Vancouver Entrepreneurs: myBestHelper

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2012 alex t greenhill-2

Kids are amazing. Getting that call from your friends asking you to look after their kids for an evening so that husband and wife can enjoy an evening out after a stressful week, is something I welcome.

Hang out time with Uncle Casey is pretty standard: we have a meal (usually not mom approved), watch a movie (which usually involves a healthy dose of sugary treats) and then head on home. Sure, I may not be the most nutrition conscious sitter, but their kids have fun and are in safe and reliable hands while they’re away.

Unfortunately, finding a nanny or sitter isn’t that easy for most people. myBestHelper has been working feverishly to make this process faster, easier and above all things, less stressful.

Here is what the Cofounder CEO of myBestHelper, Alexandra T. Greenhill, shared with us about their journey to date.

Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.

We created myBestHelper so busy working adults could get the help they needed at home. Be it with kids or elderly relatives, the responsibility to arrange for care falls on the same person and that person’s tools to find care are still what they used in the ’90s – email and call. That stress I experienced first hand, as a busy mom of three and a physician leader. I also saw it in my patients and my colleagues – and then I thought, wait a minute someone has got to build a better way. When I started telling others they suggested I could do it  – and I guess they were right!

Untitled-1Cofounders Alexandra Greenhill and Rob Attwell, supporting the first HTML500, largest learn to code event in Canada.

What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?

I think one of the most challenging things was to get beyond all the people you meet in the tech space who are negative on what you are trying to accomplish. Luckily for me all that I had done before in my career were things others had called impossible, so I knew I was on the right track when I heard that at the beginning. The advice I was given was start small, spend several years to develop a presence in B.C. – then aim for Canada, but need to plan for regional offices. We didn’t buy into that and we expanded in less than two years to over 8,000 users in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto, and are launching in the US, with plans to go beyond North America before too long.

How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of myBestHelper?

It does take a village to make a startup a success. Vancouver’s tech community has really developed over the last two years, and the support has been simply fantastic – from Launch Academy, Startup Weekend, New Ventures BC, Invoke Labs, Discovery Parks and now Spring that can help you at the very beginning to BCTIA, BCIC and ACETECH who are there as you grow. Government support with IRAP federally, and the EBC credits offered to our investors by the Province of B.C. have also been very valuable.

But beyond the organizational support, the presence of really great mentors and peers has been key. I remember someone explaining the five Cs of why San Francisco is such a hub of startup enterprise: Coders, Concepts, Consumers, Cash (investment) and… Competition. Why Competition? Because seeing how fast your peers have managed to go makes it easier to imagine your own path and naturally increases your velocity. Plus it’s a great motivator to want to go faster!

What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?

We help busy families use web and mobile unlock all their options of care – find someone part-time, full-time or occasional to help with child and elder care. We have the first Canadian iOs app to find child care – hard to believe we had to wait until 2014 for that to be true! There is more coming that will really transform the juggling act working parents face so often, from stress to ease and success.

The other value we provide is that by the essence of what we do, we help people find work, which is also amazing – students, people new to Canada, people who have lost a job, stay at home moms and retirees get much needed revenue.

photo at grow conf-2Photo credit Kris Krug

How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?

I spent the first two decades of my working life as an intra-preneur and just didn’t know it. Then I by chance met several entrepreneurs through the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) and BCIC events, and when the right idea came, it was a path that I had seen others follow successfully, so it made it easier to choose to engage on it. The hardest part was perhaps leaving something one is really great at – many people were very surprised, but this change makes sense to me, I can help so many more people than I could have ever had before.

What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?

Personally, Richard Branson. I really like how versatile his business sense is and the way he adds fun and delight as a business objective. That and and the leadership team at Starbucks, Airbnb and Disney. We have learned so much from how they thought about the user experience from A to Z – to deliver high standard, yet affordable magic.

What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?

Ryan Holmes for sure. Why? He would fit right in for five reasons: he sees huge, is action oriented, radically transforms best practices and norms, builds strong teams around him and believes in giving back. That and he loves to have fun at work, and so do we. Plus – dogs and bicycles… Now that I think of it – it would be perfect!

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 7.09.09 PM-2Alex with legendary Mitch Kapor, founder of Lotus 1-2-3

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

Do it now. Carpe Diem. Seize the day.

What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?

YouTube – to see great videos from experts around the world on how they do things, LinkedIn – to connect to people I need to get wisdom from or partner with and Clarity – the fastest way to get to speak straight with the person who has THE answer you need.

What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurship is hard enough that sometimes, joining a really strong team under solid mentorship can help you get wisdom without some of the painful lessons. And in any case, get educated in the latest methods – lean startup, data analytics, UX design – know how is not intuitive and the learning curve can be fast tracked through access to the great courses and conferences available online and in person.

With a focus on trust, convenience and affordability, myBestHelper is backed by Vancouverites who genuinely care, and want to help.

 

*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 casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.

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Casey Era Director of Business Development at Vancity Buzz with a passion for startups, tech, cooking and fitness. Editor of Vancouver Entrepreneurs Series & YELL Canada mentor.
@crjera

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