Two of the capital’s brightest entrepreneurial stars are now business partners in a pair of ventures they project will each be generating millions of dollars in revenues before the year is out.
Steve Cody and Bruce Linton have joined forces to purchase all assets and intellectual property in the Better Software Company, a business management platform Cody launched three and a half years ago before leaving last summer to hatch a new online rental marketplace.
Cody said the acquisition makes sense because each company can feed customers to the other.
Better Software makes applications that help franchise-based operations better manage their stores, while Ruckify offers an online platform that allows customers to rent items they don’t want to buy.
Many of Better Software’s customers own equipment they could rent out on Ruckify when they’re not using it, Cody explains. Meanwhile, a number of people posting items on Ruckify have suggested they might want to eventually launch their own rental businesses, he says – making them natural clients for Better Software.
“It just became obvious that there were a lot of synergies between the two,” Cody says.
The two companies’ applications will be linked through a common interface that will make using them a seamless experience for customers, he says. Better Software might eventually be rebranded as well.
Launched last fall, Ruckify brings renters and owners together in much the same way Kijiji connects buyers and sellers. The company – which now employs eight people – takes a five per cent cut of all transactions, with a minimum fee of $5 and a maximum of $50. It costs nothing to post items, and Ruckify takes care of all insurance requirements.
The website has been in beta testing since its launch and aims to go live in Ottawa in about another month, Cody says. It already has more than 20,000 items in its catalogue from basketball nets to pizza ovens.
Customers ‘get it’
“We really want to get it right, because we are the first platform of its kind,” Cody says. “We want to put as much distance between ourselves and anybody that’s going to want to copy us.”
He and Linton – who provided some of the inspiration for Ruckify when he grumbled to his neighbour Cody about having to shell out $800 for a chainsaw he was likely going to need only once – are bullish on the fledgling firm’s prospects.
Even though the site is still a month away from being available to the general public, Cody says customers are already eager to do business on Ruckify.
“We’re already renting,” he says. “People are just calling up and asking for stuff.”
Linton, who knows a thing or two about being an early player in a disruptive field, says Ruckify is an idea whose time has come.
“As soon as you describe it to someone, they get it,” he says.
Cody says Ruckify will expand its platform beyond Ottawa once it has amassed $5 million in revenues – a target he fully expects to hit by the end of this year.
“I’ve done several businesses, and I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of just striking a chord with people.”
“I’ve done several businesses, and I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of just striking a chord with people,” he explains. “But you only kind of know when the rubber hits the road. All signals are very good right now, but it’s all subject to reality.”
If the response to a pair of recent LinkedIn posts about the company is any indication, its future is indeed bright. Cody said 18 potential angel investors contacted him after reading the posts, with more than half a dozen already pledging seed capital.
“I don’t think funding will be the issue,” Linton adds.
Cody and Linton say they’ve turned down two offers of venture capital because they want Ruckify to grow at its own pace without facing any pressure from institutional investors. Their belief in the company’s potential is clear when they note they’ve already talked about taking the company public down the road.
“People get it and they really like the brand,” Cody says. “The big thing will be growing the business. I think that comes with creating an awesome product that customers love, and then things will take care of themselves as long as you have a good team.”
Things are looking up at Better Software as well, he says, noting the firm just landed a new customer that could boost its revenues by 20 per cent.
And as for business partners, he says he couldn’t imagine a better one than Linton.
“Both our visions are aligned in terms of building something very, very special,” Cody says.