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Economy

Made in Edmonton: The ambition to create a billion dollar tech giant

WATCH: Jobber started as a two-person operation in 2011. Now, the growing tech company now has nearly 200 employees. Vinesh Pratap sits down with CEO Sam Pillar.

Right in the middle of downtown, on Jasper Avenue, dozens of workers are busy.

They work for Jobber, a company that started in 2011.

“We, I think, in the early days just were so excited about the fact that we were able to build software that was solving a real world problem,” says Sam Pillar, the CEO and co-founder of Jobber.

The company works with small and home-based businesses, providing software which automates critical functions like invoicing and scheduling.

Recently, Jobber was named the seventh fastest growing company in the country by Canadian Business magazine.

It has amassed 70 thousand customers in 43 countries.

Last week, Sam Pillar sat down with Global News, speaking about the goal to create a home grown, billion dollar tech company, as well as offering insight into growing the tech scene locally.

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What’s being done to grow tech in Edmonton
What’s being done to grow tech in Edmonton

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Vinesh Pratap:  Take us back to 2011?

Sam Pillar: We (co-founder Forrest Zeisler) were both working on personal projects and kept running into each other in the coffee shops that we were working in. That’s actually an important dynamic for a start up ecosystem. We kind of got lucky. He was interested in the idea I was working on cause (sic) he had a friend that was working at a painting company who asked about software for their painting company.

Pillar spoke at length about the dynamics for a start-up ecosystem.

SP:  I think it behooves us to kind of think about consolidating as much of that community as we possibly can, whether it be into virtual or physical spaces so we can increase the odds of collisions happening. There’s way more of that happening today than there was in 2010, 2011 when we first got going. And so, that’s really encouraging to me.

VP:  You want to build the first billion dollar tech company here. That’s a pretty bold statement.

Pillar indicated it’s a “doable” goal, using the example of e-commerce giant Shopify, which is based in Ottawa.

SP: We have very smart people. We have a cost advantage in Canada. There’s no reason that we shouldn’t have ambitions to create more Shopify like companies that operate on a global scale and really kind of elevate Canada as a contributor at that table, rather than just being a natural resource economy.

VP: What makes you want to stay here?

SP: In Edmonton, there’s a little bit more of a blue collar, entrepreneurial vibe. I really like that. I think that sort of serves very well, the kinds of people that we want part of this company for the long term. There’s sort of like a grit and strength of character that probably comes from the weather. I’m serious. I think having to figure out how to deal in this kind of environment has knock-on effects that I think are non-trivial.

Jobber has nearly 200 employees now, split between the Edmonton head office and Toronto.

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Early in the new year, the company will finish a move to a new headquarters space a couple of blocks from their current location.

READ MORE: How will tech companies now work in Edmonton? Councillors hear update

Jobber will take up three floors in the 103 Street Centre with an option to expand on to two others, if required.