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Welcome back to Who Are These Startups. Podcast shorts featuring founders of Canadian startups, hosted by the Startup Coach. This episode features Visto.AI CEO and Co-founder Josh Schachnow.
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Welcome to who are these startups podcast shorts, featuring founder interviews of Canadian startups. Welcome back to. Who are these startups with me? Today is Josh Shack. Now. Co-founder and CEO of Vista Way. I welcome Josh, thanks for having me, Greg appreciated. What does Vista do? We are an immigration tech company. So we we’ve been around for a few years. Now, you can find on our website, a lot of tools, if you’re an aspiring immigrant to learn about the different programs and waste to come to Canada. But primarily what we focus on now is helping connect Canadian companies with skilled workers abroad more specifically right now Tech workers from abroad. So we’ve built a platform where companies can find interview and sponsor AKA bring through the immigration programs foreign Tech Talent into their Canadian offices. What is your startup story? Well, I’m an immigration lawyer by trade, I don’t dress like it anymore. Part of what I like so much about the tech world, but I’ve been practicing immigration law out of out of Toronto, for the last five years. Five and a half years and was working primarily with tech companies, more and more of them started and continue to sponsor foreign Talent, just because of how competitive it is in, in Canada, North America. Now it’s becoming Global how competitive it is in terms of the war on talent. And after a few years of working with a lot of tech companies and seeing the cool things they were building, I was just confused about why nobody was building, m e, n e, tachyon immigration. So I started this. So about two-and-a-half years ago, we started with more of a b2c focus but pivoted over the last summer to building this B2B platform that I just talked about and the team’s grown, have a co-founder Alex to see to do we have a developer of Our Own in Mexico A few other contractors that we work with from around the world. Some awesome investors so it’s it’s grown a lot in a couple years and hopefully we’ll continue to grow a lot more. What drives you? What drives me? I think, just solving big problems for a lot of people I like doing immigration work, but it wasn’t, I guess so efficient in a lot of traditional professionals operating we’re seeing this in a lot of Industries, right? Where Tech comes in and just kind of changes the way things work and changes, how efficient and effective things can be done. And so what really drives me, especially, as it relates to Visto is being able to help so many companies grow their teams. Because we know that companies are really only as good as their people and can really only grow as quick as they can. Add more great people. So, helping a lot of companies and helping a lot of immigrants because there’s a lot of people around the world that weren’t, as lucky as I am, as I was growing up and now I continue to get to live in Canada, which I think is in a, one of the best countries to live in in the world. And there’s a lot of people out there who want to start Lives in different countries for any number of reasons. And what our platform does is help those people. I hopefully get to realize those dreams in the, in a better way and in a much more efficient and affordable way. Now, how do you define success as a founder? As a fact, I think it relates to helping people write, like the easiest metric you can use in a lot of cases is dollars right? In terms of money, raised the revenue generated. But I think that most people would probably agree that dollars are really more of a metric that are capturing how much of value you’re providing. So I think if you can help whether your be to see your B2B, if you can help hundreds or thousands of tears that tens of thousands, or maybe if your Betta see millions or billions of people, if you can help a lot of people and provide a lot of value to them, the rest will come, right. The fundraising the revenue, whatever all that follows, if you’re providing enough Valley. So we just want to build a really, really good products that are solving big pain points, helping a lot of companies, helping a lot of skilled workers. And if we can do that well enough, that’ll be successful for me. And I think the rest of the stuff the more material stuff will follow not. That that’s really a big driver. Obviously we all want to pay the bills. More importantly, I want to just keep growing our team, right? Build a bigger team so we can build better Solutions, and help more people and companies. What is your business model? So we’re a B2B platform. So we charge a monthly subscription to companies that can basically use our platform to really manage everything related to foreign hiring. So you can sign up on day one, you can start searching our database for developers that want to come to Canada. You can filter by different text back years of experience country there in all that kind of stuff that you can connect with them. Basically one click connect to start, interviewing them, putting them through the process. If you want to hire them remotely, you can hire them remotely. And then as soon as you’re ready to sponsor them and bring them to Canada, the entire immigration process has been automated in the application as well and then as well we want to make it easy for you to keep them here and then track them so you can track work permit expiry dates. You can track your commitments and compliance requirements with the government all in one place. And so we charge a monthly fee to access the tools and then we charge a higher fee whenever it We decided actually sponsor a candidate for us to handle the immigration as well. What is your funding situation? We’ve done. I guess, what you would call a precede, like a smaller precede on a safe. That’s it. So far. We have really should investors that precede that the safe, I thought was really great because it doesn’t take as much time and in budget to kind of setup. And we have a group of really cool investors who are mostly kind of angels, family and friends and stuff like that. So I sleep relatively well at night probably compared to a lot of other Founders who may have, I don’t know more demanding or quote on quote sophisticated investors I mean our investors are quite sophisticated. We don’t have any VC money so it’s pretty much all angels and family friends Network and stuff through a safe and our goal for this year since we launched our platform. Last week, is to hopefully get a lot of lot of good traction. Help a lot of companies and do a bigger around maybe middle end of 2022. What do you wish you knew before you started? I wish I knew more of what goes into Building Technology, all of my experience was as it was as a service provider, write as a lawyer. And I think what? I’ve probably learned the most Is what has to go into preparing designing and developing and then testing and launching a good pet products. I definitely underestimated what went into it and that the level of detail that has to go into it for it to go really well. So I wish I knew that and I’d say the other thing I wish I knew was the big difference between as someone who started a couple companies. The first one, being a more traditional Law. Firm is the importance of product-market fit for a tech company as compared to something quote unquote traditional like a law firm, you start a law firm, you just hang out a shingle, right? People kind of know what you do, right? You start a marketing agency. You hang a shingle. People know what you do, right? When you launch a tech product, especially something that hasn’t really existed before. Number one, you got to figure out whether people actually want it and then number to like, how to actually design it, and then teach them what it is. But it’s one thing to build a tech product. You have to sell it or give the market it sell it, make sure customers are using it. Making sure they’re getting value out of it. So it’s really a totally different world as an entrepreneur. I think intact as opposed to something else and I didn’t really expect it and it’s fun. It’s challenging right? It’s like a whole new challenge whole new type of business and growth strategy but I wish I knew it a little bit better before I got into it. What’s your biggest lesson in pitching your startup? Impeaching your startup. You just really need to make it clear. What the big problem is you’re solving and how and probably just figure out a good way to tell a story around that especially when you’re early on because early on you don’t have the Mac you might not have any metrics depending on where you’re at in process, but you probably don’t have many if any metrics are numbers to really kind of win people over quote on quote, the way you’re going to succeed in fundraising, is at number one, having a strong Network, which might be a whole other conversation, but really being able to clearly and succinctly meaning in a shorter period of time and with no good communication skills highlight, what’s the problem? And how are you going to solve it and create a story around it in a vision around it? So that potential investors believe that you’re in the right team or the right person to actually solve it. That that’s what I I would say, I would say that maybe other people who are getting into special early-stage fundraising, What’s your favorite productivity hack? That’s a good question. I would say we I mean were an immigrant friendly company, we’ve leveraged remote Talent, a lot and will always continue to. Cuz it’s kind of what we preach, right? Like we’re helping companies, hire Talent from abroad and bring them to Canada and there’s endless advantages to doing it and even even further like we just we believe that borders shouldn’t determine who gets hired for what so we’ve hired great people in a wide variety of things from a wide variety of different countries. And the reason why I’m licking this to like a productivity hack is, for example, like a busy founder can Outsource things that maybe you shouldn’t be doing, or don’t want to do, is someone who’s living in another country, whose cost of living is a tenth of what yours is. And so, for example, instead of doing like monotonous or, you know, repeatable, Notes or simple tasks for hours and hours a week you might be able to hire. For example a really good VA in the Philippines for less money and be able to get a lot more done as a company as well to be able to get a lot more done by hiring contractors from different countries around the world to get more done as a whole as opposed to trying to do everything ourselves. What you learn pretty quick in tack is that there’s no shortage of things to do. The question is, how do you prioritize and get the most important ones done as quickly as possible? And so leveraging foreign talents might be a little biased but leveraging, foreign Talent is a is a great way to do that. What Canadian startup resources have been most helpful to you. It’s been a good amount. I mean, Canada is a great place to start a a company. Obviously Toronto, starts.com wouldn’t be here with without dragon. And the, you know, I was going to in person events, pre covid. I specifically used your list when we were when we were fundraising using your lists of different firm, no, VC, firms and Angel list and stuff like that, to the fund raised. So, obviously Toronto starts, we were a part of the legal Innovation zone so there’s, you know, it’s a basically, an incubator basted of Ryerson University for legal tech companies. They’ve been incredible, tax subsidies, shred, all that kind of stuff. It, it’s a great cook. It’s a great country to start a tech company in. There’s almost no shortage just like different slack communities, and stuff of Canadian Tech. Founders, who are excused The Stereotype. That Canadians are friendly. Canadian Founders are equally, you know, as for Alien supportive and, you know, so make sure to build a network and or join communities of other Founders and you know you can learn a lot of lessons the hard way or get a lot of great advice or tips are intros just from being a good person connecting with other good people. Do you have any tips for founders? In a few hours for the episode or I mean a lot of tips are I would say probably my biggest tip especially for someone who’s just, you know, early on her thinking about tech is don’t build anything right away because now that I’ve been running Visto for a few years, I have more people kind of like reach out or friends or whatever. Hey, you know I have this idea or hey, what do you suggest, blah, blah, blah and and or just like, Reddit threads, that all read. And a lot of people when they think tech company, they send go, I got to go build something, but I would say, for, as long as play, if you’re thinking about starting with the very beginning stages of starting a tech company, try to go as long as you can. Within reason without even building an MVP leverage, things like no code, tools or loco, tools or like Google forms to in a landing pages in Google forms and email, you know, email Auto, subscribe auto-responders to test your theory, your thesis, as quickly as possible. And, and, you know, save as much money in time does say, that’s number one is, don’t think it’s a build right away. In fact, I recommend not building right away, even if you’re a techie, right? Even if you’re is so, low-tech founder, don’t go spend six months in your basement, coating, right? Test it first, and then and then build and secondly, if you are going to have co-founders date before you marry, this can be easier said than done and kind of depends on the scenario. But the biggest decision you’ll make is, who is your co-founder? Finding the right one or finding the wrong one. Can kind of like make or break everything. So spend a lot of time, making sure you found someone who’s the right fit. I had a I had a horror story to start and I then I got lucky and and you know have found found Alex since then. Picking the right co-founder is so important. One Buck, every founder should read. There’s probably a lot, I would say, Protects specifically. I would say the hard thing about hard things. Is such a credit at least twice. I might have even read it three times somewhere on the show, where is it? What’s right there? The hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz Incredible Book because it’s pretty easy to find information or get advice out there on like strategies and tactics on how to grow and how to do marketing and how to build tack or whatever. But that’s not where you need the most help. I find the most help that you need is when the bad stuff happens. And then what do you do? And what Ben does in the book, is basically talks about all the like, crap that he went through building tech companies, how to fire people product-market fit struggles, you know, company about to go bankrupt, yo, Blake all the hard stuff or if they were to happen today, I be like I have nothing even remotely close to an experience to that that I can draw on to try to make a good decision and he digs into all the hard hard said. So you know, hence the title of the book. So I recommend that highly doubt that would probably be my number one. I’m also a big fan of biographies and autobiographies. Because and this goes back to like telling stories when your fundraising, right, everybody loves a good story and I find the stories a great way to learn. So if you go read, you know, go read biographies and autobiographies on on the big Petco Founders, right? I’ve read Elon Musk. I’ve read Bezos. I’ve read, Richard, Branson has a couple good ones. Not I guess, technically, like a tech co-founder but almost any co-founder, or, or founder of any business. Will be super helpful. I’m re-reading shoe dog, right now by Phil Knight started Nike again, not a tech company, but the struggles that he went through, you’ll be able to relate to a lot. So, biographies and autobiographies have been great especially because like I read at night before bed at the end of a long day. I don’t really want to read like a textbook, right? How to do this, how to do that? So, learning in the form of a story of someone else’s story and how they succeeded is, really valuable. I would highly recommend that. Where can I buy listeners? Connect with you online? Best place to connect is probably LinkedIn. Just look up. Josh Shack, I don’t think there’s another Josh Shack. Now in North America at least connect with me on LinkedIn. If you want to learn more about the company check out Visto, Dottie I know if you’re interested in Immigration tack or what we’re doing there, or if you’re a Canadian company struggling to hire, you can check that out. And then I also have kind of like a business, a Blog and podcast you can just look up. Josh Shack, now.com little bit more of a bio and podcast and I do some blogging there as well. So if you kind of want to follow along on my personal Journey, now you can check that out to thank you for taking the time to be on. Who are these startups? Thanks for having me Craig. Appreciate it. This is Ben. Who are these startups, find out more at who are these startups.com and check out our live events at Toronto starks.com events.