Solido Design Automation vice president Jeff Dyck gives the StarPhoenix a tour of the Saskatoon tech company’s new 13,000 square-foot Innovation Place office space. BRANDON HARDER/SASKATOON STARPHOENIX
(Saskatoon, July 27, 2016, Saskatoon StarPhoenix) Rapid revenue growth and a growing list of major clients led a Saskatoon software technology firm to plan a major expansion that will result in a doubling of its size over the next two years.
“Our software is getting used around the world by all these companies to design the electronics that we use in our everyday lives,” Solido Design Automation Inc. president and CEO Amit Gupta said.
“So, as a result, we’re needing to hire more people. We currently have 50 people (and) we’re growing to about 100 people in the next two years, and we’re expanding from our current 5,500-square-foot office space to a new 13,000-square-foot office.”
Founded in 2005, Solido creates and designs software used to manufacture the computer chips used in a wide range of consumer electronics, including mobile phones, computers and televisions.
Solido is a private company and doesn’t disclose its finances, but Gupta said the firm is profitable and its revenues have been growing by “50 to 70 per cent” each year since around 2011.
The firm currently has 40 major customers — among them Apple, IBM and Nvidia — in Europe, Asia and North America. Gupta said the need to attract more led to the decision to hire 25 computer scientists this year and 25 more the following year.
“What the expansion will allow us to do is give us the space to hire the people to develop the additional products that our customers are looking for,” he said.
In May, 7Shifts, which makes an app used for employee management in restaurants, announced plans to add between 10 and 15 new employees to its Saskatoon office at a cost of about $1.2 million.
Earlier this year, the restaurant delivery technology firm SkipTheDishes said it planned to use $3 million provided by the Saskatchewan government to ramp up its operation in the city by some 300 employees.
Gupta said it’s no accident that the city’s technology sector is expanding.
“Saskatoon is a good place to start and grow a company,” he said. “Because we’re so close to the University of Saskatchewan, there’s a great pool of talent … either from new graduates or people who have a few years of experience in the city.”
Golden Opportunities Fund Inc., a Saskatoon labour-sponsored investment fund, has invested $3.2 million in Solido since 2006, according to Wanda Hunchak, vice president of Westcap Mgt., fund manager for Golden Opportunities.
“It’s a good product, good intellectual property that the market wants — it meets the need in the market — a strong team behind you and a supportive economic environment … I think all of that has come together in Solido,” Hunchak said.
Saskatoon’s tech sector is “pretty strong,” but the biggest challenge facing companies like Solido involves public awareness of the work going on in the city, she said.
“Everybody has heard of Silicon Valley, and everyone knows the history and the phenomenal technology that’s come out of that area. Really, it’s just awareness that there are amazing technologies coming out of Saskatoon.”
By Alex MacPherson, Saskatoon StarPhoenix