MONCTON, Oct. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - In just four years, the Facebook-type
social networking innovations developed by Spheric Technologies Inc., have
become a hot property with Fortune 500 clients throughout North America. For
this success, Dan Martell, 28, has earned BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for
New Brunswick, an honour he will receive tonight at a ceremony in Vancouver,
While studying computer technology in college, Dan realized that he liked
writing software, but he was more interested in how to translate business
requirements into solutions. It was while he was working as an independent
computer consultant that his idea for a different kind of computer consulting
company took shape. "I was frustrated by the need to build a new team and
start fresh every time I took on a project," Dan explains.
Dan started Spheric as a computer consulting company with a team of
high-tech talent working remotely from locations across Canada. Spheric's
computer consulting team soon developed innovative ways to connect with each
other. When they began marketing these solutions to their clients, demand for
their specialized skills skyrocketed.
Honing social networking expertise
Today, connected through a sophisticated set of Web-based tools, Spheric
has a team of 27 programmers. "One of our challenges was figuring out how to
motivate and support a team working from multiple locations," Dan says. To
meet the challenge, team members supplemented e-mail and newsletters with
tools such as video, podcasting, wikis and micro-blogging, which is how they
developed their in-depth knowledge of social networking applications. While
Spheric provides a suite of Web-based services, including enterprise portal
solutions, the Facebook-type tools represent the fastest-growing part of its
business, much in demand among organizations with 20,000 or more employees.
To break into this large business segment, Dan approached the technology
partners of Fortune 500 companies-North America's largest systems integrators,
such as EDS and CGI-to show them how Spheric could complement their
capabilities. "I just plugged away until I met them all."
Another important factor in Spheric's growth is the fact that the company
outsources all support functions-including finance, human resources, sales and
marketing-to external providers, with the requirements for every function
fully documented. "This way, we can easily duplicate our approach elsewhere.
When we entered the United States, we just replicated the same model we used
in Canada. It has really allowed us to grow."
Internally, Spheric is guided by its "triple bottom line": community,
customers and company. "Community is a big part of the equation," Dan says.
"We donate one percent of our time, assets and revenues to non-profit
organizations, leveraging what we do best." A local example is the new
collaborative online community Spheric is building for the Moncton Boys and
Girls Club. The company is donating equipment, money and the expertise of the
entire team. Globally, Spheric also matches employee donations to Kiva.org, a
micro-lending service for entrepreneurs around the world.
The company's plans include a potential acquisition and entry into the
European market. Both moves should help Spheric continue to grow its social
networking expertise. Dan's personal plans include: a move to Silicon Valley
to build a knowledge bridge with his home province; a complete ownership
transition of Spheric to a three-person management team in 2012; and the
development of new business opportunities.
"Dan has created a thriving business on the cutting edge of technology,
successfully leveraging expertise developed internally to meet a growing
demand for social networking tools," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René
Dan attributes Spheric's remarkable success to the work of a great team.
"It is their knowledge and expertise that we sell. The award is a huge honour
and it belongs to the entire team."
Highlighting young leaders
BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards are a highlight of Small Business Week.
They recognize the entrepreneurial spirit, and the business and leadership
accomplishments, of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners from each
province and territory are selected by a panel based on the originality of
their business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. The
panel also considers the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and
any special challenges that were overcome.
Small Business Week partners
Contributing to the success of this year's Small Business Week and Young
Entrepreneur Awards are the following national sponsors: Rogers, Western
Economic Diversification Canada and Export Development Canada. Privileged
partners are the Pan Canadian Community Futures Group and the Canadian Chamber
of Commerce, which has been a privileged partner of the event since 1981.
BDC is Canada's business development bank. From 94 branches across the
country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing,
venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. BDC works with
entrepreneurs in all industries, through all economic cycles and focuses on
helping small and medium sized businesses in their development projects, local
and global. BDC manages a $10.6 billion loan and investment portfolio and
serves over 28,000 clients. Small and medium sized businesses make up 99.7% of
all employer businesses in Canada. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.
Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.
For further information:
For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 21:
BDC Media Room: (604) 893-7343, 1-877-232-9321; After October 21: Johanne
Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929