"We have roots in Niagara and want it to be part of its success."
WRITTEN BY: RANSOM HAWLEY
Four years ago, I had just quit my full-time marketing job to establish and launch Caddle. For myself and our management team, our decision was personal to locate Caddle in St. Catharines; we have roots in Niagara and want it to be part of its success.
1. Access to high-quality talent and lower startup costs
Four years in, I'm still shocked by what's here. If we can't find the talent we need right in St. Catharines, it’s available close by. We chose Niagara as our home for the region's lower cost of living, natural wonders, quality of life, and arguably easier access to talent.
Niagara offers the best of both worlds - growing region, it's just far enough away from hectic mid-Toronto traffic but close enough that we can jump on the QEW when we need to. Plus, we now have the daily GO train!
Caddle is thriving and continues to grow. In Toronto, we’d have been one of a million promising startups. In St. Catharines, we’re a big fish in a small pond. We attract highly talented in technology, marketing and customer experience.
2. Exceptional quality of life and sense of community
Our employees love the short commute as well - Brian Cline, our Head of Technology, commuted to Etobicoke for years. Now, he has about a 20-minute commute.
Most of our staff live within a 15 to 20-minute drive, which means they can spend that time with their families and not face the gridlock of GTA traffic every day. We find that our staff love the community they live and work in.
From the first day, I've stressed the importance of family, flexibility, and work-life balance. Because our employees tend to stick around, they enjoy a lot of trust and flexibility within our team, which makes for a happy, productive work environment.
3. Government funding and support
As for local support, there's Innovate Niagara, a business incubator for the region's entrepreneurs. The team there have been critical to our success, from walking us through incorporation to legal advice and hiring employees. They are one of many organizations and agencies playing a role in building our flourishing tech community.
When I knocked on their door, I had an idea, but I didn't know how to turn it into an app. Within our first three months, they'd connected me with legal resources, given me names of three local web developers, and introduced me to their executives in residence.
The future looks bright. We're confident in the leadership at city hall and wholeheartedly believe in Mayor Walter Sendzik's vision. With the right programs, opportunities for incubation and the right incentives, St. Catharines will be at the forefront of innovation. I look forward to the day when Caddle is just another of the many digital pioneers who saw Niagara's potential in its early stages.
Ransom Hawley is the CEO of Caddle Inc, a consumer insights marketplace serving the Consumer-Packaged Goods industry based in St. Catharines.
This article originally appeared in Business Link Niagara.