First BC-founded Company Backed by Y Combinator

When Victoria startup Sendwithus mysteriously uprooted their entire team to Silicon Valley, friends and colleagues were shocked by the move.

Within a couple weeks, the eight-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 cofounders 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 startup incubator Y Combinator in a recent TechCrunch article.

“Taking Sendwithus through YCombinator really shows that things are changing for BC startups—not only are we competitive with Waterloo, but we’re showing we’re competitive with the entire Valley. We’re not doing this alone; Sendwithus wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the support of friends in Canada,” co-founder Matt Harris told Techvibes.

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. After raising initial funding in early 2013, the cofounders spent a lot of their time in Silicon Valley connecting with clients and 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 Victoria’s emerging urban technology district near the inner harbour.  By the end of 2013, their team expanded from the cofounders 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. 

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 here have for their work, no matter the size 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 bleeding edge.”

As the first Victoria-based and BC-founded company to take part in YC, the company has plans to contribute 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 to 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. 

Sendwithus plans to open a new headquarters in downtown Victoria in May.