During innovation week, the EXCITE Corp., in partnership with the Newfoundland Association of Technology Industries, hosted an innovation week luncheon at the Grand Falls-Windsor Golf Club for business students from the College of The North Atlantic.
Gerard Duggan, vice president of Zed IT was the guest speaker. Duggan is a Newfoundlander who created the multi-million dollar technology company in 2004. He spoke with the students from perspective of 20 years in the business.
The company flies under the radar, he said, explaining you won’t see advertising in traditional media for Zed IT, but it’s Atlantic Canada’s largest information technology professional services firm and projected to make $75 million this year.
Zed IT headquarters is located in St. John’s, but 98 per cent of its revenue comes from elsewhere in the world.
Taking your business and servicing outside of the Newfoundland and Labrador market is something Duggan focused on when addressing the group of students.
“When we are thinking about innovating, what problem are we trying to solve (and) how is that a global issue, not an issue down the street?” Duggan asked the students.
Duggan’s No. 1 piece of advice to the students was not to focus on the provincial market, because that puts the business in a very small box, but instead set sights outside.
“From a tech perspective, there are opportunities everywhere,” he said.
Duggan cited the town of Grand Falls-Windsor itself as being innovative in it’s approach to senior’s wellness. Innovation is not always about making money — it can be about making a longer and healthier lifestyle too, he said.
But the bottom line is without innovation, businesses can’t survive and expand, he said.
As an example, Duggan said Netflix — by giving people access to movies at home without having to go out to a store like Blockbuster —was able to eliminate an entire industry.
‘We have to be innovative or somebody else is going to come by and eat our lunch,” much like Nexflix did with movie rental companies like Blockbuster,” Duggan said.
The luncheon was positively received by the students and ended with a discussion session that went on longer than Duggan’s presentation.
“As a business student, I think it was very important for us to see how the marketing and how everything that we’re learning actually ties into how a business runs and how it operates,” Natasha Gail said. “I think it was very interesting.”