Written by Stuart Foxman

For many businesses, it’s the bane of their existence: paperwork. Too much paper can equal too much chaos, says Gary Yip, founder of CloserCollab (closercollab.com), which launched in 2018.

People can get bogged down in paper processes, diverting attention from running the business. It’s also harder to ensure compliance and consistency when a checklist is, say, taped to a wall.

Yip is creating efficiencies through his Toronto company, which takes much of an organization’s old paper workflows into a simple and intuitive digital workspace. “We’re trying to transform processes,” says Yip.

CloserCollab is a web app, and the documentation becomes cloud-based. That puts all paperwork in one place, accessible anytime and anywhere. Among the paper processes that become digitized: tasks and checklists, performance reviews, feedback surveys, and onboarding for new hires (integrated with third-party systems like payroll).

For 2020, CloserCollab plans to add three new features: a scheduling platform, a recruiting platform and a training portal.

Yip worked for a bank and car rental company before starting CloserCollab with Jordan Tang, who was a portfolio manager. They decided to focus their business on the retail and restaurant markets. The people who run those types of operations tend to wear many hats, says Yip, so welcome the assistance to stay on top of paper flows.

Clients can be any size, from small shops to larger franchises. CloserCollab is used in multiple Boston Pizza locations, for instance, as well as at Wendy’s and Canadian Tire. Costs depend on the company size, from as low as $55 per month for outfits with under 10 employees.

With CloserCollab, Yip says clients can take processes that might have taken three hours and cut them down to 30 minutes. Beyond the time savings, CloserCollab supports operational improvements.

With online checklists, for example, a retailer can know in real time that processes are being followed, eliminating the need for on-site audits. Users can also see more quickly if there are inconsistencies in practices. And they can receive alerts for overdue or incomplete tasks.

“Now that we have this data in a digital format, we can start analyzing for trends, gaps and opportunities,” says Yip.

In 2019, CloserCollab received a grant from the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP). “They saw a need for our tech in the restaurant/retail space,” says Yip. “Our IRAP rep has been an amazing mentor and advisor for our team.”

Yip says his goal was to create a platform that could be easily used by everybody, allowing for what the very name of the company promises.

“We value inclusivity and collaboration. That’s a design principal in every feature we deliver. We want everyone to work closer.”

He finds that in his own workspace. CloserCollab is based at the Centre for Social Innovation. Yip loves being close to other startup companies. “We've built lasting friendships here, and also help and cheer for each other,” Yip says.

Photo credit: Glenn Lowson