Techopia Live: Matt Whitteker on maintaining Assent Compliance’s rapid growth

While $130-million venture-capital rounds are no doubt exciting for any tech firm, the prospect of scaling a company that rapidly can be daunting. Following Assent Compliance’s enormous series-C round a couple weeks back, Techopia Live was curious how the fast-growing compliance software firm is maintaining its culture and focus with a big market opportunity at its doorstep.

Matt Whitteker, co-founder and vice-president of marketing at Assent Compliance, told Techopia Live that the company’s trajectory changed in a bout of “serendipity” four years ago when Andrew Waitman stepped into the ring. He meant that literally, too: as a boxer and coach, Whitteker happened to be training Waitman when the veteran Ottawa tech CEO mentioned he was looking for a new opportunity.

“As we’re exchanging jabs, he mentions he’s leaving his current company and I mention we’re doing well … and say, ‘Why don’t you check out what we’re doing?’”

At that time, Assent had a couple dozen employees and had hit a couple million in revenues. Waitman was intrigued, Whitteker said, so he offered to come on as a volunteer and work out of the company’s small “sweatbox” of an office for a time. A couple months in, Waitman came to Whitteker and his co-founders and said he wanted to invest $1 million of his own money and take the reins as CEO.

Since that time, the company has added 300 employees and raised $190 million in venture capital.

How has the company maintained its culture and focus amid the explosive growth? Whitteker said the first of those hundreds of hires that Waitman made was a head of human resources. Following that, Assent brought in top-tier talent as chief financial and product officers to set the firm up to scale.

"Companies are a product of their leadership and these have all been incredible executives."

“Companies are a product of their leadership and these have all been incredible executives,” Whitteker said.

As one of the original co-founders of the company, Whitteker said he hasn’t felt drowned out by the new executives and board members who have joined the team amid the growth and equity financing. Rather, he said he feels supported – even when the firm falls short of expectations.

“The first time we closed our series-A, the next quarter we went on the miss,” he said, adding that the investors didn’t panic. With the core business and market opportunity intact, the directors told the team to keep investing.

“We went on to hit it out of the park the next few quarters,” he said.

“Having more voices at the table has actually given us more support as we’ve grown and scaled the company.”

Coming up next for Assent Compliance is a leap into international waters, setting up shop overseas to tackle markets including Europe and Asia. No one at the company has experience setting up a European outpost, Whitteker acknowledged, but he feels the company has built up such a solid foundation today that few things can shake him.

“International expansion is both exciting and it’s like, ‘Well, we haven’t done that before.’”

Watch the video above to hear more about life at Assent Compliance.