The Canadian tech space has been awash in companies exiting via sales to US companies: Halogen Software, HomeStars, BlueCat, Luxury Retreats. Today’s #BetaKit1on1 features Wayne Purboo, CEO of Quickplay, a company which belongs on that list.
Quickplay sold to AT&T early last year, and Purboo has been outspoken about the limitations of the Canadian tech ecosystem, saying that he sold the company because it no longer fit the country’s mold. In the video below, Purboo is just as honest with his estimation. “The biggest problem here in Canada is the very small pool of people that can scale companies.”
On whether Canada can solve that talent problem, Purboo is just as blunt, citing the Catch-22 Canadian tech often finds itself. “I think a big part of it is, we need more unicorns so that we have more home-grown talent that can take companies to the next level,” he says. “I think before even raising the scale capital it’s important to build a really strong management team. You’ve gotta have the bones to be able to scale.”
Those ‘good bones’ are not only what led Quickplay to its 2016 exit, but what allowed the company to survive the global economic collapse of 2008. “We managed to get through that, but there were a number of very very difficult discussions. I hate letting people go,” Purboo says.
When asked to provide advice for the next generation of Canadian founders looking but build those needed unicorns, Purboo once again refers back to people and talent.
“Hire great people,” he says. “At the end of the day, investors invest in opportunities and people. There’s not much else when you start a company.”