ID Fusion

August 21, 2023

Red River Métis-owned tech company aims to inspire everyone to embrace the world of technology

In 1999, Christian Dandeneau (left), Rob Piché (centre), and Daniel Piché (right) came together to establish ID Fusion, an internet technology company committed to delivering optimal solutions for all of their clients' needs.

Beginning with a dream to bring online shopping directly to consumers, ID Fusion founders Christian Dandeneau, Rob Piché, and Daniel Piché have seen many changes in the world of technology since their company's inception.

"When I started my first company, I was doing network configurations, installing computers, accounting systems, and removing viruses," said Dandeneau, who also serves as CEO. "Then we started building software for companies who wanted to build e-commerce websites or applications using the web."

ID Fusion knew the world around us was changing, and with technology advancing at an incredible pace, the company understood the importance of embracing these changes.

"We had an idea through one of our advisors that we should build a full e-commerce platform, which we called 'My Local Store,'" said Dandeneau. "It was one of the first full e-commerce platforms that would allow a small retailer in Winnipeg or any town to list their products on a website and to essentially sell through their own store in a bigger e-commerce marketplace."

The Red River Métis-owned company's clientele included small to medium retailers, local grocery stores, and numerous restaurants.

"We were selling groceries for IGA and providing local delivery. We also had a restaurant menu system, launching them all through My Local Store, My Local Menu, and My Local Food between 1999 and 2003," said Dandeneau.

During the late 1990s, the worth of equity markets experienced exponential growth, leading to unrealistic valuations of online companies. Despite having innovative ideas that were ahead of the times, the company could not escape the impact of the dotcom bubble.

"Shortly after 2000, the entire market around dotcom completely collapsed. You had all these companies who had huge valuations because they were going to sell online when in all reality, they really had nothing, it was just an e-commerce site," said Dandeneau.

In 2003, Dandeneau's father began further exploring the family's Métis heritage to gain a better understanding of their background. The insights shared by his father contributed significantly to Dandeneau's understanding of his own cultural identity.

"We always knew we were Métis, but not to what extent. So, through my dad's work he really helped us discover who and where we came from," said Dandeneau.

As Red River Métis Citizens, all three founders wanted to integrate their unique identity into their flourishing business.

When the company was presented with an opportunity to support the growth of fellow Indigenous businesses across Manitoba, the founders knew this was an endeavour they wanted to pursue.

"We had been approached by the provincial government because they were trying to put an Indigenous procurement initiative in place," said Dandeneau. "Something that would drive capacity building for Indigenous companies in Manitoba, and we were all made founders."

The ID Fusion founders were able to assist other Indigenous businesses in their development and provide feedback on the Indigenous procurement initiative to the provincial government.

Since the early days of the company's inception, the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) and its affiliate lending institution, the Louis Riel Capital Corporation (LRCC), have provided their support to the ever-growing IT company.

"We met LRCC a few times at the beginning of our business to look for help and support, and they were extremely helpful. They guided us through updating our business model and they provided us with small grants," said Dandeneau.

Over a decade later, exciting opportunities presented themselves for the tech company to expand and grow.

"Around 2012, we had an opportunity to purchase another company and acquire them and merge, so we went back to LRCC, and they really helped us with accessing financing," said Dandeneau. "Then we were able to afford the acquisition of that business, which was a really big opportunity for us."

ID Fusion has continued to work closely with the MMF, LRCC, and the Red River Métis community by providing services that meet its growing technological needs.

"We have always kept in contact (with LRCC and MMF) and done a lot to build support and do some consulting as a way to give back," said Dandeneau.

ID Fusion offers a wide range of services to their clients, including:

  • Building and maintaining online applications through custom software development.
  • Creating digital strategies for their clients to grow their online presence.
  • IT support services that manage the onboarding of clients' newly integrated technology.
  • IT support services that manage a business' hardware, networks, and servers to increase client security as needed.
  • Virtual Chief Information Officer services, which guide clients in the decision-making process related to the IT aspect of their growing business.

Adopting a focus on relationship building is a unique element to ID Fusion's business model. With many of their clients being referral based, the company prides themselves in their ability to build connections that exceed the limits of sales teams.

With core values like honestly and integrity, ID Fusion focuses on providing clients with the best solution for their business' success.

With Indigenous people representing five per cent of the population and two per cent of IT professionals in the country, ID Fusion has recognized a need to encourage representation in both the business and tech world. The Red River Métis-owned business can provide services that cater to the specific needs of Métis and other Indigenous businesses.

The company has had the chance to go into rural communities to provide onsite job training to aspiring IT technicians, creating accessibility that may not be achieved through online learning.

"We are doing a lot of work in communities now and we're actually all (training remotely). There are three First Nations communities that we're working with, and a lot of our trainers for our remote work are Métis," said Dandeneau. "A lot of our staff are a mix of Métis and First Nations. I think we're close to 60 per cent."

ID Fusion works with a variety of organizations across Manitoba to encourage Youth to pursue careers in technology. The CEO hopes to encourage Youth to invest in themselves - whether it be through their time or accessing available resources.

"First thing is learn and make some self-investments. Try to learn ChatGPT, because those tools are great instructors. You can ask them simple questions and they'll walk you through the answer," said the entrepreneur.

He also encourages Youth interested in the world of IT to get in touch with his company.

"Reach out and try to connect to businesses who are looking to support interns in these fields," Dandeneau said, "Working with the (MMF employment and training team) to find placements. What we found has been successful is very practical learning experience."

Through government grants, ID Fusion has hired two Métis post-secondary students for summer roles, giving them the chance to work in a supportive environment that values and respects their Métis identity.

The thriving tech company has their sights set on being the biggest Métis-owned IT service provider in Canada.

"One of our long-term plans is to become one of the biggest, if not the biggest Métis-Indigenous owned technology service provider company in Canada," said Dandeneau. "I would say we're probably in the top five to top 10 right now."

ID Fusion hopes to see Red River Métis-owned businesses continue to embrace the world of technology.

"We should try to support other Métis businesses collectively through the enablement of technology and adoption, because it's the future, right? If you don't embrace technology in your business, you're going to be left behind," said Dandeneau. "Whether it be managing technology issues you may face, increasing access to data management services, or providing tools needed to increase your business' online presence, ID Fusion is the one-stop shop that will meet your business' IT needs."

To learn more about the company and the resources they provide, visit ID Fusion's website.


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