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Exceptional leadership, unparalleled growth

April 1, 2019 By: Mohamed Yazeed

Waterloo-based Axonify is a rapidly growing B2B SaaS company and a leader in the microlearning space. The Axonify platform helps businesses address one of the most common threats that any business is vulnerable to, lack of employee knowledge. Axonify prides itself on being the only learning platform built for business performance where you can meet the needs of each individual employee, directly driving business results. Their platform truly transforms the way that organizations approach employee training.

Dave Pooley, CFO of Axonify, attributes Axonify’s success to the quality and skill of the people at all levels of the organization. He reflects that the organizational structure and value chain is driven from the top down. “Carol [Carol Leaman, CEO of Axonify] always says ‘surround yourself with people that are smarter than you’… and she has put together a really great team of high level experienced people.”

Scaling

In 5 years, Axonify went from 20 employees to 150 employees and had an impressive five-year revenue growth of 2,421%. Their rapid growth has not gone unnoticed. In 2017, Axonify ranked 25th on Profit 500’s list of Canada’s fastest growing companies and ranked 23rd in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 companies. These accomplishments are a testament to the dedication of the Axonify team and the world class platform that they have developed.

Axonify is a recipient of a $1 million voucher from the Ontario Scale-Up Vouchers Program (OSVP), and it has supported them in increasing their workforce, expanding to international markets enabling them to exploit new opportunities. When asked why they applied to the OSVP, Dave says “It’s one of the first, if not the first, programs that was specifically targeted towards a business of our size and the stage of growth we’re at, which is similar to a lot of other younger businesses in the Waterloo area.” He goes on to add that “it’s also one of the first programs that was of a material amount for a company of our size; we can do a lot with $1 million over two years.”

Challenges

As Axonify grew, one of the key challenges they faced was scaling to a predictable, consistent sales model quarter over quarter. “Our biggest competitor is a customer choosing to buy nothing, and to continue to train the old way, which frankly gets no results. We are a new concept and gamification and measurable, bite-sized learning are starting to get a lot of notice, but we are still crossing the chasm and educating the market” shares Dave, who’s been with Axonify for five years.

In addition to educating the market, Axonify was also seeing very early, strong reception to its approach emerge outside of North America. Leveraging those early successes in Europe, Dubai, South Africa and Australia became hampered by available resources which have been largely focused on North American growth.

The OSVP funding will play a key role in supporting a consistent sales model sooner rather than later through the hiring of an SVP Sales, and allocating additional marketing resources both in North America and abroad to generate more awareness and interest.

Moving forward

Today, Axonify has 150 employees and has used its OSVP funds to make some important additions to their sales, marketing, strategic partnerships and development support teams that will strongly contribute to their growth especially as they expand globally. Having already made some executive hires and landed big name clients, the results of their growth plan are evident and they will undoubtedly continue to create more jobs in Ontario, while transforming the way organizations train their employees.

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