He may have worked for Blackberry “many years ago,” but Geoff Dittrich said he can still recall the day the company announced numerous employees would be getting laid-off right across the board.
“It was really scary period for everyone involved,” said Dittrich, who was based in Waterloo, Ontario, at the time – the epicentre of the layoffs. “Everyone had mortgages and families and there were not enough jobs on the market to absorb all of those people – but they couldn’t just up and leave, either.”
And while the layoffs may have been bad news initially, Dittrich – who now calls Vancouver home – told Daily Hive that something positive also grew out of the circumstances.
“Because there weren’t enough jobs for everyone, many started their own businesses,” he said. “What’s interesting is, you look at the landscape in Waterloo today, and so many of the businesses that we see there all had their start or their growth through the impact that those laid off employees contributed.
That turn of events, he added, “is something that’s always stuck with me.”
And in the wake of the recent announcement by Hootsuite involving the layoff of over 100 employees, Dittrich – who now works as a Business, Corporate Finance, and Technology Lawyer with Ink LLP – hopes he can bring some of what happened in Waterloo to Vancouver.
“As scary as it is for so many people – and I certainly wouldn’t downplay that – this could be that opportunity for some of them to start that business they’ve been thinking about and take that leap,” he said. “For us, as a law firm that focuses on entrepreneurs and high-growth companies, we want to remove one of the barriers that there may be in taking that leap.”
And often it’s simply the cost of setting the business up that can be one of the biggest hurdles.
That’s where Ink LLP comes into the picture.
“That’s work we do all the time,” said Dittrich. “We’re very familiar with it, and so we wanted to offer that to Hootsuite alumni and let them know that if they’re affected by this stuff, we will help them get setup, get rolling, and cover the cost of that incorporation, so that they can take that leap with one less thing to fear.”
Dittrich said Ink LLP’s familiarity with the process comes from the fact they work “day in and day out,” with those looking to build on their business ideas and make them a reality.
“We probably meet with around five entrepreneurs every week, hearing their startup ideas and helping them get started,” he said. “They come in and we have a model that’s kind of unique in law – in that we really want to partner with the entrepreneurs we work with – so we don’t charge them when they come and talk about their business ideas.”
The goal, he said, is to help budding entrepreneurs shape and set good foundations for their business.
“Then we try and fix fee as much as we possibly can, so that there’s no surprises,” he said. “We come up with strategies, and structures, and recommendations, and they would decide whether they want to move forward and build that out with us.”
As the business takes foot and begins to grow, “we’re regularly in conversations with them as they think about growth strategy and their business decisions,” he added.
And so far, feedback has been positive.
Dittrich posted a video on LinkedIn outlining his office and said the response thus far has been “pretty amazing.”
He noted the video was viewed over 7,000 times in 36 hours, and that “we’ve been getting a lot of inbound stuff, not just from Hootsuite people, but people in the startup ecosystem as a whole.”