Bench | Winner of the 2018 High-Growth Entrepreneurship Award – British Columbia
“You can create something incredible in everything that you do if you can come at it with authenticity.”
Bench is a Vancouver-based fintech company founded in 2012 that automates accounting tasks to organize the financials of small businesses, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs.
Founded by entrepreneurs Ian Crosby, Jordan Menashy, Adam Saint and Pavel Rodionov, Bench was accepted into the 2012 class of Techstars NYC. In 2013, the founders relocated the company to Vancouver to launch and open their beta to the public and raise their first round of 2 million dollars. In 2015, they raised their $7 million series A and $16 million series B in May 2016.
Today, Bench has 250 employees, 150 of which are bookkeepers. The company has collectively crunched over 19 billion dollars in funds, providing accurate and transparent financial insights to thousands of small businesses.
In 2017, Bench was named the number-one Company-to-Watch as part of Deloitte’s Fast 50 Awards, and as the fastest growing company in Western Canada.
This year, the company’s automation platform begins working with Canadian small business owners to streamline up to 60% of the workload related to bookkeeping and accounting.
By offering an automation platform that lets companies save time and put money back into innovation, Bench continues to empower hundreds of small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Ian Crosby to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
IC: I’ve always been hustling to achieve what I wanted to do. Since I was 10 years old, I really liked the idea of starting a business. I remember my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be a businessman. I didn’t even really know what that meant and neither did he. He told me I should figure out something that’s “a real job”. Ultimately, I saw the opportunity for creating Bench and that stuck with. It wouldn’t get out of my head. So I just jumped up and ran with it to see where it would go.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
IC: The biggest lesson I’ve learned to date is that authenticity makes everything easier. Our society tends to project a specific idea of what success looks like and it’s easy to get caught up feeling that you have to follow a prescribed path or way of doing things like chasing that next promotion or hitting specific corporate goals. None of that is true, but when you’re inside a certain culture it’s hard to see it as just that: a constructed culture. You can create something incredible in everything that you do if you can come at it with authenticity.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
IC: When you’re just starting out, the only thing that matters is whether people will give you money for the thing that you aim to provide. Aim to get as many customers as possible. Talk to as many people as possible to understand how you can help solve their problems. Let that be your guiding light. Don’t worry about trying to look like a slick startup with a beautiful brand, a fancy website and a big roster of speaking gigs.
I’m really proud of Bench’s brand today, but guess what? We started as 10sheet.com because I could buy the domain online for $9.99. It wasn’t until we had raised $1.5 million that we went through a rebranding exercise, because we were at a stage where we could optimize our customer recruitment engine. But that wasn’t day one, that was two years in. At the beginning, getting customers is all that matters. The other stuff has ultimately zero bearing on your probability of success or failure.
SN: What is the one thing you think we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
IC: “Canada needs to stop comparing itself to other countries. Let’s just be inspired and build great things. It’s as simple as that.
SN: What is your message to the world?
IC: My message to the world is that you can be happy. Happiness doesn’t come from the trappings of success. You can create it for yourself.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
IC: It’s an honour to be recognized with the high growth award. The awards are incredibly valuable to our employer brand.