Wait, what's ThoughtExchange?
Rossland-based ThoughtExchange makes use of technology for what we might call "crowdthinking." It has created a system for sharing information and eliciting thoughts and ideas from any number of people, from 5 to 50,0000, and allowing them to respond to each other's thoughts, ideas and points of view to form a basis for learning from each other, evolving concepts, and decision-making. ThoughtExchange's system features openness and transparency, fostering trust and building engagement with participants.
Many Rossland residents have already experienced ThoughtExchange, thanks to a City Council exercise in citizen engagement.
ThoughtExchange very recently won the "Innovation Showcase Award" competition at the two-day BC Tech Summit, held in Vancouver. Co-founder and CEO Dave MacLeod made the 4-minute presentation that earned a narrow win over an array of impressive competition and won a $5000 prize, plus services from IBM valued at $120,000 -- not to mention the exhilaration and glory of winning!
Just last month, in December, 2015, school administrators across North America recognized ThoughtExchange as one of the "Readers' Top Choice" products for its contributions to education. This honour was announced in the magazine District Administration.
ThoughtExchange currently has 56 personnel listed on its website under "Our team." As of February 1, there will be 65 employees altogether. 15 of them live in Rossland, with another 5 living close enough to come into the offices in Rossland frequently. Others are located in the Lower Mainland, Nelson, Revelstoke, Nanaimo and Cumberland. Clients are in all provinces and territories except Nunavut, and south of the border, in 22 states from California to Texas.
The Rossland Telegraph asked Dave MacLeod, one of three co-founders and the CEO, a few questions.
RT: What factors do you think were key in winning the "Innovation Showcase" award over the other competitors?
DM: People who talked to me afterward said they voted for our idea because they understood the power of what we are doing and ThoughtExchange could be used by groups anywhere including by the other companies changing the world by curing cancer etc. So in a nutshell, I think our idea is relatable as well as big. Endless clean energy through fusion power is a big idea but harder to relate.
RT: Are there advantages to operating in and from Rossland?
DM: Absolutely. We have hired amazing people here in Rossland. Skilled, healthy, happy, community-minded people are in abundance around here and we are lucky to have hired many of them, and we’d like to hire many more.
Around here we also enjoy reasonable rent, snow, thoughtful municipal leadership, support from KAST, support from other local businesses, snow, connection with the local disrupters, additional office space in the Grind for the cheap price of lunch and a coffee… did I mention snow? The snow part has been particularly good this year for local staff morale. Powder mornings make for productive afternoons.
We also have staff in other places and we think being flexible like this allows us to hire great people who are passionate about balancing their personal lives while working hard to build and market ambitious things.
RT: Have you signed on for Rossland's new broadband?
DM: We are an early adopter. Testing in the office has begun.
RT: Is the low Loonie affecting your business at all?
DM: Since we sell a lot to the states and employ in Canada, it benefits us.
RT: Is there anything else you'd like readers to know about ThoughtExchange?
DM: This year we are building some new group insight products that will be used outside K-12 education and healthcare, where we have been mostly focused for the past few years. Should be exciting.
We are in hiring mode right now - particularly software developers - so if you are one or know one we would like to talk to you. We hope to double the number of Rossland employees in the next few years.
RT: That sounds good. Thank you, Dave.
Readers who are interested in learning more can visit the website at: https://thoughtexchange.com/