How inspiration hits an entrepreneur’s life is always an unpredictable miracle. In this post we bring to you the story of CloudChoice Inc’s unique vision of “Staying Local & Acting Global”. A telltale narration by our founder and CEO Andrews Moses about his interesting journey as an entrepreneur whose vision is to stay local by hiring local talent and progressing the business globally. In this article Andrews candidly shares his learning and exposure and his path to successfully building a lean startup with a mission to “Stay local but Act Global”.
CloudChoice Inc. in a Nutshell
I came to Canada as an international student with hopes and ambition of settling in Canada and making my dreams of being an aspiring entrepreneur come true. After graduation as I started working for Freshdesk which was a start up at the time, I learned the tricks of handling day-to day affairs and working in a startup setting which motivated me and acted as a stepping stone to my current business CloudChoice. Currently, CloudChoice Inc are resellers of FreshDesk (customer support), FreshSales (CRM), HippoVideo (Online Video Platform), FreshTeam (Recruitment), FreshService (IT Helpdesk) and even our own product called Ultops (Operations Management). We have recently worked with GNCC and Regent Student Living to help reinvent the way their business is being done.
Making a Difference
Being a new entrepreneur on the block, I wanted my company to touch new heights, make a difference in offering the best customized Saas solutions to businesses but above all I wanted to support the community of St.Catharines that gave me the tools to be capable of fulfilling my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. When I decided to start CloudChoice in St. Catharines, one of the major concerns that my friends expressed was that, ‘St.Catharines is a small town with a small population and therefore I might have less prospects for promoting my business’. The usual suggestions of starting my business in Toronto was prescribed by many well-wishers, but for me it was not just about making profits. For me, it was about helping to grow small businesses in St.Catharines, giving the local community the opportunity to experience superior customer service and more so to help Brock and Niagara college students with an opportunity to have a real work experience through a co-op, part time or full time which is almost non-existent for full time students in St.Catharines.
As an international student I remember the struggles of trying to find a meaningful work experience while finishing my masters at Brock University. With years of technical experience, doing a minimum wage job at a retail store did not offer me any incentives or add to my skills. I wished for an opportunity to use my existing skills from my work experience in India and add to it through a new experience in Canada but unfortunately I was not able to find one in St. Catharines. It was then, that I understood the lack of opportunities in St.Catharine for students at Brock and Niagara college. I was inspired from my own experience as a hungry student looking for opportunity to gain real time work experience to use my existing skillset. Now as an entrepreneur certainly, I wanted to change that.
When I started Cloudchoice, one of my primary objectives was to give students, especially international students, a chance to gain real work experience. I also saw the benefit in this as some students come from different countries and from all over Canada with years of experience in certain fields prior to masters that I can tap onto for succeeding in my own business. Although there is no government incentive for me to hire international students, I saw the immense talent that exists in the international students at both Niagara College and Brock University that is incomparable to any other incentive. We also understand the difficulty of being foreign to a culture and struggling to find a job that best fits the skills. So we continuously encourage international students to apply to work with us. Some of our most important clients are handled by international students and they have never disappointed me.Hearing employees of mine speak about their experience with CloudChoice speaks volume about the impact CloudChoice is making in the St.Catharines and Niagara community. Here’s Enu Jaitly, one of our part-time employees speaking about her experience of working at CloudChoice. With Enu’s previous experience at KPMG under her belt, I can put her in front of any client and feel confident that she will be able to carry it out.
“I joined CloudChoice in the 2nd week of December as a part-time employee. After a rigorous job search, when I had started to lose hope in finding a part-time job that would match my skills, Andrews gave me an opportunity to gain an exposure to Canadian work culture by offering me a part-time job at CloudChoice. After working for big companies such as KPMG and CBRE in India, I wanted to get an opportunity to work for a startup where I could use my existing skills but also develop new ones. My favorite part about working in CloudChoice is the freedom I get to explore and experiment with different opportunities. Sometimes I am preparing for a meeting with new clients to discuss about our products, other times I am helping Andrews with various marketing and sales options. Because it is a start-up, my role is not just limited to my prescribed job responsibilities and I get to be involved in decision making of various kinds which I absolutely love. I would recommend CloudChoice if you want amazing growth opportunities, interesting and challenging environment, diverse responsibilities and a great deal of learning curve.” ~ Enu Jaitly, Full time MBA student, Brock University
Another vision I had in mind was to tap on to the experiential learning portion that both Brock and Niagara college offers to students to apply their classroom knowledge in the real world. Sometimes it is through service learning projects while other times it is through co-op opportunities. While I was doing my MBA at Brock University, the ideal co-op mostly meant working for a big firm or a bank in Toronto instead of trying to stay in St.Catharines or the Niagara region and contribute positively to the community. One of the big reasons for this was the lack of opportunities in St. Catharines. I wanted to change this as well. I believed in the potential of growth in St. Catharines which is why even after having a high paying job, I decided to start CloudChoice in St.Catharines and in the very next year decided to hire our first co-op student Corrado Salerno. Corrado primarily worked as the social media and marketing coordinator but wore many hats just like most of our employees. Here’s what Corrado had to say about his co-op experience with CloudChoice.
“Coming into this position I had very little experience in the SaaS industry as I am not a very technical person. But I always seek to learn more and more each day. That is what kept me driven, and my ability to create personable relationships with our clients is what made me stand out to Andrews. With such a strong background in sales and marketing, I was able to push all the services and products to new leads with ease.I was also to bring some valuable insight forward as we were creating our very own inventory management solution. This was one of my favourite parts while working with CloudChoice because I was able to request and add new features that I thought would be valuable to the end user. Lastly, while working with CloudChoice I was able to make many long lasting connections that allowed me not only to network but gain new partners for my club at Brock University. In all, it was a great experience and I am so grateful to work under Andrews as he taught me so much that you really can’t learn from anywhere else. I plan to continue growing based on the experiences I learned with CloudChoice in order to enhance my future career opportunities.” ~ Corrado Salerno, Co-op student ‘17, Brock University
Our first successful co-op student made me realize the enormous amount of talent that exists in St. Catharines which is not used adequately. Some of the contents and marketing that Corrado executed has helped us advance our new projects to customers and push new products. The role of being an entrepreneur never stopped me from pursuing my passion to teach. I also started teaching in Niagara College on a part-time basis which opened avenues for me to find new talent through the classes I teach there. This year, our aim is to have more co-op students from both Niagara college and Brock University to add to the creativity of our team at CloudChoice and to give more students a shot at experiencing a real-life work atmosphere commensurate with their existing skills. At CloudChoice, we consider that there is potential in everyone regardless of being a local or an international student and all a good candidate needs is a chance to show their potential. We hope that more budding entrepreneurs follow our footsteps.
As an entrepreneur I believed in the growth opportunities available in St.Catharines and continue to hope, to grow locally by using local talent. We hope that our example encourages startups to stay local and try to help the community that they benefited from. Starting your company in Toronto is always an option, but why pay the high office rent, employ professionals with extremely high salaries when there is an opportunity to invest in students and building a better company right in your own locality? We understand the difficulty of being in a small region, but we also see the great talent we have available here among international students and hope that other entrepreneurs in small regions are inspired by our mission of staying local and hiring locally. Profit is important for a company to succeed and I am not alien to that concept. However, I also believe that staying true to what I believe is more important and hope that more startups stay true to their ideals and create a business that impacts the community.