Each May, Asian Heritage Month provides an opportunity to discover and recognize the significant contributions that Asian Canadians have made and continue to make to our country’s business and economic landscape.
As Canada’s population becomes more diverse, we are proud to reflect on our shared history as Canadians and our collective commitment to a future of shared prosperity. Hear the stories of three Asian-Canadian entrepreneurs whose business success imitates innovation and perseverance, the theme of this year’s Asian Heritage Month.
Carl Rodrigues, President and CEO of SOTI Inc.
In 2001, the South Asian-born computer programmer wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Rodrigues had just left a lucrative job as a computer consultant. “I wanted to create something,” he recalls. “I thought maybe I could create an app that would allow me to continue working from home.”
After a month, Rodrigues emerged from his basement with a software system that allowed users to control their cell phones from laptop computers. SOTI Inc. was born. Today, the company is valued at over $1 billion.
As a private company, SOTI is unique among technology companies. “I don’t have to answer to shareholders and people who are only interested in profit and money,” Rodrigues says. This allows him and his team to think long-term while being incredibly nimble. These two factors “are both powerful tools that allow SOTI to do some really cool things,” he says.
BDO has been an important partner in helping SOTI become a global company. “When you build this type of multinational organization, you need a specific type of accounting firm to deal with,” says Rodrigues. BDO not only assists SOTI with its accounting needs, but it also engages legal specialists to help SOTI navigate the laws and rules of foreign markets. “They are doing a very good job for us.”
Ali Tajskandar, Founder and CEO of Wishpond
Tajskandar started programming at the age of 11 in his hometown of Tehran, Iran, and sold his first software to a friend at school whose father had a factory. “He asked me to create inventory management software,” recalls Tajskandar. And he did.
Tajskandar inherited his entrepreneurial spirit from his parents. Her father ran a construction business in Iran, and after they immigrated to Canada, her mother opened a clothing and alterations shop in Vancouver.
In 2009, inspired by his parents’ work ethic, Tajskandar founded Wishpond, a Vancouver-based provider of marketing-focused online business solutions for small and medium-sized businesses. While most online marketing companies only offer one piece of what a business needs, for example, an email marketing service or a landing page, Wishpond offers its customers -cost-effective all-in-one marketing forms and expert service.
“It’s quite unique in the market,” says Tajskandar. Wishpond now serves nearly 4,000 businesses globally and achieved $14.8 million in revenue in 2021 with 87% annual growth.
For Wishpond, BDO has proven to be a valuable collaborator. “We had an advisory agreement with BDO,” Tajskandar explains, “reviewing the business strategy and shaping it.” BDO also extended a line of credit to Wishpond and connected the company with the media. “They were very helpful in putting us in front of different people.”
Victor Liu, founder and CEO of Macro Universe Enterprises Ltd.
Liu immigrated to Canada 22 years ago with a degree in computer science and a latent interest in architecture, particularly wooden flooring, a major industry in the forest region of northern China where he grew up. .
Liu foresaw a shift in the Canadian flooring market from traditional hardwood to more environmentally friendly and customizable engineered hardwood. “Most people think of flooring as a building material, but it’s actually a fad,” Liu says. “So how can we design this fashion?”
To answer this question, in 2006 Liu launched Macro Universe and its brand name, Fuzion Flooring. Unlike most companies that provide consumers with off-the-shelf products, which are often limited in size and design, Fuzion designs custom flooring solutions for each end user. “We don’t go to a manufacturer to pull a product off the shelf,” Liu said. “We customize and manufacture the product [so it’s] adapted to the needs of the end user. It’s a huge difference.
Liu considers BDO a perfect fit for Fuzion. “BDO has done a great job of personalizing service to local markets,” he says. BDO’s position as a global accounting firm gave Fuzion access to resources in the US and UK, but BDO also understood the nuances of the Canadian market. More than that, BDO’s involvement made it feel like they were part of Fuzion. “Their approach is more hands-on,” says Liu. “Instead of hiring a contractor, we feel like we have a partner.”
Learn more about BDO Canada.