Calgary collaboration vendor Nureva hires two sales directors as company expands IT channel

Nureva adds net-new international and North American sales director positions, as the company expands the number and type of partners, and explores new kinds of go-to-market relationships.

Nancy Knowlton, Nureva’s CEO

Calgary-based collaboration solutions vendor Nureva has made two net-new appointments to its sales management, naming Susan Jickling as Director, International Sales, and Adrian Doughty as Director, North American Sales. The new executives will play a key part in expanding Nureva’s channel, particularly as the company broadens its partner presence further into the IT channel as well as in the AV space.

Nureva was set up in 2014 by Nancy Knowlton and David Martin, who were the founders and longtime operators of SMART Technologies, another Calgary company that makes collaboration solutions, but which unlike Nureva, is focused squarely on the education market.

“We hope that Nureva is not the second incarnation of SMART, but there is traction from 25 years with that in terms of perspective and customer knowledge, and today abut 70 per cent of the people here at Nureva have a SMART heritage,” said Knowlton, Nureva’s CEO. “Both companies have a focus on tools that help people work together, but they are really quite different. At SMART, 85 per cent of the sales were in the K-12 part of the education space. Here, our focus is distinctively on business, government and higher education – largely outside of the K-12 market space. The feature set is very different and is targeted at corporate users.”

Nureya has two product lines – visual collaboration solutions and audio conferencing solutions, with the latter being represented by the HDL300 solution, which is the most popular Nureva solution with channel partners.

“The HDL300 competes against the established companies in the audio conferencing space like Polycom and ClearOne,” Knowlton said. “We have taken a different approach to the mic systems with our technology, and have a leading edge approach based on mics that are projected in a certain direction. It involves flooding an entire space with a very large number of virtual microphones which are listening all the time. The system dynamically selects the virtual mic that will give the best audio pickup.”

Ease of deployment is also well above average.

“We install in half an hour, compared to half a day,” Knowlton stated. “You don’t need a technician because the system auto-calibrates at startup, and thereafter.”

Knowlton said that the market has responded well to this innovative technology.

“We are getting a sense that the toolset is hitting the mark in the business space,” she said. “There is a shift away from the legacy audio systems with their bridges. People are now  looking for toolsets that are pervasively available.”

Knowlton said that they tend to collaborate with larger UCC vendors in their systems rather than compete with them.

“With companies like Avaya, Lenovo, HPE and Cisco, we would be the microphone-speaker system that would attach to those solutions, rather than compete with them,” she indicated.

Still in its early days, Nureva has a hybrid go-to-market model, but the plan is to evolve it entirely to the channel.

“We are hybrid today because we are still in startup mode,” Knowlton said. “In the U.S., companies find out about us through online research, and come to us, and we will sell  to them, but the objective as we grow their business is to get them to work with a local reseller who can address their needs. It is a channel-first strategy.”

At the moment, they partner with a limited number of partners, but the plan is to broaden that out as they grow.

“We have a select partnering strategy today, but I think it will evolve,” Knowlton indicated. “It depends who wants to sell us, and how we are a fit with their business strategy. We are not only disruptive on technology but on price. Our audio conferencing system is $3000 and we compete against ones that cost $10,000. Some resellers would prefer to make more profit by selling a higher priced system, and end users often don’t know there is a lower priced product available.”

Knowlton said one development they are seeing is increased interest coming from IT resellers, complementing the initial interest that was more on the AV [audio-visual] partner side.

“While some of our partners are AV types, where we see a significant opportunity is more within the IT channel,” Knowlton indicated. “We are getting pulled into the IT channel through the end user, and how they buy products like these.”

This growing complexity of the channel, as well as the desire to grow it further, is a critical element in the new appointments.

Susan Jickling and Adrian Doughty

“I have effectively been the head of global sales,” Knowlton said. “We had area managers in North America, but there were too many people coming directly to me. Adrian worked at Insight for 14 years, so was a natural leader to move into that role as director of North American sales. Part of his job will be to support the area managers. He will also take on some higher-level relationships with AV integrators, and manage distributors of specialized solutions. We need to learn about those kinds of distributors and how they can be meshed in with a reseller model.”

Jickling has 15 years of experience in sales and channel management, including channel management roles at Hitachi ID Systems and LG Electronics.

“Susan will work with international partners, principally distributors, who are our major partners internationally,” Knowlton indicated.

The two new executives will not be 100 per cent channel-focused, but it will be most of their work, Knowlton said. Their development of the IT channel will be of particular importance.

“We have a number of resellers who have approached us, including a couple of very large IT channel businesses who have ideas about what they expect from us. We need someone of Adrian’s calibre to understand those relationships and see if we can make our plans dovetail with how they want to do business. Between both Adrian and Susan, we will now have the higher level horsepower to look at these various channel options.”

The channel expansion this year won’t be accompanied by major channel program changes.

“This year, our channel program will remain largely intact,” Knowlton said. “We have a basic margin structure and deal registration, and we think that between them we offer an attractive margin. We also support partners aggressively with remote demonstrations. Right now, we don’t feel we need a target attainment program, but that is something we will look at later on.”

Much of Nureva’s business is outside Canada, and their Canadian business has been strongest in Calgary, but they are optimistic about expanding that.

“In Calgary, we have got a nice cluster of users going, and we have a strong local reseller and are building more sales,” Knowlton noted. “Toronto is the centre of the Canadian universe and it is our desire to add more resellers there. We just added Advanced Presentation Products in Mississauga and we think they will be a great addition.”

Nureva is on the lookout for quality partners of all types.

“We are open for new channel members, and if vendors like Cisco and Avaya want to talk with how our product can fit with theirs, we would love to hear from them,” Knowlton indicated.