Alim Somani didn’t expect to become a recipient of Caldwell Partner’s Top 40 Under 40 Award.
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“I applied pretty much because I had just applied for a different award, and already gone through the whole application process,” he says. Of course, he probably didn’t expect to become president of Infusion Development, a company which now employs 130 people in North America, and which should reap $20 million in profits in 2007 alone.
Somani, a graduate of the electrical engineering program at the University of Waterloo, began interning at Infusion seven years ago — when he was 21.
“One of great things about Waterloo is they have a wonderful co-op program,” says Somani.
Infusion’s CEO and founder, Greg Brill, had worked at a company that employed Waterloo co-op students, so when he moved on and started his own business, he made sure to contact the school.
“I was employee No. 67,” says Somani. “It was in New York. Even as co-ops we had a seat at the table, discussing strategy and business decisions.”
During their term Brill asked Somani and another intern whether they wanted to work for the company after graduation.
“Our feedback was, ‘Hey, we loved working here, but two things: One is we both want to be based in Canada, and two, we both want to start our business,’” says Somani.
So at the end of their term, Brill approached them again. “He said, ‘Look guys,’” says Somani, “‘’you have a year left of school, don’t wait that year to start your own business. I will be your first client, we have overflow work, you guys figure out how to manage the school and the work at the same time.’”
Somani and the other intern started their firm, and a few months later Brill offered to let them run the Toronto-based side of the company. A year later Somani had moved into a management role, became Chief Operating Officer of Infusion, and then at the end of 2005, president of the company.
In addition to increasing Infusion’s profit margin and number of employees, Somani has created Infusion Angels, a spinoff company whose purpose is to find people who are passionate about an idea, but don’t quite have the business background, industry expertise, or sales experience to market it.
“We’ve really built an organization that’s built around giving young, bright smart people opportunities and support,” says Somani, and the Top 40 Under 40 reflects that.
“Quite frankly,” he says, “it’s a testament to the people in the company.”