Written by David Silverberg

When the founder of ThinkOn is tasked with the difficult duty to sum up his company in one pithy sentence, Craig McLellan replies, “ThinkOn provides Canadian organizations with usable outcomes that address their data sovereignty, privacy and security challenges.”

There's a lot to unpack in that elevator pitch, especially for those outside the cloud-services space. 

Essentially, six-year-old ThinkOn provides data protection and offsite data vaulting, which means storing data coming in from multiple operational systems. “A while back, I realized no one was providing true wholesale infrastructure services,” McLellan says. “I've seen companies in the U.S. do it successfully but there really hasn't been a homegrown solution here in Canada.”

With their hundreds of clients, ThinkOn sells software for backup data solutions, and can retain data for a long period of time, and also works in data recovery. Such a branch of their business is integral for major corporations who may have lost data due to natural disasters or breaches into their infrastructure. 

It's an industry growing every year: Some reports estimate the global data recovery industry will reach $4 billion US by 2024, an increase of 12.9 percent from 2019. Also, the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market, in which ThinkOn competes, is expected to climb to $60 billion by 2024, enjoying a growth rate of 25 percent in the forecast period. 

“We tend to also offer data analytics in a way that solves problems as opposed to just cataloguing things,” McLellan says. 

Its 30-staff team, based in Etobicoke, are also now working with federal government programs to launch the company's own security analytics service, one that McLellan says will incorporate machine-learning tech into the back end. 

They are always on the prowl for key talents to add to their workforce, and McLellan says, “We look for people who are open-minded, inquisitive and can genuinely demonstrate their personal values align with our company values and beliefs.” 

As for his role as CEO, McLellan says he's as busy as you'd expect. “When a company goes through the kind of growth we've had, I do a lot of things. Some days I work on strategy or on leadership or, you know, even loading the dishwasher, whatever needs to get done.”

The main challenge ThinkOn faces is brand recognition. In the B2B space, getting known can be more difficult than in the B2C market, due to how niche some B2B service can be, such as IaaS. “We didn't want to overspend on marketing in the early days, until we had a product that was finalized and ready for primetime,” McLellan explains. 

As to what he finds most fulfilling about his career, he notes, “The people we have here go to exceptional lengths to be great for our work culture…and I'm also proud of the IP we've developed, whereby our system can generate quotes for our clients, process service orders and generate billing all in one hub.” 

Photo credit: Zlatko Cetinic, Images Made Real