Canadian IP Thought Leaders Series - John Ruffolo and the Deloitte Fast 50

In late September, the Deloitte Fast 50 winners were announced, and the list included some IP communications companies that I follow to varying degrees, namely Espial, Aastra and Tira Wireless. They also announced a list of "Companies to Watch", which included other familiar companies such as Objectworld, Oz Communications and Impact Mobile. So, with all this common ground, I wanted to do a podcast about it, and brought back John Ruffolo for his second podcast with me.

On the podcast John talked about the Fast 50 and Companies to Watch, explaining what they look for in companies, and the trends that Deloitte is seeing. They also have a broader Fast 500, which includes US and Canadian companies. Of the 500, 56 are Canadian, as are 5 of the top 10. I think that says a lot about Canada, although none of the top 5 are in the IP space.

John noted another interesting finding about how the two countries differ. He said about 75% of of the US-based Fast 500 companies are venture backed, whereas the opposite is true for Canada - about 75% are NOT venture-backed. John feels this goes a long way to explaining the quality of these Canadian companies, as they've had to really bootstrap themselves, and focus heavily on R&D and product development rather than marketing and promotion.

He feels this will give Canadian companies more staying power, and it also makes them good acquisition candidates for companies looking to enter new markets. I think he's right, and Canadian companies like Convedia come to mind right away. They were recently acquired by US-based Radisys for a very nice valuation, and their hard work to build up a single-focus, R&D intensive company really paid off. This is a textbook example of what John is talking about.

Back to the Fast 50, John noted a growing trend in that the upper half of winners are shifting away from software companies to those focused on the wireless marketplace. That's pretty evident when looking over the list, and certainly validates the growth of wireless in the IP communications sector.

Finally, the podcast touched on the next round of nominations, which will start early next year. For any companies considering applying, you should bookmark Deloitte's site, and check back regularly starting in January.

You can download the podcast here, and read more about John and his practice at Deloitte.

Next week my guest will be telecom consultant Mark Goldberg, and we're going to talk about yesterday's Income Trust decision, which as expected, was bad news for our big incumbents, Bell and Telus, and is really too big of a story to not discuss further.

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