Brazilian software firm Daitan Group finds right environment in Victoria

From its ninth-floor window at the corner of View and Douglas streets, the newest tech firm to open doors in Victoria commands a stunning view of the region.

It’s that view, and what’s tucked within that idyllic scene and the buzz of the city, that convinced Augusto Cavalcanti, founder and chief executive of Brazilian software firm Daitan Group, to open the company’s first development lab outside of South America. For the software company, which develops custom products for its clients, Victoria ticked a lot of boxes.

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“I wanted a city that would offer to our employees a great environment,” said Cavalcanti. “Victoria is very in line with the principles and values of the company.

“We want to offer a great work environment, developing top technology, as well as a great environment for living life and that’s what we found here,” he said. “I came to Victoria and saw the family orientation, schools, parks and a good quality of life.”

It took a year of planning, research and deal making to get to the point of opening the Victoria office. Much of that heavy lifting was done or facilitated by the South Island Prosperity Project, which Cavalcanti said has made the transition easier.

“Daitan Group is a prime example of the ideal type of company SIPP works to attract. It’s a values-driven, innovative, growing company that believes in putting their employees first and creating a healthy work environment,” said SIPP chief executive Emilie de Rosenroll. “We helped Daitan Group analyze the opportunity in the region. We knew [they] would be a good fit, and their decision to move here reflects Greater Victoria’s ability to compete in the broader region.”

Cavalcanti said in Victoria he saw strong similarities to Campinas, São Paulo, where the Brazilian company started, as the south Island offers a strong technology community, universities and a culture that understands the importance of work-life balance.

It doesn’t hurt that Victoria is also strategically well-placed to service the bulk of Daitan’s U.S. clients, most of which are in Silicon Valley.

Daitan, which has 665 employees, already has a small executive, sales and customer service team in Silicon Valley, but Cavalcanti said in order to build what he hopes will be a team of more than 100 developers within the next two years he needed a city that was more affordable than Silicon Valley while having a talent pool to draw from.

He also noted the type of work they do — collaborate with companies to develop custom software — requires a lot of face-to-face interaction.

“To build a team there you face the difficult cost and the lack of available people,” he said. “The whole Bay area it’s immensely difficult to hire people.”

He understands Victoria will have problems like that as well, but he said a company culture that stresses work-life balance, offers challenging work and takes care of its people should help Daitan attract talent.

He intends to draw from the local talent pool as well as recruit from across Canada and internationally when possible.

“The whole world wants [software developers]. Who offers the best environment in terms of work as well as living I think will retain those guys and that’s why we chose Victoria,” he said.

Dan Gunn, chief executive of the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council, said that decision is another sign of the strength and appeal of Victoria’s tech industry.

Last week, NetMotion Software announced it will open a fourth international headquarters with a team of five people in Victoria.

As for the intense competition for talent, Gunn said all firms are facing the same situation.

“We have to find a way of growing our companies in the face of that, which means attracting people from other places and graduating more people [into the workforce],” he said. “We are still growing at such a pace that we are struggling to fill the vacancies we currently have.”

Daitan opens in Victoria with a team of 10, chosen from the company’s Brazilian operations. Cavalcanti said he is excited at the prospect of growing the new Victoria venture.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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