By Dana Ciak, Alumni Relations and Jennifer Tribe, Auvik Networks
Successful entrepreneurs and alumni Alex Hoff (BMath ’04), Marc Morin (BASC ’87), and David Yach (BMath ’83) joined forces in 2011 to co-found Auvik Networks, providing small and mid-sized businesses with a better way to manage their IT networks.
Below is an interview with co-founder of Auvik Networks Marc Morin, CEO.
Can you tell us about how the three of you got together to co-found Auvik?
I first met Alex at Sandvine, where I was a co-founder and we worked together for several years. In 2010, Alex told me he was itching for a new challenge. I’d already left Sandvine a few years earlier, so I proposed to Alex we start our own venture together. It took us about a year to decide what we wanted the new company to do. In the meantime, we were having breakfast one morning with David. By then, David was retired from BlackBerry [where he was CTO of Software] and he said he really wanted to be getting his hands dirty with technology again. So we invited him to check things out and he decided to join as our third co-founder in 2011.
Can you tell us about Auvik and what the company is all about?
Auvik is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that makes it much, much easier for small and mid-sized businesses to build and manage their IT networks.
Network management is far more complicated than it should be. We’re changing that. Using an API-style approach, we’ve reduced dozens of normally complex and time-consuming tasks into simple, automated steps. And it’s all done through a beautiful and easy-to-use interface.
What do you find is the most challenging/rewarding aspect of starting your own business?
There are a number of make-or-break factors that require a lot of your attention and effort: hiring the right team, finding the right funding, doing the right things to execute on your plan. The key is to stay focused and course correct as you go.
Going from an idea to a strategy to actually achieving it is very satisfying. It underscores that anything is possible. Just try and don’t be afraid of things not turning out the way you planned. They never do! But the only failure is not trying.
Auvik hires students from the UWaterloo co-op program each term. Why it is important for your company to hire these students?
As alumni, we enjoy being able to nurture young talent from our alma mater. And hiring co-op students is an effective way of finding great talent early. The job market in Waterloo is competitive and it’s hard for us, as a startup, to compete against big names like Google when recruiting grads. So we like to get our foot in the door with first- and second-year students.
What was memorable from your days at UWaterloo that affected your later entrepreneurial or business perspectives?
Alex Hoff: Without UWaterloo’s co-op program, I wouldn’t be an Auvik founder today. I gained valuable real-world experience while still in school. It just so happens my co-op was at Sandvine and that’s where I met Marc. The rest is history, as they say.
Marc Morin: The people I met in my classes have made all the difference to my success. One is a VC, for example, one is CEO of a large telecom provider. Those connections are invaluable.
David Yach: University teaches you so much about how to learn, not just what to learn. It was valuable for me to see that grasping the first principles of a topic is essential to mastery.
With the creation of Velocity and the Accelerator Center at UWaterloo, the entrepreneurial culture is growing in our community. What does it mean to you to be a part of this great startup culture?
We’re all very proud to be part of one of the biggest and best startup communities in Canada. Having access to so many resources in one place, VCs, fresh talent coming out of the universities, fellow startup founders, creates opportunities that might not exist otherwise.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs at UWaterloo?
You don’t have to launch your startup the day you leave university. The world is big and there are lots of opportunities out there. Get a job somewhere, get some real-world experience under your belt, uncover the day-to-day problems people struggle with. That will put you in a much stronger position to solve those problems through your startup when you do eventually launch it.