The founding team of FOSS Factory has a history of successful business start-ups in the IT industry. Steve Sutherland, the lead investor, met and hired John-Paul, the current president, back in 1994 to help build TrueSpectra, an internet imaging and dynamic composition software company. TrueSpectra was rebranded as Scene7 and later bought out by Adobe in 2007.
Steve and John-Paul left TrueSpectra in 1999 and immediately co-founded OpenGraphics, a start-up that provides solutions for internet photo sharing, composition, print fulfillment, and wireless access services. OpenGraphics rapidly grew in operation and was soon acquired by Best Buy in 2003 and rebranded as Siberra. Steve and John Paul continued to hold senior positions at Siberra where they met Abdullah Bakhach in 2005.
After leaving Siberra, John-Paul and Abdullah started work on the vision of FOSS Factory, with John-Paul as lead developer and Abdullah in the role of business development. Work on FOSS Factory progressed, and Steve Sutherland soon became its lead investor and advisor.
John-Paul Gignac, BMath
John-Paul is an inventor and a successful entrepreneur. A graduate of Math and Computer Science from the University of Waterloo, John-Paul is especially skilled in software architecture, computer graphics, digital imaging and web programming. At TrueSpectra JP shone as lead developer, finding unorthodox solutions to complex problems. At OpenGraphics, JP provided the necessary web software development expertise to help achieve Steve's vision. After OpenGraphics was sold, John-Paul continued in the role of Senior Software Architect until mid-2006.
In 1995, while working at TrueSpectra, JP decided to test the hype of free/open source software by having a friend install GNU/Linux on a spare partition on his work machine. The ease and familiarity of the new system converted JP immediately and he never looked back.
JP became an avid user of FOSS, using its software at work and at home. As a FOSS enthusiast, JP made several software contributions to the FOSS community. Besides FOSS Factory, his most prominent contribution was leading an international team of developers and contributors to create Pathological, a puzzle game that is available on most major Linux distributions.
JP's deep understanding of the FOSS community framework combined with his innovative thinking, particularly in the field of game theory, helped him come up with the creative design behind FOSS Factory. His appreciation of the importance of the open and collaborative spirit of the FOSS community helped him avoid the pitfalls of previous failed bounty model attempts.
John-Paul is also co-founder of Crosswing, Inc., a research start-up working to produce consumer robots.
When not working on FOSS Factory and Crosswing, John-Paul loves to play Nintendo Wii games with his lovely wife, Kim, and his four beautiful children.
Steve Sutherland, BASc
Lead investor, Advisor
With three decades of innovation experience, Steve has founded firms delivering cutting edge products in a number of markets including telecommunications, electronic publishing, document management, graphic design, digital fulfillment networking, wireless imaging, internet content licensing, instant visual communications, robotics, and artificial intelligence. In addition to executing industry partnerships with firms including IBM, Kodak, Bell, and HP, Steve has seen his teams' innovations and related patent portfolios acquired by industry leaders seeking to grow their markets - most recently Best Buy's acquisition of OpenGraphics and Adobe's acquisition of Scene7, formerly TrueSpectra.
Steve's experience spans global industry initiatives including JPEG2000, IIP (the Internet Imaging Protocol, IPP (the Internet Printing Protocol), and CPXe (the Common Picture eXchange) - with Steve also having been elected as Chairperson of IIP in the late '90's and CPXe in the early 2000's. Other past board memberships include the Digital Imaging Group (now the International Imaging Industry Association), the Software and Information Industry Association (Canadian Division), and the Consumer Electronics Association (DI Board) charged with defining a new CEA Division in 2006.
Many of Steve's initiatives have both leveraged and contributed to the FOSS community since originally moving key development at TrueSpectra in 1995 to GNU/Linux. In 2001 Steve adopted Debian and PostgreSQL to drive OpenGraphics' server-side products. At FOSS Factory, Steve has invested in the initial site infrastructure and provides ongoing strategic guidance.
Steve graduated from the University of Waterloo with a BASc in Systems Design Engineering. Beyond professional activities, with his wife and two children he enjoys boating, skiing, and travel.
Abdullah Bakhach, BMath
President and Co-Founder
A winner of the 2006 Impact Innovator of the Year award, Abdullah Bakhach is a passionate student of entrepreneurship and innovation. He started his education at the University of Waterloo in computer science, but soon moved to math and business to realize his ambitions. His first web design project was in 1999.
He is no stranger to start-ups. Four out of his six co-op terms were spent working at web design and e-commerce start-up companies. His first experience with a web start-up was working for arbaco.com, where he was the lead designer and developer of zandirugs.com, a persian rugs e-commerce site.
Abdullah met John Paul in his co-op term at Best Buy. Abdullah was a project lead for an online digital scrapbook creation tool and worked closely with John-Paul on the project. Abdullah's management and leadership skills, as well as his initiative prompted JP to approach him with the FOSS Factory idea. Abdullah soon realized the potential of FOSS Factory and started working for John Paul on building the site during his following co-op term.
Abdullah works on developing the business and marketing strategy of the company, as well as designing the look and feel of the site. He constantly seeks advice and input about FOSS Factory from his former professors, software developers, entrepreneurs, and academics worldwide. Abdullah works to ensure that the principles of FOSS Factory are in concert with the latest theories pertaining to internet sociology.
Abdullah enjoys reading books on a variety of topics that relate to human behaviour at an individual and collective level.