The story of Matboard and More, like any good story, begins with love. As unlikely as that sounds, the winding path to success for the fastest growing e-commerce business in the custom matting and framing industry originates with that most basic emotion. Co-founders Mehdi and Reza Kajbaf, two University of Waterloo alumni brothers share their story on how it all came to be.
Reza, who graduated in 2004 with a Computer Science degree, would tell you that working in such a traditional industry was not on his radar as he worked through the intense and sophisticated CS curriculum. The beauty of the skills gained at the University of Waterloo is that they are but a tool with which we can do almost anything. Even the disruption of an industry Reza admits he knew little about at first.
But before we dive into that story, a little background is required. The Kajbaf brothers have a brother-in-law who lives in Atlanta, GA and has plied his trade in the matting and framing industry for decades. He saw a need to improve upon the traditional methods of the brick and mortar frame shop, and turned to Reza for help.
Reza's mind naturally led him down the path of technological solutions to the problems his brother-in-law described. Glad to help, Reza leant his development skills and in return, gained valuable experience. Almost as a side-effect, Reza became intimately familiar with this industry over the years.
As this professional relationship grew, so did Reza's personal one with the woman who would one day become his wife. She too happened to live in Atlanta, and so began the path to Matboard and More. While Reza completed his degree at UWaterloo, he knew that he would be drawn back to Atlanta to be with his future wife, and in the summer of 2004 upon graduation, that's exactly what happened. As the years went by, and Reza continued his professional career as a web developer, framing and matting were never far.
In 2011, it became apparent that there was a niche that needed to be filled in the custom matting industry. Existing businesses were not able to do custom sizes in a user friendly manner, particularly with the flexibility and agility required to serve individual customers as well as wholesalers. Furthermore websites were using antiquated technology, the custom framing and matting business had shown little desire to move into the new millennium.
And so began the process of making Matboard and More a reality. With Reza's development skills and his brother-in-laws insider knowledge, MatboardAndMore.com was born. Their initial excitement however was soon muted by a distinct lack of initial success. It became painfully apparent that technical know-how and industry experience alone would not get the job done.
This is where Mehdi, the younger brother comes in. Mehdi, a 2008 Electrical Engineering graduate and 2012 Schulich School of Business MBA graduate, provided the combination of fresh perspective, a critical engineering mind and keen business sense to take charge of business development and marketing.
Mehdi provides the bridge between Reza's technical expertise and customer's needs. He is ultimately responsible for customers overall experience while shopping at Matboard and More. It is the two brother's diverse skill set which has made them a strong team.
The common thread for both brothers however is their training and education at the University of Waterloo, where they inherited the core values of entrepreneurship, innovation and hard work. They both credit Waterloo's demanding academic program and the opportunity to spend their formative years with the brightest student body in the country with providing them the skills required to create and manage a successful business.