What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
The digital side of our business was at $0 when I joined the company. We were mostly doing signage, which basically drives advertising networks through software. We use off-the-shelf solutions with world leaders and we thought that would be our business.
What we’ve developed with Leadweb has become core and it’s grown into 30% of our revenues annually. We are making more than $50 million yearly, and what they’ve done has impacted that massively. We have monthly recurring revenues from hundreds of deployments in stores worldwide with products they’ve developed.
When I talk to the senior executives at Dell, they only have positive things to say. Dell operates the Montreal transit authority’s platform, and Leadweb fixed the flaws in the main database. Now their servers populate all the digital signage for trains and buses in Montreal. These guys turned a solution around in less than three months, and three years down the road, it’s still working.
The beauty of working with them is that they seem like a small shop, but a large firm that would charge a fortune probably wouldn’t have fixed the problem by now.
How did Leadweb perform from a project management standpoint?
They use Slack heavily, including with Dell, but they adjust to our process by sharing Google Docs. We update the docs live on our calls and always have access to status through them. We also use Messenger and email for group conversations, and they use other tools as well.
They’re responsive no matter what the time, whether I hear from Phil, [Founder and CEO, Leadweb] who runs the operation, project managers, or developers. I’ve sent them things late at night expecting a response the next morning, and I get an answer that night.
Also, if they’re not sure about an issue, they’ll reach out and work with us to figure out our priorities, so that they can address our expectations. That’s important to me.
What did you find most impressive about them?
What really sets them apart from their competition is that they keep learning and ramping up their capacities in various technologies. They’re not just workers delivering software—they actually drive our thinking process. I’m not as familiar with markets outside the Montreal scene, but their local competitors have stopped developing their talents internally. They’ve decided to focus on Microsoft or other languages, especially on the iOS side. As a result, they’re now outsourcing to Leadweb.
Leadweb, on the other hand, is expanding their expertise in things like Blockchain and IoT [Internet of things]. We develop software in the retail world as well as for banks, so we have to think of things like AI and big data. It’s all about the metrics. When they saw us taking that direction, they developed their skills accordingly. They’re always introducing me to new people and ideas, which is very stimulating for me.
That also enables them to attract resources that are difficult to find. They create a good atmosphere for their employees, which is one reason they’ve been so successful.
Another beauty of Leadweb is their flexibility—they grasp needs quickly and offer a quick turnaround. They also bring intelligence and the right level of resources to each project. That smart scalability has always impressed me and is the reason I turn to them. They understand business challenges and adjust to our reality, rather than being focused on invoicing hours.
Normally in this business we’d try to diversify the suppliers we use to avoid loading one up to the point that they under-deliver. That never happens with Leadweb. We’ve thrown a lot of curves at them, and they never say no. They always try to guide us in the right direction and find solutions for us. Our clients often ask for a product they want to deploy by the thousands in a matter of weeks. Best Buy recently asked us to create their new store concept, and we delivered a complete store in 3 weeks.
Are there any areas they could improve?
I’ve never encountered a challenge they didn’t come up with a solution for. I’m never reluctant to connect them with clients asking us for references, because they always deliver.
I have told them I think they’re underselling themselves. Sometimes they absorb things that they shouldn’t due to the pressure of large clients. Bad companies will try to take advantage of them.
For example, smaller firms will always be on the lookout for faster payments and bigger firms will take forever to pay. I’ve suggested they just increase their price and give us a return on fast payment, because we can’t speed things up any more on our end. We’ll pay more, and if we want the discount, we’ll pay fast. I’d rather pay a little bit more because I value the results of their work more than the the hours they put in.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Take the time to meet and talk with their team, especially their CTO. Even if you have to sign nondisclosure agreements to feel comfortable, don’t hesitate to trust them with any business challenges. They’re intelligent enough to come up with the technology solution that fits.