Mark Langille and Devin Cameron saw a need, so they set out to fill it. The result, ITNovaScotia.com, was launched at the beginning of this month.
The proprietors of two small Halifax consulting companies thought there should be somewhere on the Web that would list all the technology companies – large and small – in Nova Scotia, and provide information and resources for the tech sector, which they say employs over 14,000 people in the province.
Web sites run by associations focus on their members, which tend to be the larger companies, Langille says, and government-run sites focus on statistics more than on individual companies. “We’ve kind of had the idea for some time to try to put together something that was really more community-, industry-based than what was out there.”
The two saw an opportunity to bring attention to smaller organizations, adds Cameron. “We’re trying to be a little bit of a community-based portal.”
It was natural for Cameron and Langille to see this need, since both their companies are small. Langille is president of Schooner Solutions Inc., which has only two full-time employees – plus contractors as needed – and does custom application development. Cameron is president of Coverra, which does custom development, quality assurance and project management work.
Cameron says he hasn’t seen anything quite like ITNovaScotia elsewhere. Most such sites try to cover larger regions, he says, and “that blanket approach didn’t seem to connect with us.”
Their ITNovaScotia site contains a directory of technology firms and other tech-related organizations in the province, including government agencies and universities. Officially launched May 31, it has listings for about 470 organizations, which Langille says probably represents 85 to 90 per cent of the province’s technology sector.
Langille and Cameron built their initial listings from existing technology-industry directories and by sifting through general business directories. Langille believes they haven’t found all the companies that should be in the listings yet – particularly small operations in towns and rural areas – and hopes that publicity surrounding the site’s official launch will help those people find ITNovaScotia.com.
Qualifying organizations can list their basic information on the site free of charge. The site also accepts advertising, which Langille says is intended to cover operating costs and the time he and Cameron are investing in it. They don’t see ITNovaScotia as a “large profit centre,” he says, but they hope it can make enough to cover its costs.
Besides listing technology organizations, the site carries a list of upcoming events. Cameron, who is in charge of the editorial side while Langille focuses on the technology aspect, says he hopes to add other material such as articles aimed at advising small technology businesses on promoting themselves, networking and other such topics.
The content will evolve over time, he says. “We’re going to see what kind of feedback we get from people in terms of what kinds of things will help.”
Langille says initial feedback has been encouraging, particularly from smaller organizations, which he says really appreciate the opportunity of being listed in such a directory because there was nothing before that gave them that chance.