Vancouver has been building its reputation as a tech hub in recent years, and that job may have just gotten a little bit easier.
The city is now home to one of the rockstars of the entrepreneur world – the co-founder of a tech startup who has been named to Forbes’ prestigious ’30 under 30′ list.
29-year-old Ian Crosby sits number one on the list of Enterprise Tech leaders. Three years ago he started Bench – an online bookkeeping and accounting company.
Crosby says it’s been a head-spinning ride; his company has gone from a staff of four to 200 in just three years.
He says he got the idea as a 19-year-old trying to break into the video game industry. The only job he could find with a games company was doing the books, and it showed him what a mess the job was for small businesses.
The business really took off years later when he partnered with a classmate from his UBC business program, then brought in a couple of other founders with tech expertise.
They were introduced to the CEO of Hootsuite, who became a key mentor.
“He really just opened the doors and gave us access … to their marketing teams and showed us how they were getting out to customers and just gave us a huge head start.”
Making the list
“A brand new company with no resources and no experience [that] can build a product that a lot of people want to buy and are growing super super fast- there must be something interesting going on, people are willing to take a leap of faith.”
In his case, it was about taking the essentials of book keeping, producing income statements and balance sheets, but using remote technology to do it better than a company could on their own, and faster and cheaper than a big firm.
“We have essentially developed technology that makes it way more efficient for us to do this and are now opeing up that level of full service white glove help so that they can get on with what they are passionate about in their business instead of getting bogged down in the details.”
He says one of his favourite parts of making the list is how what some of his staff have said – now that they’ve gone from start-up to industry darling.
“Oh my parents finally believe I work for a real company.”
Vancouver to the core
Will Crosby move his company south now that they’ve had success? Hardly. The team actually relocated back to Vancouver after starting up in New York.
“I realized, wherever this takes off, I’m going to be there for the next 10 years, and I’m really passionate about Vancouver – and we actually relocated everyone and everything back.”
They’re now looking to add another 200 staff next year.
He says the city is ripe as a tech incubator now, having gone through a wave of video game development followed by a wave of tech startups, including Hootesuite and Slack.
He says the city is benefiting from being near, but not in, San Fransico, which has become overcrowded and expensive for startups.
And he says the future here looks bright – as companies like his succeed, they produce experienced staff who can help the next wave of startups succeed.