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Martin-Luc Archambault: The role of CEO
Wajam addresses the billion-user social networking market with the best in social search. Users can’t possibly tap into the wealth of knowledge their friends share online, so Wajam seamlessly integrates relevant recommendations in places where users already search.What started as a prototype with one engineer and one entrepreneur quickly grew into a profitable 32-person startup crunching massive amounts of social data. By indexing social posts your friends share on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, Wajam serves users results on supported sites including Google, eBay, Amazon, Wikipedia and TripAdvisor. Wajam features a web app, a browser extension and mobile app.

Rake Narang: Which multiple hats does a today’s CEO have to wear? What best practices can you share with tech CEO’s who are early in their career?

Martin-Luc Archambault:
CEOs are ultimately responsible for the company culture, financing, operations, roadmap, strategic vision and being the prime company spokesperson. One of the biggest jobs the CEO has to nail is hiring the best team given the stage of the company and its desire for innovation.

Great companies have amazing cultures consisting of teams that are collaborative, creative and driven to solve problems unconventionally. I learned early-on in my career as a CEO to not micro-manage, but to empower my team to take calculated risks and to push the envelope when it comes to problem solving. Recognition of individuals and teams goes a long way.

In terms of best practices, don’t get ahead of yourself in terms of financing. Prioritize your expenditures, don’t invest in things that can wait, stretch your capital out to the best of your ability. Building a fundamentally sound business with satisfied customers takes time. In some cases, it’s the job of the CEO to defy time given market, investor and competitive pressures. Operating with integrity, keeping the business clean by working with top lawyers and accountants, and staying focused on the plan, despite many temptations to follow alternate plans are some of the things that are front of mind for me. Also, while successful innovators have the ability to dream big, it is important to have the instincts to know when to stay in reality.

Rake Narang: What are three tips for building a great team?

Martin-Luc Archambault:
Team building is one of the biggest assets contributing to our success and many industry recognitions received by Wajam over the past year.

The first thing is that we only hire the right candidates, we don't settle for less. We recognize that good enough will not help the team move forward, so we focus on "A" players who will continuously overachieve and inspire their teammates to do the same.

It's also important to lead by example. I work hard and do not even take a salary, so hopefully every newcomer recognizes this effort and is inspired to join our vision. As a startup, our window of opportunity only grows smaller with time, so it's important to get things done and move quickly.

Although we're demanding of our colleagues, we also like to have fun. We hold weekly social outings to reward the team for their hard work, and our stock option plan keeps everyone's interest aligned. At the end of the day, people will stay if we offer them a good environment and exciting challenges every day.

Finally, empowering individuals and promoting collaboration by keeping the team horizontal is crucial. Each person on the team has to feel valued and see how he or she is contributing to the “big picture” – or vision – of the company. Transparency, strong internal communication and opportunities to celebrate successes in a fun environment make people motivated to come to work and fully invest themselves in the company mission.

Rake Narang: What are the challenges of managing a global business?

Martin-Luc Archambault:
Many customer concerns, such as online privacy, are universal concepts. The challenge arises in different cultural standards. We need to be able to easily translate our customer support and messaging to reach all of our global users.

Certain pain points that we focus on in our home market may not always be a concern in other areas. The problems we solve in Canada may not be a message that we need to extend to Mexico. Refining our messaging by region is another potential challenge.

Lastly, scaling a global company takes capital and calculated risk. Knowing when it is the right time to expand into new markets is an exciting challenge that the global entrepreneur must consider.

Rake Narang: What are some of the trends you’re seeing in technology company investments this year?

Martin-Luc Archambault:
Some of the trends in technology company investments include better collaboration tools both b-to-b and b-to-c. Investors are placing more weight on the success histories of founders, CEOs and management teams. They are looking for known qualities and proven leaders who have the capability of customer acquisition, technology infrastructure, engineering and product development. Investors also have an interest in leaders who have a strong marketing arm. This trend towards the well-rounded management teams means that emerging technology companies have many strengths in many areas.

Cloud-based solutions, e-commerce and online services, mobile and tablet development compatible products and social/new media are all areas of growth in the technology sphere.

Company: Wajam
4115 boul. Saint-Laurent, Suite 300 Montreal, Qc Canada H2W 1Y7

Founded in: 2011
CEO: Martin-Luc Archambault
Head Office in Country: Canada
Products and Services: Wajam addresses the market for social search, a market that reaches 1.2 billion users of social networks, where 60% share recommendations. Today, users are overloaded with information, so there's a need for a product that lets users find relevant data from friends in places where they already search. What started as a prototype with one engineer and one entrepreneur quickly grew into a profitable 32-person startup crunching massive amounts of social data. The biggest challenges so far has been designing an intuitive user interface and scaling the exponentially growing data from social platforms. Despite these challenges, Wajam reached the milestone of indexing more than one-billion pieces of shared data within its first year of launching. It took Google twice as long to reach this milestone! Today, tens of thousands of users use Wajam everyday to get recommendations from their friends, and have access to 10 billion pieces of social recommendations. No other application or service out there matches what Wajam can do, and as such, the company has been featured on Techcrunch, Mashable, Business Insider and more. By indexing social status updates and links your friends share on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, Wajam serves you results on supported sites like Google, eBay, Amazon, Wikipedia and TripAdvisor. It's unique interface components include a web app, a browser extension and mobile. Unlike competitors, Wajam brings a social search experience seamlessly to you - in the way you already search. It combines more sources and serves them across platforms on major search engines.
Key Words Related to your Company: Social, Search, Search Engine, Social Search, Entrepreneur, Start-up, Social Media, Innovation, Ecommerce, Online Shopping, Social Recommendations

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