Co-op students play an integral role in Canada’s fastest-growing tech company
Snapcommerce taps into Waterloo talent to innovate and scale fast
Snapcommerce taps into Waterloo talent to innovate and scale fastBy Stephanie Longeway University Relations
Named fastest growing tech company in Canada on Deloitte’s 2021 Technology Fast 50, Snapcommerce was co-founded by University of Waterloo alumni Henry Shi (BCS ’14) and Hussein Fazal (BMath ’05). The company has more than 20 million users, $1 billion in sales, and grew by more than 32,000 per cent between 2017 and 2021. Fazal and Shi launched the company in 2016 as Snaptravel, and from there, the company quickly evolved beyond travel with a broader e-commerce offering and payment capabilities
In order to keep pace with this rapid growth, Shi and Fazal are aggressively expanding their workforce and relying on their alma mater to help fill demand for skilled talent.
“Waterloo co-op students are a huge source of talent for us,” says Fazal, CEO of Snapcommerce. “We hire many co-ops each term because they are incredibly smart and effective. They are helping to power our innovation.”
Snapcommerce started out hiring two co-op students in their first year of business and now employ between 15 to 20 Waterloo students per term.
Shi and Fazal know first-hand what it’s like to be a co-op student. Both went through the program when they attended Waterloo and completed work terms at tech companies including Microsoft, Bloomberg, IBM and Bell Canada.
“Co-op was extremely valuable to my development because it exposed me to different skills and opportunities which helped prepare me and figure out what I wanted to do in my career,” Fazal says. The experience also helped him land his first job after graduation. After completing his final two co-op terms with Bell Canada, Fazal was offered a full-time position as a developer.
Fazal says he’s proud to be able to offer this experience to the next generation of Waterloo students. Through co-op, students get on-the-job experience and learn the mindset and skills to be successful in their future careers.
The co-op program also supports Snapcommerce’s recruitment efforts by offering a window into potential new employees. Many successful co-op students have been offered a full-time position upon graduation.
“Hiring Waterloo students and alumni is a great way for us to give back to an institution that gave us so much, but we also get a lot of benefit from having them as part of our company. Their hard work and talent really help drive our business.”
Snapcommerce’s head office is in Toronto, but since the pandemic, the company has moved to a fully remote workforce and is now hiring staff from anywhere in the world. However, the make-up of their workforce is still predominantly Canadian with most new recruits coming from the Waterloo-GTA corridor.
“There is a talent shortage right now and many companies are trying to hire good people, particularly engineers,” Fazal says. “We continue to recruit and hire the best talent from across the world, and Waterloo just produces great talent. We’ve had consistent success recruiting here.”
Over the next year, Snapcommerce plans to add an additional 100 people to their permanent team and increase co-op student opportunities.
“I think what we offer new recruits as a scaling business is an opportunity to come on board and make an immediate impact,” Fazal says. “We’re moving fast to innovate so we need people who are owners of outcomes and take pride in their projects. They need to have an innovation mindset.”
It’s the same mindset that Fazal and Shi say they learned as students at Waterloo.
“Coming from Waterloo, we know the great network of talent available here.”
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is centralized within our Office of Indigenous Relations.