AppDirect’s 10-Year Overnight Success Story

Nearly ten years ago, two first-time founders with a five-page deck sold us on a bold vision for the future of software. They were earnest, smart, driven — and pitched a model for enterprise marketplaces that was well ahead of its time. Since our first seed investment, Dan Saks and Nick Desmarais have chased their razor-sharp plan for shaping the digital economy: growing AppDirect to over 700 employees, building lasting partnerships with the world’s leading companies and transforming their own approach to leadership — all so that they could achieve their highest aims.

Today, as we celebrate this decade of partnership, AppDirect is confidently servicing over 5M business users on its platform and has, for the fourth year in a row, ranked among the top cloud companies in the world. It stands in a rarefied place among tech startups — part of a club of high growth revenue companies who decided not to jump at an early exit to a larger multinational, while keeping its core leadership and ownership intact; there is still untapped growth on the horizon. We are proud to have supported two amazing Canadian founders through the years; offering coaching and patient investment dollars with aims and values that telescope well past the obvious goal of financial success. We share a vision for building lasting companies and global change while strengthening the local economy.

As AppDirect has grown, so has Inovia and the Canadian ecosystem. In their early days, Nick and Dan knew they had to set up shop in San Francisco in order to gain access to the type of expertise, connections, and engineers needed to build a successful startup. These concerns seem universal for early-stage companies who still see the Valley as the epicenter for opportunity. But times have changed. As AppDirect and many others are finding, Canada is becoming an incredibly attractive place to access top talent, and to scale in an efficient and powerful way.

Constant Change

In response to the evolving needs of their organization, their customers and the opportunities in Canada, AppDirect began shifting its growth strategy. First, with acquisitions in Ottawa, Calgary, and Montreal, the company has since grown to a +300-person team here in Canada with a majority based in Montreal.

This shift has been a clear and simple choice for the company — which has maintained a majority Canadian cap table, board and leadership team throughout its journey. As a coda to this great shift in attention, we are pleased that the team has also repatriated its annual signature event, #ADEngage. Beginning today in Montreal, this two-day event brings C-suite execs from Honeywell, JPMorgan, Pitney Bowes, Cox, AT&T, ADP, and ABB (just to name a few) together to hone a vision for that next stage of digital transformation the world over. With this event, AppDirect is on display, as is the entire ecosystem — and it is well-deserved.

AppDirect’s continued success rests on a clear set of goals and guiding values, and it may go without surprise that many of Inovia’s values share common words: humility, respect, a predilection for action and mindfulness. These traits keep us constantly questioning our strengths, weaknesses and — in AppDirect’s words, our True North. Congratulations to Nick, Dan, and the Appdirect team, for having built such a great Company.