Guest blog post – Leveraging the Hamilton ecosystem

By Graeme Douglas

One of the reasons its great to live and do business in Hamilton is because the city has such a strong sense of community support; Hamiltonians want to see their neighbours succeed, and try to help where they can.

One of my clients, Keith Green of Mastermind Backup Solutions, discovered the power of leveraging expertise and support from the Hamilton ecosystem when he ran into problems generating sales for his company.

He believed Mastermind had a great product and knew that people needed his services – online backup from a Canadian-based data centre – and that his prices were competitive.

Unfortunately, these fundamentals weren’t translating into the sales he expected.

As a small business, Mastermind had limited resources to spend on detailed market research.  That didn’t mean, however, that he could forego quality analysis.

Realizing he had access to an enormous source of intelligence and expertise, Keith decided to reach out to a connection of his at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University.  With its world-class programs and students, he realized the school was an excellent resource.

Keith contacted Dr. Mandeep S. Malik, an Assistant Professor of Marketing in the business school, and explained his challenge.

Dr. Malik was happy to help. While Keith needed market analysis, his students needed opportunities to attain professional experience and earn extra money to pay for their studies.

Dr. Malik selected the student most qualified to tackle Keith’s research questionsfrom his class of marketing students.  She agreed to conduct market analysis for Mastermind, including market research and detailed competitor analyses. In return, Keith would pay her a stipend for her work and she would be able to use the market report as her final project for the semester.

When the student returned with her analysis, Keith knew he had made a wise investment. She presented him with a 17-page report detailing her findings.  Her research included an interview with a focus group, approximately 150 online surveys, and a detailed comparison of his competitors.

The insights she drew changed the way Keith looked at his market and his business.   It helped him to realize both what his potential customers wanted, and what his competitors weren’t doing.

He immediately began rebranding his business to change the way he presented his service to the public.

In the 5 years since he commissioned that report from McMaster, Keith’s business has grown to include thousands of clients and a list of 58 resellers, who sell his online backup service right across the country.

“Hiring a McMaster student was one of the best business moves I ever made,” notes Keith.  “She helped me expand my market reach and grow my business substantially.  We have an enormous resource with McMaster University here in Hamilton; I think many businesses could benefit from the same sort of outreach within the ecosystem.”


Graeme Douglas is a Digital Marketing Strategist at VivosWeb, a McMaster graduate, and enthusiastic member of the Hamilton community.

McMaster University is a partner of Innovation Factory.

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