Get out enough startup networking events and you’ll soon know the standard questions (the answers not so much); “What are you working on?” How big is your team?” “How are you planning to make revenue?” “Who’s your competition?” “Do you have traction or customers?” “Are you raising money?”, and in some cases “where are you from?”
Recently, it was the last question that had CEO & co-founder of Tiipz Jason Cyr and his partners in a quandary. It was two significant events that forced an answer. The Tiipz team had a busy June traveling to Kelowna, BC as one of the country’s top 15 startups to attend the Metabridge, (a three day retreat to network with some key Silicon Valley people).
Also being chosen one of Canada’s top 20 startups, it was then off to the C100‘s 48hrs in the Valley for two days of mentorship, workshops, investor meetings, strategic partner visits and networking. In theory, the answers to certain questions should be simple, and not beg much explanation. In Cyr’s case, the easy answer could be, “Vancouver”, pretty easy to put a pin in the map on that one; or the slightly more effusive and not very definitive, “the Vancouver area”; but the true answer is “Squamish”, undoubtedly sparking more than a fair share of “where the hell is that???” reactions.
When the simple question elicits a not so simple answer, key business conversations are bound to get knocked of the rails. Going from “why should we invest in you?” to “why are you located there?” isn’t the startup CEO’s dream conversation. In many regards this elicits a much bigger question, certainly one that’s asked of the Vancouver technology community, “Are we a community of lifestyle businesses?” Taking the Tiipz team as an example, the resounding answer is no. While making a lifestyle decision and calling Squamish home, Cyr is certainly not leading a team that’s putting shredding ahead of building significant business opportunity.
Tiipz is a Social CRM tool that turns social communities into a source for measurable consumer insight and information. Considering Salesforce.com’s recent acquisition binge in this space, it’s easy to understand why Cyr and fellow co-founders (COO, Mark Nickson and Gesvyn Tjandra, VP Product & Innovation) are pushing hard, moving fast, and growing quickly (total team head count is 12, at this moment). It’s because of the business pace, having a vision of the company culture, being able to work hard and play harder, that they consider Squamish ideal. Barely an hour drive to YVR, isn’t exactly calling the boonies home.
Cyr look at the choice this way “if I am going to work 16 hours a day on a start-up... I want my leisure activities to be at my fingertips. Squamish allows for a couple hours of powder turns in Whistler when the snow is too good to pass up... and I can leave from my office and get a wicked downhill bike ride on my way home from work. We realize location and culture need to go hand in hand.”
The Tiipz tag line “Your Voice. Your World. Your Rewards” is befitting, a team that’s delivering it to their clients, and delivering it to themselves. And they're hiring.