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This article was published 26/9/2017 (916 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Averaging about eight to 10 new employees per month, Bold Commerce will grow out of the 26,500-square-foot space that it has been in for less than two years, in about five months.
The e-commerce and digital media company is growing so fast that a provincial announcement Tuesday of $270,000 in training support that said it has 155 employees was already outdated. It’s now past 160.
The company that was founded 6½ years ago is now the number 1 partner of Shopify, out of the 86,000 such relationships that exist with the Ottawa-based e-commerce platform.
New funding for training will help Bold continue to bolster its three-week paid training regime, which includes initiation into everyone’s roles so that all staff get a feel for what it’s like to support merchants as a developer or what the tech installation function is all about.
"We want our staff to have empathy for the merchants who are our customers," Bold CEO Yvan Boisjoli said. "That’s really what we are trying to do, to get them to understand why we need to take care of our customers. We want our customers to succeed. They are taking care of their staff, they are sending their kids to school. We are helping someone who is trying to make a living and they are using our tools to do that."
Leanne Lucas is a 12-year veteran in the workforce who just started at Bold as an account executive. She said Bold’s pay rate is competitive — the 81 new hires whose training will be supported by the provincial grant will make an average salary of about $50,000 — but she said the attractiveness of working at Bold is about more than the pay rate.
"The in-house training, mentorship, education fund, a share ownership plan, catered lunches four days per week," she said. "A lot of people have started to hear about Bold and the culture here is great."
Ian Wishart, the province’s minister of education and training, said the Industry Expansion Program does not have unlimited funds and it needs to make strategic investments.
"Bold has a very positive reputation," he said. "We have helped them in the past and will continue to help them in the future. It is one of Manitoba’s most innovative companies. That is the kind of business that we as a government want to support."
Boisjoli and his three co-founders — Boisjoli’s brother Eric, Jason Myers and Stefan Maynard — are determined to prove wrong all the outsiders who say you can’t build a world-class tech company in Winnipeg.
"We’re already doing it," Boisjoli said. "We have a world-class talent base here and a great work ethic. The part that we need to build up is the experience. That may be what is lacking here. The startup companies in the Winnipeg tech sector that fail... that is great experience that makes us stronger and better. The successful ones make it stronger and better too. It all builds up the talent pool."
Bold hit pay dirt almost right away when it started about six years ago with its first Shopify app, Product Upsell, which lets retailers create as many offers as they want and then present them to customers at the last point of checkout on their e-commerce site. Since then, the company has developed a couple dozen different Shopify apps.
Now the company uses more and more of its resources in research and development, including 20 per cent of its staff dedicated to a full-time lab department, which develops new products from ideas that staff come up with rather than projects assigned to them from the founders.
Myers said currently close to 50 per cent of its app development team is working on a project that will be coming out in a couple of months that brings a machine-learning element to the e-commerce experience.
"We are heavily focused on new projects," he said.
"E-commerce is getting smarter. In a couple of years from now when you visit an online store site it will have a very different look to it from person to person, tailored to you and your demographic. We’re building tools that will help stores do a lot more personalization, and automate it."
Martin Cash has been writing a column and business news at the Free Press since 1989. Over those years he’s written through a number of business cycles and the rise and fall (and rise) in fortunes of many local businesses.