What’s in a name? The history behind Riva and how it got its name

“When I look at the genesis and success of Riva, I realize that the entire journey consisted of small incremental steps. A journey that was facilitated by family, incredible teachers, coaches, mentors, advocates, friends, colleagues, and leaders that supported me in achieving my dreams and vision.”

– Aldo Zanoni, CEO, Riva CRM Integration

What’s in a name? When it comes to Riva, many things! Riva is defined as “where water meets land” – where transition occurs. Riva means “shore” (lakeshore or seashore), “bank” (river bank, sea bank), “side” (riverside, lakeside, seaside), and “ashore” (to go ashore).

Riva_del_Garda,_Italy-300pxRiva is also the name of the city on the northern bank of Lago di Garda, the largest lake in Italy. Lago di Garda is best known for its windsurfing. The surrounding mountains are best known for incredible rock and mountain climbing – among the best in Europe.

How did Riva CRM Integration get its name? It was inspired by Aldo Zanoni’s (Riva CEO) parents who are from two villages near Riva (Cologna and Varone). A fun fact is that our internal servers and projects used to be named after northern Italian cities, like “Arco”, “Verona”, “Milano”, and “Trento” in honor of the Zanoni family’s Italian roots. The choice of Riva for the name of our product, Riva CRM Integration, sprang directly from the meaning of Riva, the point of transition between all types of water and shores. This is a perfect analogy for what Riva CRM Integration provides – a virtual transition and flow of data between different CRMs and email systems. Since 2008, Riva has transformed how companies integrate systems to deliver a new level of next-generation sales, service, marketing, and social business for our customers.

The journey from school teacher to CEO of a successful software company

From his early days in Nobleford, a small town in southern Alberta, Canada (named after Charles Noble, inventor of one of the most important agricultural inventions of the 20th century), Aldo set out to tackle any and all challenges that came his way. Upon completion of his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees at the University of Lethbridge, including a year of studies in Québec and Switzerland, Aldo chose to start his professional career as a teacher in Edmonton, Alberta. The experience and lessons learned during his career as an elementary, junior high and high school teacher provided Riva the solid foundation that so many customers can rely on day-in-and-day-out. Aldo’s ultimate shift from teaching high school French to computers in the classroom allowed him to gain additional training in networks and computer laboratory operations – both of which would become cornerstones of Omni Technology Solutions, Inc. (Omni) and eventually, Riva International, Inc. (Riva). Aldo and his wife, Michèle, would build on this experience to start a technology training center that would become, over time, the largest technology training center in Edmonton and Western Canada.

After starting their training company in 1993, Aldo and Michèle started Omni in 1999 to provide professional and consulting services for companies looking to implement new networks and email systems. Aldo and his team soon realized that providing professional services was not scalable and decided to focus on software development and commercialization. Omni became one of the three leading software companies providing innovative solutions for Novell and GroupWise customers. This transition led to launching eControl in 2003 (simplified user account management across multiple systems) and Riva CRM Integration in 2008 (simplified, always-on CRM and email system integration) and continuing to build the future one step at a time. In 2014, the company restructured and established ServiceControl, Inc. and Riva as wholly owned subsidiaries of Omni. Omni has grown significantly, with Riva achieving an average year-over-year growth of 54% for the past six years. Since 2012, Riva has grown from 14 staff members (10 in Edmonton, Alberta and four in Germany) to 65 staff members globally. With 1,500 customers around the world, Riva’s customers include the smallest of businesses (single owner) to some of the largest companies on the planet. 15 of the world’s largest banks, 50+ Fortune 500 companies, numerous Global 1000 companies, and hundreds of small and medium size businesses use Riva to help improve user and company adoption and satisfaction of the leading CRMs. Riva Cloud’s largest customer synchronizes information for 28,000 users. Not bad for a company started by a high school French teacher who followed his dreams!

Why listening matters

Having developed a keen sense of the importance of listening to and helping others, Aldo and his team have created a culture that is all about listening to customers, about helping them solve the business processes that prevent them from being successful with their new initiatives. It is about using technology in an innovative manner to relieve customer pain. Most people can recall having had a wonderful teacher that was kind, warm, consistent, yet demanding, and remember how this teacher had a positive influence on their lives – not to suggest this is how all of Aldo’s students remember him!  Aldo applied these characteristics as core values for Riva’s success.  It is Aldo’s teaching experience; listening, working through and solving problems in a collaborative manner, and getting things done, that today allows Riva to boast a consistent 99% customer satisfaction rating – and 95% customer renewal. How does Riva achieve this? By focusing on customer needs, by hiring people who see the big picture, and are also able to execute on the smallest of details, and by hiring people who are motivated by helping our customers be successful. Our culture has allowed us to attract loyal customers, grow organically, and not depend on external investment to sustain our growth. We control our own destiny.

What does the future hold?

The very bedrock that Riva was founded on is that people matter, that families matter, that helping customers be successful matters, and that our customers will help us write our future. Our continued success will be based on “listening” and on our “family and people matter approach” because that is the best approach to bring people together to build the future. Our success is 100% based on the success of our customers, the success of our employees, and our ability to quickly solve the next set of challenges that customers need us to solve moving forward – what we call our “double next”. Employees and customers want to know they can count on Riva to be around five and ten years from now. They want us to continue to help them be successful – and that is our plan for the future.