The concept for a successful company, according to Victoria’s Sendwithus co-founder Brad Van Vugt, hasn’t changed that much since the 19th century.
You find a need, develop a product to address it and offer it to those who need it most. While in years past that approach may have been applied to building a better mousetrap, today’s most innovative tech companies, such as Sendwithus, are applying the principle to problems most people don’t even consider.
Sendwithus tackled email, specifically what happens when a whole lot of emails are sent by giant companies.
“We’re not talking about spam or advertising, these are real business applications. Take airlines as an example. You make a reservation and you get an email with all your travel information. It seems easy enough,” explained Van Vugt. “But consider that the airline is sending out literally millions of these emails every hour.”
The same is true of a company like Facebook that responds to lost password requests with an email, generating tens of millions of such emails with an expectation that it happens quickly and accurately.
“When my partner and I were starting out here in Victoria, we started out as programmers for hire, but we saw a need for a certain type of service and software, and found that it didn’t exist,” Van Vugt said. “So we created it.”
As Sendwithus, the pair began marketing their service in 2013. The initial two-man operation has now grown to 28 young tech geniuses working out of their Victoria head office, along with 10 at a branch in Seattle.
“I can see doubling those numbers in the next couple of years and then redoubling it again,” said Van Vugt.
It’s all part of a reinvigorated tech industry in Victoria that Van Vugt says has spawned about 15 or 20 very innovative start-up type companies, each doing what he calls very exciting work.
“I really want to be part of redefining why talented tech staff come to Victoria. In the past we marketed ourselves on the basis of quality of life; things like the food scene. But I want to change that. When we recruit talent, we sell the fact that it’s an exciting tech hub. We don’t want you to come for the food, but for the opportunities and the work.”
The company has recently moved into a new space at 737 Fort St. in the historic British American Trust Building. The structure has been totally renovated, although the old bank vault remains, as do the more decorative architectural features. A second floor has been added and an entertainment space incorporated on the main floor.
“These are exciting times for the tech industry in Victoria and all around the world,” Van Vugt says. “But sometimes the most challenging part of the industry is to work with clients to refine what it is they think they want, and reconcile that with what they really need.”
It’s a challenge he says he’s more than willing to face and overcome.