In just six years, Ottawa-based Fluidware has grown from a two-person concept to a thriving company that employs more than 70 people in two countries and has a client roster that includes some of the world’s largest companies and most prestigious universities. And Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) has been there at critical points supporting co-founders and co-CEOs Eli Fathi and Aydin Mirzaee.
“OCE was a constant advocate for us and helped us in building and commercializing our products,” says Mirzaee. “OCE was there for us during the early days when we were just putting together the first version of our product. We definitely felt that we were part of the OCE family and we sincerely appreciate that.”
The success of the company, its client base and its products recently attracted the attention of U.S. survey platform SurveyMonkey, which purchased Fluidware in early August with a promise to not only keep its Ottawa operation up and running, but to expand it.
“We are thrilled to be joining forces with SurveyMonkey, the global leader in the category and the creator of one of the first consumer software-as-a-service products,” Mirzaee says. “As part of SurveyMonkey’s unrivaled product portfolio, FluidSurveys and FluidReview will benefit from superior resources and support, including a proven management team with more than 15 years of operating experience. We will be able to accelerate and scale the development of innovative software solutions that empower customers worldwide.”
FluidSurveys is an online tool that allows individuals and organizations from around the world to create fully-customized surveys, collect data from respondents and analyze results in real-time. Customers include Best Buy, BMW, Coca-Cola and Southwest Airlines. FluidReview is a centralized solution that makes it easy for organizations to collect, manage and review applications and submissions online, including scholarships, grants, fellowships, calls for proposals and business plan competitions for such institutions such as MIT, Columbia, University of Ottawa, York University, Stanford and Harvard.
The company was established in 2008 with the help of funding from OCE’s Venture Start. In 2009 OCE invested about $70,000 towards a collaborative research project with Algonquin College, building the initial prototype of the Fluidware programs. In 2010, OCE once again worked with Fluidware and provided about $65,000 in market readiness funding to help the company with its search engine optimization and to commercialize the product widely. In 2014, Fluidware won OCE’s prestigious Mind to Market award, which honours and celebrates the best OCE-supported research collaboration between the business and research communities resulting in the commercialization of leading-edge ideas and solutions “As an early supporter of Fluidware, this acquisition is a proud moment for Ontario Centres of Excellence,” says Dr.Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE. “Since its inception, our Ottawa team has worked very closely with Eli and Aydin, helping them grow the company from just two employees to the 75 it has today.”
Mirzaee credited Senior Business Development Manager Hindal Mirza and Regional Director John Fielding of OCE’s Ottawa office with being “constant supporters providing support even after the original projects were completed.”
SurveyMonkey says it intends to maintain Fluidware’s office and infrastructure in Ottawa. Additionally, there will be no change in the location of Fluidware’s customer survey or applicant data. It will continue to be stored in Canada and protected by the same Canadian standards that were in place before the transaction. Fathi and Mirzaee will each have a role in the combined company.
“This highly complementary acquisition will extend SurveyMonkey’s global reach, particularly into the attractive Canadian market where Fluidware is an industry leader,” SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg notes in a news release. “We look forward to working alongside the talented Fluidware team as we continue to execute on our strategy to attract new customers, access new territories and leverage leading technologies that help further our mission of helping our customers make better decisions."