Adding to our incredible roster of
stories of entrepreneurs who have bootstrapped decisively, Rob Purdy’s is an
incredible journey of a precise execution.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your
journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and what kind of
Rob Purdy: I was born in Ontario, Canada. Our
family is very blue collar. I grew up in an environment centered around a
steady out by 7 in the morning and home at 3:30 kind of routine. We were in an
area of the city where General Motors dominated the local landscape.
Everyone in our neighborhood worked for that company. It was an interesting
background and a great lifestyle to grow up in. It also taught me that I wanted
to get outside of that and move into a different environment – more
entrepreneurial and less structured.
Sramana Mitra: What about education? What did you do for studies?
Rob Purdy: I completed a lot of university courses
and completed a marketing diploma, and did some management studies as well. I
did some financial investing along the way.
Sramana Mitra: What year does this bring us up to when you
finished your education and entered the workforce?
Rob Purdy: I graduated in 1975 and entered the
workforce. I joined BiC. I, initially, started as a sales representative
handling a northern sales territory, which changed pretty quickly into a larger
southern territory. I handled wholesalers and then moved into marketing. Prior
to leaving BiC after six years, I was Vice President of Sales and Marketing for
the company. I had a lot of jobs in a short six-year span.
Sramana Mitra: Where does that lead to? When did you start your
Rob Purdy: I worked for Bristol-Myers for three and
a half years. After leaving Bristol, I joined a smaller firm in Toronto where
it was more entrepreneurial. I entered into the consultancy side of the
business. We were providing marketing services through that company for Shell
I was there for about three years, but
felt that it was probably my time to start a company. That was the height of
the recession. I came home and explained to my wife that this would be an
absolutely wonderful time to start a business. It was not necessarily as well-received
as I would have liked, but, nonetheless, we started the business. I was
fortunate enough to pick up a couple of clients very quickly.
Sramana Mitra: What year are we talking?
Rob Purdy: That would have been around 1988. The
company got started in July 1989.
Sramana Mitra: What kind of a company did you start?
Rob Purdy: Initially, it was a consultancy doing
marketing services for a number of Canadian companies. We expanded the business
from myself to about a 24-person marketing services company doing promotional
marketing, graphic design, and a number of related marketing services. It did
It carried on for a number of years
providing those core services. It got into a rut where you would only be able
to grow as quickly as you can land your next client. What we were challenged
with is building sustainable revenue. We were enamored with the tech space and
wanted to move away from the day-to-day consultancy and expand the business
A really good friend of mine approached
me and said, “Could you build a piece of technology that would enable us to
provide incentives and services electronically through a portal site to
customers?” That was the genesis of completely transforming our business. From
there, we built the first online incentive platform for Canada and launched
that product in 1998. We quickly expanded. We were able to attract a large
number of clients fairly quickly.
The product, unfortunately, wasn’t as scalable
as we would have hoped. That was the turning point where we decided that we
needed to really grow the business in a different way, which is to move to a
SaaS model. That’s what prompted us to launch Power2Motivate in 2006.