Waterloo-based Tulip Retail sets sights on major expansion

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As seen on CBC News.

Company that develops apps for retailers set to hire 100 people this year, CEO says

A Waterloo-based company that creates an app for retailers, to help salespeople have information for customers at their fingertips, is expanding and looking to hire 100 people over the next few months.

In many stores, staff have to go to a computer to look up information about stock or descriptions about products, but Tulip Retail has created a platform where all that information can be accessed on a phone or tablet.

Ali Asaria is CEO of Tulip Retail. He is also the man behind BrickBreaker – the game that appeared on every BlackBerry – and the online retailer Well.ca, which is based in Guelph.

“We kind of learned retail over the last eight years, and before that, we were working at companies like Research in Motion. We wanted to blend the idea of enterprise mobile that we learned at RIM and retail at Well, and that’s kind of where Tulip came from,” he said.

Not many apps for businesses

No one else is doing what Tulip Retail does, Asaria said.

“There’s been a massive trend to build apps for consumers, like regular people, but not as much for business, so this is a really new space right now,” he said.

Retailers like Coach, Toys “R” Us, GameStop and Saks Fifth Avenue use the app already, according to the company’s website.

‘We’re looking for a lot of talent and the best place to find engineers is basically Waterloo and Toronto.’ Ali Asaria, CEO Tulip Retail

Interest is growing, Asaria said, which is why the company also needs to grow.

Asaria said he wants to look for new employees in Waterloo specifically.

“We’re looking for a lot of talent and the best place to find engineers is basically Waterloo and Toronto, especially in the mobile space,” he said.

‘Something special about our region’

Asaria sits on the board of the non-profit tech organization Communitech and said it has been incredible to watch the tech sector grow here over the past 15 years since he graduated from the University of Waterloo and began working at BlackBerry, then Research in Motion.

“For a lot of startup people, we’re both scared and excited. It’s exciting because there’s more talent here, there’s so much energy. At the same time, we’re like, oh no, what if there’s more competition and it’s harder to hire. So I think it’s kind of like good and bad, but for the region, it’s all good,” he said.

“There’s something special about our region,” he said. The two things that set the area apart, according to Asaria, are a lot of smart people, and the fact those people embrace the Canadian mentality of doing a good job, but being humble about it.

“I think what we ought to think about is how do we bring and keep more talent in Waterloo. And I think that’s a bigger government picture that I think is just a good opportunity for everyone,” he said.

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