The Ottawa inferiority complex theorem

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By Francis Moran

Here at inmedia, we regularly have the pleasure, challenge and reward of working with some phenomenal Ottawa companies where our assignment is generating the kind of media and analyst coverage that will move their business yardsticks in the global markets into which they sell.

At the same time, we all too regularly come across a deep-seated inferiority complex about the real ability of companies in this town to compete on the world stage.

This city is where inmedia was born and, notwithstanding that much of our business now comes from outside Ottawa, it’s where most of us live and it’s where we have the deepest community roots. We’re passionate about Ottawa and we care deeply that the technology sector in this city succeeds globally. So it is with the same trepidation that a parent feels about correcting a wayward child that I broach today’s difficult subject, around which I have developed a theorem. The theorem states:

“The likelihood that an Ottawa company will hire an Ottawa service provider to help it tackle its global markets is inversely proportional to the confidence it has in its own ability to actually tackle those markets.”

And there’s a corollary to my theorem:

“The likelihood that a prospective client will be sceptical about our ability to engage with global media and analysts declines exponentially the farther I travel from Ottawa.”

Maybe it’s not just an Ottawa thing, maybe it’s a Canadian thing. But it’s a worrisome thing. And here’s why.

An Ottawa technology company must export or whither on the vine. Such companies are turning to global markets and saying to their prospects, “I’d like you to put the wellbeing of your business in the hands of my small Ottawa company.” Then they turn to me and say, “There’s no way I’m putting the wellbeing of my business in the hands of your small Ottawa company.”

Talk about choking on your own dogfood.

Why does this happen?

/// COMMENTS

4 Comments »
  • Scott Annan

    October 31, 2007 10:28 am

    Here! Here!

    Am not sure I agree with the theory, but I agree wholeheartedly with your comments (and welcome to the blogosphere). In fact, I think that there is an inferiority complex ABOUT OTTAWA for Ottawa tech companies, as though companies will succeed in spite of being in Ottawa.

    I think we need to make an impact on the perception, and it starts locally.

  • Kareem Sultan

    November 03, 2007 10:23 pm

    Great post.
    Personally, I’ve always thought of Ottawa as a town full of great tech companies. Perhaps that notion was wrong.
    However, even with that attitude towards Ottawa I’ve found it difficult to actually identify the companies in town that provide the services we were looking for at RaceDV over this past year and half of development.
    From hardware test facilities, machine shops and material suppliers to graphic designers and videographers(RaceDV has a broad range of projects), we’ve found it difficult to “look up” companies in Ottawa that provide these services.
    Every company we work with has been found through our network of friends and contacts met at demo/barcamps and not by simple searches through google and even the yellow pages(what’s that?).
    So even having faith in Ottawa companies isn’t enough. I have faith. How do I find them?

  • Francis

    November 08, 2007 12:10 pm

    Kareem: Thanks for the comment. I certainly don’t disagree that there are a lot of great technology companies in Ottawa.
    The vast majority of our clients, in Ottawa or elsewhere, found us the same you found your suppliers, through word of mouth, the most potent form of communications known to humanity. Others run into us at the many networking events we attend. I hope we’ll run into RaceDV in time to be considered for your PR requirements. :)

  • Maxwell

    August 03, 2008 2:47 am

    “Maybe it’s not just an Ottawa thing, maybe it’s a Canadian thing. But it’s a worrisome thing.”

    Perhaps Ottawa has become too bureaucratic a city with taxes having to feed the triple government machine. Maybe its label as a conservative government town has something to do with it too. But too much government is becoming a stifling issue in many parts of Western Europe and North America. On the other hand, there’s too little government in the developing world as I travel through East Africa. Ain’t life a bitch??

    - Max (IT Consultant, aka MaxTheITpro)
    blogs: http://MaxTheITpro.BlogSpot.com & http://GoAfricaGo.BlogSpot.com

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