Meet Robin Smith the newest member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Robin is the co-founder of Virtual Logistics Inc. located in Mississauga, Ontario. We sat down with Robin and asked him a few questions about his business.
Q1: What’s Your Elevator Pitch?
I always come back to our vision. To be the leader in customized data integration solutions for growing omni-channel businesses. We want to change the way you think about data integration. It’s not a really sexy topic but it’s key to a successful and scalable business. Bet you never thought about it.
Q2: What’s Your 3 Biggest Challenge as a small business owner that you’re tackling today?
Time (there is never enough), finding the right people (people that fit technically and culturally into our organization) and changing the attitudes in business towards data integration and data. These are three of the biggest challenges we face. Of course there are lots of others but they are far easier to manage.
Q3: What role does technology play in the day to day operations of your business? What didn’t you expect you’d use technology for?
Love this question! If you don’t have a solid technological foundation you are living in the 19th century. You would be amazed at the number of businesses we speak with who can’t see past the outdated junky systems they use. They are not informed about what is available and run inefficient and antiquated processes because of the technology they use. We use technology to manage the entire sales and marketing cycle, contract administration, accounting and then all customer interfacing points using an issue management platform. We love technology at Virtual Logistics and have always said if you want to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. So we eat our own cat food. No dogs here.
Q4: Tell us a time when technology helped get you and your business out of a jam?
We were having a dispute with a customer. By having a centralised CRM for emails and a proper issue management solution where people logged their time, this allowed us to show the customer that we were not the bad guys. Having the facts allowed us to defuse the dispute and establish a better working relationship. Had we not had the technology it would have been a “he said, she said” in which no one came out unscathed. If you don’t have proper systems you don’t have good data.
Q5: What technologies do you think could impact small business in the coming months or years?
Wow a huge question. APIs (application program interface) are going to create the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges for business. The internet is one giant API. What APIs are doing to business is allowing them to move beyond the transaction and getting at data. Data is king, we all generate it, we all have it and we all use it. Data is the foundation of all we do today. It feeds the customer experience; it drives our planning and decisioning. If it’s bad we make bad decisions. We trade today in a digital world so the use of data across an organization is more pervasive than ever before. With APIs things will get much more personal and drive much of the internet of things solutions. Think of APIs as doors we can look into to get a view of data. How many doors can you open to get a better view?
Robin is the co-founder of Virtual Logistics Inc. He has overseen VL’s sales and marketing since the company’s inception in 1994 as an EDI and data integration company.
Prior to forming VL, Robin was responsible for new business development in Africa and the Middle East for Canac Telecom a division of CN Rail. While at Canac, Robin represented Canac on numerous Canadian Government trade missions to Morocco, Tunisia, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Prior to working at Canac, Robin served as Director of International Liaison at TEMIC (Telecommunications Executive Management Institute of Canada) and worked for USAID in Somalia as well in the UN office, Vienna, Austria.
Robin has a BA Honours in Prehistoric Archaeology and Historical Geography from the University of Toronto. He also has a MA in International Relations from Webster University, Vienna, Austria. He is married with two sons and lives in Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Alex is a member of the Rogers Small Business Leadership Network. Members work with Rogers to produce and share content that can help Canadian small businesses be successful. He is not
compensated by Rogers.
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