Edmonton software company raises $100 million, largest venture capital investment in city history
Jobber, an Edmonton company that sells business management software to small home service businesses, has raised a record amount of venture capital funding.
The company announced on Tuesday that it had funded $100 million (Cdn 1.34 million) in Series D. This is the fourth phase of fundraising that a company completes after the seed phase. The investment was led by growth equity investor General Atlantic and included funding from previous investors Summit Partners, Version One Ventures and Tech Pioneers Fund.
According to the Canadian Venture Capital Private Equity Association’s research and product team, Jobber’s latest venture capital investment is the largest in Edmonton’s history.
“It’s an exciting time,” CEO and co-founder Sam Pillar told CBC News on Wednesday.
Pillar and Forrest Zeisler — both University of Alberta graduates and former freelance software developers — began talking about the company that would become Jobber in 2010. The two met at the 109th Street Remedy Cafe, which both men used as an office at the time.
Pillar, who had done some work for small home service businesses, had found that there wasn’t much software tailored for them. Busy painters, plumbers, landscapers and roofers ran jobs from their trucks and scribbled numbers in sticky-note-filled spiral-bound notebooks, he said.
Jobber has developed a subscription-based software service with their needs in mind. Small businesses in 50+ sectors are now using it to dispatch employees, create quotes, optimize routes, track orders, and take payments.
Since founding Octopusapp Inc., which is still the company’s official name, Pillar and Zeisler have grown the company from two employees to nearly 600 employees.
In addition to its Edmonton headquarters, Jobber has offices in Toronto and Salt Lake City, Utah. It has also hired remote workers in Canada, the US and Latin America.
While other tech companies have shrunk, Jobber has continued to grow, avoiding layoffs even during the first phase of the pandemic.
The company generated sales of $100 million last year.
“It bucks the trend in Canada and globally, so it’s a vote of confidence specifically for jobbers, but also for the technology system as a whole,” said Jeff Bell, director of research and business intelligence at business development agency Edmonton Global.
According to Bell, Jobber has leveraged local tech talent in the Edmonton area and focused on services that don’t go away during downturns.
“If the plumbing breaks, you need to hire a plumber,” he said. “If your light goes out, you need to hire an electrician.”
Pillar said the company has been luckier than most during the pandemic, but he also attributed Jobber’s success to the focus and hard work of employees.
“We raised venture capital to build the business but along the way we didn’t forget to build a business and I think that’s a really important thing that we’re proud of and it takes diligence and discipline,” he said.
Catherine Warren, the CEO of Edmonton Unlimited, which seeks to foster innovation in the city, described Jobber as one of Edmonton’s “shining stars.”
She said the company’s success reinforces the importance of maintaining relationships between funding rounds and proves to aspiring startups that it’s possible to raise big money and maintain a headquarters in Edmonton.
“We have the talent here and we have the team building know-how here,” she said.
According to the CVCA, Alberta set a record for venture capital investments last year with $758 million invested in 85 transactions.
Many of those deals benefited Calgary companies, but Bell said several local artificial intelligence firms recently secured funding.
Pillar said Jobber will use the growth funding to focus on customer acquisition, research and development, and product improvements.
He said the market has gotten a little more competitive since 2011, but there are 6.2 million businesses in North America that could use the company’s software. About 200,000 people are currently using it.
“We’re barely scratching the surface of the number of companies we can help,” said Pillar.