Sam Pillar, Co-Founder and CEO of Jobber, didn’t grow up in Edmonton. He’s from BC’s lower mainland, but after studying computer science and commerce at the University of Alberta, he chose to land his business in Edmonton — and he has no plans of relocating anytime soon.
Jobber provides business management software for small home service professionals such as plumbers, electricians, and landscapers, allowing them to run their entire operations on a single platform. It all started when Pillar met fellow co-founder Forrest Zeisler in a coffee shop. Together, they developed a software solution for a local painting business called Painters Enterprise, which would become the company’s first-ever customer.
Ten years later, Painters Enterprise is still with Jobber, and the latter has attracted industry attention for its rapid growth — it was ranked the seventh-fastest growing company in the country this year. Pillar credits much of that success to strong momentum in the company’s early stages, and that, he says, is largely due to the favourable conditions for startups in Edmonton.
Why Pillar chose to found his business in Edmonton — and stay there
Thanks to its high standard of living, the city is an attractive place for workers looking for a work/life balance, or to start a family. But that’s far from its only advantage. “In other major tech hubs, talent is expensive and retention is really difficult. It’s a frustrating environment for fledgling companies. I think it would have been a lot more difficult to get the momentum we developed early on if we weren’t in Edmonton,” says Pillar. “Today, Edmonton is a city of over a million people, with a really big university and a couple of colleges. The quality of the talent that comes out of these institutions is high.”
There are also competitive benefits to starting a business in a smaller pond. “In Edmonton, we’re in a position where we’re pretty unique,” There are no other companies like us here. Our ambition is to build a Shopify-sized company, and we have a presence here that would be very difficult to build in a place like San Francisco.”