Canadians love their flyers. They are an essential part of how we shop, the focal point of retail marketing budgets, and a $3 billion a year Canadian enterprise. The creation of reebee was inspired by our first jobs distributing flyers around our neighbourhoods. At the time we learned how important they were to our neighbours’ daily shopping routines.
By the time we arrived at the University of Waterloo, we were already wondering “Why aren't flyers available on our phones?” It was strange to think that such a massive industry did not innovate on its own! We knew as consumers we wanted an easier way to engage with flyers on the go. It wasn’t available, so we set out to build it.
We had the idea. What we didn't have was the business expertise. We reached out to friends who had taken their own projects to market. Before we simply dropped down cash to rent office space they advised us to look into Velocity, UWaterloo's booming entrepreneurial program. Through it, we learned about a pitch competition that could earn us $25,000 and free office space for a year.
More importantly we were immediately connected with the co-founders of Kitchener-based software company Vidyard. They taught us how to pitch our business, and as a result we were awarded $25,000 from the Velocity Fund program in January, 2012.
Velocity was already pulling strings on our behalf, helping us network and draw insight from entrepreneurs who were a few steps ahead of us. The Velocity environment was instrumental in enabling us to focus on our core business, and providing great mentors to help us through the roadblocks startups traditionally face. In the summer of 2013 we went to the highly regarded startup incubator Y Combinator in California, and picked up more invaluable lessons.
Eventually, we came back to Kitchener-Waterloo and began establishing reebee as the next great Canadian startup.
Why KW? Talent. We loved the co-op program, and we continue to hire co-ops from UWaterloo and other surrounding schools.
Today, reebee is at the forefront of Canadians shopping. We have over 3.5 million users browsing millions of flyers every day. Our core team of 20 employees will soon be moving into a 5000 square foot office and doubling our roster in the next 18 months.
What began as a simple idea, brought on by childhood experience, was given life by UWaterloo's entrepreneurship programs. For that we are grateful and encourage all incoming and current students to take full advantage of the same opportunities we did!
Photo credit: Crestina Martins