Founders Parade

Smart Technologies

Founded by David Martin and Nancy Knowlton in 1987. Originally, the company was the Canadian distributor for a U.S. projector company, and revenue was generated through projector sales. That revenue was directed toward the research and development of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard, which would combine the simplicity of a whiteboard with the power of a computer.

The SMART Board interactive whiteboard was the first interactive whiteboard to provide touch control of computer applications and the ability to write over standard Microsoft Windows applications. Connected to an LCD panel and a computer, the SMART Board interactive whiteboard brought interactive technology to classrooms, meeting rooms and boardrooms. Three patents were granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in recognition of this innovation. Today there are more that 2 million Smartboards installed around the world.

In the early years, Smart Technologies struggled to financially until they gained a strategic partnership with the Intel Corporation. That relationship with Intel was one of the key building blocks in SMART’s history. The equity investment helped SMART’s hardware and software development activities. Perhaps, just as importantly, SMART staff felt something akin to a “seal of approval” for all of the pioneering efforts they had undertaken with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and in trying to improve the way people work and learn. Over a 25 year period, the company has grown from a two-person start-up to a global company with annual revenues just under $800 million.

smart founders

David Martin and Nancy Knowlton are a husband and wife team. Nancy has an undergraduate in business administration, she qualified as a charter accountant and she did an entrepreneurially oriented M.B.A. David was an entrepreneur prior to Smart Technologies as he already started up a few business, none of which were quite a successful. Upon the creation of the Interactive White Board Davud and Nancy insured their intellectual properties rights by receiving three patents for the hardware platform. David and Nancy have since left Smart Technologies and have started a new venture Byye Labs: http://www.byyelabs.com/home.html. Even though they have left Smart Technologies if in good hand as you can read in the executive bios: http://investor.smarttech.com/management.cfm.

Smart Technologies interests me for a couple reasons: use and location. I have always been a proponent of use of interactive whiteboards in classrooms and have expanded see the benefit of the use in business meetings. I currently reside in Calgary, Alberta and the corporate headquarters are located here on the University of Calgary campus. I have toured the headquarters a couple times and know a few people who work for Smart Technologies.

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