Left

Legendary Lefty: Joe

 

Welcome to ‘Legendary Lefty’ — a series of interviews that reveals the personal stories of our amazing team members.

Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe Deobald, our Entrepreneur in Residence. I learned how his career path started with a lawn mowing business, how he obtained Django (Left’s “Director of Greetings” or “D.O.G.”), and how his entrepreneurial spirit led him to Left.


Amber: Where are you originally from and when did you come to BC?

Joe: I’m originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. A natural born ‘farm boy’. My family and I moved out here when I was about 11 for elementary school; we bounced around a lot when I was young. I went to highschool at Princess Margaret Secondary School and during grades 11 and 12 I was at KPU [Kwantlen Polytechnic University]. After graduation I went to BCIT and SFU.

Amber: So you took university classes during high school at Kwantlen University?

Joe: Kwantlen had advanced courses that a select few students could take, as long as you had good grades. I was one of those few people, so I took computer programing and fine arts.

Amber: That is an interesting combination! What drew you to fine arts and computer programing?

Joe: Yes [laughing]! A unique skill set I guess. I think very analytically, but I am also very creative. I wanted to develop those two assets. In highschool, and I guess in elementary school too, all my hand-in reports were always over the top. Teachers would keep my work, everything from humanities reports to physics diagrams, as an example of what could be done [laughing].

Amber: What was your first business and how old were you? I’m picturing an elaborate lemonade stand.

Joe: I started my first business when I was 13 in lawn maintenance. I would go around the neighbourhood with my push mower, cutting grass. After a bit of success, I expanded to about a five block radius. When I had enough money, I bought a weedwacker and upgraded to an electric lawnmower so it was a bit easier and I could do more with less. I had about 20–25 yards I took care of each week. Lemonade didn’t have the returns I was looking for.

Amber: So instead of saving up for baseball cards or candy, you saved up for a weedwacker and a mower…

Joe: Yes [laughs]! I needed to make the job easier on myself!

Amber: So, after university what did your career path look like?

Joe: I started a company called SilverWayve with a buddy of mine from college… it just didn’t pan out. After that I moved to Eyestorm Media which was basically a freelancing gig where I built my own personal brand. Following that, I got a full-time job working at CityMax. I was hired as a junior designer and worked my way up to being the Creative Director. That is where I first met John (Co founder of Left).

When CityMax started to go downhill, I decided enough was enough; I was an entrepreneur at heart, and I needed to start my own practice. I founded a branding marketing agency called Full Frame Marketing Inc.

Amber: And how did you first start working with Left?

Joe: John had left CityMax just before I did to start-up a new venture with Chris Jensen called Left of the Dot Media. It had a horrible logo [laughs].

John reached out and asked me to help them on some projects. I came on and started working from their office which was close to my home in Pitt Meadows. The first project I worked on was importers.com. After that, we started working on some cool brands like massage.com, villas.com and christmas.com.

I started taking on more and more clients with Full Frame, and Left became one of the biggest of those. As Left grew, I started getting too much work to do myself, so I started hiring people. I found some designers who I could nurture, and I brought them on to grow the business. With a team, I could focus on strengthening relationships with clients and forming new partnerships, which was always a part of my business model.

Amber: So you started by having Left as one of your clients. How did it transform into them acquiring your new marketing company ICO Agency earlier this year?

Joe: Over the years, I helped start multiple businesses, such as ShareShed, Guiides.com, Orange Envelope, Grayns and ICO Agency, all of which led me to Left.

Left was working on the RightMesh project, and my company, ICO Agency, had taken on the marketing. The work we were doing for RightMesh led John and Chris to clearly see the potential of the team I had built. The three of us sat down, in this boardroom actually, and we decided to have Left acquire ICO Agency in order to lock up the talent of the team for Left. Although it had felt like I was a part of the team for many years, that was the moment when I became an official Lefty, and my title became Entrepreneur in Residence.

My role is to “build the thing that builds the thing”. I get to do all the cool stuff that entrepreneurs get to do — establishing processes, bringing people onboard, helping people where they need to be helped, developing the culture, and scaling certain areas in the business. My next big project is preparing us for growth as we are going to become too big for our current space. I am currently looking into options of our next move.

Amber: That is quite the journey! What is it that you like most about being an entrepreneur?

Joe: I have always liked the challenge of it. The challenge of taking an idea and running with it. Growing up, my parents were always supportive of my ideas, but we lacked business connections, and even internet, to bring them to life. Over time, I got frustrated seeing the ideas I had thought up created by other people. So, at an early age, I decided to take initiative and run with the ideas myself. Even though sometimes the ideas didn’t work, I needed to try. I needed to know why it wouldn’t work before giving up on an idea. You learn more from your mistakes that way. That is what life is, it is all about failure and learning from it. So that is what I like about being an entrepreneur.

Amber: On that note, which of Left’s 10 core values do you identify the most with? I can kind of guess after hearing your last statement.

Joe: “Failure is an option” is one of the core values that I most identify with. Because if you don’t fail, you never learn. Failure makes you humble, and it makes you realize that you are never going to be perfect. You are going to fall, sometimes really hard, but you’ll be able to pull yourself up and hopefully you will have a network of support to help dust you off. Having those relationships in your life that support you really helps.

Amber: On a slightly random note, you are in charge of Django, Left’s resident “D.O.G.” (Director of Greetings). How long have you had him, and how did you become his proud owner?

Joe: I have had Django for four and a half years. We got him when he was about four months old from Alberta. He was a rescue pup. They found him with his brother and his sisters in a back alley, in a box, and they were eating rocks. We found him online, and I was like, ‘kay this dog is pretty dang cute’, and I reached out to the foster family. We flew him out, and I picked him up at the airport at about quarter after midnight. He came down the ramp in a crate, his ears down, and he looked pretty sad, still shocked from the flight. We got him home and took him out to the parkade and we became instantly connected. It was pretty cool feeling. His original name was Ricky, and so I had to change that. The movie Django had just come out and I thought it was fitting for his journey. Although he was Django chained for a few months while he was trained.

He grew up as a Lefty. We’ve always had a dog friendly office, and he grew up here. This is his family, this is his home, he knows who belongs here and who is a visitor — and you can tell by the greetings he gives. He is an awesome dog. Great personality, lots of energy and loves being part of bleacher talks, meetings and even new Lefty interviews.

Amber: I think so, too. Before I let you go, do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about Left?

Joe: I think that Left has changed the way we do business and how we connect with people. Not just external, but internally as well. This is felt by everyone who has become a part of Left, from our Lefties, to the people who come through our doors for a visit, to those we meet at events. I really love working here, and I am looking forward to what will come next.


Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:


Legendary Lefty: Caryl

Welcome to ‘Legendary Lefty’ — our series of interviews with our amazing team members that tells their stories.

Today, I sat down with Caryl Longden, our Operations Director, to learn about her journey to Canada, how snowboarding was a driving force, and how she became a Lefty.


Amber: What excited you about moving to Canada?

Caryl: To give you a bit of a background story, in the UK I was an IT manager at the Tamworth SnowDome, which is a ski hill with artificial snow. As part of working there we, my now husband Paul and I, got free snowboarding lessons. We both fell in love with snowboarding and decided our honeymoon would be spent on the mountain somewhere. It just so happened that Banff, Alberta, really caught our eye.

We stayed at the Banff Springs and went snowboarding every day of our honeymoon! It was fantastic. One day on the bus back from Lake Louise, Paul turned to me and said, “I could easily live here”. I instantly agreed. We loved the Canadian culture and we felt at home here..

So when we got back to England, we started the paperwork to immigrate. It took us three years to get it all done. There were a lot of sleepless nights not knowing where our lives were actually going. That uncertainty was quite difficult to deal with… It was a lot of hard work. It is one of those things that if you really want to immigrate you have to be dedicated and put an awful lot of time and energy into it. In our case we were lucky enough that it paid off.

Amber: So when you first moved to Canada, did you go to Calgary as you had visited it before?

Caryl: We didn’t want to move to Calgary itself. I wasn’t a big fan and felt I didn’t fit in. So we came out further west. We were actually looking at Victoria but it seemed a bit too quiet. So we came to look at Vancouver and went snowboarding up in Whistler for the first time, that was when we decided that Vancouver was really for us. Just being such a multicultural city, we felt like we fit in here. That is why we chose Vancouver.

Also it is the grass! The grass is a real attraction! I lived in Kansas and they have such extreme weather that the grass is really brittle and hard. So when you lay on the grass, somewhere that has extremes in weather, the grass leaves little dots on your back. Looking at the green grass on the west coast you can tell that it is a temperate climate and that is what we wanted. We didn’t want those extreme climate swings.

Amber: I can see why you would fall in love with it. Did you already have a job lined up when you arrived in Vancouver then?

Caryl: When we got here neither of us had a job. We were having a fantastic time for the first six months being on holiday and going to Whistler and snowboarding.

It was also in that first sort of six months that we found out that Vancouver is a lot about who you know and not what you know when you are looking at getting a job. We found that a very small percentage of people actually got their jobs from applying through advertisements.

The first job I got was through meeting the founder of the company at a coffee shop. Another Brit, he recognized my accent and we ended up having coffee. He offered me a job knowing that I was a Project Manager in IT.

I went to work for them pro-bono to start with. They were in start-up mode so they couldn’t afford me.. there you go! [laughs] So to get my feet wet in the industry in Vancouver, I went to work for them and learn their systems till I got to a position where I could charge for my consultancy to their clients. After three months, that was when I started getting paid. I got a full-time job with them and from there I went to work with one of their clients.

Amber: When did you first meet Chris (Left CEO and Co-Founder)?

Caryl: As part of the process for looking for work, Paul and I were doing a lot of informational interviews. Paul played soccer with one of Chris’s former co-workers. Paul put me in touch with this soccer player, who put me in touch with Chris. That is how my Left connection started.

Chris and I, and his family, have been friends for many years now. We always said that we would love to work together. It wasn’t til Chris and John started Left and things started picking up that they felt that they needed a Project Manager. That is when Chris approached me to come aboard. That was three years ago and no regrets.

Amber: Other than knowing Chris, was there anything that you saw within Left that made you want to work for the company?

Caryl: There were two things. Firstly it was a company with a lot of potential. There were a lot of smart people here already. I saw the potential in the thinking behind the product so I knew that Left would do well and go far.

The second thing is, it is always good to have a decent boss. I knew that Chris would be. I think there is a huge percentage of people who actually leave their jobs because they do not have good bosses. To actually have a boss that you know is good, that is another thing that won me over.

Also it is 20 minutes from my door to this door! [laughing]

Amber: I was going to ask, when you first moved to BC were you living in downtown Vancouver, what brought you to suburbs?

Caryl: Yes, we lived downtown which was a fabulous location for when we first arrived. We could walk around the sea wall, were close to the mountains and we didn’t need a car. It turned out that every job I had though took me out of Vancouver.

We didn’t move out to the burbs till I was pregnant with our first child. We wanted to buy a house which was a larger and more affordable than what we could have got downtown. Also the infrastructure is a lot better out here for childcare, schools… space! All of those things you need when you have kids.

Amber: Since joining Left, what have been the opportunities for growth within the company and do you feel that you are constantly learning?

Caryl: I started out as the Project Manager, and was promoted into the role of COO for Left Travel. The role was very different than I had done before, thankfully Project Management skills are useful no matter what the role that you are in. Working on the Left Travel side, I really enjoyed working directly with our partners and coming up with new ideas for them. I love the travel space, it is something that I am passionate about.

Amber: It brought you here!

Caryl: Yes! Exactly!

This past year I moved into helping lead operations for the RightMesh project. Now I am getting to work with a lot of new technologies which is very stimulating. We are on the bleeding edge of technology because we are basically inventing the technology.

I don’t think I have ever worked with a team with such a deep level of development. Most of the developers that I have worked with before have built on existing platforms and tools, like Android and iOS development. What we are doing is inventing, which is something completely different to me. There is always a lot to learn.

Amber: Left is a values driven company. Out of our 10 core values which ones do you identify the most with?

Caryl: Take responsibility is the big one for me. It is something I do everyday… I pick things up and I run with them. I expect that from my team members as well. I expect them to complete their action items and execute on assigned tasks… that is probably why I like Operations. [laughs] Take responsibility is the most prominent one in my job role.

On a personal level, I would say family is important. Having a busy family life and being able to balance that with work as well is important to me. Working at Left has allowed me to not miss the big moments by being able to volunteer at my kids’ school and have a flexible working schedule. I’ve helped out on field trips, hot lunch days and track meets. Being able to take my computer home and then go do the activities with the kids, and being able to make the time up that I miss is really important to me as well.


Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:


Left Makes Coding Fun for Boys and Girls in Maple Ridge by Hosting ‘Hour of Code’

Maple Ridge, BC –November 2, 2018 — Left, one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, invited local students from Maple Ridge, Langley and Pitt Meadows in grades 2–7 to their office for an ‘Hour of Code’ that included hands-on fun to spark a passion for computer science and demystify coding. Students toured the office, participated in hands-on tutorials, learned about diverse careers in tech, and played with an oculus rift, robots, and 3D-printers. To address the gender diversity gap in computer science, a girls-only session will also be held.

Hour of Code is a global movement introducing tens of millions of students worldwide to computer science, inspiring kids to learn more, breaking stereotypes, and leaving them feeling empowered. This is the 3rd year Left has volunteered to host the event at their office.

Hour of Code events are held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week (CSEDWeek), an annual program dedicated to encouraging K-12 students to take interest in computer science. Computer science is changing the landscape of work with computing occupations one of the fastest-growing, best paying, and largest sectors of all new wages.

Left decided to host a girls-only session this year as, although CSEDWeek is held in recognition of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, females are grossly underrepresented in computer science careers. In high schools, fewer than 25% of Computer Science students are girls. The Hour of Code initiative has been so successful in introducing girls to this computer science that just in the first Hour of Code, four years ago, more girls tried computer science than had tried in the last 70 years!

“As a tech company, we know how hard it is to achieve gender diversity in this field,” said Saju Abraham, Chief Product Officer at Left. “We want to help change that by inspiring girls to take an interest in computer science from a young age. It’s shocking that in a room of 25 computer professionals today, only 3 will be women.”

“This is the third year we’ve hosted local students here for Hour of Code,” Abraham added. “All our employees chip in and get really excited about empowering the next generation through sharing their passion. As a company, we’re known for our extensive community volunteer initiatives, but this event is hands-down our favourite event of the year. The feedback and excitement from the kids is priceless.”

###

ABOUT LEFT

We are Left, and we do things right. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, we are on a mission to use technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The biggest problem we have identified is connectivity. We believe that if the world could rethink connectivity, we could improve health outcomes, impact education, and lift hundreds of millions out of poverty. To solve this problem, we are developing RightMesh, a mobile mesh networking platform and protocol that uses technologies inherent in mobile devices around the world (Wi-Fi-, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth) to provide last mile connectivity where existing infrastructure cannot service or meet demand. Individuals are incentivized to share data through financial compensation afforded by blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies (RMESH). We are also experts in A.I., big data, machine learning and predictive analysis for the travel industry. Focusing on the ‘Right’ traffic, our subsidiary, Left Travel, drives $450 million in gross travel bookings annually. Left is listed number 16 on Deloitte’s Fast 50 list for Canada and number 101 in North America on the Fast 500 list.

www.left.io

ABOUT HOUR OF CODE

The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide. The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week.

Press Contact

Dana Harvey
CCO, Left
1–778–929–3262
dana@left.io


Left Recognized by Deloitte As One of the Fastest Growing Technology Companies in Canada and North America

Maple Ridge, Canada — November 15, 2018 — Left, a technology innovation company with holdings in AI, big data, blockchain, and mesh networking, today announced two impressive achievements ranking 16th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ list in Canada and 101st on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ list in North America.

Left was selected from hundreds of nominations based on its rapid revenue growth, entrepreneurial spirit, and bold innovation. Left’s impressive revenue growth of 409.08% from 2014–2017 was a deciding factor in making the lists.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program winners consist of public and private companies in the technology sector, which have transformed the industry. Now in its 21st year, the program runs alongside the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™, with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking.

“We are thrilled to be honoured by Deloitte and recognized as a contributing factor in the tremendous evolution of the Canadian technology sector,” said Chris Jensen, CEO and Co-founder of Left. “As a certified B-Corporation, our revenue growth allows us to continue to build technology that makes the world a better place. In particular, our mobile mesh networking project, RightMesh, is poised to lift hundreds of millions out of poverty, improve educational outcomes, and bring connectivity to the almost 4 billion people left behind in the digital divide.”

“Business is changing rapidly, and what used to work a few years ago isn’t a recipe for what will work in the future,” said Erica Pretorius, Partner and National Leader for the Technology Fast 50™ program at Deloitte Canada. “Fast 50 winners are a beacon of innovation and I’m looking forward to how they will change the business and technology landscape in the future.”

To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must have been in business for at least four years, have revenues of at least $5 million, be headquartered in Canada, own proprietary technology, conduct research and development activities in Canada and invest a minimum of five percent of gross revenues in R&D.

###

About the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™

 The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program is Canada’s pre-eminent technology awards program. Celebrating business growth, innovation and entrepreneurship, the program features three distinct categories including the Technology Fast 50 Ranking, Companies-to-Watch Awards (early-stage Canadian tech companies with the potential to be a future Deloitte Technology Fast 50 candidate) and the Leadership Awards (companies that demonstrate technological leadership and innovation within the industry.) Program sponsors include Deloitte, 3C Innovation, BCF Business Law, Bank of Montreal, Bennett Jones, CBRE, First West Capital and OMERS Ventures . For further information, visit www.fast50.ca.

About the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™

 Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 provides a ranking of the fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and energy tech companies — both public and private — in North America. Technology Fast 500 award winners are selected based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2014 to 2017.

In order to be eligible for Technology Fast 500 recognition, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or technology that is sold to customers in products that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues. Companies must have base-year operating revenues of at least $50,000 USD, and current-year operating revenues of at least $5 million USD. Additionally, companies must be in business for a minimum of four years and be headquartered within North America.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. With its project, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest, such as in Northern Canada and developing nations. The project’s mission is to connect the next billion users through their infrastructure-less connectivity solution that uses mobile mesh Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth technologies inherent in mobile devices around the world to share internet data in areas without access to quality internet bandwidth. Individuals are incentivized to share data through financial compensation afforded by blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies (RMESH). Left Travel, another brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Bangladesh, Singapore and the United States. RightMesh AG, a Swiss registered company, contracts the research and development of the RightMesh project to Left.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) does not provide services to clients. In the United States, Deloitte refers to one or more of the US member firms of DTTL, their related entities that operate using the “Deloitte” name in the United States and their respective affiliates. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

Press Contact

Dana Harvey
CCO, RightMesh
1–778–929–3262
dana@left.io


Left: Small Company with Big Heart Selected as one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers”

Maple Ridge, BC — November 9, 2018 — Left has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers on Mediacorp Canada Inc.’s 2019 list published on Friday. With only 36 Canadian-based employees at the time of application, Left was the smallest company on the list which includes organizations of up to 65,000 Canadian employees.

“While we are a small company in comparison to others on the list, our heart is big,” said CEO and Co-founder, Chris Jensen. “We’ve demonstrated that you don’t need big, expensive programs and benefits to create an exceptional place to work — with innovation and progressive initiatives, any company can become a top employer regardless of size if you set your heart and mind to it.”

Now entering its 20th year, and with an increasing number of applications, the 2018 Canada’s Top 100 Employers List is a national competition to find employers with exceptional human resources programs and forward-thinking workplace policies. This is the first year Left has applied to the competition and is one of only 15 new entrants on the list. Employers are rigorously graded by Mediacorp Canada Inc. on eight criteria. The criteria, and Left’s scores, are: Physical Workplace (A+), Work Atmosphere and Communications (A+), Financial Benefits and Compensation (B+), Health and Family-Friendly benefits (B+), Vacation & Time-off (A-), Employee Engagement and Performance (A), Training & Skills Development (A+), and Community Involvement (A+).

“The average size of companies in this year’s Top 100 was 7,585 Canadian employees,” continued Jensen. “An internal analysis of the scoring revealed that even with only 36 employees and those ‘grades’, we earned a ‘GPA’ of 3.63, which placed us in a tie for 7th. We are really pleased to be recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.”

Mediacorp editors shone a spotlight on particular initiatives at Left including an IVF subsidy in addition to generous baby bonuses and parental leave top-ups, unlimited paid time-off for community volunteering, and the choice of a unique, family-friendly location close to nature. The full magazine and the editors’ detailed reasons for selection are available online at: www.CanadasTop100.com/national.

Left is committed to using technology for positive social impact. Through its RightMesh project, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest — using a mobile mesh networking protocol and platform with blockchain technology and tokenization.

ABOUT LEFT

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Canada, Bangladesh, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States.

For more information, visit www.left.io.

Press Contact:

Dana Harvey, CCO
1–778–929–3262
dana@left.io