Al Del Degan Hosts Pam Draper
[00:00:00] Al Del Degan: Hey everybody. Welcome to the show. My special guest today is Pamela Draper. She's the president and CEO of Bitvo Inc., and also a president and CEO of Pateo Payments Inc. Hi Pam. Thanks for joining me today.
[00:00:14] Pam Draper: Morning Al, thanks for having me on.
[00:00:16] Al Del Degan: Now you have a really interesting background in banking and such, and I'd kind of like to go a little bit ahead of that and find out where you grew up in what kind of a child you were, were you always destined to be you know, a consummate professional in banking? Or did you have another path?
[00:00:35] Pam Draper: So I, I grew up in a small town outside of Toronto called Bowmanville. It was pretty small at the time.
But being kind of the end of the line of the suburbs, it's grown quite significantly since I, I lived there. And always enjoyed math. So I guess that probably led to finance, but originally was concentrated on science, math, and science kind of went together and then, to be honest, for reasons, completely unknown to me.
In my last year of high school, I switched out of all science courses and into business. And I applied for the business program at Western at the Richard Ivey School of Business and I was accepted. So I went to, to Western and never looked back from there.
[00:01:13] Al Del Degan: You had sort of headed down the road of being a business person, and that was, that was where you were going.
[00:01:19] Pam Draper: Yeah, absolutely. I joined the business school and then the business school is pretty actively recruited out of to go into either an investment banking or consulting. They kind of push you into one of those two paths. And investment banking seem to resonate more with me at the time. In, in school we did a lot of case studies on transactions that had occurred, and I found those really interesting.
So I was recruited by initially CIBC out of school. And I after I graduated, I took about six weeks off. That was all I got, and that's pretty much all I've taken off since, and then I started with, at CIBC in, in June of 2004.
[00:01:53] Al Del Degan: Where did you go before you started Bitvo? What was sort of the path there?
[00:01:58] Pam Draper: Yeah, so I, I worked at CIBC for six years and then as bankers often do I transitioned to another bank and I started at, at BMO Capital Markets in September of 2010. And when I was working there, I was primarily working with natural resource clients, so oil and gas and mining. And I spent a lot of time in Calgary and Vancouver as a result, even though I was based in Toronto.
And while I. I was spending time in Calgary. The bank said to me, "you know, there's one company out in Calgary that is not oil and gas, so a lot of the bankers don't pay so much attention to it because it's an oil and gas town, but when you're in Calgary, can you talk to them?" And this was a company called Direct Cash Payments.
It was a publicly traded company. It went public during the income trust days. And a they originally worked on bank machines. So they started with a couple of bank machines in Canada and grew to be the largest operator of ATMs globally. And, and that's sort of when I met them, I met them when they were consolidating the global ATM business.
So buying a lot of businesses around the world, Australia, the UK, other businesses in Canada. And I got to be quite close with the management team there. Having worked together on a bunch of different transactions and the management team then at the time being Jack Smith and Susan Anderson and the business gained a lot of success and eventually they decide to sell it to their largest competitor or company card called Cardtronics and that business still exists today.
But when they sold the business, they, they started up a number of new companies serial entrepreneurs that they were. One was a Digital Commerce Bank which is a schedule and licensed Canadian bank. And then we also decided to start Bitvo. And the way that kind of came about is actually an interesting story.
When Jeff, the founding shareholder, started Digital Commerce Bank, a lot of cryptocurrency platforms we're looking for banking in Canada. And the main one of the time was a company called Quadriga. A lot of people are very familiar with Quadriga, but if you're not Google it, or there's actually an interesting Netflix series on it now called "Trust No One". And it became infamous for the founder, Gerald Cotten, disappearing to India and dying in India of Crohn's disease, so the story goes. But when he did so he took with him $250 million of customer crypto assets. The access to those assets died when he did. So it's an interesting story, but the reason it's relevant is they wanted to get banking from Digital Commerce Bank, as I mentioned, but they wouldn't meet with the bank. And the bank said, you know what? I wouldn't bank anyone that wouldn't meet me in person. And they said, you know, transacting in this new asset class should be held to the highest standards of any kind of banking. So if you're holding crypto assets, you should be held to the standard of holding customers' Canadian dollars.
So we set out to build Bitvo to be a more safe, more secure, and easier to use platform than the alternatives out there at the time. And interestingly about a year to the day after we founded Bitvo, Quadrigas as I mentioned, the founder passed away and the company went bankrupt as a result.
So the, the notion that, that Canadians and people around the world needed a better platform in which to transact in this new asset class, was absolutely correct. And we built the Bitvo platform and when we were doing so added a lot of technology to what was currently there. So at the time crypto platforms were.
Very manual. You'd send an e-transfer and a person on the other end would sit there and receive that e-transfer accept it, and then post it to your account. To get verified, you'd send in a selfie of yourself with your photo ID and maybe you'd send them a picture of your passport. None of that meets privacy laws and, and none of it is really safe or, or secure in terms of information, but also access to your funds.
So we build technology to fully automate the signup process, no more sending in of the selfies and to also fully automate the transfer of fiat technology. And when we did that, what we realized was not only did we need this product because we did just build it for our own purposes, but every other crypto platform in Canada, as well as a lot of online gaming platforms and really any website that needs to identify their clients or to accept or remit fiat transfers that aren't on the Visa/ MasterCard rails could also use this technology. So what ended up happening was we formed another company ultimately Bitvo's parent company, which is Pateno payments which is a payment service provider offering that technology to other websites and mobile applications.
So we really created a Bitvo first, and the parent company Pateno came along second, realizing the need for technology in the spaces that we were serving.
[00:06:30] Al Del Degan: As you know, I'm a huge fan of Bitvo, and I'v got all my family and friends using it. And you know what, it really truly is unique in the fact that it's like using your online banking, it's painless and simple.
And you know, I've had a very, very good experience. And you know, this is a sort of like a shameless plug, but it's completely from the heart. I mean, obviously I'm not getting paid by Bitvo to do this podcast, but I think it's something that is really needed and people who have been hesitant to get into cryptocurrency investing, consider that, you know, here's a safe alternative, and you guys are backed by DC bank too right? So it's sort of like a comfortable experience?
[00:07:12] Pam Draper: Well, I wouldn't say backed by the DC bank, so we we're completely separate legal entities and we share common shareholders that's for the relation exists our banking partners our local Alberta based banks, not DC bank is who we use for baking.
[00:07:28] Al Del Degan: Okay. My, my mistake, my apologies. But you do have that support behind you to be considered a safer alternative.
[00:07:36] Pam Draper: Yeah, I think the support in terms of a safe alternative comes from the team that we put in place. The founding shareholders the management team and the board that we've put together. All of our backgrounds are in traditional financial markets or payment processing. We have decades of experience in handling customers' funds, which I think is the important point. A lot of the crypto asset trading platforms when they started, they started more from the tech perspective and the tech is, is definitely important, but there's a whole side of things from a safety and security perspective that comes from being experienced in handling other people's funds and learning the regulations, which at the time when we started, there were no regulations. Now we're actually a heavily regulated business. We're a money service business registered with Fintrack.
And we actually just, in the past month received a status as a restricted dealer with the Canadian Securities Administrators. So while we started and held ourselves to the standard that we do today, we didn't have to, initially we did that because we knew it was the right thing to do, and we knew that regulation would eventually be coming and we built the business to withstand that.
[00:08:38] Al Del Degan: That's really, really cool. Do you have sort of on the, on the horizon, do you have some exciting new ideas or. Things that you can talk about or is it all secret secrets secret?
[00:08:49] Pam Draper: No, no, no. I think so we, we just, we just got through this regulatory hurdle, which is huge for us we're one of the few platforms able to achieve that status.
So we're really proud of that. And now that that's out of the way definitely want to get onto some more exciting things like adding new coins. We're constantly evaluating the market and thinking about new coins to add. So we'd like to do that. As well as adding new features to the platform, we've been really focused on getting that regulatory status and the development required to do so.
But like I said, April 25th, we received it. And now just definitely looking forward to the more fun development work.
[00:09:20] Al Del Degan: And, one of the things that always grabbed me or grabbed my attention about Bitvo was the fact that when you create your account you can put your fiat currency in quite easily. And then once you're in the platform, you could trade till you're blue in the face and it doesn't cost you anything until you pull your money out. It's very reasonable fees compared to a lot of the other platforms where every single trade you make cost you, right?
What was the motivation to do something that, that original?
[00:09:47] Pam Draper: Yeah, when we looked across the space again, we found it we're worried about safety and security, but we also found it kind of confusing and cryptocurrencies can be something that if you haven't traded in them before are just kind of a confusing concept.
So we really wanted to make everything quite simple. At the time, there is many different fee models, deposit fees, trade fees, withdrawal fees, different withdrawal views by the different options of withdrawal. We thought, you know what? This is already the new product. If it's new to most people who are coming onto the platform to the extent possible, let's make it as simple as possible.
[00:10:19] Al Del Degan: That's genius. I love that. Now switching a little bit over to the Pateno payments, so this revolves mainly around what we call KYC or know your customer as well as AML, anti money laundering. Right? So that's, that's some of the technologies that you were referring to were, are kind of based around that, right?
[00:10:38] Pam Draper: We're a payment service provider. So the core products are really facilitating the transfer of money. Our most popular products are e-transfers for example, or EFT but then we do also offer ancillary services around the payment side like identity solutions. So if you have a website or a mobile application and your money services business, and you want to accept funds from your customers via e-transfer and you want to automate that process, we can help you with all of that.
But then you, if you are a money services, you're also required to identify your clients in accordance with Fintrack. So we offer the payment solutions, but we also offer the ancillary solutions of helping you meet your regulatory compliance obligations with that our identity solutions product.
[00:11:22] Al Del Degan: When you talk about the payment solutions, are you referring to things like a company has the ability to accept credit card payments on their website and that sort of thing.
[00:11:31] Pam Draper: Ya, we don't do credit card. So it's all direct to bank transfers. So integrations into the Canadian banking system for things like interact e-transfer.
Visa, MasterCard that's a well-trodden path and there are many solutions out there for that. Ours are sort of more bespoke solutions that either work in industries where Visa and MasterCard are either quite expensive or they're not comfortable in those industries, cryptocurrency and online gaming would be two such industries.
So if you're going on to an online gaming site or a sports betting site, often the funding methods are Interac e-transfer or EFT, which is a direct bank integration. Those are the technologies we provide.
[00:12:08] Al Del Degan: I see. I see. Okay. So that really sets you apart from a lot of the other companies that provide those services, throughout the world, really.
[00:12:17] Pam Draper: Yeah. And it's a good addition to a website in addition to Visa and MasterCard. So if you're already offer Visa and MasterCard, you could potentially expand your market by allowing customers to also pay with Interac e-transfer or EFT. I don't necessarily think about it because I think most of us have a Visa or MasterCard in our, our wallet, but some people don't, some people don't have that access to credit and a direct to bank integration could potentially expand your customer base into that market or help you expand into a market like cryptocurrency or online gaming, where Visa and MasterCard aren't yet comfortable.
[00:12:49] Al Del Degan: That's fascinating. Do you have any advice for businesses that are getting into financial tech kind of industry like I suspect it would be mostly Canadian-based because you have all your experience really Canadian-based but what sort of, like, you've been able to navigate all that crazy regulation and stuff. Do you have any advice for like a new FinTech company starting up?
[00:13:14] Pam Draper: Oh man. So many, so this is my first, so I I learned a lot throughout the, the process for sure. I think that it all starts with an idea. So and when you're looking at the market and you're saying, oh, I wish they did this differently.
Or I wish I had this. I wish I had access to that. That probably means a lot of people have that same idea. So, so start with that. And then just be really ready for the magnitude of the ups and downs. I remember going to a talk to here in Calgary it was in the tech space and it was from a prior successful founder.
One of the Benevity team members and Benevity has obviously been very successful and, and he stood up and gave a speech and it was on a particular day that I was debating going to the event because it had been a really tough day as you have in the startup world. And I really just didn't know if I had the energy or the attitude to go.
And do that, but I went anyway and his speech was so what I needed to hear. So if anyone else needs to hear that, there going to be crazy highs and crazy lows? And the crazy highs can follow the crazy lows by milliseconds a day or a year. And he actually showed a graph and that showed, you know, I'm on top of the world, everything's going to work out, everything's going to be great. And then like the very next day, you're like, ah, we're going bankrupt. We're never going to get a customer. This is terrifying. And just be prepared for that. And I was like, you know, what, if, if he thought that an experienced and I'm thinking that and experiencing that at the very least we're not alone.
And that was really helpful to me and it'll happen in, in various different ways for everyone throughout their, their startup journey. But it absolutely happens consistently. And to this day, to me, absolutely all the time. And I remember that.
[00:14:49] Al Del Degan: With regards to cryptocurrencies directly, what are your thoughts on now that you've established the business and you've got a pile of customers and people are trading and everything in the crypto market continues to go up and down like a yo-yo.
Do you have any thoughts or advice to, say, consumers who want to join Bitvo and get started? Do you have any thoughts on that?
[00:15:10] Pam Draper: Yeah. I mean, if you're curious, I think one of the best ways is to jump in and learn. So log on to onto the platform. Our platform, I think is kind of unique in that we have an education section.
So if you are looking to learn, we provide a lot of material there from a trusted source. When you're Googling online, whether it's cryptocurrency or anything, you're not really quite sure what sources you can trust or not. So at least, you know, when you're, when you're looking at a registered regulated Canadian platform with banking and finance professionals managing it.
You can read that and know that they have the experience to probably be writing that. So start poking around, start learning, see what peaks your interest. Open up an account, fiddle about, see how it works. Put some money in if, if you want to have some skin in the game. Cause often that helps with the learning experience too, and it doesn't have to be a lot.
It could be. It could be $20. It could be a hundred dollars. It could be a thousand dollars and you don't have to buy a whole Bitcoin. The cost of Bitcoin today is a lot cheaper than it was a week ago, but it's still 31, 32,000 us dollars. You don't need to spend that much. You could buy $20 worth of Bitcoin on the platform you could send in an e-transfer for $20, and in 10 minutes, be owning your first, very small fraction of a Bitcoin. And maybe that helps you learn, or maybe it's not Bitcoin. We offer 11 different cryptocurrencies. Like I said, there's lots of reading material there, there's information on each of the different cryptocurrencies we offer. So poke around, read up, do your reading. And then if you're feeling it, jump in with a small amount, whatever you're comfortable with.
[00:16:39] Al Del Degan: The overall advice in cryptocurrencies is don't play with money you can't afford to lose. I guess that's sort of the standard.
[00:16:46] Pam Draper: Cryptocurrencies, or any risky asset, right? Like cryptocurrencies get kind of a bad rap, but I think of you could sign up for BMO Investor Line Platform or Quest Trade, et cetera. And by a junior mining or a junior oil and gas stock, or some other emerging technology, and be just as at risk as if you're buying any of the cryptocurrencies we offer. So I would say for cryptocurrencies or anything you're beholding to do your own research and figure out what works for you and figure out what you're comfortable losing. And, and to your point, if you're not comfortable losing anything, then think about that too.
[00:17:16] Al Del Degan: That makes a lot of sense. And one of the things that that I found really useful on your platform is that you have professional experienced traders as well, that talk about the risks for each of the different coins at different sort of short-term long-term risks for each of the coins based on are kind of like regularly updated statistics and stuff.
That's, that's really, really valuable. So could you talk a little bit. How that all works?
[00:17:43] Pam Draper: Yeah. When we built the platform we tried to really differentiate ourselves by adding a lot of features to it. So we, we try to be the most feature rich platform in the Canadian landscape. Some of those features are the Bitvo Same Day Guarantee, the Bitvo Cash Card the education section that I talked about, and then what you're talking about, the proprietary technical analysis.
So when you're, when you're analyzing a company, you can do two types of analysis. You can do fundamental analysis and technical analysis. Fundamental analysis is analysis on the company, specifically its revenue, streams management team who its customer base is what geographies and jurisdictions, it services.
You can do all that kind of analysis in a company. You can't do that on cryptocurrencies. So they're the one analysis because they're not companies, they don't have revenue and they don't have a management team, et cetera. So the one type of analysis you can do is, is technical analysis. And if you're a time trader you're familiar with all kinds of technical analysis indicators, that the first time cryptocurrency trader probably isn't. So what we built into our platform, when you're logged in, is there are technical analysis tools and scores.
So we have, if you are that technical trader, you can do a deep dive and pull up 20 different. Technical analysis indicators and analyze those that's something you can do. But if you're not that technically inclined, we have that quick view technical analysis indicators, which tells you how the, each of the coins that we offer is screening on a longterm, medium term, and short-term basis.
Absolutely. On their own. And then also relatively versus the other coins that we offer. And that's powered by an artificial intelligence algorithm that feeds into all of those different technical indicators that I talked about. You don't actually have to go in and analyze them. Yeah. You can see how they're screening based on the summary that the tool provides.
[00:19:28] Al Del Degan: Yeah. That's really, really fascinating. I think that you've cleared up a whole bunch of questions that I had. Is there anything else that you'd like to address before we call er a show?
[00:19:39] Pam Draper: No, I think you've covered a lot of ground there, Al, and I enjoyed working with you when you worked with the Bitvo team. And it's great to reconnect here as well as that some of the conferences we've been. I think that's what we're really excited about now is getting out and kind of seeing everyone in person again, after a long couple years.
[00:19:54] Al Del Degan: Absolutely the industry is, is so fascinating and so new and so, you know, bleeding edge and there's so many things going on and it, and it's really, it really comes down to that. That need to do a little bit of educating yourself. You know, if you, if you don't have sort of a trusted family member or a close friend that really knows what they're talking about you really need to do your own research because, like you said, on the internet, there's a whole bunch of BS, right?
And if somebody has a certain coin that they wanna sell at a higher price, they're going to talk so highly about that coin and how it's going to go to the moon and everything. And then really all their doing is waiting for a bunch of dummies to go there and buy the coin so that it goes up really high, then they sell it and make their money.
[00:20:37] Pam Draper: Yeah. I mean, who knows, right? We don't give trading advice on our platform and I don't certainly personally, but I think even the most experienced traders find it really hard to perfectly time the market.
[00:20:48] Al Del Degan: Yes. Yeah. Real, real fast moving. Well, Pam so great to talk to you, thank you so much for being my guest on the show. I really appreciate it.
[00:20:57] Pam Draper: No, no problem at all Al, thanks again for having me. I appreciate that.
[00:21:00] Al Del Degan: Tune in next week. Same time, same channel. We'd love to hear your thoughts and have you subscribe to the show and continue to listen.
Thanks very much for listening everyone. Cheers!
Al Del Degan Hosts Rana Hyatt
[00:00:00] Al Del Degan: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Leaders, Innovators, and Big Ideas podcast for Rainforest Alberta. Today my special guest is Rana Hyatt. Hi Rana, thanks for joining me today.
[00:00:09] Rana Hyatt: Hi, how's it going?
[00:00:10] Al Del Degan: Good. Good, good. So great to have you here. I'm excited to learn a little bit more about what you do and your claim to fame and you have on your zoom, you have the beauty of clean technologies, so exciting to hear about that stuff. So why don't we start with learning a little bit about who's Rana, and how we got to where we are today?
[00:00:34] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. So my name is Rana Hyatt, and I am a professional hair and makeup artist. I grew up in the industry. My parents have owned hair salons since gosh, since I was born.
So. In the hair industry. And also with my science background, I wanted to kind of marry the two together. And I noticed that there was a huge lacking in the market in terms of proper sanitation. And I think COVID really highlighted the dirty side of makeup and how we can, kind of, have better practices of prevention in terms of things like herpes or cold sores and pink eye and possibly even transmitting bad behaviors that result in acne. So that's what I'm all about.
[00:01:18] Al Del Degan: You're an innovator in a space that is not super innovative other than making new makeup and stuff like that, that, you know, the big companies are always trying to do. I guess you're in the Catalyzer are you not?
[00:01:31] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, so I'm with the, I started originally with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network. That was a connection I made through Red Deer Polytechnic with Tanya Wolf, that is one of the lead engineers there. So she sent me there. I got in touch with Kathy and I went through the program and then I was referred to the Platform Calgary Catalyzer, just finished the last one, and we just out started the new cohort. So we're learning really, really fast and really happy with where Solis is right now.
[00:02:03] Al Del Degan: That's cool. So what stage are you at with Solis?
[00:02:06] Rana Hyatt: Gosh, so we are in manufacturing and production, so we have started our pre-sales when it comes to hardware, I would like to say it's very expensive to deal with manufacturing, physical products. So we're working with a company in Airdrie, so we're keeping everything in Alberta. So I'm really happy to say that. Very Alberta proud in terms of our company and our direction.
[00:02:28] Al Del Degan: And how's the program? Is it an accelerator program or is it more of a small business educational program?
[00:02:35] Rana Hyatt: I would definitely say that it's an accelerator program and without the Platfom Calgary and Alberta Catalyzer program. I don't think we'd be where we are in terms of being in a manufacturing stage and having the access and the right people to speak to when it comes to grants and partners and possible like pitch competitions, things like that.
It would probably take me like five to 10 years. If not more. If I hadn't been part of the cohort, ya.
[00:03:06] Al Del Degan: Wow. That's speaking very, very highly of that program. And I've heard so many people talk about how great it is. So that's really cool to hear firsthand. So can we talk about your company a little bit?
So you sort of talked about the idea behind your company, where it came from. So maybe you could talk a little bit more about how it actually works and maybe without giving out trade secrets.
[00:03:28] Rana Hyatt: Nope. I won't give away trade secrets. So traditionally makeup brush sanitizers, which we've done through our customer discovery and, you know, I've had this personal problem for myself professionally is that it takes forever to clean them. It takes 24 hours downtime for those brushes to actually fully sanitize. So when you're doing a, let's say for example, a bridal party, you have, you know, 10 to 12 guests that you're servicing and doing makeup for, but those brushes are not allowed to be touched. One brush per person essentially is the concept.
So you're coming home after a long day of work and having to spend, you know, a couple more hours having to clean those brushes, sanitize them, but those brushes aren't ready for the following day. So you have to have your second batch of brushes. Traditionally, the way that makeup brush cleaners, it's just not efficient.
It's not killing all the types of viral and fungal things that we're starting to see more of on makeup brushes. So we wanted to make sure that with a push of a button, you could actually just insert your brushes with our IP technology and it would kill everything. And without harming the actual bristles.
That was another big thing is like there are sanitation and traditional ways that they're really strong for a makeup brush. So how do we, how do we kind of bring the two together? So it's gentle on the bristles, but also super effective
[00:04:52] Al Del Degan: professional makeup brushes are not cheap, right? Like they're not like paint-by-numbers set brushes, right?
[00:04:59] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. They're definitely not your dollar store brushes, but they're, they're very, very expensive and you want to maintain those high quality brushes, just the same way that you want to maintain the actual cosmetic, the actual makeup. The, you know, the costs of those foundations and applications, so you can buy beautiful makeup, but also have, like, great brushes and applicators to use them with.
[00:05:19] Al Del Degan: Oh, that's great. Are you planning to have this product available mainly for professionals or will it be something people can buy as a home user as well?
[00:05:29] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, that's a great question. We definitely have a version not as big. I think, I think for the everyday user or makeup enthusiast, I like to call them, is they'll have a smaller version.
So it can just easily be tucked away in their bathroom, and they can just store their makeup brushes in there. And then that's a nice little disguise in that sense. It doesn't take up a lot of space. So we will have a smaller version just as effective, just as beautiful.
[00:05:58] Al Del Degan: But obviously a lady at her house is not going to have hundreds of brushes to clean, right? It's probably like three or four or something like that.
[00:06:05] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. Typically you want to make sure like, just the same way that you would clean your coffee cup every time you use it. You know, we want to be able to clean your makeup brushes because that is going directly onto your face.
So. Yeah, you want to, with just a push of a button, you don't want to have to deal with them, soap it up, try all the, you know, the other conventional thing spray with a bit of alcohol or whatever, those aren't as effective. So with Solace, we just want you to just not worry about it. Because the biggest thing that we found was in our surveys was that everybody, once you do your makeup, this is a very common thing is once you do your makeup, like you're looking at the brushes.
You're like, oh, I need to clean these. And then you put your makeup on. And then you put your brushes away and your makeup away. And then the next day, when you come back to put on your makeup, you're like, oh yeah, I forgot. I need to clean these. And then the cycle just repeats. It's this awful cycle.
[00:06:55] Al Del Degan: And obviously as a professional makeup artist, you don't have the luxury of using the makeup brushes over and over again for multiple people.
And so. You know, I, I'm also a photographer, so I've worked with a lot of makeup artists and I know there's things like the little white sponges and stuff that you can buy in bulk and stuff. And so you can kind of sneak away a little bit by using disposable stuff, but really to apply makeup properly, you got to have the right tools and these expensive brushes as you're referring to them you know, imagine a bridal party with 10 people and then you have.
Two sets of brushes and never have to use the same brush on the same person, two days in a row. Holy moly, that could get really, really pricey. I I'm guessing your product as a, as a, a pretty open market with a lot of people that would be very interested in. So tell me a bit about your customer discovery experience. What's that been like?
[00:07:52] Rana Hyatt: It's actually been really cool. I want to actually touch a little bit on what you said in terms of the disposable single use applicators. That was also discovery of how much how many purchases throughout the year that people buy those things. And typically they buy them from, let's say Amazon they're hundreds and thousands of dollars spent on single use disposables.
What does that look like for you sustainably? It doesn't bout very well. And if you want to live, begin with clean products, why don't we begin with clean tools and cleaner ways of actually practicing in this industry? That was a really big thing for me. We found that there was a market in dentistry, which is quite interesting, that that kept being a repetitive conversation.
The other discovery we found was there were. You know, make it them enthusists, but they're corporate professionals that just want, you know, the best essentially. I like to term it, like the, this Solace is the Dyson of makeup, you know, it's that high quality, great technology. Product and you just there's so much value to it.
So that's a, that's where our customer discovery is. And that really resonated with our interviews and conversations that we were having with vast groups of people. So I think that's our direction.
[00:09:09] Al Del Degan: Nice. And you spoke a little bit about a smaller version for the makeup enthusist, but if you were a professional makeup artist, is that going to be like a much larger thing? Is that something you would carry around with you in, in your going out and doing your customers and stuff?
[00:09:25] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. When you're freelancing, you want to make sure that it will, technically solace will be the makeup holder of your brushes, and then you just pop that lid on and it disperses of any of the germs and pathogens ready to use.
So it's going to be a kind of a. It works both ways. It works really beautifully in terms of it'll just store your brushes as you're working. And once those brushes, once you're done with that guest, you can move on to the next one, set up your entire station, reset your station again. And then in that time you'd press the button and you're ready to go for the next client.
And it is yeah, it's intended to be very portable and just it's meant to travel with you.
[00:10:06] Al Del Degan: That's genius. So what's what's one of your biggest learnings going through this this Catalyzer program and the accelerator and that?
[00:10:16] Rana Hyatt: One of the biggest learnings I've noticed is that because of, I didn't realize how vast the startup community was that I really struggled to ask for what I needed.
Let's say, you know, legal in terms of our shareholder agreements or things like that, you know, the, the, the business side that you understand it, but you just don't know the logistics of what it entails. And learning to ask and and then just getting great feedback and great connections through Platform was the biggest challenge.
The other one was realizing how expensive hardware is when you're building all the little pieces and wiring and, and, and, and doing it yourself. And, you know, it starts to add up. And then when you look at the actual, the financing of a full-blown production line, it's a. It gets a little hairy. You start wondering, is this the right way?
[00:11:07] Al Del Degan: There's so much money in time sunk into sort of like the R & D and the proving, the theory, and then modifying it to the point where you actually get to production. And then the people that are producing it. I suspect they're not going to make like a row of 10? Like they'd probably want to make a lot in order to make it, the tooling of their systems and, or their machinery and whatever. That's, that's a pretty big cash outlay. So you're just getting into that right now, right? That's you're just at the beginning of that.
[00:11:35] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. We're just getting into it. We are finding solutions. We are, I am bootstrapping it myself.
So we're hoping that in the time that we get sort of the grants and we're not kind of stalling to wait for them. We're moving along this path. You know, there's also the bank of mom and dad, which is somewhat, might be an option. I hate to say it. I hope they're not listening.
[00:11:58] Al Del Degan: That's their friends and family round. Right?
[00:12:00] Rana Hyatt: Yes, that's the friends and family round.
[00:12:04] Al Del Degan: Actually I think they usually call it friends, family, and fools. That's it, that's the tough, the tough side of it. You know, a lot of companies are doing the software play and the software play can be, you know, it can be expensive in the end, but if one of the founders is a software developer, whatever, it can make a big difference in getting the MVP out there.
But when you're building a hardware product, then the world becomes a totally different p lace to exist. And now all of a sudden the money is upfront. Like everything is really upfront. And, you know, once you have a, a garage or a warehouse full of boxes of products that are ready to sell, then it becomes a totally different world.
Now you're, now you're trying to unload all these products and make sure that people are happy with them. And then you have to deal with, you know, returns and and defective products and things. And so yeah, you got your work cut out for you.
[00:12:59] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, there's definitely, you know, returned processes and flow charts and Gantt charts and learning about the madness that it takes to actually put a company.
And so what you're seeing, typically, what people see is, you know, the beautiful side of of your company. And you're just like, okay, but the, in their workings are just like, we have to organize this a bit better because that everything, every, I feel like I'm everywhere and nowhere that's, you know, all the things that it entails.
We're hoping that by the time we get to, we have pre-sales. So we're excited about those and we're excited about our early adopters. We're very happy. So that is our, our mission and our goal is to provide a product with full purpose. And yes, I didn't realize that. Things like product engineers that do the stress test on such things.
Cause I'm like I was ambitious and be like, we're going to be ready in six months. And they're like, you're not going to be ready at all.
[00:13:52] Al Del Degan: Well, I imagine with, with a physical product like that, that's likely electric. I imagine there's certifications and things that you have for radio interference and all that other kind of thing that you have to deal with too.
[00:14:03] Rana Hyatt: Yeah, you're right. Yeah. There's us. And there's things called the. Like, you know, health requirements and checkpoints that we need to meet. Yeah. You got to love this country because, a there is all the regulators.
[00:14:15] Al Del Degan: Yeah. I mean, in the end is probably a good thing and for, for people, but it is, it is a pain in the butt in some cases.
[00:14:23] Rana Hyatt: Yeah. Once you get it right, you're good to go. But in the meantime, it just takes like forever.
[00:14:29] Al Del Degan: Absolutely. You said something that kind of triggered a thought in my head and I wanted to ask you about this. Have you considered, or did you ever look at doing something like a crowdsourcing, like a Kickstarter or something, or were you kind of cautioned against that by Platform? Or maybe you could speak to that a little bit?
[00:14:46] Rana Hyatt: No, actually I don't think they've ever a Platform has ever deterred a crowdfunding. One suggestion that they actually advised was to build up my social media. I mean, when you think about crowdfunding, you think like, you know, the crowd will just come if you build it.
But no, you have to kind of build that crowd first, which was a very wise piece of advice. So understanding you know, what that was about. So we're hoping to do that, but we haven't built our a, our a crowd yet.
[00:15:18] Al Del Degan: No, and you're absolutely right about that to you. You can't just throw something up on Kickstarter and expect people to come.
But it, you know, there's, there are lots of. Companies that have been extremely successful. I think of one called Peak Design that builds camera, mounts and bags and things like that. And they've basically built their entire company based off of Kickstarter and they just keep going back to Kickstarter with the new products that they want to build and they often receive.
You know, exponential amounts of money that more than they were originally asking for. So I don't know if it's a, if it's a viable option for something like that, but every time I think of like a physical product that somebody is trying to build the one thing that those platforms do, and I don't know a ton about them is they, they give you the money before you have to have the product ready, so you have that opportunity to build it. But yeah, the, the traditional, I know we have in the Rainforest we have Gary Gunthorpe, who, I'm not sure if you've met him yet, but he is he was the founder of a company called Deltatee Enterprises. So Gary Gunther is a kind of.
Semi retired. He, he can't seem to pull himself out of helping with startups and, but he's product based. So his company Deltatee their claim to fame is they build actual physical products, not software. And he's really great to consult if you need any more information in that world.
But yeah, that product world is is a different world that you have to be cautious of. And so I guess assuming that everything goes as planned and you're, you're maybe not six months away, but you're, you're somewhere, a lot farther along than you would have been. If you didn't join the Platform program, what sort of do you see on your roadmap going forward?
What is it kind of looking like now that you have a lot more information and you've gone through a lot of preparations already?
[00:17:14] Rana Hyatt: Well, we hope to sell throughout internationally, we also hope to grow our manufacturing in Alberta. Keep it here, be Canadian, truly Canadian, as much as we can. Our other objective is to patent and continue our lab testing and really get access to, you know, a full-time lab and just be able to test some of the bacteria and viral and sort of bad, bad pathogens that sit on your brushes.
And then potentially go B2B and target, maybe makeup retailers and all the testers that you wanted to try, but don't, you know, never thought you could, maybe there's an opportunity there and, and, and giving the consumer some feedback in terms of a bacterial or, you know, germ growth on that testers and even on their makeup brushes.
So doing a little bit more tech research and just kind of bringing forth a better product in the, in the following iteration.
[00:18:08] Al Del Degan: Where my mind goes is you have a successful product and it's, and you're getting some great sales. Do you see yourself adding to it by having sort of like a line of brushes or, you know, like a really cool makeup kit that fits your machine in the corner and has room for everything else? Is that kind of been going down your, through your thoughts?
[00:18:27] Rana Hyatt: Well, it's always, yeah. I feel like when you, when you're, you know, an entrepreneur, I think those ideas just naturally become, you know, you know, little, little whispers in your ear and you're like, wait a second. I have to focus.
[00:18:40] Al Del Degan: Got a focus, shiny objects, shiny objects.,
[00:18:44] Rana Hyatt: Always, always the shiny objects.
I think that we might actually just explore. More potentially a different market. Like our customer also is barbers and making sure that maybe even single use blades could actually be reused and sort of increasing our sustainability and, and making sure that we are on a safe and healthy path to the beauty industry.
[00:19:05] Al Del Degan: Well, thank you very much. Is there anything that we didn't cover that you'd like to share, maybe a tip or a trick or a piece of advice to a young entrepreneur, who's looking at building a product instead of a, a software application or whatever.
[00:19:20] Rana Hyatt: My biggest piece of advice is get into the Catalyzer program.
There's some serious powerhouses of coaches and advisors and people that you will feel incredibly supported and your, your dream, your actual dream will become a reality. I think that's one of the biggest things I would definitely say Platform Calgary is amazing. Everybody I basically interacted with has been incredible and just so helpful. There's a big startup community and especially in the tech industry here in Calgary, we're really, I'm really happy to be here. I think my biggest tip of advice is ask, always ask, you know, what's the worst thing you're going to hear is no. That's okay. Just keep on asking.
[00:20:01] Al Del Degan: There's more people to ask, right?
[00:20:03] Rana Hyatt: Exactly. Yeah. Someone's going to help you out.
[00:20:06] Al Del Degan: Right on. Love it. Okay. So thank you so much, Rana. I really appreciate you being on the show and it was so cool to meet you down at Platform and just like. Hey, we should have you on the show. It was just like a, kind of a spur of the moment thing. And here we are like, literally not even a week later. But it was really cool having you. So thank you for being here.
[00:20:26] Rana Hyatt: Thank you so much for having me and yeah, it was great that David just kind of connected us. That was awesome. See, that's what I mean Platform, you just got to go.
[00:20:34] Al Del Degan: Yeah. Just, just hang out there. That's where everything happens.
[00:20:37] Rana Hyatt: Thank you so much. I appreciate this.
[00:20:40] Al Del Degan: You're so welcome. And listeners, we'll see you next week for another episode of the Leaders, Innovators, and Big Ideas podcast. Thanks for joining us.
Peter Beaudoin Hosts Brad Gaulin
[00:00:00] Peter Beaudoin: So thanks Al. Hi, my name is Peter Beaudoin and I'll be your host of today's Rainforest podcast. Usually on the show, we talk about the innovation ecosystem, but today we want to discuss a different segment of companies, the existing service sector and delve into what are some of the upcoming opportunities and challenges of this large segment of the economy.
So today's guest is Brad Gaulin. He's the CEO and founder of MExit, a Calgary based firm that helps businesses sell and exit their companies. So firstly, Brad, welcome to the show.
[00:00:30] Brad Gaulin: Thanks Peter. I appreciate you inviting me.
[00:00:33] Peter Beaudoin: So let's start off with, you know, what problem does MExit look to solve?
[00:00:37] Brad Gaulin: What we're looking at is really, there's a, there's a huge demographic shift happening right now in the, in the world of business.
And BDC actually, their latest forecast. They estimate that approximately 40% of small medium businesses in Canada are going to transition ownership in the next five years. So this is in a sense, a potential tectonic shift in the demographics of business ownership. So, you know, change is an opportunity.
It's also a huge need. So helping the, the boomer generation, the generation that's, that's basically on their way out. And I think the current economic situation, that's it, it's more positive. It's more upbeat. I think. A couple of years with COVID people have just thought of survival and now, you know, we're going to survive and people are thinking, okay, now it's time.
You know, the market's not horrible. And, and if I sell, I'm going to get a decent price now, because you know, things are just a lot more optimistic. So, you know, if you think about it, these businesses with all of them coming down the pipe when you start to learn some of the statistics and some of the data what's really scary about it is the research through the the Exit Planning Institute, EPI out of the US and the actually Stats Can
supports a lot of same data, only one in 10 business owners, exit successfully. And when I say exit successfully, I just mean they exit as they have planned, you know, they, they get the value for their business. They were anticipating or are hoping for the, the transition, you know, happens effectively and fairly smoothly, the cultures match all that kind of stuff.
So when you think about it, one in 10, and actually for small businesses, the stats, the data shows that two thirds of small businesses just shutdown. And you think of that under 10 employees type of businesses, that's, you know, that's roughly 85, 90% of the businesses in Canada.
[00:02:46] Peter Beaudoin: Yeah. Cause, cause let's explore that a bit because you said the first step was 40% of 50% of owners in the service sector want to retire in the next five years.
That's what they're, they're thinking of transitioning their businesses. Correct. That's what I'm. Come back that first step. So, I mean, let's, let's look at that. So what are, you know, what does these typical type of companies, cause you mentioned that there, these are about 10 people. I mean, they've been in business a few years.
They are going concerns, right. These have been there for a long time and they're going, so can you give us a scope of what is one of these typical businesses look like?
[00:03:17] Brad Gaulin: So a typical one might be a dry walling company and they've been operating for 22 years. So I'm not going to name names. Cause off the top of my head, I'm describing a company we're working with actually.
And really it's, you know, the, the owner is, is just tired. You know, everything's changing, everything's been flux, it's been just a roller coaster ride the last five, 10 years, you know, up and down. And now he's kind of looking at this and going, it's time you know, kind of burnt out next generation of workers coming in, think and operate differently.
And, you know, he's having a hard time just kinda keeping up with all the changes and, and it's time from his perspective. It's, it's time to kind of hand on to the, the next generation of leaders and that type of thing. And he's, he's not sure exactly. You know which way he wants to go. Cause you know, he cares about his people.
He cares about his customers. He, he, he cares about the community that, that his business works in. He's, you know, he's well known in the community, that type of thing. So he's, he's at the point, he just knows that it's time for him to move on, but he really doesn't know why or how, or, you know, which, which way to choose in terms of which way to get out, because he could sell it to his employees.
He could look for a strategic buyer. I mean, there's, there's a few different options. You know, kids are one option, but he's kind of ruled that one out.
[00:04:51] Peter Beaudoin: And that's usually the case. Yeah. I know a lot of business owners who just got my kids don't want it. They're not interested in the business they've gone on and have their own interests or they might've done it in college and et cetera.
But, but let's look at that. I mean, I guess is when you see, you know, you just mentioned two thirds of the companies that don't sell simply shut down. So are these, these are people, you know, they're small shops, but they just go there's, there's no opportunity for them to sell? Are they simply. Because in some ways to me is, is, well let's, let's, what's the top reason these companies don't sell then?
[00:05:23] Brad Gaulin: Actually, ironically for small companies, the two biggest triggers for exits are illness and unexpected offers.
So an unexpected offers really only tend to come to the companies that, that tend to be in the in the higher performance level, in terms of their, their niches in the areas they work in. So people like to buy shiny things or there's people looking for a bargain hunting and, and this, you know, there's, there's whole companies now setting up in the, in the U S I haven't seen in Canada around this, you know, there's opportunities to go grab a business for free, because there are so many people who don't have an exit plan, and then they get.
Something unplanned for happens, you know, they, they have to move, they have to look after their kids, something happens. And then, you know, when it comes to push, comes to shove and. They don't have anybody that they've groomed within their company to take over. You know, the financials of the company are okay, but typically, you know, the person who owns the company is the breadwinner.
They're the one who brings in all the customers. They're the one who has all of the relationships. And when they walk away from the business, you know, as much as somebody else might want to take in on, quite often, they just don't have the...
[00:06:46] Peter Beaudoin: the key relationships walk out the door at the same time. Yeah. So, so can I ask, I mean, the size of those businesses that we're talking about, what's the value of these types of organizations?
Are they in the million range, the 5 million range? What's the size of these typical companies?
[00:07:00] Brad Gaulin: So usually, I mean, you can kind of take out. Rule of thumb. So I know, depending on the sector in engineering, I need to, to make roughly $300,000 per employee. So if you do the math on that for a little engineering firm, that means a 10 employees that need to be earning about $3 million dollars.
[00:07:19] Peter Beaudoin: And then what's the sale. Yeah. The sale value of a company of that size. Yeah.
[00:07:23] Brad Gaulin: So a company that size, ideally, if they're being fairly well, well-managed. Their EBITDA, their earnings before income tax depreciation, et cetera. They should be grossing. If they're earning 3 million, their EBITDA should be somewhere in the, I don't know, let's say four to 500,000 range, and then they might get a multiple of anywhere from four and a half to seven.
[00:07:47] Peter Beaudoin: So four to seven times, their 500,000 is what we're saying, right?
[00:07:51] Brad Gaulin: But really when we, you know, there's a lot of factors and we say what's their value. Saleable value is really kind of split between the financial stuff and the financial stuff. That's, that's typically, you know, how a thumbnail evaluation be done.
What's your multiple of EBITDA you know, comparative sales, there's this whole services that will give you those. The thing that they don't tell you is that what comes actually time to sell the value is not purely based on the financials. There's one, this exit planning Institute, probably one of the best sources for data.
So according to their research, they say that at the end of the day, with actual sales, only 20% of a company's appreciated value is attributed directly to financials. So think of, think of that multiple of EBITDA as being the upper limit, 80% of that upper limit you can kind of take off the table based on what's called four C's.
So first C is human capital, people. If you don't have the people in place who can look after the company and a culture where they're effective as a team, they perform well, you know, you can take off 20%. Social capital. If they don't have a good brand reputation position, the market market share, you can take off another 20%. Customer capital. Their relationships, agreements evergreen agreements, master service agreements, those kinds of things, that kinda show consistent, reliable revenue that you can take off another 20%. And then the last one is called structural capital, which is really business processes, business systems, you know, the whole key to actually having a sellable business.
We call it the vacation test. You know, I ask a business owner "can you go on holiday for six weeks and your business not be hurt at all, you know, financially?" And if the answer's no, then you don't have a sellable business because if you walk away or get hit by a bus tomorrow and you'll, and now we're going to lose you're the main decision maker in the company we're going to lose our, our most loyal customers.
We don't have anybody. Who's, who's got the relationships to bring in new business or more business. And we don't have systems and processes in place. So if we lose people that the company can still keep functioning, or I could quickly bring in and train somebody because we've got good processes and systems and structures, and each one of those are risk factors that the higher the risk, the lower the price.
[00:10:21] Peter Beaudoin: Cause on that then. I mean, cause when you think of, you know, selling it forward, these are companies where 2 million-ish in the, you know, they're, they're small companies, which is great, but I mean, in some ways the owners are leaving significant. If they close, you know, if they had a going concern that they could better structure, they could be leaving money on the table and correct me if I'm wrong.
I mean, if you have a Canadian controlled private corporation, your first 800,000 is almost tax-free right. If you sell a Canadian corporation, you essentially walk away with your first $800,000 of, of the value to the owners. Is tax-free, is that correct?
[00:10:54] Brad Gaulin: Yeah. The federal government changed some of the capital gains exemptions a few years ago.
So this is one where we actually advise, depending on. If you restructured shares, how long have you owned your shares, there's a number of factors that are involved in this. And, and actually if you're smart and you've structured properly, then there's ability to set up holding companies shared amongst your family and actually multiply your family's capital gains exemptions to be able to to take money off the table in terms of taxes so,
you know, this is again, one of those things that the worst thing that a business owner, any business owner can do is, is basically leave their exit planning to the last minute. Because if you, if you don't structure properly You know, you may lose. Cause companies we advise are just the kind of seasoned long-term service companies, that type of thing.
We talked to a lot of startups as well, because one of the first things you get asked as a startup, what's your exit plan investors ask you what's your exit plan and, and for any company you know, the key to having a great exit is build a great company, build a great company. You know great culture where you've got, you know, all those four C's are kind of looked after.
You've got everyone, is, is mentoring and growing the person to replace them. Cause it, you know, it allows them to, to go onto more interesting work and move up the food chain, or it allows the people below them to reduce the risk to the organization, build processes, build systems build diverse customer bases always be looking at growing.
You know, there's, there's a lot of things you can do, if you give yourself time, because whether you're a mature company, even a mature company, your point was bang on. If you just kind of throw it up for sale and hope, cross your fingers, you're probably going to leave huge money on the table. As a, as a matter of fact, the research shows that companies put up for sale that are transferred or internal or asset sales companies actually put up for sale.
Typically. 80% of companies put up for sale don't sell. And this is from the brokers Institute because brokers want to sell easy to easy deals. But you don't want to sell fixer uppers.
[00:13:10] Peter Beaudoin: Is this because these companies haven't been, they're just being put on the market. Cause you mentioned, you know, it's illness or unexpected, if someone's ill and they go, okay, I've got to go.
I got to exit. They're just, it's in a way a fire sale, which, you know, fortunate way to look at it. But these are companies that are trying to go to market fast who have not prepared. Correct?
[00:13:28] Brad Gaulin: And sometimes the owners have kind of thought about it, but they haven't really actively done a lot to get it better prepared.
They thought about it. And, and I know one of my clients, he had run numbers and he'd done all economics and he figured he had it pretty well nailed out in terms of what he thought the company was worth. But again, the stats show that companies that do that and just kind of throw it up for sale. On average, they get about 50 cents on the dollar of what they expect.
Because if you haven't nailed every one of those, we've got systems and processes and procedures and all that other stuff, and you, haven't got redundancy in your team and you know, then somebody is, is, you know, they may make an offer, but it's not going to be your number.
[00:14:15] Peter Beaudoin: So if you, if you think about, or I guess the question is, is I would ask you is.
If I'm an owner and I'm thinking of selling, right. I have a service company midsize. I've been in existence, you know, 20 years. How long should I start, okay, I want to sell, should I be thinking about this five years out, three years out, like what's a reasonable amount of time to prep and make sure I've got my systems in place and make sure I'm ready.
I've got, you know, these processes and people and capital in place. What's the timeline?
[00:14:41] Brad Gaulin: So the typical timeline we advise and there's, there's three phases. So the timeline there's three major phases in the deal that you have to actually plan for. So when you think of your timeline, it's, it's not how long before I sell there's three phases.
So the first phase is, how much time do you need to maximize the value or get your company so that it's a really shiny penny that is going to sell, and it's going to sell for a price that you like. So typically you need at least two years because our philosophy is, if you want to maximize the value of your sale, you've got to grow it to sell it.
You've got to show a company that has growth potential, because what buyers are hungry for the best purchase price you're ever going to get is called a strategic purchase. That's where somebody looks at your business and says, holy cow, you've got great systems. You have great people, you know, now with the talent shortage I've been hearing in the M and A world they're buying companies just for talent.
[00:15:41] Peter Beaudoin: That's the value. That's where the value is. Yeah, yeah, sure.
[00:15:45] Brad Gaulin: To put all of those pieces in place. Typically is, is a fairly major transformation in a lot of cases. And it takes a minimum of two years. Like the longer you can do it in advance, the more of a premium you're probably going to be able to attract. Because what you want to really show is the people who are staying with the business, have the skills and abilities and the culture to grow the company, regardless of ownership, because that's, what's really attractive to buy.
You know, there's a team here and I think they'll stay here if I treat them well...
[00:16:18] Peter Beaudoin: and reward them and yeah, you've got it. Yeah, sure. Yeah. Yeah. So, so on that, I mean, if we, an earlier stat, you mentioned two thirds of the companies don't sell and they simply shut down. Right. As the owner retires, can we save those companies?
Are, is there something there we can save? Cause I think of, you know, all these small companies that there are going concerns. They are making revenue. They, they, you know, they have employees, are they, can you save them? Can we save them.
Possibly. And again, to your earlier question, timing is timing is, is always so key in terms of, can we save them because the first phase is prepping for the sale.
The second phase is. The we call it transact for values. So our three phases of an exit, you need to maximize value, which is the preparation you do for the deal you need to transact for deals. So you need to select the best option and structure the deal so that it gives you the best post-tax after tax dollars to keep in your jeans.
Because if you know, it's not the pre-tax value of the company, that's gonna. That's that's really a value to you personally. It's the after-tax value. What do you get to keep for your retirement to start your next business? Whatever it is you want to do. And then that typically takes a year a deal on average takes eight to twelve months. That's how long a deal takes.
[00:17:41] Brad Gaulin: From the time they spot you and you negotiate and you close, you get your check and yeah. And that, just to clarify though, Brad, that would not include the earnout time, right? Because if they say you've got to work another two years and help us manage the transition
[00:17:54] Peter Beaudoin: That that's the third phase, we call that transfer value phase.
And that is exactly that. That's your earn-out, that's very rarely do you get, you know, a check and a door to walk through and walk away. Typically there is some sort of golden handcuffs, some sort of arrangement where the buyer's going to want to suck every last bit of value out of you. You know, relationships, processes, systems, anything that you haven't set up.
So honestly the better you set up in advance and prep for all. The, the faster is going to be your, your exit and transfer value period. If you do it really well, then quite often, they may just keep you on as an advisor you know, for six months to year and, and, you know, there'll be, part-time on demand, whatever.
If you do a really bad job of it, I've seen ones where they, they can tell you up for two or three years, you know, and, and like you said, can you rescue those? Usually the, the less prepared. The more, the onus is on you to fix the business before you get to really exit it.
And some of these are lifestyle businesses, right?
It's a one person show and they have just a couple of employees, they make decent money, but they've, you know, yeah. It's just depends what they want. Right. So, but I always find if you're exiting, even to sell a two or 300,000 is still money in your pocket and you get that product, you know, you get your tax it's tax-free in a way.
Right. You know, so I just see that there is opportunity there.
[00:19:21] Brad Gaulin: Well, and quite often, like you said that when you're last minute and say it's a health issue, then can you rescue it? Well, your, your best chances are rescuing it. Are either a, you know, a direct competitive sales. So some of the you've been competing against you.
You basically, you know, when you're, when you're ill and you're, you're up against a wall, then, then you're kind of left with desperate options. Because if you just shut it down, then what's the impact for your family. And your employees and your suppliers and your customers and the community that you, you know, you work in.
Cause if, if suddenly you lay off 10 people and there's 10 unemployed people, especially when you're in smaller communities, it can be devastating for the community.
[00:20:04] Peter Beaudoin: No, I have a family friend who doesn't want to sell their business because they know if they sell to a major corporate, they're going to restructure and probably lose some of the people.
So they're saying they want to sell to another small business owner who will give it the same support to the local community. Right. So 10 jobs in a local community can be a lot. Right. So, yes. So Brad, I guess I wanted to ask, I mean, I mean, obviously MExit, that's what you guys do, you help owners exit successfully.
So what do you see? I mean, as some of the biggest challenges, so when you go in and. And what are some of the challenges you see and you start dealing with on day one when you come to these organizations?
[00:20:41] Brad Gaulin: Well, actually the biggest challenges is getting them organized and getting, getting them structured and get, get them into planning and, and kind of a strategic mindset.
So the first step is, is really making them realize that if they want to have a, a great exit, they really need to have two plans. Not one plan. They need two plans. So the first plan they've got to get organized and prepare is their personal plan, their owner's exit plan. Because when you think about it, the owners of the business it's intended that the business will survive beyond the owner.
The, the, the business is always an ongoing concern. So when you're planning an exit, recognize the owner has two completely separate hats. They have to, they have to see and, and strategically plan for completely differently. Cause my, my getting out of the business, my considerations about, you know, what I want, et cetera, et cetera.
Those are absolutely unique to me. And it's not typically owners don't sit down and chat with their employees about what they want to do, and when they grow up type of thing, that's, that's something quite personal. So th the, the personal exit, the owner's exit plan is first, there's kind of a personal life plan.
What do you want your legacy to be? How much money financially do you need to support what lifestyle? So, you know, you need to define what's the legacy for your family? What's the legacy for your employees and your customers and the community? How do you want to be seen? So you need to get clear on what you want that to look like.
[00:22:20] Peter Beaudoin: So it's not just the business. It's all. Yeah. What do they want is their legacy. Okay, so that's one component. Yeah.
[00:22:25] Brad Gaulin: You get to choose that. And then the other thing too is what is it you want to do afterwards? Because one of the, you know, it's interesting. There's another stat. I keep throwing stats at you. 70% of business owners who sell a year later have post-sale regret.
[00:22:41] Peter Beaudoin: Their bored, they want, they it was the buzz of the business, right? Yeah.
[00:22:45] Brad Gaulin: You know, it was it. Well, and it's, it's the big thing is purpose. Cause a lot of people say, oh, I'm just going to go golf. That's ah, yeah, I I'm laughing. I love golfing and that's what I'm going to do. And then six months into golfing, they go, I'm going nuts. Life, you know, there's the Dan Pink stuff. What makes us truly feel fulfilled? And it's autonomy, mastery and purpose and, you know, you've got control of your retirement, but when you don't have a purpose, you don't feel like you make a difference in the world. And I'm sorry, but golfing everyday does not make a difference in the world. Then people start to get depressed and they start to look back and then they start to wonder if it was the right decision.
So getting clear on what it is that is going to make your life meaningful and full after the sale is critical to know before the sale. Otherwise you're probably, you know, I've actually seen people back out of the deal because they got cold feet the last minute going I'm probably going to die in six months because I'll have nothing to do.
[00:23:46] Peter Beaudoin: Moving to my cabin in the woods it's not as fun when you, when the reality is there.
No, absolutely, absolutely.
[00:23:51] Brad Gaulin: You know, and then, so you've got to, you've got to do that. Then you've got to do a personal financial plan. What are all my sources of. You know, in terms of what do I have in my house? What do I have in RSPs? What do I have in in revenue properties?
So you really have to look at what are all going to be in the next phase of my life, what are going to be all my sources of income, what are going to be all my expenses, what are going to be, you know, legacy costs that I want to support a lifestyle, those types of things. So you really need to engage with a personal financial planner.
One of the keys, I think for exiting is getting a team of expert advisors to advise you on the critical stuff. You know, a lawyer who knows what they're doing around business structuring, you know, around estates, around these kinds of things an accountant who can help you do your, your financial planning forward looking for the business forward, looking for yourself, those kinds of things, a tax specialist who can help you structure you know, an M and A specialist who can advise you on, you know, what's hot in the market and what kind of stuff people are looking for now, those kinds of things.
You need a personal financial planner, so that you don't have this guess of how much money you think you need, you know, for a fact that I need to get X million dollars out of my business to have the retirement or, to be able to go on and start the next business I want, or whatever it is you want in your life. You've got to get that nailed down and clear not just hope and guess.
[00:25:24] Peter Beaudoin: So MExit will actually, I mean, you, you, you're not just, you have your contacts and network to help bring these, these business owners. Cause it's not just you coming in, you bring in your community, right. You have a community. And as you said, you're not the accountant, but you bring in accountants, you have these contexts who you bring to the table.
[00:25:41] Brad Gaulin: Or we work with theirs. You know, if they've got. Exiting is a team sport, because then the next thing in their personal plan is they need to come up with a business financial plan. So now they're kind of putting on two hats. They got their, my hat and their business leadership hat, and they need to actually do a financial look forward on what's the business worth today.
So you need a business valuation today as it stands. And typically those will get risk assessed as well. So they'll, they'll, you know, they'll do a business valuation today and they'll look at all the factors, you know, do you have processes and systems? You know, how, how skewed is your client base, et cetera, et cetera.
How much of the business depend on you and you'll, you'll get an adjusted business valuation. Here's what your business worth today. But then with that, they'll also give you a here's what your business could be worth. If you fix all of these things. The dependency on you, systems processes, you know,
[00:26:43] Peter Beaudoin: It's like an audit in a way audit of what the Val potential valuation is. Yeah.
[00:26:47] Brad Gaulin: So with a business financial analysis that you need personally, that'll give you an idea on here's what my business is worth now here's my business could be worth. And then at that point we do, what's called a gap analysis. So then you've got to figure out what are all those things to close that gap between what it is and what I want it to be worth.
That's where the real value in engaging with somebody like ourselves, an exit planner, and more importantly, an exit executioner, because you might put together a plan. We need to do these 18 things to, to get the sale value we want. But that doesn't mean that you necessarily have the skillset to drive those changes.
'cause a lot of times, if you could have driven those changes yourself, you already would have. So, you know, that's where quite often you, you need help because again, it is so often, and this is the biggest challenge we see. A lot of business owners, they've been driving their business forever. And they've trained everyone to be dependent on them to drive the business.
So trying to retrain everyone with that kind of business can be really, really difficult. And especially when a lot of business owners, because, you know, that's the personal plan, this, what do I need? What do I want, et cetera, et cetera. What's a business worth to me. What do I want it to be worth to me?
You need to come up with a completely separate plan to fix the business. So it's ready for sale, but you're not going in and telling everyone, oh, I'm leaving the business. Let's get this fixed because that's going to side track everyone.
[00:28:13] Peter Beaudoin: People leave. Yeah. There's all sorts of issues there.
[00:28:16] Brad Gaulin: So you really have to kind of take a completely, this is where the second plan comes in.
So now I know what I want. I know where I need to go. I know what, what it could be worth what I need it to be worth. And I know of, here's a bunch of things that I need to fix. Well, the next stage is to actually come up with the business growth plan because you want to grow it, to sell it, to get that premium price.
And that's a whole engagement with your leadership team or to build a leadership team. And that's a completely separate piece of work. So in this case, you know, the owner has to take off the owner hat, put on the business leadership hat and basically get everyone excited about, you know we're coming out of COVID and it's time to take this business to the next level.
And you guys are going to do that, you know, and, and you've got to really kind of engage and sell the team. I frame it as just taking the company to that next level.
[00:29:11] Peter Beaudoin: There's a lot there. A lot there Brad. So, so w when we started this, we didn't know if we could almost fill a show. I think we could almost fill two shows with this, but look, I did want to say, look, if listeners want to know more about yourself or MExit, what should they do?
[00:29:26] Brad Gaulin: Yeah, we can just reach out to MExit.ca. That's our website. Every week we put up articles and reference material in our blog there. We also repost that through our LinkedIn site. So those are probably the best places to to get ahold of us and see the kind of stuff we do.
And, you know, our vision is every business owner deserves a great exit from startups to, you know, to third generation business owners. They all deserve it. They put their lives into it. And the other aspect is we actually license our toolbox because our toolbox really focuses around the how to do it.
There's there's tools and stuff out there telling you what to do. And lots of consultants specialize in exit planning, telling you what to do, but it's your ability to execute. I find, you know, that's, that's been the kind of work I've been doing last 14 years. It's can you execute? That will determine your success.
And, and so that's a toolbox we built, we use, but we also license it to other consultants because you know, the need is going to be so big. We, we really got to hold hands with as many business owners as we can and, and get them through this so that the next generation of business leaders can take these businesses over and make them thrive in the new normal. Yeah.
[00:30:39] Peter Beaudoin: Okay. Well, look, Brad, I do want to say thanks for your time today.
[00:30:43] Brad Gaulin: Thanks. Peter was a lot of fun.
[00:30:45] Peter Beaudoin: So if you liked the episode, please subscribe to the podcast. Thanks for listening.
Lindsay Skabar Hosts James Trask
[00:00:00] Lindsay Skabar: Hello, and welcome to the LIBI podcast. This is Lindsay Skabar and I am joined with James Trask. He is a man of many talents. he, he started a business called Skip the Depot. And if you don't know about it, you're about to find out the amazing things that have been created here in Calgary. And he is also a full stack developer.
So we are going to have a very interesting conversation given the dynamic and what's going on here in the Alberta market. for both starting a business and being a developer. So it's kind of a, a double whammy here, with James. James, welcome.
[00:00:32] James Trask: Thanks Lindsey. Thank you for having me and, the opportunity to share our story here.
[00:00:36] Lindsay Skabar: Well, I'm pretty excited.
I've been friends with James for quite some time and he shared with me the beginnings of Skip the Depot and immediately I was hooked because I just think it's such an amazing story of how it was created in the first place. And then also what it's endeavoring to do. So James, maybe tell us a little bit about the, the beginnings of Skip the Depot and, and what you've been able to create.
[00:00:57] James Trask: Yeah. The origin story is kind of interesting because it, it centered around, technology discovery. So the full background here is, I run a software development company in Calgary called LT3 Advanced Technology Group and we, have been providing custom software solutions for a variety of industries and businesses for the last 10 years.
and one of the industries that we have quite a niche in right now is actually a used beverage container management. So bottle depots and things of that nature. And so we've been consulting and building software systems for that industry for 10 plus years as well. And we had an opportunity back in, in 2017.
[00:01:30] James Trask: We have a bit of a break between projects and we're trying to figure out what we wanted to do with that time. And, you know, at the time we were building software systems, for the web, for Android and for iOS, and we were building them essentially using a wide variety of different technologies. So in, in iOS, we were using objective C and an Android.
It was Java. And for the web, it was, you know, HTML5, CSS, all those kinds of things. Right, so t to have a development team know and understand and be experts in all these different technology sets is, is quite an expensive, proposition. you need a lot of different people. Maybe you need just an iOS guy or just an Android person.
and we looked at that and we said, okay, is there a better way we can do this? Can we kind of consolidate our technology sets? Can we develop in one code base and deploy to a number of different technology stacks, or platforms? And so we did a bit of a technology scan and we kind of identified a few of a few different technologies that were emerging at the time.
Was it fast? How was the scale, all those kinds of things. And, you know, we'd been in the beverage container management industry for so long. that we had really kind of identified a gap in service and that gap was nobody was coming to people's homes and picking up their bottles and cans and taking them back to the Depot for them.
You know, we have apps that will allow you to get a car whenever you want it to take you places. You can go on Amazon people, buy stuff and deliver it for you. you know, bring you food, all those kinds of things. And we thought, you know, what are the kind of barriers to building an app that would do this, but for recycling?
And so we have started asking around a bunch of different people, you know, what the challenges were, because I think people had attempted this in the past. And a lot of those challenges that they were describing to us were essentially technology-based. So, things like customer acquisition, right? In the past, people were using spreadsheets, right?
To call people and be like, Hey, you know, okay. So are you, we're coming on Thursday and. You know, you'd have to schedule the driver, send them out, all those kinds of things. So customer acquisition was one, scheduling was another one driver scheduling. So sending the driver out on all the different routes, scheduling.
and then, payment as well. Right? So a lot of these people who had attempted this thing, we wanted to pay people with cash. Now you have a cash management problem that you have to solve as well, sending drivers out with cash, making sure they give the right amount, all these kinds of things. So, we, we essentially took all these problems.
[00:04:19] James Trask: We identified that they could all be solved with technology. And so we gave it a shot with this new technology stack that we were also trying to test out. And we ended up, blanketing a one postal code in Calgary. It was about a thousand houses or so with, leaflets and flyers. We built out a very rudimentary version of the software to start.
And, I think we started on like a Saturday. Like we were going to pick up on Saturdays for a month or something like that, because we're obviously working full-time and other projects, you know, we didn't really have time to, to go during the week. And so we'd like to have this community just to see what the interest was.
And, we've got quite a bit of interest back. People start signing up. We're like, okay, cool. So we went out on our first Saturday and we had maybe, I don't know, 10 pickups. I start talking to people about it and it just kind of grew its own legs. From there. We expanded it out to the entire city of Calgary.
I ended up driving, driving the truck full time for six months. I think it was about four days a week. We were doing, Monday to Thursday. Kind of like one quadrant of the city at a time. and I did that for six months, just for a couple of reasons. Number one, two, we didn't have anybody else to drive.
but also to get firsthand knowledge and experience on the challenges with driving, the customer experience, and kind of bring all that feedback back in house, and one of the really cool things at the time is that we were making, new deployments weekly, basically based off of the feedback that I got from customers and the feedback that the dev team got from me as a driver, just trying to, you know, make quality of life improvements and new features and all those kinds of things.
[00:05:44] James Trask: So that's kind of how it came up. And we, it eventually grew to a point where we realized we needed to, to onboard some partners. So we have some partners that we work with that, you know, handle all of the collections and processing and all that stuff, so we're primarily focused on software side. Again, I'm not driving a truck around anymore, which is fantastic.
[00:06:01] Lindsay Skabar: Congratulations. That's that's a big step.
[00:06:03] James Trask: Thank you, ya I know that was, I was very relieved. once that happened? You know, so like, I mean, it's, it's good and bad. I actually liked driving around, for a lot of the days because you just put on podcasts and you kind of just listen to things and you learn a bunch of stuff.
So I didn't actually mind the driving at all. But, yeah, so, I mean, that's how it grew in scale when we eventually, just spun it off into its own business. And now, we're processing about 22 million containers a year across the province, Calgary, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Banff. Red Deer .
So it's, it's you grown pretty, pretty good right now. And, Yeah, that's about all I have to say for the origin story of that.
[00:06:36] Lindsay Skabar: Well, it's such an interesting story to me because usually, and maybe it's not usually, or at least in my experience, there's been the business idea and then trying to apply technology to a business idea.
And you came at it this totally different way, which is I have this technology, what problem can I solve with it? Which is just a totally interesting perspective.
[00:06:58] James Trask: Yeah. And you know, it, it is, it was something that we'd been obviously kicking around in our heads for a few years. but never really had the time to go out and, and, and try it.
And so it was just kind of this like perfect timing where we had a break, we were looking to investigate new technologies and we had this idea kicking around in our head. So, you know, we actually had the knowledge and expertise to execute on that business idea too, which I think was, also a very important part.
and that we had talked to a bunch of people who had tried this before, knew what the pain points were, what the barriers were. And then we, you know, figured out a way to solve them, and leveraging the technology that way.
[00:07:31] Lindsay Skabar: One of the things that you said, that really resonated with me is that true agile deployment methodology of being at every step of the customer journey.
because you do have a number of customers, you would do you have those truck drivers, you have the people who are going to be, providing the cans and other donations, as well, and you can dive into that in a second, but as well, the bottle Depot is going to do the processing and they can do that in their flexible off hours with the staffing that's already sitting there.
[00:07:58] Lindsay Skabar: So I've been a user of, Skip the Depot since the moment we met, And you have removed the pain and agony of the environmentally responsible thing to do included some social responsibility in it and made it easy. So those are, that's a triple win, in our household.
and one of my favorite things to do when, I schedule a pickup from Skip the Depot is to donate those funds to a charitable organization. Tell me about that, that process?
[00:08:27] James Trask: So that is a super cool story as well. I mean, back when we were blanketing the. that one postal code with all the flyers and everything.
And we started going around and talking to people. We realized that weekend the very first day we did pickups that we need to have a charity option because the first, first question about half of the people asked was, Hey, how can I donate this to this charity? I already donate all my stuff to them.
Right. so they, they thought it was great that we would come to their house and pick it up, but they wanted that donation to still go to the place that they were donating to anyway, through this, you don't have to make the trip. So that for that very first weekend, we said, okay, we need charities. And we implemented the charitable aspect very early in the process.
And I think that that was a huge key to our, our growth over time. Because once you get the charities on board, now you have organizations that are willing to promote their own cause using. your essentially platform to raise funds for their organization. so it was just huge in so many different ways.
we've facilitated the donation of over $1.1 million, in bottles and cans to charitable organizations, since we started. So it's a. That's listening to those customers early on and, and realizing that they wanted that donation option was an absolute, huge game changer for the business
[00:09:39] Lindsay Skabar: Customer centricity seems to be kind of one of your focal points and, and driving to the success of your business. tell me a little bit about, so bottles and cans and, and,and those devices that are containers that when you call it. Containers for re refund what's what's the category,donating those.
but you also have the ability I've noticed on the app and haven't used it yet because I haven't, haven't needed to pick up any electronics or what have you, but you do pick up other things aside from just recyclables.
[00:10:07] James Trask: Yeah. I mean, we're looking to expand kind of the, the recyclable options, because, it offers an additional revenue stream to a lot of our partners that we work with as well.
if we're all going to have trucks on the road, we might as well pick up as much things as possible. That's essentially what we're looking at and trying to optimize the use of the trucks, as well as, help people out with things like their spring cleaning and a bunch of old stuff they have in the basement that they want to get rid of.
[00:10:30] James Trask: Right. So, you know, It's just another, another opportunity to leverage essentially our existing business model and the existing investment in things like trucks and drivers and labor and all that kind of stuff. In order to, you know, just help make the business grow and make it better.
[00:10:45] Lindsay Skabar: So from early business to a scaling business, what have you found to be some of your, the, the things that you were really happy you did, and then some of the things that you perhaps would have done differently in hindsight,
[00:10:59] James Trask: I am really happy that we failed fast in a lot of respects. We, made decisions.
like I mentioned, basically on a weekly basis, we were making deployments on a weekly basis. One of the first things that we thought was, was going to be a good idea. And it wasn't, is that we were going to, have a label printer in the trucks to tag everyone's bags with. And within 10 minutes of driving around trying to label people's bags, we realized I was just going to be too slow.
the label printer doesn't print fast enough. there's, there's a whole, like, you need an outlet in the, in the vehicles, you know, special adapter. There's a whole bunch of like technological problems there. So that's, that's good. And I'd say that's probably one of the things that we did really well was, making decisions.
[00:11:40] James Trask: If we were like about 80% confident that it was the right decision and if it wasn't just reverted it back and trying something else. So, we didn't try to boil the ocean. We didn't try to make things perfect out of the gate. we really tried to listen to our customers, tried to listen to, everybody doing the work.
So the drivers and counters, you know, the first weekend we actually also had a counting facility built in my partner's garage and we were counting the containers ourselves and entering them. And we did that for one weekend and decided that, you know, that was a little bit of a gross thing to do in the garage.
It was a bit, bit too bit too much, but we got that experience and realizing what the fastest way was to count and how we're going to organize the screens based off of that information. So there's, there's a lot of good things from, from that perspective. you know, I really liked that we, we focus on the customers to start.
I think you mentioned in, in, you know, a few minutes ago, you were very customer centric and, you know, we essentially have two guiding principles when we, you know, we're building the software and started the business and number one was, make it as easy as possible for the customer. And the second one was do it as cheaply and fastest, fastest possible because, you know, we were paying for it out of our own pocket, essentially.
Right. So, You know, those were having those two guiding principles out of the gate was, it was a huge thing. You know, it it's, it's tough because, we never really let that, like, I'm sure we've made, I'm sure there's stuff that would come to mind. Nothing comes to mind right now off the top of my head.
but I think part of the reason for that is that we never let any of the issues that we saw linger for a long period of time, because we were constantly innovating. We were constantly changing things. the fact that we were making decisions and if they were wrong, we just cut them off and we switched and went to another way.
[00:13:12] James Trask: And we were nimble enough to be able to do that, that we didn't really have any of these decisions that were, you know, oh man, that that was a three month poor decision that, you know, we really shouldn't have made. so I think that that helps insulate a lot of that. risk at the end of the day.
[00:13:27] Lindsay Skabar: Now tell me a little bit about, COVID and how did that impact your business. you know, everyone's got a story about, about how COVID has, either, positively or negatively impacted their business. I can imagine you have an interesting story there, based on couple of things consumption increasing overall in the home, and people's not willingness to leave their houses. So, tell me a little bit about that experience.
[00:13:54] James Trask: A bit of a perfect storm for our business in a lot of respects. And, you know, I don't, I don't say that as a, necessarily a huge, good thing for society, but it ended up being a pretty big, pretty big kick for, for our business, for the reasons that you mentioned.
So the first thing had happened when COVID hit, as, you know, as, you know, a lot of the businesses shut down. Period. So even bottled depots, which are considered an essential service,by the Alberta government, a lot of them shut down initially because nobody really knew what was going on. Nobody knew what this was.
Nobody knew what the impact of contracting it and spreading it. And a lot of that stuff. So both for the first two to three weeks, want to say about mid March to early April. There were no bottle depots open effectively and in Alberta. And that was just, that was primarily because they were voluntarily shutting down because nobody knew what was going on.
and then they also took some time to, Properly retrofit their depots with, you know, a hand sanitizer and, you know, plexiglass shields, like all those kinds of things and equipping their operators with gloves and all that kind of stuff. Right. So during that period,searches for bottle depot pickup went through the roof on Google and we were kind of the number one choice at the time.
[00:15:02] James Trask: So in five weeks we grew 525% in our weekly booking. We were completely unprepared. both from a software perspective and from an operational perspective, we were panicking to implement limits on a daily pickups and things of that nature. Because to that point we had just had it wide open. We were like, let's book as many pickups as possible.
We weren't filling up anyone's day, you know, direct drivers were going around for half days or whatever it was. Right? So we were scrambling on the software side because now all of a sudden we would have 300 people book for one driver on a day whose maximum is about 40 pickups a day. And so that was a problem because now we're rescheduling people.
We're disappointing customers, all of that stuff. Once we got around to even picking up all those containers, we had. A massive backlog, when we were trying to count them, we had you bags everywhere in the parking lot, trying to manage all that stuff, trying to manage, you know, things like theft and all that as well.
So there was a large number of operational issues that happened as a result of the 500 plus increase in volume that we just weren't ready for. So, you know, we, we eventually got through that. had a lot of positive feedback and more negative feedback than we had had to that point in time, which was completely fair.
I mean, we were promising turnaround times with like 48 hours and people were going on a week or more for their, for their cap container counts and stuff like that. So there was a lot of apologizing to do and a lot of, you know, customer. You know, retention, let's say, but we, we managed to get through it.
I think stabilized from there. and, you know, we, we saw a bit of a, a bit of a drop just because, you know, when depots open back up, people start going back to the Depot. So not everybody was completely handcuffed anymore, but we managed to see a pretty stable usage rate going forward from, from then on.
[00:16:55] James Trask: So, The COVID was a net positive to, to our business. but on top of that, I think it was a net positive too, from our business perspective anyway, from, for the charities because, people were donating more money than ever through, through the system. skip the Depot was one of the only ways that charities could raise funds because all the in-person events were cancelled.
So we saw a huge uptick in promotions from our charity partners, to recruit bottles and cans from your donors. And so that was a real, real, huge positive for them as well. I think. So, yeah, I mean, it was, it was a real interesting time. I'll tell you that for about six months.
[00:17:28] Lindsay Skabar: No kidding. Well, one of the things that I have found extremely interesting is a stat you once told me around the amount of empties that end up in the blue bin, versus, get picked up. Do you have, perhaps, perspective on what Skip the Depot has been able to do in terms of impact on both the environment and, actually actually recycling things that can be recycled where, previously, perhaps, returning to the city.
[00:17:59] James Trask: Yeah. I don't have any kind of updated numbers, from our impact or our conversation there. And a large part of that's due to, to, you know, some of the stuff that's happening around COVID as well. And, and the changes in numbers from, from both the blue bin and from, you know, our collections. but what I will say is that, you know, effectively there was, around $700,000, In deposits that were being thrown away by Calgarians anyway, into the blue bins, annually.
and so, you know, one of the things that we like to offer is the ability to have the same amount of effort, but, you know, you can now keep that money for yourself or you can donate to a charitable organization. So, you know, it's really just a way to, keep a little bit more of that money in your pocket, or put it towards a, a cause that you believe in.
[00:18:38] Lindsay Skabar: It is, it is an amazing story to have both an extremely positive impact on society at the same time as growing a business and kind of having a triple win for customers and, and your other stakeholders as well. So congratulations on that.
[00:18:54] James Trask: Thanks. Yeah, that's a, it's been a really interesting business because you know, like you mentioned, we've got, you've got B2B customers and we have B2C customers at the same time, so, there's a lot of, lot of stakeholders involved and there's a lot of relationship management that goes along with this. We're happy we've been successful so far.
[00:19:11] Lindsay Skabar: Amazing. Let's let's segue a little bit into the other side of, of what you do cause we have perhaps a number of other people's stories would be quite different or their learnings would've been quite different.
Had they not had a team of developers locally, that can be as agile, as your team was during Skip the Depot. On the other side. Now, you, you also run a business of, of developers here. tell us a little bit about the environment that we are in now. perhaps that has changed over time and, and what we can do as Albertans to try to really, provide fantastic opportunities for technologists that, or attract technologists to, to center here so that we can grow our businesses locally.
[00:19:57] James Trask: We've been growing at a pretty steady pace for the last few years, hiring home four to five people a year. so you know, our interview process, is probably not as aggressive as some of the larger organizations, maybe with some, some financial backing and they were looking to scale rapidly, you know, and a large part of, of the,resources that we're hiring are fresh graduates out of school. And, you know, part of the reason that that we like to do that is because, you know, you, you end up recruiting, folks who are happy and eager to learn, get some work experience in the workplace, and don't have any necessarily preconceived notions of how things are done or, you know, historical and, and,You know, experiential, things to share as well that, that you might not want in your business, right.
So, you know, we view our hiring opportunities as a way to say, okay, you know, if you come work for us, we're gonna give you a ton of work experience. we're gonna show you how, you know, we like to have things done. and you're going to be given a boatload of rope. So, you know, would we, first of all, I think the interview process and the hiring process is, has been the key to our business.
For the last, you know, five, six years. I don't think that if we had spent the time and effort developing that process, to, you know, essentially recruit the folks that we want, as part of our team, that we would have been anywhere near, as successful as we have been. So, that interview process has been kind of.
key almost a competitive advantage in a lot of respects, in terms of making sure that we hire the right folks and we don't, you know, and we don't, and we have a low turnover as there, as a result. Right. So, you know, one of the things that we say when we hire,people is that, you know, you're going to be given a problem and a, and a lot of rope to, to go figure out how to solve it.
[00:21:32] James Trask: You know, we're not going to necessarily, we're not going to handhold you. we're not going to tell you how to do things. We're going to say, this is what we need to get done. And you're going to be expected to come up with the options on how you might solve it and then select the best option to do it.
So, I think that's one of the things. You know, our group has really appreciated is the ability to, wear a lot of different hats and to have a lot of rope in terms of, you know, problem solving and, and responsibilities right out of the gate. as opposed to maybe stepping into what you might consider to be a more traditional role at a larger company, which is to our developer coming out of school, you are testing, and you were learning the system and, and you're doing all that stuff, which, you know, we still do just to some extent, but we progress people very quickly through, through kind of those steps. So, and we, we don't make, we don't silo people. We don't say that you're, you're on your database manager, you're an application developer.
We make sure that our full stack developers are doing the full stack and, and, and, you know, and enjoying themselves while they do it.
[00:22:28] Lindsay Skabar: Now, is there anything, like, right now when we're evaluating how healthy our economy is here in Alberta to attract the talent and the resources we need in order to be able to create new business ideas and grow.
and, and perhaps even, to. Diversify the economy here in Alberta, as many people are seeking to do. do you see an evolution of the technologist amongst us going more into consultative roles versus being hired within companies? Or do you see an, a change happening there, given the increased demand on developers in general?
[00:23:05] James Trask: You know, when it comes to things like attracting talent. I think the first question I would ask is what do we think people are looking for nowadays? And it might be a variety of different things. I mean, COVID has opened up a whole new door to things like work from home.
Right. And so, you know, one of the things that we do with, with our guys, on a quarterly basis is we try and figure out what they want out of not just their job, but life as well. Right. Because you know, when you, when you hire people, there's this whole other aspect, this whole other person beyond what you've agreed to do, which is work, right?
And the personal side is equally as important. And I think that when a city like Calgary or even the province, like Alberta is looking to attract talent, we need to start looking at things beyond the opportunities from a work perspective. Whether it be money or job positions or industries or anything else like that, and say, what do people really want, is it, you know, more of a work-life balance. Calgary is an amazing city, in terms of access to mountains and access to all kinds of fun stuff to do on a personal level. Right. And then on the work level, I mean, we have a variety of different industries as well. So, I don't, I don't think I see enough people asking those kinds of questions.
certainly not in a lot of the media pieces that I've read. you know, everything seems to be financially driven or industry driven, which is totally fair. And that's certainly a part of it. And, you know, don't discount that at all, but are there other opportunities, other things that you can offer some of these people too, twist their arm a little?
[00:24:33] Lindsay Skabar: Well, james, it has been such a delight chatting with you. Maybe we can kind of finish off by you telling us some of the things that have led to the success of skip the Depot. And, and what is it that we can learn from your story that we might consider as we're growing our own businesses?
[00:24:50] James Trask: Someone starting your own business and trying to grow it and scale it. One of the things that we found to be incredibly helpful along the way, was connecting with other entrepreneurs or business owners, in a variety of different spaces who were kind of going through the same kind of growth pains and transitions that you are. Lindsey, even some of the, some of the stuff that you did for us, you know, working with Skip the depot, and helping us understand our marketing, branding and our target customers to sell the product too.
I mean, that was huge. We were a couple of engineers, not knowing much about marketing or any of that kind of stuff. And you really opened our eyes to, to a lot of different things, which was super beneficial. you know, we have some other, you know, friends and, and things like that are just good shoulders to lean on and good sounding boards to bounce ideas off of. You're, you're really gonna find that a lot of you have the same problems and the same things to gripe about. So it's, it's always fun to go share a beer and, you know, help, help vent a little, or even sort out some problems, right? So, I think that that's been one of the, the huge success points, in terms of helping us out along the way.
[00:25:50] Lindsay Skabar: Yeah. Calgary has such an amazing entrepreneurial spirit. and I think that that perhaps while we are a really small town in a big city, and so that network effect of, of being able to talk to other people, going through similar challenges, for certain, has helped me in the past as well.
So I'm, I'm glad to hear. That's also been of benefit for you. thank you so much for taking the time with us today and talking about, Skip the Depot as well as Less Than Three, and looking forward to the continued success and the societal impact that your recyclables are having, on me and my house.
The yogurt drink containers. They get picked up on a regular basis, as well as the rest of Calgary, Edmonton, Fort Mac, Lethbridge. So it's been pretty awesome. What you've been able to build. and thank you so much for joining us today.
[00:26:37] James Trask: Thanks Linsay, thanks for having me on.
Tony Grimes Hosts Tait Hoyem
[00:00:00] Tony Grimes: Welcome to the next episode of the LIBI podcast. I'm Tony Grimes, a guest host for this episode and our guest today is Tate Hoyem CEO of Byte Tools. Welcome to the podcast.
[00:00:17] Tait Hoyem: Hey, thanks, Tony.
[00:00:18] Tony Grimes: So, this is my first time hosting for this podcast. And, normally what I do is I stalk my guests and thank you ahead of time for making this easy for me.
I just went to your website and oh, okay. He's got everything here. And, one thing I noticed going through your GitHub is you have a wide variety of projects there. I saw like tons of let's see, what did I see? Apache? We saw Node. There was something with python, you did some Django. You kind of played around with Jekyll.
You'd love Rust right now. You're into Linux, I guess basically I kind of have an idea of how big of a nerd you are right now. how did this all start? Like what, what got you into programming? What got you into just being a big nerd?
[00:01:08] Tait Hoyem: Well, I've always been into computers in one way or another.
You know, I, when I was, you know, 10 or 11, I was always on the computer. Whenever there was a problem, my parents were like, oh, Tait can fix it. You know? but actual, software development. And in addition to that, you know, sort of Linux and that ecosystem. That specifically came out of Minecraft out of, out of all things that people that bring people into programming.
It was Minecraft. at the time I was running a Mac and there was a bug in Java and Minecraft didn't work. And so some guy on a forum said, ha ha, try Linux. And I gave it a go the bug wasn't there. So that started me on Linux and being on Linux, having sort of full control of your system. that got me slowly into programming.
it was that, along with trying to make Minecraft mods, of course.
[00:02:05] Tony Grimes: And how old were you when Minecraft was the big thing in your life?
[00:02:09] Tait Hoyem: Probably 13. 14, yeah. I'd say around there. so then, yeah, after that, it was, I wanted to do that. I've still never made a Minecraft mod. I've moved away from that since.
but it sent me down a path it's sent me down a path of being fascinated by how computers work and wanting to make things better about them.
[00:02:27] Tony Grimes: It's been a while since I've gone through high school, my first language was like basic in computer 20, whatever the name of the course was. computer science, like in high school nowadays, what was your, your experience with that?
[00:02:41] Tait Hoyem: I don't really know because I was homeschooled and so I did not have computer classes per se. I tried my best to do a more structured online learning. And at the time the school I was with actually offered it, in basic, believe it or not. And. That wasn't my first introduction to programming. I had done a tiny bit of Java beforehand, but it was, it was my first formal introduction to programming was, was in basic.
[00:03:09] Tony Grimes: And basic is a pretty old language GOTO's. All of that. There's usually like something like a passion project you might've run into, fond memories of. First language basic probably wasn't it,
[00:03:24] Tait Hoyem: It was not. the first project that made me realize that I could make a difference, was a project that I got into while learning Mandarin Chinese.
when I was learning that, what happened was, I had the, all these documents that were in Chinese, you know, books and short stories and such. And of course I couldn't read them cause I, I couldn't read Chinese very well, but I knew some of the words and I'd try to get away with trying to read them, but it wasn't really working out.
but for learners, For learners specifically, they have books with the phonetic pronunciation of Chinese characters called Pinion or Juyen, depending on where you're from. And I realized that I could probably find a way to insert that into an already existing document. So one of my first big projects was called EPUB with Pinion, and it would take an EPUB document, which is basically just a zip file with HTML in it.
[00:04:24] Tait Hoyem: I extracted everything out of it, and I was able to add these phonetic notations on top of the characters so I could know what I was reading. That was the first, you know, passion project. The first thing I, you know, I, I worked 10 hours a day until I got it done kind of project. And that was sort of when I realized that I have the choice to change things for the better, if I really want to.
[00:04:51] Tony Grimes: Ya and that seems like it joined two passion projects 'cus, learning Chinese just isn't one of those things you just do one day right?
[00:04:58] Tait Hoyem: No, no, it's not. Yeah, you're right. It was totally a cross section of passions, which is what I keep looking for today is something that's not just great engineering, but something that's great engineering, something that helps me out.
Maybe it helps other people out, whatever it is. I'm looking for something that is that, that sweet spot of, a cross cross-section of interest.
[00:05:21] Tony Grimes: And now fast forward to today, just looking at your, I guess, your GIT history, sorry for stalking you...
[00:05:29] Tait Hoyem: That that's all right. That's public for a reason,
[00:05:31] Tony Grimes: but, you now have gotten into Rust and I have another friend of mine who you probably know, Adam who loves, loves, loves Rust.
And I find it very. Interesting, this, this language. How do you feel about it? What a you've got into, into it. You like it, obviously you have some kind of interest in it.
[00:05:56] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. So rust rust was, I would say more of an accident than a, than a choice. what happened was at the time I was talking to some friends from the UK and Romania and they were getting together to build a new piece of accessible technology a so, for people who don't know if you're blind and you're trying to use a computer, you need the computer to read stuff out to you. And that's called a screen reader. they want it to make a better one. They wanted it to make a faster one. They wanted to make a very type safe screen reader so that you did wouldn't have, random crashes and they chose Rust because it had that extremely strict type safety, Inherent within it.
It also handles, asynchronous programming really well. So they chose that. And then I came in as they were sort of designing this project. And I learned Rust as a consequence of this project, more than a, an intentional decision to learn Rust first.
[00:06:58] Tony Grimes: Yeah. It seems like that's a common pattern in your life. You kind of follow your interests and then whatever technology is in front of you, you just, kind of, look at it and you just, oh yeah sure I'll learn this.
[00:07:12] Tait Hoyem: Yeah, that's exactly it. If it's Python, it's Python, if it's Rust, it's Rust. If it's shell scripting it's shell scripting, it doesn't matter. The point is, is that I can get what I want to do done.
[00:07:24] Tony Grimes: I think, what was it the first time that we first had a conversation? I think it was that Uh chess game the, the pull request kind of thing. And I was very interested in that because, you know, as a teacher, I I'd like to give back and be a good Internet citizen and teach accessibility. And I gotta be honest.
I I'm not the best at it. I, I know the basics, but it's not like, you know, I'm great at going through the accessibility toolbar thing in Firefox or anything like that. And this really excited me about that, that chess game idea and like how you would even start with something like that. tell us a little bit about that.
[00:08:08] Tait Hoyem: Alright, sure. So, this is for a website called lichess.org, L I chess.org. And. What happened was at the time I was wanting to play chess with some of my friends who were blind and they had their favorite site to do that. And I had my favorite site to do that. The problem was is that the site I was using wasn't accessible whatsoever.
If you were blind, you were out of luck and their site looked terrible. And so I had a really time using their site. And so I saw this and I was like, man, this, this is a serious problem, you know? And, and it also segregates communities, right. You have, you have blind players of chess only playing other blind players of chess, which is just that's terrible.
You know? And so I found a website which had a, somewhat, they were, they were trying to have an accessible version of chess available, and that was lichess. There, there are a non-profit out of France. And I saw that, and I said, okay, that that's, that's something I can work with this. And so I asked some of my friends, I said, well, how would you want to navigate a chess board?
How would you want the chess board to look like, feel like semantically, how should it be marked up? Should it be a table? Should it just be a bunch of buttons? Like, what do I do? What do I do? So I asked for input, they told me what they wanted, and I took some inspiration from the site they were using originally.
And I was able to put together a pull request for lichess, extending, extending their non-visual user interface to the blind, or rather to beginner blind chess players. It was, it was pretty good for people who really knew the game already and were very familiar with it. But someone who was learning was going to have a very tough time understanding what's happening.
[00:10:04] Tony Grimes: Like somebody who can't memorize the entire board with a slightest glance.
[00:10:09] Tait Hoyem: Yes, exactly. And it was mostly for those people. So I was able to put in a pull request. I, I had lots of them back me up. I said, Hey guys, if you really want this to go in, can you please make a GitHub account and go comment on the pull request and say, yes, I want this.
And it got approved. And so now if you go to lichess.org, there are two modes. there is the standard mode, the mode that I would use, and there is blind mode and in blind mode, this completely separate interface shows up. And it allows you to navigate the board with arrows and keys, like a K or R will bring you to the next king or Rook in the board.
So you're able to have sort of a piece navigation go to the next pawn, go to the previous pawn in the board, that kind of thing.
[00:11:01] Tony Grimes: Getting a little bit deeper into how that will work. Like what, when you asked them what they wanted, what did they answer with? Like, what is it like when they're well, you're blind. You obviously save money on a display. now do you just spend that extra cash on better speakers? Is it a, some kind of weird braille thing? Like what does that look like to somebody?
[00:11:26] Tait Hoyem: Yeah, so it, it depends actually, some people really strongly prefer speech. They will refuse to use braille. I have a few friends that absolutely refuse to use a braille interface cause they hate it.
and I have other friends that refuse to use speech and absolutely are committed to using braille every day. So it's really more of a preference. it's it's sort of like, you know, there's that one guy that has the, you know, 32 inch ultra wide curved monitor and there's that other guy that's using that square monitor from his parents' basement 20 years ago.
[00:12:02] Tait Hoyem: Right. It's closer to that. You know, you have your preference of size, you have your preference of whether it's curved or not. And obviously your budget is a consideration in that as well. Having a braille display, as they're called, are extremely expensive, they're upwards of $10,000 in a lot of cases. So, a lot of people that can't afford it will be using speech and speech is, from what I've seen, more the default amongst people who, who can't see that they're using speech more than braille, because you can use that in a park. You can use that on your walk. You can use it on the train, you can use it anywhere. Whereas a braille display, it's this big, chunky thing you got to haul around with you.
[00:12:46] Tony Grimes: So let's say we had those two paths, speech, and braille. Does that change the way that you. Structured things in your code or do you not have to worry about that?
[00:12:57] Tait Hoyem: Generally not? So a braille display when connected to a computer will generally follow the screen reader. So the screen reader is actually what provides the braille interface.
So instead of saying submit form button, it will just write to the braille display "submit form button". So it's really just a, a medium of this same technology, either way. They're using a screen reader to get around.
[00:13:26] Tony Grimes: Putting all of that in my brain, trying to, you know, trying to visualize how that, how that works.
[00:13:31] Tait Hoyem: It's it's all good. It's a lot of new stuff. I understand.
[00:13:34] Tony Grimes: Okay. So you've had this one, it seems so I was looking through the pull request and, thumbs up all around. It seems in the, in the comment thread. And was that your first pull request or do you often make contributions to third party libraries?
[00:13:50] Tait Hoyem: I try to make contributions, but frankly there often isn't anything for me to add.
[00:14:28] Tony Grimes: I ha I still have yet to do a pull request. It's. You know, one of those things I don't, I don't even know how to get started.
[00:14:35] Tait Hoyem: And it's, it's tough. Let me tell you, I mean, I saw the need for one of these pull requests and man, it took me three weeks just to know what was going on in the code.
W when you come into a new code base and you have no support, you've got no help. You don't have a boss or colleague to go to it's just, go figure it out. I hope the documentation's good. Most of it was written in TypeScript. but there was some Skalla on the backend. I didn't have to touch too much of that. I only had to add a couple things on the backend, but mostly TypeScript.
[00:15:12] Tony Grimes: That's awesome.
I guess I've never had the courage to jump into a code base that I don't even know about, like, you know, where would you even start?
[00:15:22] Tait Hoyem: Yeah, no, no, exactly. And even, even if you decide to start, how do you not get discouraged after the first week of looking at the code and understanding nothing?
And what about the second week where you still understand nothing? it took a lot of motivation from my friends who were sort of egging me on like, oh, you can't stop now. You already put a week into it. Right.
[00:15:44] Tony Grimes: It's going to have good friends like that. Ones to keep you honest.
[00:15:46] Tait Hoyem: Oh yeah. Yeah. Good friends who want you to build their software for them.
[00:15:52] Tony Grimes: So I was. For the, the viewers, we were just, setting this, this podcast up for, recording. And actually my first question was going to be Mac, Linux or PC. which one do you like? And then after looking at your GitHub, obviously Linux and I just assumed because of my own bias that, you know, the, the software we use recommends Windows, Mac and all that. Oh, he's probably got, you know, something that this will run on. And I was like, okay, no, you're, you're definitely, you know, you started with that Mac way back in the day, and it seems like you fallen down the Linux rabbit hole. So I was looking at that. What's your, you have that project, your latest one.
And we talked about this before. What would, what's an update to that, that, Odyssey that you've been on with, I can't remember what it was a bios?
[00:16:46] Tait Hoyem: Oh, the bios. so I have, I have a few new projects that I'm working on. Yeah. So, so the bios is actually not my project. it's actually the project of EDK2 they're the developers of a lot of bios software for major companies like ASUS and Acer and Dell. Yeah, so they are working on, getting audio drivers, working within a bios, for Intel HD audio, that would enable blind users to use their bios, which is something basically that has not existed ever. the best you've been able to do is ask for someone to help you.
[00:17:19] Tony Grimes: Because bios comes first. There's not a lot that, I don't know, that's at the limit of my knowledge of things is okay. Bios that's okay. That's that's as far as I want to go.
[00:17:32] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. Yeah. Fair enough. well, the good news is, is that that's not my project. the next major project I have coming up is actually a diagram tool. So this is, this is, you know, far into the future, I'm sure. But the, the base idea of this is to separate the way we look at data and the data itself. A lot of times when you go into a university class, you're getting lots of diagrams that are images, which is fine for most people. Right. But let's say you can't see the diagram. Okay. Well, now the diagram is just image123.jpg, or what if you're dyslexic and can't read the font?
Right. All of those things, it could potentially be issues and issues for only a small number of people per problem. Right. There's not a ton of blind people in computer science or a ton of dyslexic people in computer science, but collectively altogether, it's, there's a significant portion there. Right? So the idea I had is to, to, to separate the, the data itself.
From the representation of the data, this would enable a teacher to store all their diagrams in a sort of pure data format and then click export to JPEG or export to touch diagram for the blind. So there's a special printer that will sort of puff up certain areas of the paper to make it look like a diagram, kind of like a braille machine, but yes, except except it's, instead of being braille, it would be a, high fidelity, tactile graphic.
It can be any size you want, you can change all that stuff. And instead of using colors, you can use patterns and have a legend for it and all these kinds of things. It's a ton of work. So that's why this project, I don't have an example of this project, right? This is more of an idea. but likewise, if you could hit image with dyslexic font in a one click.
Now anyone can look at that same diagram. No problem. Colorblind one click done. And it'll have a legend saying, okay. Yes, we're using this shade of gray for you, but just so you know, the class is going to be talking about green. I think this idea that the fundamental idea, cause you know, if you're a university or a college teacher and you go to make a diagram, you probably open PowerPoint.
Right. Yeah. You add some circles and you add some lines between the circles and there you go. Now you've got a diagram, but with a specialized tool for each diagram type, you are able to separate that, that core information from the way it's being presented. And that could be a very big shift in accessibility for anyone.
I mean, what a, what if, what if I want a plain text description of the diagram? Well, if the data is separate, Code can be written to make it possible.
[00:20:39] Tony Grimes: So a more complex problem, like the, do people like the voice or the braille, that's just for the blind. You like now we're have to figure out, okay. Here's data.
We don't know what it's going to look like before we get it. What would a, like you have to distill it down so that anybody can make anything that they want with it. Depending on what their, I don't know, whatever they're bringing into it.
[00:21:03] Tait Hoyem: Exactly. And that's, that's something that's obviously extremely difficult and requires a lot of code per even type of diagram.
Can you imagine the difference between, you know, a bar graph and just having like points on a plane, even just...
[00:21:21] Tony Grimes: Map, something map related?
[00:21:23] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. Even just those two differences or, or having. like a map of the U S or Canada and having the provinces be different colors. What if it's not the provinces?
What if it's each riding of a federal districts or whatever, you know, all of those things require, you know, a special code process to go through, which is just monstrous and scary. but in theory, once you do that work, it should be mostly done for that diagram. And using the rule of 80, 20, 20% of the diagrams are probably used around 80% of the time.
So you can get pretty far with a pretty marginal set of...
[00:22:07] Tony Grimes: you don't have to worry about error bars until you get to academia.
[00:22:10] Tait Hoyem: Exactly. Yeah, exactly.
[00:22:13] Tony Grimes: So where are you at with the project and seeing, it sounds like a really fun one. Is this a passion project?
[00:22:19] Tait Hoyem: Hopefully a passion project. I don't know if I'll have passion for it in, in, you know, five years when, when it's my full-time job.
[00:22:26] Tony Grimes: Well, we gotta, we got to set a bar for our passions, mine's three years.
[00:22:29] Tait Hoyem: Yes. Yeah, of course. I want to somehow try to make them if I can't make money off of it, I frankly can't do it. You know, we all have to live. so trying to figure out how to do that because I'm very pro free software. I love the GNU general public license.
I basically don't use any other license for code. And how do you square that? You know, how can I, how can I sell something that's free and anyone can download it's, it's a, it's a tough thing to look into. And I I've, I've considered all the options, including making it proprietary, but I, I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I did that.
So yeah, I think about it. I think about it. I don't know if there's enough people that care, frankly about a project that, you know, yes, it seems like a very fundamental problem to solve, but the truth is that it only improves the lives of what maybe 2% of people, you know,
[00:23:26] Tony Grimes: which is the, a whole, one of the reasons why you need to do it, but how do you do that?
You know, like with rent and, you know, in the real world,
[00:23:33] Tait Hoyem: how do you support yourself in doing that?
[00:23:36] Tony Grimes: Very interesting. So we got a summer coming now, is this going to be for work or play? What do you, what do you have planned?
[00:23:41] Tait Hoyem: I don't know yet, actually, there is a decent chance that I could be moving this summer.
If I'm moving, then, it's going to be mostly that ha ha.
[00:23:50] Tony Grimes: Not out of Calgary, I hope.
[00:23:52] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. Actually out of Calgary I'm I'm
[00:23:55] Tony Grimes: That breaks my heart Tait.
[00:23:57] Tait Hoyem: I'm trying to get out to Vancouver. There's there's more opportunities there. there's more people to meet. There's more meetups to be at. Yeah. It's, you know, it's what you gotta do and, and my girlfriend lives there, so that's, that's part of it.
Yeah. Yeah. but the plan is I want to do lots of biking. I want to get a bike and just sort of peruse around the city. You know, I don't want to, I don't love trails. I personally actually can't see that well myself, so obviously big mountain biking trails are not my thing, but you know, perusing around the city, seeing what there is to eat love my food.
So gonna, gonna try eating it all the local restaurants. And
[00:24:35] Tony Grimes: I'm just saying that just to make me feel better.
[00:24:38] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. Yeah. And then if I have time, I'm hoping to be able to also contribute to all these other projects I have going on and maybe make life better for, you know, those 10 people that really want it, you know?
[00:24:52] Tony Grimes: Well, it's going to be more than 10 people, I think. Somebody does have an interest in the types of projects that you run or just wants to hang out how what's the best way to get ahold of you?
[00:25:02] Tait Hoyem: Yeah. So if it's a personal project that I have on my personal GitHub, feel free to go to my website, Tait.tech
T A I T dot tech. or if you're interested in some kind of business thing, you want to hire me, firstname.lastname@example.org
[00:25:18] Tony Grimes: well, thank you, Tate, for sticking around for this a great podcast. For those of you listening, you probably already know how to get here, but, you can pick up the next episode of the Rainforest LIBI podcast at rainforestalberta.podbean.com and I bid you guys adieu. And a Tate. I wish you the best. And please, please, please stay in Calgary. But that's just my own personal bias and feel free to hit up Tate for a coach. Anytime you're in Vancouver, have a good night.