How Brad Feld convinced Shoelace to head back to Canada after a stint in Boulder

As the famous Wizard of Oz adage goes, there’s no place like home.

That’s the mentality that Shoelace, a startup that helps small to medium-sized businesses with their marketing strategy through Facebook retargeting ads, is adopting. While co-founders Reza Khadjavi, David Berglas, and Alex Sloan founded their company in Toronto after working at Hubba together, they’ve been spending time at the Boulder, Colorado-based Boomtown Accelerator building their product. As Demo Day for the accelerator looms, the co-founders spoke to BetaKit about what they’ve learned building in the US, and why they decided to return.

“A lot of mentors here told us that it would be more challenging to raise money from investors if our company was based in Canada.”

“When we first arrived in Boulder, a lot of mentors here told us that it would be more challenging to raise money from investors if our company was based in Canada,” said Khadjavi. “We also started building a lot of good relationships with people in Boulder, and the tech community in Boulder is a very tight-knit community that is just in a great place from a tech perspective.”

Berglas said that, with a high presence of adtech startups in the area, Shoelace was able to grow and quickly find ways to validate its business. “We get a lot of opinions on where we should be focusing our time and what we should be doing, and there are mentors who help create experiments to understand our customers’ needs and where the right place is to develop solutions.”

But after seeing a talk from Sean Wise and Brad Feld called Brad and Sean’s Excellent Canadian Adventure during Denver Startup Week, the team realized that they wanted to go back to the startup ecosystem in Canada.

“It was a reminder that ‘Wow, Canada is really amazing.’ It became pretty clear to us that we wanted to go back and be a part of the exciting startup movement that’s going on in Canada,” said Khadjavi, citing programs like SR&ED as an example of Canada recognizing the startup community. “Building a startup is really hard and oftentimes, one of the main reasons that startups die is that they run out of money. So one of the advantages of Canada is that you can push your startup to last longer.”

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.