Written by Andrew Seale
There’s some unwritten law that the floor of a work truck must be a chaotic universe unto itself made up of crumpled packaging, empty roll-up-the-rim Tim Hoton’s cups from the previous year, and all manner of tools used and otherwise. And into this chaotic universe it seems given that invoices will be lost forever.
Sam Pillar quickly learned this while working as a freelance developer for several small home service business owners.
“Some of these small businesses or entrepreneurs that I was talking to understood that was just a cost of doing business… in any given month they're going to invoice a customer for $200 or $300 bucks and they're just never going to collect on it,” says Pillar, who would go on to co-found Jobber, a software that lets small home service businesses organize their operations. “And they're okay with that, they built it into their business model because they understand that's just the way it is.”
But for Pillar, the idea seemed ludicrous. It was an easily solvable challenge, one the entrepreneur suspected he could fix. He began tinkering but it was too abstract, he didn’t know all the pain points because he hadn’t spent enough time in the home service world. Through a happenstance meeting at the coffee shop he was working at, Pillar connected with Forrest Zeisler, a fellow developer.
He told him his idea for Jobber and Zeisler started talking about a friend named Graham Audenart who owned a company called Painters Enterprise. He was drowning in paperwork. “We started working together on this project, and we got in front of the painting company and that was really the aha moment.”
With Audenart’s input, they started iterating and by 2011 they launched their beta version of Jobber. Since then the company has been quietly building, bringing plumbers and painters and gardeners and virtually anyone working in the home services sphere onboard. “We have customers in 42 countries,” says Pillar. The software makes it easier for small service businesses to schedule jobs, manage crews, invoice customers, and collect payments among other things.
The Edmonton-founded company, which has around 200 employees, launched a Toronto office two and a half years ago. “When we decided to open a second office location, we looked everywhere,” he says. “We considered all of the usual suspects in the U.S. and we looked at the big centers like Vancouver but we chose Toronto – Toronto is one of the fastest technology ecosystems.”
Pillar says it was always their intention to build a Canadian company.
“We, we asked and answered the question very early in our growth,” he says. After the first seed money rolled in they sat down with their investors and had an honest conversation about whether or not they could build the company here. And the answer, says Pillar, was a definitive yes.
“I'm not suggesting it won’t change in the future, but who knows, I mean, I think Jobber is going to be a very big company one day (with) offices all over the world,” he says. “(But) we’re very proud to be a Canadian company.”
Photo credit: Cameron Bartlett (www.snappedbycam.com)