After two decades of building TIQ Software into a successful e-learning provider for enterprise clients, Jason Suriano wanted to see if he could spin his company's expertise in gamified learning into a software-as-a-service product for smaller customers.
The pandemic provided the spark he needed, he tells Episode 26 of Bloom, Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.
"Like a lot of companies, it all got triggered during COVID," he said. "Some of our smaller customers fell off for financial reasons. And it let the team and myself really focus on, 'OK, if we gave ourselves a year ...could we take everything we had in enterprise and build a minimum viable product that was SaaS-based and actually get it out?'"
They did indeed, starting at the end of 2020 and launching around the end of January 2022. Then The Alberta Innovates Revenue Accelerator (TAIRA) from GrowthX arrived, just at the right time to help him learn how to sell what the team had made.
"This opportunity came up, and I looked at it as a chance for us to learn from people who had done some work in the SaaS space," he told co-host Faaiza Ramji. "That's kind of cool for me because while I'm familiar with how it works, I'm kind of a noob there."
The key takeaway, he said, was narrowing his focus to help customers solve a very specific problem — in this case, creating product training to empower retail teams to make sales.
"Saying, 'We're the Squarespace of e-learning' helped us set a North Star for the product," he said. "But what GrowthX is helping me do now is say, 'OK, even though you might have said that, if you're a SaaS, you need to niche down and really figure out who is your ideal customer profile, and who the ideal buyer is, and why they're buying.'"
Learn more about Suriano's journey from enterprise to SaaS in the Aug. 11 episode of Bloom, where you'll also hear a roundup of what else is happening among the accelerators that have come to Alberta in recent months.