One of the best things about an accelerator is watching the steady stream of new companies coming in – but it’s just as gratifying when an alumni company reports back after moving on from the official program.
Catherine Dahl, CEO of Vancouver-based Beanworks (HYPERDRIVE Cohort 2), stopped by for a visit this week, so we jumped at the chance to catch up.
We were thrilled to hear that Beanworks’ cloud-based accounting automation technology continues to gain traction and investor attention.
On April 30, the company won an April 30 pitch contest in Vancouver, hosted by San Francisco-based Blumberg Capital, which led to an invitation to pitch to the entire Blumberg team in California next week.
As Dahl prepared to fly south this weekend, we sat down in the HYPERDRIVE space to get an update.
Q: Where is Beanworks at today?
A: We’re 10 people, and we just graduated into our own space from The Generator last year.
We’re doing a capital raise right now, $1.5 million. We’re getting interest from the Blumberg guys, and we’re flying down there on Sunday. We’re hoping to take the money we’re raising to accelerate revenue; that’s the main purpose of it.
Our product was released in January, and we’ve got really good reviews on it. We feel like our pipeline is moving at a more rapid pace in the last few months and we’re super-excited about our future. I think it’s looking good. If this year goes the way I think it will, we’ll be cash-flow positive by the end of the year, with adding some people – sales and marketing people.
Q: Since you left your HYPERDRIVE residency, what steps has the company gone through?
A: We did our first real round as we came out of HYPERDRIVE, and we certainly wouldn’t have been able to complete that round successfully without coming out of HYPERDRIVE and having the BDC connection, and all the support we’ve had from that.
The practice and polishing of my skill set as a CEO coming out of that program really helped as the year progressed.
We then just tried to take that money and do what we could; we had certain goals to achieve with that raise and we achieved them, which was to get the product launched, get the pilot customers on and begin selling it commercially.
All of that we’ve achieved.
We are on target for our growth numbers this year, and set ourselves up for the second raise. Communitech led us to Blackbox, and Blackbox was fantastic; that was an awesome experience. It was like a super-HYPERDRIVE in two weeks, but on an international, global scale. We made fantastic international contacts, so that’s always very good. So in the last month or so we’ve just been actively raising.
Q: How did HYPERDRIVE equip you for what’s happened since you returned to Vancouver?
A: It’s the confidence in telling our story. I didn’t really want to come out with our big plans until we went to the Valley, but HYPERDRIVE got us to New York, and then I went on my first trip to Silicon Valley through connections to HYPERDRIVE, and the second trip was through HYPERDRIVE.
We would never have gotten there (without that), and all those things have added to our pedigree. People can trust that we’re coming from a vetted source; we’re still around; our product is being received well.
I think we’re up-and-coming; we’re not there yet. But we will get there sooner than later now. I feel much more confident about it.
When we came into HYPERDRIVE we didn’t even have a product. We were building it still, and it wasn’t even ready for anyone to use until the summer of that year. So it was a lot of vapourware, and not even hamsterware. It was selling an idea that it really does work, and it’s cool that it’s all turned out well.
Having the network that we do here, you just know you can draw on things even within our own cohort, or if our director of engineering needs something, he knows he can go to LaunchSpot.io, that new platform for connecting everybody that Rob does from WellRead.
It’s a combination of HYPERDRIVE and BCTIA, because they’ve helped a lot now that we’re back in Vancouver, but always keeping the bond between those two strong.
You don’t need things every day, but when I need them I know they’re there, and Communitech has done an incredible job of raising our profile in the tech world and the investor world, just massively.
The whole GoPro camera idea for Blackbox was just awesome; that was very well-received.
Read the full interview on Communitech.