Sometimes, there’s just too much red tape.
“At heart we’re technically minded people, and we want to deliver value for other people. When the system gets in the way of that, it really takes the joy out of the work,” reflects Mike Heath, who along with Doug Kondor, partnered together to form the hot new tech start-up, Cyanic Automation.
CHANGING THE GAME
Combining together their 22 years of experience in the field of software development and deployment, Cyanic Automation focuses on providing quality custom software that’s actually affordable for small to medium sized enterprises here in Alberta. Being a smaller company with a local focus allows them to do that, without any of the red tape that’s brought about by larger software houses. “Custom Software was basically a luxury reserved for larger companies who were willing to spend a fortune,” says Mike, “We can do [the same thing] for almost ‘off-the-shelf’ prices.” The two also found that there was a big discrepancy between what custom software developers were promising and what was being delivered, and when. “Would you leave a contractor to build you a house without any guidelines or agree on when it should be finished? No! But businesses do the same thing with their [software developer]. We want to make sure everyone’s on the same page” remarks Doug in talking about the customer experience. Mike adds, “The experience we want our customers to have is just the feeling that there’s someone that they can call—a real human that cares…and the [work] just gets done.”
Cyanic Automation is currently showcasing their new flagship product, Cyanic HSE, which is a fully mobile optimized, customizable health, safety, and environmental management software. “Being someone with IT experience, we’re just inherently lazy I suppose, so we always look for better ways of doing things,” recounts Doug on how Cyanic HSE came to be. “My father had an irrigation company, and I was doing work for him in the summers [when I was younger], and we were getting our COR certificate— and we did all this with paper and pencil. So I mentioned this to Mike, and we looked at the problem of ‘everyone’s doing this on paper and pencil still.’ We have the technology now that we can do some business automation and make things easier.”
THE MEN BEHIND THE CURTAIN
Doug and Mike are both family men, and it shows. Upon being asked about his morning routine, Doug beams while talking about his wife and 11 month old boy. “Having a new son, It’s made me a lot more focused trying to succeed, remember that I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing it for them.” Mike similarly talks about taking his 9 year old son to school every morning after working many late nights. “When it’s your own company, you’re extremely motivated to see things succeed. If that means you’re up ‘till midnight getting a proposal out, you just do it.”
On top of all that, these two are incredibly down to earth. Every Friday afternoon, they move to their ‘satellite office’, also known as the Room at the Top (RATT) bar at the top of the Students’ Union Building on the University of Alberta campus, where they can be seen socializing with the students. In fact, there’s even an open invitation for anyone to come visit and find out more about what they’re doing. “They even have $4 pints,” Mike happily adds in.
PARTING ADVICE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS
Both Doug and Mike agree that mentors are important. Doug’s brother, Randy Kondor, has been a huge help to getting Cyanic up and going. Randy heads his own company, OPC Training Institute, for which Doug had worked for in the past. “Besides being my older brother, he’s helped us out with things like bidding on larger projects, advice, complex sales, and other things that a mentor would do. There’s a lot of pitfalls in business. It’s great to have a mentor that can help you avoid some of the simple pitfalls that may not seem so simple.” Mike adds, “With a technical background, you don’t really see a lot of the business side of things. Like how to bill a client or write a proposal. Having a mentor smooths that transition by letting you not have to discover things the hard way.”
Another great piece of advice Doug gives is “Treat every customer, big or small, as they’re the most important thing out there. Just because you’re dealing with a small company doesn’t mean one day they won’t be a large company… Know your customer and know their problems. If you can do that, you’ll be very successful.”
Lastly, Mike adds, “People like people who love things. You can kind of get a sense that someone’s really excited about what they’re doing and it can really energize the room.”
If you’d like to get in touch with Doug and Mike, drop them a line through their website, or even better, stop by RATT on a Friday afternoon and grab a beer with them. It is an open invitation, after all.