The vision for his business has been compared to one of the biggest tech titans of them all: Apple (AAPL).
And though he dreams big, Alexander Fernandes, founder and CEO of Avigilon, started small – a strategy he believes helped prepare him for the position he would eventually hold from the c-suite.
“I’ve been entrepreneurially spirited from an early start in my career,” he said. “I always felt like I wanted to be a bigger cog in a small machine rather than a small cog in a big machine.”
Fernandes began his career at small start-up companies, learning with them as they grew and taking away lessons from their mistakes. He said he wasn’t drawn to start at large companies like Google (GOOG) or Microsoft (MSFT) because he felt, at a start-up, he could make a bigger impact, and learn more as they grew together.
“I went on to work for a number of successful startups that went on to leapfrog the incumbents doing the proverbial technology, disruptive technology launches – I’ve done that a number of times and so I learned and got to a stage where I felt like I could go on my own and do that,” he said.
In 1999, Fernandes launched his first business, Quantitative Imaging Corp., which manufactures digital cameras and software for scientific imaging, where he learned a lot about what it took to run his own company.
After selling QICorporation in 2002, Fernandes dove head-first into his next adventure: Avigilon, a company that’s quickly grown to become one of the leaders in global high-definition surveillance technology.
He took the company public at the end of 2011 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and the share price is up more than 247% since then. Avigilon landed the top spot on a list of Canada’s fastest growing companies, and the goal is to reach a revenue target of $500 million in the next three years.
Though his sights are set high, Fernandes said he’s not worried about losing his edge or letting outside pressure to succeed get the best of him or the company, because he knows the right way to keep the goals in-sight while keeping employees focused and energized.
“We align our shareholders, our customers, and our employees to the same goals,” he said. “We do so by delivering superior products that provide a better return on investment to our customers, provide equity incentives to ownership in various forms…and that’s very critical to success.”
What it all comes down to for Fernandes is a desire to meet his own high expectations, and continue to challenge himself.
“A big motivation for me is to stay engaged,” he said. “I very much enjoy the technology, the manufacturing, the global sales, marketing. There’s many aspects that I find interesting about business and really, it’s just about setting bigger and better goals.”