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Steve Scott, company founder and CEO of Zedfast

THE BACKGROUND

Growing up in Bathurst, N.B., Steve Scott had dreams of becoming an architect. This soon changed after he taught himself to write code on his personal computer.

After graduating from high school, Mr. Scott took a technical programming course and started to work at Spielo Manufacturing ULC, a software company specializing in high-performance and innovative gaming machines and systems. After spending a decade in Canada, the Caribbean and other countries, Mr. Scott came back and joined the science program at Mount Allison University.

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This did not last for long as he was soon hired by a company and lured away to the Caribbean again. In 2008, he returned to the Maritimes, enrolled at Mount Allison as a part-time student and founded Zedfast Solutions Corp. with the intent to develop software for the emerging mobile phone applications market.

His work attracted the interest of an e-learning company, which was trying to find a way to allow its customers to use its training applications built using the Adobe Flash platform on Apple's iPhone and iPad devices. (Apple's operating system does not support Adobe Flash content).

Leveraging his expertise in HTML5 and Javascript, Mr. Scott and his team were able to develop a "proof of concept" prototype. It was capable not only of allowing Adobe Flash content to be used on Apple devices but also allowed for use on the emerging Android platform for mobile devices.

As a logical next step, Zedfast embarked on developing an "authoring tool" application, which would allow for the creation of content directly from scratch. This task required a major infusion of new talent into the company.

THE CHALLENGE

After successfully launching a software company and signing some major e-learning companies as clients, Mr. Scott, based in Sackville, N.B., found himself in a challenging position to expand his team of qualified developers.

Located far away from urban technological hubs, Mr. Scott found it difficult to find qualified staff with the specialized skill set he needed from among the small pool of people available in the Maritimes.

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He also found it challenging to lure people from big-city techno-hub areas to live and work in a small town. His software company's growth critically depended on finding the needed staff to take it to the next level.

THE RESULT

Mr. Scott solved his staffing problem by building a virtual team of developers. They are currently located mainly in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. This also allows them to have regular face-to-face meetings to supplement their virtual collaboration. The approach has worked well and the company is on schedule with its development work.

To cater to future growth and develop further potential talent, Mr. Scott has set up an "app club" at Mount Allison that meets once a week, allowing him, students and faculty to brainstorm ideas, and get students excited about software development.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Nauman Farooqi is an associate professor and chair of the Research Ethics Board in the Ron Joyce Centre for Business Studies of Mount Allison University.

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This is the latest in a regular series of case studies by a rotating group of business professors from across the country. They appear every Friday on the Your Business website.

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