Waterloo has a reputation for innovation. It’s home to some of the world’s biggest tech brands that are shaping the future of every industry – and it continues to attract international businesses looking to expand their operations.
One of those businesses is Meta IT, a leading digital transformation services provider originally based in Brazil that saw true promise and potential in Waterloo.
A brand also known for innovation, Meta IT helps companies navigate their digital transformation journey by enhancing efficiency, reducing costs and prioritizing the customer experience.
Over the last 30 years, the company has grown to more than 3,000 employees in over 100 cities worldwide and now it’s opening new frontiers in Canada, specifically Waterloo.
We recently sat down with Marcos Machado, Executive Director at Meta IT North America, to hear about the key factors that influenced the company’s decision to expand in Waterloo and their aspirations for continued growth in the region.
Here are the highlights from our conversation:
Meta IT arrived in Waterloo in 2020 amid the global pandemic. With wheels already in motion, they forged ahead with plans to open an office in downtown Kitchener, one of the region’s three cities, and began integrating into the community.
Marcos travelled with his family from Brazil to lead the charge, responsible for building the local team and setting out ambitious goals for the North American division’s growth.
Before long, Meta IT North America secured its first major client, Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors. This milestone marked the beginning of a remarkable trajectory for Meta IT, as other prominent companies such as Kraft Heinz, SAP and Air Liquide joined its client roster.
These high-profile partnerships propelled their success in the region and beyond. “Waterloo has an incredible number of global companies, and when we started here, our reputation was based on what we were doing for these brands,” Marcos shared.
In a short time, Meta IT had established itself as a key player in the Canadian market.
By the end of 2022, the company had further consolidated its strategy, doubled its operational capacity and achieved impressive results. Meta IT currently employs approximately 60 employees out of its Canadian office and plans to hire 25 more by 2025.
Aligned on innovation
Waterloo’s reputation for technological innovation piqued Meta IT’s interest in joining the ecosystem.
Specifically, two key factors made it an appealing choice: people and education. “Waterloo is famous for the quality of people and the quality of education,” Marcos said. “Many people believe that it’s the next Silicon Valley, and we wanted to be part of this.”
Being in a region known for driving innovation could help position Meta IT as a forward-thinking organization. “Waterloo has built up a reputation for driving innovation, and for a company like ours that’s just arriving in Canada, that’s important. This reputation helps us prove our own reputation,” Marcos shared.
“We have a purpose to bring innovation to our customers. It makes sense for us to be in a region that breathes innovation, with a strong focus on universities.”
The company plans to tap into the local universities and the wealth of talent and research available, having met with the University of Waterloo last year to learn more about their programs. “It’s very important for us to understand the ecosystem and establish connections with the universities,” he shared.
" The collaborative environment is how we can create the future. What you see here is real, and we believe in it. "
Executive Director at Meta IT North America
If big opportunities and innovation are what initially drew Meta IT to Waterloo, the quality of life is one thing that’s keeping them here. Marcos traveled here with his family from Brazil, so having a safe and connected community with easy access to amenities and schools was of utmost importance.
“It’s amazing,” Marcos shared. “The region is only 700,000 people, but it feels like living in a big city. The culture is great and everything just works.”
It also helps that Waterloo is on the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, within a 105km (65mi) drive of Canada’s largest city, offering additional amenities and easy access to clients and partners.
The expansion journey continues
Meta IT North America has important plans for the future, including creating a tech innovation delivery centre and hiring additional people to support its Canadian operations. “We’ve already started to create the tech innovation delivery centre,” said Marcos. “We moved our first technical professional from Brazil to work towards this goal.”
Currently, the delivery centre focuses on software development customized to their clients’ specific needs. The company plans to expand the centre’s focus to include artificial intelligence (AI) development soon. Renowned for its AI expertise, Waterloo provides an advantageous environment for Meta IT’s ambitions in this field.
The team at Meta IT North America is made up of professionals from a diverse range of countries, such as Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Australia and some in Europe. Over the next few years, the company plans to bring additional people from Brazil to this location, further strengthening its presence in the region.
Best practices for business expansion
Meta IT’s expansion in Waterloo has netted some remarkable results, but it has also provided a wealth of key learnings that they – and other companies – can apply when considering future expansions.
Based on his experience, Marcos offered these three pieces of advice:
- Engage a local consultant: Find a local economic development expert – like Catharine Gerhard at Waterloo EDC – who can assist with the initial setup, cultural aspects and introductions. This person can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the process.
- Build a diverse team: When growing your team, create a mix of local professionals and individuals from your home country. It’s important to have a balanced representation that includes local experts with knowledge of the market, as well as individuals who are familiar with your product or service offerings.
- Establish a physical presence: Avoid conducting business with Canada remotely. It’s essential to physically be present in the country where you plan to expand. Opening an office, relocating key personnel and actively participating in the local community demonstrates commitment and investment and can help build trust with potential clients and partners.
Where will your expansion journey take you?
Meta IT’s decision to expand in Waterloo was driven by multiple factors. While the innovative ecosystem played a significant role, the complimentary services and support provided by Waterloo EDC were essential throughout the process.
With their assistance, Meta IT was able to collect valuable information about the region, connect with relevant contacts and successfully establish their presence in the Canadian market upon arrival.
Meta IT’s expansion story highlights Waterloo’s immense potential for international business growth. The ecosystem, driven by academic institutions and a culture of collaboration, creates an ideal environment for leading tech companies to thrive.
Considering expansion? Find a place with goals as big as yours. We can help you get started.