You need to work hard in the scary yet beautiful world of entrepreneurship and the Procurify does exactly that. For starters, they were one of the five companies to make it into the winter cohort of local accelerator, GrowLab. The founders graduated from BCIT and now have expanded the team to nine people. At a recent startup event in the summer I was at, they delivered a pretty memorable 60-second elevator speech and cleverly illustrated their values of hard work and thinking outside the box (see youtube video in post). The team is fantastic and this cloud-based cost management software is turning ERP systems on their heads for small to medium sized businesses.
1. Who are you? Tell us about your business/core idea and what inspired you to create it.
Procurify is a cloud-based cost management software that allows you to approve and track every business dollar spent on a user-friendly interface. Procurify was founded in May 2011 when 3 co-founders; Eugene Dong, Kenneth Loi, and Aman Mann, graduated from the BCIT Operations Management Program. We got our first contract from a local aerospace client after presenting at a BCIT showcase event and realized there is real potential here because companies are sick of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars upwards to millions on bloated out-dated systems that no one enjoys using. Our mission is to evolve cost management enterprise software.
2. What makes you unique from what other similar offerings on the market?
Procurify’s biggest competitive advantage is our price which costs our client 1/10th of ERP systems and procurement software because we’re built on the cloud from ground up our costs are very minimal and require no IT maintenance. We also provide a very user-friendly and visually stunning web 2.0 platform as compared to other systems that still look like it’s from the 90s. Most SMEs don’t incorporate an ERP system into their organization because its too expensive so they succumb to using manual processes such as emails or paper. This is where Procurify fits in, not only can we scale to Enterprise level organizations, our pricing model allows Small to medium businesses to enjoy the same benefits of cost management/ERP systems without paying the high prices.
3. Has Vancouver been good in fostering your progress? Talk about the market potential.
Vancouver has been great on fostering our progress, we got great support from BCIT which led to our first client and GrowLab has helped cultivate a tech community for start-ups. It’s just going to grow from here, The culture is definitely shifting, you can go to a local coffee shop and you can see students are talking about starting their own start-ups rather than just getting a job out of college.
4. What kind of challenges has your team had to face and how have you mitigated them?
The biggest challenges our team had to face is uncertainty, we have all committed 100 percent into this and sacrificed our jobs and time not knowing what beholds in the future. Fortunately, our team fully believes in the vision and this helps subside any doubt that we have. The biggest challenge is finding the right team, being in this space now, I fully understand why successful tech entrepreneurs say its 90% about the team. If you can find the right team, then you can overcome any challenge.
5. What core problem are you specifically solving for Vancouverites?
Because Vancouver is relatively new for the tech space, my underlying goal of becoming a successful tech-start up is to inspire local entrepreneurs and become the Silicon Valley of the North. Like Ryan Holmes, has stated many times, Vancouver needs its own “PayPal Mafia” to advance local entrepreneurship.
6. What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
I would have to say my Dad, he is the hardest working person I know that has always encouraged me to go into the business. He has always inspired me and supported me, since he built his own business, he has gave me great advice as I continue to walk along this path.
7. What Vancouver celebrity would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Henrik & Daniel Sedin, they’re real team players and have the best chemistry of any two players in the NHL. They produce winning results while being team players and not selfish, that is all a tech-start up needs.
8. What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Make sure whatever you do is driven by pure passion, there are many ups and downs on this path, and the only thing that can help you get through the tough times is your passion for your business. Just remember that entrepreneurship is one of the toughest paths to walk on, 99% of this journey will be a process and 1% of it will be destination, so learn to enjoy the process.
*End of interview*
It’s pretty amazing to see the wonderful entrepreneurs that universities like UBC, SFU, and BCIT produce. It really is like the Facebook story where a handful of passionate students get thrown into the same environment of like-minded individuals. They naturally connect the dots and realize that that they all have similar passions, skills, and ideologies to get together and make something happen. A lot of people talk about it but rarely ever do people drop what they are doing to commit to building a company. Examples like these are what I hope will inspire more people to take the risk and realize that just by doing that, they are part of a small pool of very special people with a community inching to support their endeavours.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to explain why you’re a fit”