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Saskatoon tech startup plans expansion

Saskatoon tech startup plans expansion

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 30, 2016

A Saskatoon-based restaurant technology startup raised $1.2 million in venture capital, which it plans to spend hiring between 10 and 15 new employees to further expand its rapidly-growing business.

“A lot of people were saying, ‘Follow-on funding’s going to be difficult given that you’re in Saskatchewan, people aren’t going to invest in you as a tech company,” said Jordan Boesch, co-founder and CEO of 7Shifts Inc.

“I spent most of my time flying all over, back to (Silicon) Valley and Toronto, and we did raise some investment given our growth. We just are about to close this round of financing … and we’re looking to scale up our operations here in Saskatoon.”

Founded in Regina in 2011, 7Shifts makes an employee scheduling app for use in restaurants. The company’s software is now used by about 1,600 businesses across North America, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Australia.

7Shifts moved its headquarters to Saskatoon last year. Boesch said the new capital from firms like Relay Ventures and Boost VC will pay for between 10 and 15 developers and sales and marketing workers to lengthen the firm’s reach.

“(Our product) has been basically selling itself, but we’re hiring salespeople and marketing folks to help scale it and onboard more locations on a monthly basis,” he said, noting that some of the new employees will be based in Toronto. 

7Shifts is following the basic trajectory of most tech-sector startups: using investment to pursue rapid growth aimed at cornering market share rather than profit, with the ultimate goal being an initial public offering or an acquisition by a larger company.

The company has also partnered with well-financed restaurant point-of-sale technology companies, including the Relay Ventures-backed TouchBistro Inc. and Cake, which is owned by Sysco Foods.

“These massively-scaled companies partnered with some little Saskatoon company — it’s kind of a cool thing,” Boesch said. 

7Shifts is not the only Saskatoon-based tech startup to attract investment this year. The provincial government recently announced that SkipTheDishes will receive $3 million to help train new workers at its Saskatoon office.

Last month, Premier Brad Wall told reporters that financial pressures mean “there’s likely not going to be any room for any support like this going forward for any (other) company.” 

Boesch said while government funding is ideal because it doesn’t involve the loss of equity, he’s pleased 7Shifts has been able to attract venture capital dollars from Canada and the United States and be part of a growing industry.

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