With another $35 million in its war chest from a second round of venture capital funding in January — it raised $22 million in Jan. 2019 — Bold Commerce is on another growth spurt looking to hire more than 100 people in the next three months.
They won’t all be in Winnipeg though.
The company just hired a new chief operating officer, Odus Wittenburg, who is based in Austin, Texas, where the Winnipeg company has established its U.S. beachhead.
Wittenburg is a former senior executive at US$2 billion per year cloud computing operation Rackspace, where Bold was a client and is on the front lines of the development of sophisticated ecommerce applications over the past few years that have now become mission critical.
Bold’s four founders were able to bootstrap the company for its first several years of rapid growth in parallel with the rise of Ottawa-based Shopify, where Bold continues to be the largest app developer.
Shopify and Bold continue to be strong partners, but Bold’s apps are now available on other ecommerce platforms as well. Wittenburg said that among other things he will be working on enhancing Bold as an important brand in its own right.
"In essence Bold and Shopify grew up together," Wittenburg said. "Shopify is a huge platform and they are doing great work. The (Bold) founders won’t do it but I’m trying to get them to take a little credit in helping Shopify build its business. Bold still has the leading set of apps in the Shopify app store."
As well as now being platform agnostic, Bold is using the infusion of capital, timed as it was in the midst of a pandemic that has accelerated the mass adoption of ecommerce, to build out its technology to start addressing the larger enterprise customers as well as the 90,000-odd smaller retailers who now use Bold apps in about 170 countries.
It is targeting that effort by focusing on development of its customers’ deployment of Bold’s technologies at the point of checkout.
Yvan Boisjoli, Bold’s CEO said, "The one interaction that is consistent, that always has to be optimized… is the checkout. It lives between the retailer and the customer at all points. We think of checkout as the handshake between the brand and consumer. We want to build powerful checkouts that don’t just take payment but actually builds great relationships with consumers wherever they are."
It fits into the new trend that’s called headless commerce, where online shopping does not have to just take place within the confines of an online store but in every place a brand interacts with consumers — in its marketing on social media, blogs, and augmented reality.
"That is how we are positioning Bold," Boisjoli said. "We want to help enterprise get to that level of sophistication and build experiences with their customers."
With 300-plus employees, and another 125 on the way, the development of Bold’s brand will help.
It was one of only four Canadian companies to recently appear on CB Insights’ first annual Retail Tech 100 companies. These are the most promising business-to-business retail companies in the world selected from 15,000 applicants and nominees.
"This is one of the listings we’re most proud about, because it is about innovation," Boisjoli said.
It’s that kind of recognition that starts to turn heads and attract talent like Wittenberg to the company.
Clients like Staples and Harry Rosen are deploying Bold’s technology in ways that allow those retailers to expand their market reach to make it easy for individual consumers and their business customers to increase engagement with those brands.
Wittenburg said Bold’s four founders — Boisjoli, his brother Eric, Jay Myers and Stefan Maynard — established a strong corporate culture that will stand in good stead as it starts to expand into other geographies.
It’s already paying dividends.
Several years ago, Bold had a seminal moment on a fateful Black Friday when their servers crashed and within hours they migrated their operation to Rackspace’s cloud servers.
A couple of years later Myers and Eric Boisjoli made a presentation about their experiences at an internal Rackspace event in front of about 1,500 of the Texas company’s employees
It so happens, they were introduced, at the time by Wittenburg.
It’s a micro example of how enduring that first "handshake" experience can be.
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.