for these services in various ways.

In a merger last February, this Montreal team of about 100 people joined another bike share leader, New York City’s Motivate, increasing their workforce to 1,000 employees at certain times of the year.

Millennials readily choose 8D as an employer because the company, with its eco-friendly technology, embodies many of their values.

Robust technology as raw material

While Jean-Sébastien Bettez was doing business in IT professional services, his sister Isabelle ran her own technology marketing business. She recalls: “My focus was on sales and marketing, while his was on tech, which was something he got into as a kid.” In 2000, after much discussion about their common opportunities and challenges, the two seasoned entrepreneurs decided to continue the adventure together by concentrating their efforts on a project that emcompassed both products and solutions.

Isabelle dreamed of conquering the international market with the platform created by the 8D team led by Jean-Sébastien, the company’s CTO. As discussions with potential customers to commercialize the generic platform proved to be laborious, 8D chose instead to develop real-time wireless payment systems primarily for the commercial parking segment. “We needed to design a concrete project to demonstrate the power of the technology, the power of our platform,” says Isabelle. “At the time, users paid at a parking terminal and payments were processed 3 to 4 days after the credit card was used,” she continues. “With this system, operators could lose between $20,000 and $30,000 per week in Western Canada for example. We had the software solution to solve this problem but we lacked the hardware, so we started developing electronic cards.” 8D also called upon its R&D team to solve the challenges created by their use of solar energy, as well as the transactional and security elements of their platform.

When Montreal was requesting tenders for a Pay-By-Space parking solution, 8D presented a bid with a European partner and won the mandate. Given the success of this approach, and with all the 8D technology now set up on terminals, allowing real-time wireless payments and remote management, the company changed its business model to focus on selling its turnkey solutions. “And our existing platform became our secret weapon,” asserts Isabelle.

A bike that goes far

In 2006, before launching the acclaimed bike share system, Isabelle participated in a program with MIT, through which she realized that 8D had to stop being scattered and better target their efforts. “I saw the writing on the wall… there were niches that we would no longer be able to continue serving, so that we could focus and allow the company to grow exponentially,” she explains.

This put the company in an excellent position to design bike share solutions when the opportunity presented itself. And the results exceeded those of parking because of the extraordinary potential of the concept.

It was during a friendly discussion with their client, Stationnement de Montréal that 8D realized their platform was perfectly suited to a bike share project. “We put it all on paper, with visuals on big coloured posters, and they were very impressed,” recounts Isabelle. Less than a year later, the company’s technology appeared on the streets. “It’s really quite something to implement a project of this scale and complexity in such a short time, despite all the setbacks imaginable!”

Not only did the 8D bike systems see two expansions in Montreal during the summer of their launch, they also migrated from Quebec to Abu Dhabi, New York, London, Boston, Minneapolis, Melbourne, Washington DC and San Francisco.

Attitude makes all the difference

“Success depends on the ability to adapt,” says Isabelle. “It’s about accepting that there are risks, and rising up after our failures.” Several difficulties rocked 8D, such as the tech bubble bursting in the early 2000s. “Everyone thought we wouldn’t come out of it. But we discovered new abilities and a tolerance for risk that we didn’t suspect in ourselves… the pleasure of seeing that you have what it takes,” declares the inspiring entrepreneur.

The 8D co-founder was often told that international development would be impossible, but she stayed the course. “It stimulated me rather than stopping me,” she says. It was just a matter of determining the right way to go. “In business, it’s like the Olympics. You have the right to not feel great, but you still have to be strong out of the gates. Everything that goes wrong is just a springboard.”

About technopolys

According to Isabelle, the most interesting aspect of the technopolys movement is building a brand image with which to attract attention to the tech industry. “Whether we’re competitors or not, when we have common issues, unity is strength,” emphasizes the technopolys ambassador.

“It’s important that the stories of companies be shared because there’s a lot of suffering behind success. Highlighting what we are doing here in Montreal, in Quebec – showcasing companies inspires others and it fosters solidarity for the next step. I like that a lot… so let’s get going!”

Source: Mélanie Pilon, writer for the Vitrine Star Tech


Be a part of technopolys!

23May 2018

When we changed our business model, which was a really major shift towards a new adventure, I didn’t know of any other company in Quebec City that had adopted this SaaS model. There were so few players we could consult to find out how best to go about it, that we decided to design and test a prototype ourselves.
– Johanne Devin, CEO and Co-founder of WebSelf

WebSelf provides website creation tools that are simple, powerful and affordable, or free, to more than 3 million users in over 165 countries. Offering maximum functionality to people who want to develop their own website without having strong technological skills, the platform makes it easy for them, whether setting up a showcase site or an online store. “Even though it’s a standardized environment, we offer great flexibility and many features that can satisfy at least 99% of our customers’ needs,” indicates Johanne.

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09May 2018

Our clients, such as festivals like Francofolies de Montréal or Igloo Fest, appreciate not only that our solution saves them time and money, but also that they know exactly where their festivalgoers come from. Are they only in town for the two days of the event or are they extending their stay to discover the city? How many nights? Alone or accompanied, and by whom? In short, it’s all this data that represents a compelling advantage for our partners.
– Andrew Lockhead, CEO and Co-founder of Stay22

Stay22, an aggregator that lists nearly 6.5 million properties in 200 countries, helps travellers find the best accommodation options near the upcoming events they plan to attend. “We’ve targeted the niche of event management platforms, business conferences, festivals and more, which sets us apart in the huge online travel solutions market,” says Andrew.

Through agreements with partners such as Airbnb, but also with systems like Travelport and HotelsCombined, Stay22 offers visitors a hub that bringsall search resources together in one place, greatly simplifying the planning experience. Everything is adjusted on an interactive map that integrates directly with the event organizer’s website, ticket office or other online destination where users find themselves.

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02May 2018

Up until 2010, we often wondered if we wanted to invest in product development. Like many companies at the time, we were focussing on services in order to finance potential products. In the end, we decided to let go of the idea of designing products, because our service offering was really solid. After that, our growth curve was impressive, turning our 23-person team into the 150-person organization we are today.
– Stéphane Rouleau, President and Co-founder of Spiria

When I ask Stéphane to describe Spiria and their value proposition, he explains that the management team is actually trying to update their definition: “After 15 years of existence, it’s important to revisit it… simply said, we’re a digital solutions firm. Our clients call upon us to solve the digital components of their problems, due to lack of knowledge, resources or time on their part. In co-creation with them, we develop the best technology to optimize their activities.”

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