Flarian was recently named #91 on Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies by Canadian Business Magazine. We sat down with company co-founder Ali Rizvi to ask how the company has grown since participating in Techno2013 and what this recognition means for the company.
What does being listed as one of Canada’s fastest growing companies mean to you and to Flarian?
It is a tremendous honour to be among Canada’s fastest growing companies. This recognition particularly stands out because it is the first recognition that acknowledges our transition from a startup to a growth company – just last year we were ranked among Canada’s 50 fastest growing startups. This notable milestone reflects the success of our growth strategies, our unwavering commitment to our clients, and our strong global partnerships.
What is the most important thing you have done to support this growth?
Keeping our team focused on growth is the most important thing. One way we achieve this is by measuring specific performance indicators. Tracking our monthly order volume allows us to set sales targets aiming to exceed the sales of the previous month. We use various tactics to achieve these targets, including organic increases in website traffic and paid acquisition.
On the organic side, marketing automation through email is a big one for us. We have a complex sequence of email follow-ups designed to acquire new clients, increase purchasing frequency, and increase the average value of each order. Sending out a good email with a captivating subject line or a special discount can spark interest very quickly. Once someone makes a purchase, our focus shifts to encouraging them to come back. We have noticed that the 80-20 rule seems to apply to our revenue, i.e. 80% of our revenue comes from about 20% of our customers. This means that maintaining a customer-centric strategy is integral to our growth.
How has Flarian evolved since being part of Techno2013?
In 2013 we had a product and an idea of who to sell it to, but we had not figured out the importance of a sales process or how to build one of our own. We have come a long way since then with a well-defined processes for attracting prospects, educating them, and eventually turning them into clients.
Rather than brainstorming and executing ideas in isolation, we have evolved based on feedback from the market. Our initial focus was on students as clients of our product, but we learned that other businesses and the corporate world really valued our product for marketing. We evolved to serve more of this demographic, and added additional products to our product line that would appeal to this demographic.
How has being part of U of T and the Impact Centre helped support this growth?
There have been numerous specific moments where U of T and the Impact Centre have supported Flarian:
- Access to the shared working space when we started off meant we actually had a place where we could work! Prior to this, we did not have any office space and we could not afford it.
- Being part of the Impact Centre ecosystem kept us aware of funding and grant opportunities. The first capital injection which made a big impact on Flarian was a $30,000 grant from the VentureStart program. Not only was this opportunity brought to our attention by the Impact Centre, but Rich and Cynthia’s advice and mentorship for our application was also critical in order for us to get the grant.
- Being part of the Impact Centre ecosystem also kept us aware of workshops at MaRS and allowed us to attend some of these for free. The “Entrepreneurship 101” course was invaluable to understand how to actually build a real business from an idea.
- The content at Techno2013 was invaluable to learn how to build a business.
- Various events hosted by the Impact Centre with guest speakers increased our knowledge of the various functions within a business over time (sales, marketing, accounting, etc)
- Being in an environment with many early-stage companies enabled useful conversations and allowed us to learn from others.
- Access to office space when we needed dedicated office space in 2016.
- The completion of ONRamp provided additional space for meetings and engaging with other startups to exchange ideas.
These are just a few examples. To sum up, U of T and the Impact Centre provides access to resources and to an entrepreneurial environment, both of which are conducive to growth.