Paving the Way

Tony Lourakis, CEO of Complete Innovations, turned a fledging software company into an international operation by ensuring that innovation is woven into every aspect of the business

CEO Tony Lourakis paved the way for Complete Innovations software with a program he developed in college.

Tony Lourakis was determined to become the leading player in the courier-software market, but when he achieved that goal just three years after launching his company in 2003, he knew he had to keep improving. “We realized we had already captured a good chunk of our potential market,” he says. “If we were going to grow, we would have to expand to other verticals.”

Lourakis’s vision traces back to 1998, when he and a friend, Andrew Merisanu, developed dispatch software for a small, local courier company. Completed when Lourakis and Merisanu were still college freshmen, the company loved the software so much that it recommended the students do the same for other courier companies. It was an avenue Lourakis hadn’t considered.

“I thought, ‘How many courier companies are there? Four?’” he says, laughing. “Then one night I searched under ‘courier’ in the online yellow pages and got 8,000 results. It was a ‘eureka’ moment.”

After researching the industry, Lourakis learned that the few software companies that existed in the courier market served larger players. Smaller companies, which made up the bulk of the industry, lacked an off-the-shelf solution. Seeking to develop a low-cost application that would automate the business of such courier companies, Lourakis founded Markham, Ontario-based Complete Innovations. in 2000, signaling the launch of Courier Complete.

5 Questions
with Tony Lourakis

1. What does innovation mean to your company?
At the end of the day, innovation is our culture.

2. How do you innovate on a day-to-day basis?
A lot of people attribute innovation to research and development; I think we need to be innovative in every part of our business—not just in how we develop our products, but in how we go to market, how we sell our products, and how we support them. Innovation is part of our DNA.

3. Is there a technology, trend, or idea that’s driving your company forward?
We’ve been all about cloud computing for some time, since before it was even called that. Fleet Complete is totally cloud-based, and we’re making Courier Complete, which was originally a client-service solution, cloud-based as well. We’re selling software as a service, so our business model is a recurring revenue stream on a subscription basis.

4. How can a company encourage innovation without breaking the bank?
You have to look at everything you do and ask if there’s a better way—a way that enhances the customer experience, improves quality, or sets you apart from the competition.

5. What defines an innovative company in the 21st century?
Any company that has strong top-line growth and strong bottom-line results is probably going to be an innovative company. There’s a direct correlation.

The Windows-based software, an enterprise-resource-planning system, runs a courier company’s entire business, with modules for customer management, order entry, dispatching, online order tracking, billing, and more. Customers are what Lourakis refers to as “tier-two” or “tier-three” operations, ranging from small mom-and-pop businesses to those that do hundreds of millions in revenue and compete with UPS and FedEx.

By 2003, Complete Innovations was dominating the market, and Lourakis was ready to expand into other areas. Such efforts led to the release of another of the company’s benchmark products: Fleet Complete.

“I knew we’d want to grow in a natural way by leveraging our existing customer base, and that led us to the idea for Fleet Complete,” Lourakis says. “All of our existing customers had fleets they wanted to track, so we knew we could sell a fleet-tracking product to them, and hopefully to any other market that had a mobile-workforce component—from limo companies to landscapers.”

When it launched in 2005, Fleet Complete was innovative in and of itself, especially because GPS tracking was in the early stages of market adoption. Fleet Complete monitors the vehicle’s location, speed, and other data, such as idling and hard braking, via a device installed in the vehicle. This allows companies to avoid damage and insurance claims. Another component tracks nonpowered assets, such as trailers and containers, and an application for handheld mobile devices lets drivers update work orders and transmit data wirelessly.

Despite the success of Courier Complete and Fleet Complete, Lourakis had an even better idea in 2007. “Originally, customers paid us to install hardware in every vehicle, then paid us a monthly fee for software and [paid] a cellular provider a monthly fee for the data transmission,” he says.

In a partnership with TELUS, Complete Innovations launched TELUS Tracking and Dispatch Solutions, a zero-capital, completely bundled fleet-tracking package. “Our company has quadrupled in size since the TELUS launch, and we are now working to replicate the model with AT&T in the United States,” Lourakis says.

Today, Fleet Complete stands as Complete Innovations’ flagship product, representing 80 percent of the company’s businesses. The remaining portion comes from Courier Complete and a third product, FuelFast, which allows companies with their own fuel stations to track and manage fuel usage. However, Lourakis says he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon. “We’ve become experts in mobile-workforce technologies, and we want to own that domain, so we’re always looking to enhance our products,” he says.