Toronto Tech Firm Enjoys Industry Honours, Fast Growth and a Huge Investment
Headquartered in Toronto, Nulogy develops software solutions for contract packagers, that is, companies that take various products through the packaging process. Nulogy “manages the complexities of mass customization … we make it simpler for brand owners to promote and confidently launch products into specific market segments, while controlling supply-chain costs and ensuring compliance with industry standards,” explains Nulogy Chief Executive Officer Jason Tham.
On July 12, 2016, high-tech company Nulogy announced the completion of a $14 million investment from Tola Capital, a Seattle-based venture capital firm.
“Tola is a large venture firm on the West Coast. They are really interested in investing in next-generation enterprise software companies. They have a long-term growth philosophy which aligns with our values. It’s definitely a great honour to get the investment from them because we are in an elite group of high growth companies – many of which have hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. We were happy to partner with them, and they were happy to partner with us. It felt comfortable on all fronts,” explains Jason Tham.
Nulogy’s spectacular growth is likely what put the company on Tola’s radar. Last November, Nulogy received the Technology Fast 50 and Fast 500 awards from international professional services firm, Deloitte. Nulogy earned these honours by growing 352 percent in the four years prior to the awards. Deloitte’s awards are designed to celebrate leadership, innovation, excellence and impressive company growth in the high-tech sector. Deloitte recognized Nulogy as the 26th-fastest growing company in Canada and the 200th-fastest growing company in North America.
Not surprisingly, for such a quick-out-of-the-gates firm, Nulogy has attracted some very high profile clients, including ARI Packaging, DHL and Kellogg’s. The firm is also “one of the fastest growing companies, by revenue” in the contract packaging software space.
It is pretty heady stuff for a tech business launched in 2002 by a tiny band of founders in a room at Tham’s family home in Thornhill, a small city just north of Toronto.
“Four employees became eight. Eight became sixteen. Sixteen became twenty. Twenty became forty. Forty become seventy. Now we’re at about one hundred employees and going to 150 as fast as we can … we’re hiring extremely high level talent at rate of one person a week right now … it’s been a journey, for sure,” says Tham.
As the company grew, the headquarters was moved into proper offices in Toronto, Canada’s business capital.
From the start, Nulogy’s focus was on contract packaging software. It was a good business strategy, given this niche is exploding. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global contract packaging market was valued at $22 billion in 2014 and is projected to reach $39 billion by the end of 2020. The contract packaging sector continues to grow at a fast clip of eleven percent a year.
The company’s mission “is to improve lives by making it easier for companies to bring personalized products to consumers … the age of mass production is over. The future is a world where product customization is the norm. Thanks to advances in technology and evolving preferences, personalization is the new customer expectation. Product customization appears in everyday variety packs, short-lived seasonal or co-marketing campaigns and inventive promotions like a six-pack of beer with custom messaging.”
“We’re committed to helping brands and their value added service providers in the supply chain. We provide software, consulting, and education services … we value innovation … we believe in sharing our success,” adds Tham.
In a reversal of a famous line from the film, The Godfather, Tham describes Nulogy’s ‘mantra’ as “‘It’s not just business; it’s personal’ … because we’re taking a very personalized view to serving our customers.”
To make customers operations easier, Nulogy utilizes two high-tech solutions: QCloud quality control software and PackManager contract packaging software.
PackManager is the next solution for value added service providers and is designed to manage many of their operations. The software simplifies inventory management and provides real-time stock visibility and traceability. It also makes production more efficient by capturing shop floor activity with production data in real-time and creates invoices at the click of a button while the invoicing procedure can be synchronized with accounting files. For reports, the software offers instant reporting based on over fifty customizable metrics.
The SaaS-based program has a customer portal and graphics-rich dashboard for ease of use. Using PackManager can result in cost savings, improved quality and boosted speed of delivery. Nulogy says PackManager offers customers a return on investment of 450 percent over three years, three to eight percent decrease in labour costs, a thirty percent reduction in quote times and sixty percent increase in customer service productivity.
QCloud software, meanwhile, is intended to make it easier to store, collect and leverage data for compliance and process improvement. QCloud offers real-time quality control management and audit-ready reporting, among other features. An interactive dashboard lets users track and interpret data to identify data trends and non-conformances and has instant reporting features to expedite the audit process, allowing users to generate audit reports quickly. It also features a responsive, tablet-based data capture feature which allows for a customized quality inspection process and a helpful administrative component. New users can be added easily and swiftly granted access to forms and workflows. Since QCloud is digitally-based, one of its other main benefits is the elimination of the piles of paper associated with traditional quality control data reporting.
While software is key to Nulogy’s success, the company could not function without a solid staff. To this end, Nulogy has very specific criteria in mind when it comes to making new hires. Interestingly, the company seeks to blend experience, talent and intelligence with a spirit of fun and camaraderie.
“We’re looking for an employee with a high degree of intellectual horsepower. Problems to solve here are not easy. That’s one thing. We’re also very collaborative and caring. We care for our customers and we care for each other … our corporate culture is fun. There’s a sense of playfulness. I think the culture we have is very open and transparent. There’s autonomy. Our team of employees can make decisions,” states Tham.
While autonomy is cherished, he again stresses that the firm also has “a culture of collaboration. We’re a highly collaborative, problem-solving culture. It’s a customer-centric culture too. We actually have our software engineers go on-site, to see our customers, understand their problems, [help them] use the technology.”
Tham does not want to give away too many company secrets but is very pleased with two recent initiatives of the company. One project is taking place in Brazil (currently the scene of the Summer Olympic Games in Rio) and involves home care and beauty items. The other project is in collaboration with one the world’s biggest pharmaceutical firms. The aim of the latter venture is to make it easier for the client to track and trace its pharmaceutical products.
As a sign of Nulogy’s confidence, the company runs its own awards program. Nulogy’s PackStar Awards are designed to recognize customers who have made “exemplary and committed achievements to contract packaging innovation, improvement, excellence through our platform,” says Tham.
The PackStar Awards are given out at an annual user conference organized by Nulogy. Said conference is held in different locales across North America; last year, it was in Chicago. In addition to the awards, customer success stories are shared at this event, says Tham.
The PackStar Awards help raise Nulogy’s profile as do the firm’s website and other promotional initiatives. Nulogy has a strong online presence and uses various forms of social media to promote itself and is involved with industry associations associated with contract packaging. The firm’s overall marketing and advertising efforts are primarily aimed at the Business to Business (B2B) sector, says Tham.
Down the road, Tham would like to see various Nulogy departments expand, including product management, data science, engineering and sales and marketing. While Nulogy may look at new market sectors or add new products, “we will remain focused on contract packaging,” he makes clear.
The firm intends to retain its headquarters in Toronto. There’s plenty of employee talent in the city for growing the firm and expanding research and development efforts, says Tham.
In terms of personnel, Tham wants Nulogy to grow, but in a responsible, sustainable manner. This might sound like a contradiction from a firm that has won awards for its spectacular growth, but is all part of a careful strategy. While eager to get to 150 employees in quick fashion, Tham also envisions his company being around for some time to come—which means taking a measured view of the future.
“We have a high degree of conviction for the long-term. The last thing we want to do is be a flash-in-the-pan company. One of the challenges we face is the pace of innovation in the high tech industry – what will be valuable ten to twenty years from now? We’re taking the long-term view,” says Tham.