What motivates you to do what you do on a daily basis?
#1 is the team I work with. I like being around these guys and I love the debates that we have about different issues we face and how we can best tackle them. Because we’ve brought together a team from diverse backgrounds (accounting, engineering, UI/design, editorial and sales and marketing) we all bring different viewpoints to issues.
I think you can see the power of that in how we have brought drag and drop functionality to how a user easily categorizes transactions in our app. That’s not a typical feature you’d see in an accounting application and it comes from our team not being dominated by traditional software engineers.
Secondly, I get a lot of energy from meeting small business owners. They are passionate about what we are building and I know that it will help enable them to be more successful. That’s a really good feeling.
Finally, I am inspired by the people I meet who have been successful in their areas — whether that be investors, partners, fellow entrepreneurs etc. I feel motivated coming out of those types of meetings because I’m surrounded by people who can teach me a lot about how to build a great business.
Do you have any success start-up tips for people wanting to create a name for themselves in your industry?
We have a lot to prove before I’m willing to suggest that anyone should listen to my tips for success. But since you asked…
The number one lesson I’ve learned since I started my first business 13 years ago is that relationships matter. At the time I was 23 and I didn’t know a lot of people or hadn’t developed deep relationships with people across the industry. When my first business failed I got a “real job” for the next 12 years and focused on building up my network. That has proven invaluable to the launch of Wave. I think it’s the #1 issue most young entrepreneurs have. Where do I go to find money? How do I develop partnerships that can help grow the business? A deep network helps get you in front of the right people.
In your opinion why is Toronto a hotbed for cool tech start-ups?
- Solid access to talent which is the building block of any company.
- Access to resources like MaRS (I’m a big fan of what they offer to start ups and recommend them to all entrepreneurs that I come into contact with).
- More and more companies like Miller Thomson (legal firm), Deloitte and RBC who are taking a long term view of helping young entrepreneurs knowing that if they are successful everyone will benefit.
- More and more exits which are creating the next generation of angel investors who are knowledgeable about start ups and willing to take risks.
What’s your favourite tech toy and social media site and why?
I have a love/hate relationship with my new Galaxy S Android phone. I’m coming off the iPhone 3G which had become ridiculously slow so the upgrade in speed is fantastic. But it doesn’t come with as many features out of the box and right now I don’t have the time or patience to be customizing it so I’m frustrated.
My go to social media site is LinkedIn given the need to meet more and more people. I’ve always been a fan. But I’ve been spending more and more time on Twitter as we leverage it to help grow Wave. I’m addicted to the real-time customer feedback.
Who would you say are Toronto’s social media/tech stars and why?
I’m a big fan of Sarah and Erin at Sprouter. They are huge advocates of Toronto start-ups and the exposure is needed and appreciated.
Because we are going after the small business market I am impressed by others in a similar space: Dan at Rypple, Ben at ClearFit and Andrew at BizLaunch. These are guys that are cutting their teeth going after a difficult to reach market and are doing a great job at it.
Finally, I love what Aron and Matt are doing at Connectsy. Aron worked on Wave for a time and he’s an absolutely brilliant guy who made our product better. I know everything he works on will be good.
Find out more about Wave Accounting here.