SimplyCast President and CEO Saeed El-Darahali has ambitious targets for work-integrated hiring: by the end of 2021, he expects to have onboarded 100 WIL Digital students.
Despite the ongoing pandemic and its challenges, his plan is unfolding on schedule. Halifax-based Simplycast has just hired another 23 students through the work integrated learning program, adding to 13 hires for an earlier cohort.
This bulking up reflects the strength of a successful tech company in full stride, but it also tells a bigger story: it speaks to El-Darahali’s life mission, which is to end youth unemployment in Canada.
El-Darahali’s goal had taken shape when he started university and applied for a coop program. He didn’t get accepted due to a seemingly Catch-22 requirement that required students to have two years of work experience.
For 11 years now, El-Darahali’s mission has landed him on federal and provincial government committees, working on youth unemployment. He has led initiatives in his home province of Nova Scotia to end youth unemployment. ICTC’s WIL Digital is now also part of his toolkit.
More pragmatically, WIL Digital is a component of SimplyCast’s competitive advantage: work integrated learning effectively fills the talent pipeline of this growing company and side-steps the inefficiencies of searching, interviewing, and hiring through job boards.
“Actually, 60 percent of our current full-time employees, including vice presidents, were all coop students when they started,” El-Darahali says. “It’s one of the reasons why we’ve never had to recruit. We’re always building capacity every single year.”
El-Darahali launched SimplyCast in 2010 with the vision of delivering the world’s first all-in-one engagement platform for marketing, engagement, communication, and emergency response.
“There’s still no company I’m aware of today providing all four of these pillars in a single engagement platform,” he notes.
SimplyCast’s banner clients bear out the success of its comprehensive approach: Walmart, Bank of America, Sony, Government of Canada, every university and college in Nova Scotia, YMCA, United Way, and other businesses in over 175 countries.
“I’m particularly proud that SimplyCast is 100% Nova Scotian. We’ve never raised any capital and we’re bootstrapped,” El-Darahali says.
SimplyCast currently employs 70 people.
SimplyCast’s all-in-one solution works equally well for a small business like the local restaurant and a multinational like Walmart.
“If you were to buy those four different pieces of software separately, it would cost you on average about $15,000 a month. Our solution starts at $129 month,” El-Darahali says.
It’s also incredibly versatile. If you can imagine a use case, SimplyCast can build a solution. Want to simplify event registration and management, sell to people around the world, set up emergency notifications across an entire regional health authority? No problem. SimplyCast can tailor a solution usually within a couple business days.
“Our company is built on this concept of providing solutions to virtually any use case,” El-Darahalis says.
But equally important to a strong product is knowing how to sell it. Sales is actually key driver of SimplyCast’s end-of-year WIL Digital hiring spree.
“For the last cohort, I’m hoping to fill probably 50 positions focused on something that Canada is not doing very well in—which is technology sales,” he says.
SimplyCast will train WIL students internally on the company’s well-honed sales practices and set them to work to ramp-up its business. Some of these students may end up on SimplyCast’s permanent payroll and others will likely fill the ranks of tech companies across Canada, leveraging what they learned at SimplyCast to bolster Canada’s digital economy.
For now though, WIL Digital placements are helping lay a solid foundation for SimplyCast’s growth. The first cohort worked on quality-assurance.
“We probably had about a year’s backlog of QA opportunities. I have now received confirmation that they chewed through all of the year’s QA work in less than three months—and they were able to get it done at the same quality level of our senior staff,” El-Darahali says.
“I just want to thank ICTC for all the good work and the federal government for supporting these types of programs. It helps us to scale up our investments in youth. We need to do more of it.”
For more information about WIL Digital, pls connect with ICTC’s WIL Digital team here.