It was a frozen Canadian prairie winter night in 2008. Seven unemployed software executives were huddled in a suburban living room drinking cocoa and trying to figure out what to do next. They’d simultaneously quit their jobs, and were brainstorming the next disruption.
Nearly a decade earlier, they had started Point2 Technologies, which created Caterpillar’s global used equipment trading system, CatUsed.com. Early in that business journey they realized that the same type of system would work in real estate. This led to the launch of Point2 Agent, a real estate marketing platform, and Point2 National Listing Service (NLS), which syndicated listings to major real estate search sites. By 2007, Point2 NLS was used by 165,000 agents in 84 countries.
When the Point2 journey ended, the inception of a new idea formed. In that living room a decade ago, they dreamt of a plan to revolutionize the home services industry. The group drummed up $3 million in venture funding and started MyFrontSteps and its sister application StepRep.
It wasn’t long before they realized that the reputation management solution they’d been developing was just as useful to small and medium businesses (SMBs) outside of the home services vertical. The plan was to partner with companies that already had a strong salesforce and established relationships with the SMBs, such as newspapers, broadcasters, yellow page publishers, web hosting providers, and marketing agencies.
The new direction became a new brand: Vendasta. In the spring of 2013, the company received $8.25 million in capital funding and launched its Social Marketing product, which helps SMBs build audiences, provide customer service, and generate new business opportunities on social media. The tool grew into a full-fledged sales and marketing tool, with an award-winning needs assessment report, automated email marketing campaigns, a customer reputation management dashboard, a marketplace of resellable apps and services, and a white-label fulfillment agency.
It’s been 10 years since Vendasta’s start. The Saskatoon, Canada-based company now consists of more than 1,200 platform customers who are serving 780,000 SMBs around the world. It has been named one of the ‘50 Fastest Growing Technology Companies In Canada’ and one of the ‘Top 500 Fastest Growing Companies In North America’ by Deloitte. Vendasta has also been listed on the Canadian Business Magazine’s ‘Profit 500’ for two years running.
Passionate, Boisterous & Imaginative Leader
Brendan King was the man hosting the group in his living room in 2008, and he has lead the team since. King is the Co-Founder and CEO of Vendasta, responsible for the company’s vision, thought leadership, and business strategies. His ability to manage the big picture while consistently delivering results on the fine details is a vital part of Vendasta’s success.
King and Vendasta are almost synonymous. Both are governed by four core values: drive, innovation, respect and agility. In King’s vision, it’s these values which will lead Vendasta down the path of becoming the number one provider of essential brand management products in the world.
Leveraging Google Technology Solutions
Google technology is well-integrated into the Vendasta infrastructure, its platform, and its culture. Vendasta is a member of both the Google Customer Advisory Board and Google Executive Adwords Council. Additionally, it is also a Premier Adwords Partner. Vendasta’s products integrate:
- Google Reviews and review responses within its Reputation Management platform;
- Google Insights into its Listing Builder;
- Google My Business and Google Plus posts in its Social Marketing product;
- and is currently integrating G Suite into its Marketplace offerings.
Vendasta also utilizes Google’s infrastructure platforms: AppEngine (GAE), Cloud Functions, Google Container Engine (GKE), and Compute Engine. They are complemented by Google’s global cloud network of data centers and network load balancers. Additionally, Vendasta also leverages Google’s model of best practices for securing networked services.
Making a Mark in the Digital Industry
Today, Vendasta’s partnerships include newspapers, yellow pages, broadcasting companies, marketing agencies, telcos, cable companies, credit card companies, and banks. Through these partners, SMBs can work with a single source to manage their marketing and sales in a complex and competitive landscape. Vendasta is set apart in its ability to compete in a number of marketing spaces with best-in-class software, and most importantly to King and his company, they never compete with their partners by selling direct to SMBs.
Vendasta welcomes the challenge of continually innovating while growing its business rapidly. Right now, U.S. business accounts for more than 90 percent of the company’s revenue. Vendasta has expanded their business beyond the U.S to the U.K, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, with a goal of increasing their international customer base by 25 percent. Further, they continue to bring on partners in new verticals. Vendasta also faces the challenge of finding the best people, in order to transition to a larger scale.
Word of Advice for the GenNext Entrepreneurs
Brendan King, CEO of Vendasta quotes, “Our path was a winding one at Vendasta, but we didn’t let barriers get in our way. Being challenged in life is inevitable, and being defeated is optional. If you’re serious about getting into the technology race and you’re looking for an edge, you need to look for the latent demand in nascent markets. Once you’ve done that, you need to become the subject matter expert. There are no shortcuts. We found our business model and vision by working through tough problems, and built a company that has respect and bravery at its core.”