There is no such thing as a boring industry, just boring companies. This is how Ian Crosby, Co-Founder and CEO of Bench, a Vancouver-based tech company, answers questions about why he got into the bookkeeping business.
Crosby and his other co-founders moved to New York City when they were accepted in TechStars, a startup accelerator that is considered to be one of the best in the world. They lived in a one-room apartment and worked non-stop on launching the product.
Their idea was to provide a combination of custom-built software and professional online bookkeepers to organize the financials of small businesses at very competitive rates. They built up a list of clients and received $2 million in seed funding from investors out of NYC and Silicon Valley, then promptly decided to move home to Vancouver where they wanted to grow the company and their families. They also knew they’d find good talent, solid support and a wonderful West Coast lifestyle.
Bench is able to keep the costs of offering both customer service and bookkeeping software low because of their unique automation process.
“We let entrepreneurs and small businesses focus on what they want to be doing,” said Crosby. “They don’t have to think about how the accounting is going to get done. We just take everything away from them.”
Beyond offering a great service, Bench places a strong emphasis on design and user experience.
“Delivering an experience that is delightful, and truly enjoyable, is the best thing we can do for our clients,” said Director of Communications, Natalie Burgwin. “It’s crucial to our business that our product is simple, accessible and efficient for all that encounter it, and that our website and supporting brand assets are beautiful.”
Bench has gone through rapid expansion as their product has caught on. They currently employ 230 people, but are expecting to have close to 350 full-time employees by fall of 2017.
“Product development and automation are the major drives for hiring,” said Burgwin. “We have a team of about 20 software engineers who work closely with our design team. And of course we have bookkeepers, sales people, and people who look after our day-to-day operations too.”
“We hire from across all of Canada, and work closely with the universities around Vancouver to help us meet our growing demands. We train our operations staff in-house, and if candidates have a background in software engineering or design and like working on complicated problems in a challenging environment, those are the candidates we want for our product and engineering teams.”
“All of our staff, including our bookkeepers, work in-house, out of our main headquarters,” said Burgwin. “We’re trying to fundamentally change an entire industry, and we truly believe that almost anything can be improved with creativity, passion, and a bit of hard work.”