In the wake of RIM’s fall from grace, there seems to be an awful lot of hand-wringing about about the Canadian high-tech sector’s relevance and ability to compete globally.
In the latest issue of Canadian Business, a cover story on RIM includes this quote from Joseph D’Cruz, a professor at the Rotman School of Management, about the smartphone maker’s decline: “What the Canadian tech industry has to learn is that you should not dance with giants”.
With all due respect to D’Cruz, his statement reflects inherent weaknesses within the high-tech sector.
1. We’re don’t believe we can create world-class companies.
2. We under-estimate the talent of our people and the technology they create.
3. We don’t have enough confidence that we can kill competitors.
These may be sweeping generalizations but the key message is startups must have more of a killer attitude. They need to be obsessed with crushing the competition as opposed to simply being happy to establish a foothold in the market.
Truth be told, cockiness is not part of the Canadian DNA but if Canadian startups are going to compete head-to-head globally, they must be way more confident. As important, the ecosystem (investors, partners, customers) that surrounds them have to more confident as well.
In other words, the Canadian high-tech sector needs a serious attitude adjustment. The reality is we have great talent, smart and enthusiastic entrepreneurs, a world-class post-secondary system and, hopefully, an increasingly healthy venture capital sector.
Contrary to what D’Cruz asserts, Canadian high-tech companies must learn to dance with giants, otherwise we might as well pack up, go home, and focus on being hewers of wood, drawers of water and pumpers of oil.