Tile Eyes New Verticals with Canadian Expansion

A company designed to help users locate lost items has found themselves a new home in Western Canada.

Tile has announced a new engineering hub in Vancouver, a move that CEO CJ Prober hopes will be able to utilize the region’s rich talent pipeline as well as streamline new partnership opportunities. The new location, led by director of engineering Corey Cotter, will hire around 20 engineers at first, with the opportunity to scale up as the company continues to expand. The location of the new hub has yet to be determined, as Cotter and a handful of new hires are currently working out of a temporary location. Tile’s team currently sits around 100 people, with most employees working in California.

Prober, a Winnipeg native himself, said that this new expansion will focus mainly on building out the core locations platform Tile operates. The company produces Bluetooth devices that can be affixed to belongings when then allows them to be tracked via Tile’s app. There are currently more than one billion location updates per day on Tile’s system, and this new engineering hub will be focused on making that platform more robust. Beyond that, Tile’s Vancouver workers will also look at services such as e-commerce through their own channels.

“We do a disproportionate amount of our revenue directly through either our app or Tile.com,” says Prober. “Building out our e-commerce capabilities is a big focus in Vancouver as well.”

After joining Tile as the company’s new CEO nine months ago, Prober has had his eyes set on expansion. He has built teams throughout Canada through his previous stints at GoPro and Electronic Arts and recognized his home country as a core area for expansion. One reason would be Tile’s sales in Canada: a 135 per cent sales increase over the past two years, as well as a 110 per cent retail footprint growth over the past three years.

“I was on Tile’s board of director for 8 months before I stepped in as CEO in September 2018, and one of the first things I told the team was I wanted to open an office in Canada given the success he had there previously,” says Prober. “The fact we’re finally here and starting to scale is really exciting.”

“I’m a huge fan of the talent in the country, so the sky is the limit in terms of the potential for this office,” he continues. “It’s nice to match the talent profile to a market that is a great growth area for us.”

Prober is cognizant that the pool of talent may be larger in the Valley, but having a presence in Vancouver opens up more doors than simply hiring 20 new engineers in California.

“If we’re going to really scale up these teams, and know we want to open another location to have access to more talent, let’s start here in Vancouver, so that’s what really drove the decision making around that,” he says. “We have a very high bar for talent, so the hiring process is the same in both places, we take time and do our diligence. I really wanted to build a culture that I would be proud of for the rest of my career.”

Right now, the plan is to use the office solely for engineering, though that could change in the future as Prober and his team explores new ways to integrate Tile into existing brands and products. One of the major points of growth for Tile has been its ability to work with massive brands—particularly in the audio headset realm, like Bose and Skull Candy—and implement their technology into devices. Customers are able to locate their lost devices by tapping into Tile’s massive network. Tile has also been working diligently with suppliers like Vancouver’s Herschel to tie in their location services with backpacks, totes and more. Tile also works directly with Bluetooth chip companies such as Qualcomm and Toshiba, and international organizations like Japan’s Softbank.

“By virtue of having a presence here in Canada, it opens the door to building deeper relationships across the country because we’re making a commitment to the region,” says Prober. “It’s another extra step that fosters these kinds of partnerships.”

Over 30 billion Bluetooth-enabled devices will be shipped over the next 30 years, and Prober sees every single one of those as targets for Tile’s technology.

“We’re looking at expanding aggressively into a lot of different categories,” he says. “A big one is travel, which is a really massive vertical for us.”