Michael Litt (BASc ’11) is the CEO and co-founder of Vidyard, a video analytics platform that provides online video hosting for businesses. Litt founded the company with Waterloo alumnus Devon Galloway (BASc ’10) in 2010. It has raised more than $60 million in funding and its Kitchener office employs more than 200 employees, known as “Vidyardians.”
You’ve always been deeply involved in the community. What is Vidyard doing to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis?
We’re focusing on how we can help educators and non-profit organizations stay connected through video and we’re supporting health-care workers with everything from free meals to PPE. We’ve organized volunteers to help health-care workers with grocery pickup, dog walking, tutoring, lawn care, etc. We’re also supporting local restaurants and providing meals for health-care providers with one meal a week for two months. We’re financially supporting hospitals too, so health-care workers can get the PPE protection and emergency supplies they need. We also created a Vidyard “Thank you to our front-line workers.”
We know how important our local non-profit organizations are right now, so we’ve made our video hosting platform available to them to help with basic communication needs. House of Friendship supports so many people in Waterloo region at risk right now so we’ve shared additional video tools for them to communicate both internally within their organization and externally.
How has Vidyard changed the way it works to respond to the new reality of working from home?
Vidyard is very fortunate in that we’re built on top of cloud solutions that support everything from software delivery to the way we communicate on a daily basis. We were able to move quickly to a “wall-to-wall” work-from-home program and turn our focus to supporting our customers and our community.
We moved quickly to launch a number of new technologies from our secure Internal Communications offering to a new product designed to help improve engagement between teachers and students via video. We have more in the hopper, so stay tuned!
What does Canada need to do to support startup companies during these difficult times?
We need to support and buy from Canadian brands and companies that build technologies to enable remote work. We can support startups in the same way we would support brick and mortar businesses. It’s yet to become clear how the stimulus packages will impact startups that charge monthly subscriptions that may have defaulting or unstable customer bases.
What’s the best thing about building your business in Canada?
Canadians bridge an international gap between North America (USA and Canada) and EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), and specifically, English-speaking Europe. We’re culturally flexible to both regions, which means we can build products that impact a naturally larger market.
Tell us about a Canadian (entrepreneur or not) that you most admire and why.
Tobias Lütke of Shopify. I’ve been able to spend some time with Tobi over the past few years as part of the Digital Industries Economic Roundtable for the federal Minister of Innovation and have always been enamoured by his ability to simplify complex tasks into digestible objectives. The success of Shopify is building opportunities for innovation that will fuel future GDP production in Canada.
What’s on your bucket list for Canadian destinations?
Gros Morne National Park and Fogo Island.