Everyone loves a good story. Whether it’s around the water cooler, over a few beers or before bed. Stories are timeless and there’s one for everyone.
Pressboard is a local Vancouver startup that believes stories are better than ads.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
My name is Jerrid Grimm, I co-founded Pressboard with Tiam Korki. We’re helping brands find and connect with great storytellers like Vancity Buzz.
I’ve worked in online media for awhile now and I’ve seen firsthand how challenging it can be to create great stories for your readers and at the same time try to bring in advertising revenue to pay your team and grow your publication. On the other side, in brand marketing, there is a movement away from ads and towards creating content that people actually want to read. Basically everyone wants to create better stories.
Our marketplace connects the brands and the storytellers so that they can work on powerful stories together.
Tiam and I met when I started advising for his previous startup, Gauge Mobile. Gauge was founded by Tiam and Tony Vassiliev and was acquired in January by Juice Mobile. Tiam is a genius, both from a software development and business strategy standpoint, a rare combination.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
The feedback has been incredible. We knew we were solving a real problem, having worked for a media company myself for several years. In our first month we signed up 20 websites, blogs and online magazines, which was double our original goal. On the brand side, we signed a client in our very first week of business and have been working on campaigns with major brands across Canada ever since. We’ve taken a staged approach as we build up the marketplace, starting in B.C., then adding national publishers and brands and now expanding into the U.S. market.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Pressboard?
Vancouver has been incredibly supportive of Tiam and I, and of Pressboard. In the past, I’ve been fortunate to mentor for some really smart startups coming out of incubators like GrowLab (now HIGHLINE) and Launch Academy. Through those opportunities I’ve built relationships with a diverse group of investors, entrepreneurs and other mentors. There’s always someone in town willing to help you figure out a problem or lend their unique experience to your team.
From a publisher and brand perspective, Vancouver is home to some of the most innovative advertising agencies and publishers in the country. Since the local companies are often smaller than their national or U.S. counterparts, decisions can be made much quicker so it was a great place to get our start.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
How can publishers tell great stories, which we all love to read, if they aren’t able to pay their editorial staff? How are brands supposed to reach an audience for their product if they’re best option is a banner ad that a reader ignores? Brands and publishers want to work together around stories instead of ads. We make the entire process so much simpler and efficient.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
In a way I was born into entrepreneurship, my dad started his company the year I was born. I’ve always been attracted to people and companies that have entrepreneurship at their heart. The last company that I was with, Newad, is a young dynamic company run by some really smart founders, I learned a lot there.
My leap into owning my own company is a bit unorthodox. Last January, my wife and I had our second baby boy, a couple of weeks later we bought a house in North Vancouver. A few days later, I handed in my notice to the company where I had worked for over nine years, and started up Pressboard with Tiam. It may seem like a big risk, but it doesn’t feel that way to me.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
My dad has been the biggest influence on my career. He owns a construction business, so you may not think that there would be that many parallels to the tech industry, but he taught me that hard work and building trust with your customers are the most important ingredients in the success of any business, and they are completely within your control.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Being a tech founder in Vancouver, I have a huge amount of respect for what Ryan Holmes has been able to do with Hootsuite, and what Hootsuite is doing for the Vancouver ecosystem. It can’t be easy to keep that small, scrappy, startup culture in a company that is growing by hundreds of employees each year, I’m sure that I could learn a lot from him.
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Buy stock in Apple.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
Customers are your best resource. Get them using your product as early as you can, and they’ll let you know what’s working and what isn’t. Until you have a customer, everything you’re doing is hypothetical.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, but if it’s what you want to do, then do it. Now. With all of the online resources and support systems in place around starting your own company, the only roadblock is your willingness to take the leap.
Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.