Never mix family, friends and business – that’s the conventional wisdom. But Bill (BSc 2010 VIC) and Geordie Konrad (BASc 2010) and Hooman Bahador (BSc 2010 NEW) are proving the opposite is true: they say their deep connection has given them an entrepreneurial edge. “We know how to complement each other’s skill sets effectively,” Geordie says. “It’s always been one of our strengths…. We are all best friends,” Bill adds.
It’s a secret weapon that has helped propel the success of the three business partners in the highly competitive digital technology sector. As founders of Konrad Group, they help Fortune 1000 companies master digital technology – by developing digital strategies; designing and building websites and mobile and tablet apps; and assisting with branding, marketing and customer engagement.
The twin brothers began experimenting with computer programming at age 10. One year into their U of T degrees, they started their business with classmate Bahador. He runs their technology teams globally, and manages some of the firm’s largest client work. Just a couple of years out of university, they were able to reel in one of their first big-fish clients: the CBC. A recent project for the broadcaster involved helping its news division more effectively reach the now-majority of Canadians who access the Internet via smartphones and tablets. They created new iPhone and iPad apps that are extra mobile-friendly with more photos, video and audio, a cleaner layout and customized content. “It’s about building the future of news, which means offering personalization – apps that can learn users’ interests to provide more relevant content,” Bill says.
Over their nine years in business, the partners have also worked with major companies such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and PayPal. They have five offices and almost 200 employees who include digital strategists, visual designers and software developers.
Recently, the founders acquired BrainStation, a digital education business with operations in Toronto, Vancouver and New York. BrainStation offers training in digital marketing, design and technology, as well as weekly workshops and events. “Every business and brand is being disrupted by digital technology,” says Bahador. “BrainStation is bringing education about digital topics to employees across all industries, so that they can react to this rapidly changing environment.”
A U of T lab is working with actors, writers and directors on how they could harness AI and other emerging technologies to generate new ideas and – just maybe – reinvent theatre