Riipen is a Vancouver-based startup with a web platform that connects employers with top talent coming out of our post-secondary schools. It connects organizations with top university faculty-supervised projects that use university and college students. Students on Riipen can gain real world experience from projects, while organizations use the platform to build brand awareness and leverage insights from the students that they can ultimately recruit.
Riipen COO Dave Savory talked about his startup journey in the lead-up to his presentation at #TechVancouver happening this Tuesday.
I think we first met at the Grow conference. Tell me about how you’ve evolved since then.
We did meet at GROW Conference in 2015; seems like a lifetime ago today. The past 12 months have been a complete whirlwind both personally and professionally.
The growth of Riipen provided our managing team with the opportunity to live in New York City, Boston, and Toronto. These experiences brought us together as a team, gave us access to incredible mentors, and new clients in the US market.
What are the most important things you learned while you were in the Impact8 accelerator?
Impact8 was a great experience, and we’re still seeing positive dividends as a result of participating. Obviously a lot of learning is done in programs like these and you really get out of it what you’re willing to put in.
Currently, we’re heading into our biggest semester to date, working with close to 50 classes across North American school clients.
The biggest takeaway from a mentorship perspective would be meeting and working with Dominic Bortolussi, who is one of the founders of TWG in Toronto. The hands-on guidance and support Dom provided our team throughout the program and which continues to this day has been incredible. As young founders we benefited from his experience in founding and scaling a successful company.
We were working through issues ranging from properly road-mapping technology development to raising investment and selling our vision to clients. Having mentors who have been there and have their own battle stories as it relates to building a company is absolutely critical.
Since developing this relationship over the past year, TWG is helping Riipen plan, build, and deliver the next version of the platform which will be set to scale globally. Another major takeaway from this program and others that we have participated in is simply access to the networks these programs provide and taking full advantage of all the opportunities they present.
Going into the program we knew there were mentors in the network that could plug us into universities and large corporations, which we then converted to new clients and Riipen champions.
What have been the biggest pivots for Riipen along the way?
Riipen has evolved significantly since launching in December 2013, and things really started to move when we started selling directly to faculty departments at colleges and universities in the summer of 2015.
Since focusing specifically on this model we have proven out and grown sales with two revenue streams, secured seed capital and grown our team from three to twelve. Currently, we’re heading into our biggest semester to date, working with close to 50 classes across North American school clients.
The platform itself is also changing in big ways, and is currently being rebuilt from the ground up and is set to release later this year.
Photo via Vancity Buzz