For Immediate Release
Victoria, BC February 12, 2014
Victoria Startup Sendwithus in the Silicon Valley: First BC-founded Company Backed by Legendary Accelerator Y Combinator
When Victoria-based startup Sendwithus mysteriously uprooted their entire team to Silicon Valley, friends and colleagues were shocked at the bold move. Within a couple of weeks, the 8-person team packed their suitcases and moved into a house in Sunnyvale, California. They told friends and colleagues their goal was to build faster and be in proximity to the Silicon Valley technology scene, but co-founders Matt Harris and Brad Van Vugt had bigger reasons behind the move.
Sendwithus, a Software as a Service (SaaS) company focusing on A/B testing for transactional email, announced their backing by the legendary startup incubator Y Combinator (YC) in a recent TechCrunch article.
The company helps email marketers optimize their transactional emails without constant support from developers and tech teams, and is partnered with large email service providers including SendGrid, Mandrill, Mailgun. “YC gives us the network and mentorship necessary to grow the company really big, really fast,” says Van Vugt.
Y Combinator is notorious for jumpstarting tech companies with an alumni list that includes Dropbox, AirBnb, Reddit, and Heroku. YC is reported to have invested in over 500 companies and was named the ‘Best Startup Incubator and Accelerator’ by Forbes Magazine. The co-founders jumped at the opportunity to join the accelerator program and offered their team the chance to share the adventure in Silicon Valley. “Being accepted into Y Combinator was really exciting. I’d heard from friends what an amazing experience it is. I was even more excited to bring our team from Victoria down to the Valley and expose them to some of the brightest minds in startups,” says Harris.
After raising some initial funding in early 2013, the co-founders spent a lot of their time in Silicon Valley connecting with clients and prominent investors. With the goal to be a Victoria-based company, they built their technical team out of SpaceBar, a coworking space optimized for startups and freelancers located in the heart of the Victoria’s emerging technology district, near the Inner Harbour.
By the end of 2013, the had team expanded from the co-founders to include six developers, all students, and graduates from the University of Victoria. At the start of 2014, they hired their first non-technical team members, business and marketing leads from Toronto and Victoria, respectively. With a company focus on fast growth, in the Valley the team is surrounded by a community of individuals and companies with similar goals. “It opens up an exciting world of technology and companies that are pushing the envelope and pursuing radical ideas and dreams – everything that would otherwise be unavailable to us in Victoria,” says Troy McGinnis, senior developer. The startup culture is attractive to many emerging professionals. “Startups move quickly and there’s always a diverse array of tasks. This gives you the perfect opportunity to try many different things, find what you love, and run with it,” says Jessica Thomas, a current UVic Computer Science student.
The cost of living in Silicon Valley is notably higher than Victoria, which lead the company share a live/work space for the duration of YC. “The best part of living in a house with your coworkers is the ability to team up with someone at any time of the day to execute on new ideas,” says developer Greg Schier. The team benefits from being one, tight-knit group, mixing plenty of work and leisure time outdoors. With such a strong focus on company growth, every team member knows their success as a startup up greatly outweighs the everyday challenges.
The California sunshine makes Sendwithus’s temporary headquarters attractive to the team, but the company’s heart is still in Victoria. “I want to bring back the passion people have for their work, no matter the size of the project,” says lead developer, Nick Rempel. “I also want to see more tech adoption in Victoria. Things like Uber, Instacart, and Square are broadly adopted here. These platforms are the future and I want Victoria on the leading edge.” The company has put Victoria on the map in the emerging startup community. As the first Victoria-based and British Columbia-founded company to take part in YC, the company has plans to give back to the growing local startup community as much as possible. “We want to encourage young emerging professionals to innovate and build their ideas in Victoria. As a company, we will lead more hackathons and events as a way to encourage individuals to launch their own startups. It’s more fun to have a community rather than feeling isolated with great ideas,” says marketing lead, Linley Faulkner. The company is expected to find new headquarters in downtown Victoria in May 2014.
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Sendwithus is a SaaS company focusing on A/B testing for transactional email. They help email marketers optimize their transactional emails without constant support from developers. Currently integrated with SendGrid, Mandrill, Mailgun, and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), Sendwithus works directly with a company’s email service-provider (ESP) of choice.
For developers, Sendwithus provides a single line of code to use in your application to trigger sending an email. Everything else – copy, images, testing – is handled by a team member from the Sendwithus online dashboard. Once the code is set up, there is no need to involve a developer.
Sendwithus is a Canadian company founded by Matt Harris (@mrmrc) and Brad Van Vugt (@bvanvugt).