The 7shift-ing Tech Landscape in Saskatchewan

Photo by David Stobbe

7shifts is hiring.

Photo by David Stobbe

Company CEO Jordan Boesch learned about the difficulties in scheduling employees from watching his father run the family business. In 2008, he started on a pet project to help manage that task. Teaching himself the programming required to build a very spartan piece of software, he intended to help his father save time and stress in an industry that is full of both. That idea would eventually grow into a thriving Saskatchewan tech company, 7shifts.

“We made it to over 30 employees before we had our first employee leave,” says Marketing Lead, Chris De Jong. That kind of retention says a lot about the company, and that kind of growth is very attractive.

“Everyone is very comfortable here, empowered to talk to each other and work to solve problems,” says De Jong. Boesch agrees. “We work hard, we play hard—everyone here has value, and we’re working hard to scale that corporate culture as the company grows,” he says.

What started as a side project grew into a three-person company in Saskatoon, and then took a daring leap when Boesch was accepted to an accelerator in Silicon Valley. Pulling up stakes and immersing the company in the Bay Area vibe took things to a whole new level. It gave Boesch access to experience and opportunities that simply weren’t available in Saskatchewan.

Photo by David Stobbe

The leap of faith paid off and the company will be adding six more employees in July, bringing the total close to forty now across two offices. The company made a strategic decision to open a second office in Toronto, because despite their gains in Saskatchewan, the larger city is still simply more recognizable to American investors and a hub of opportunity in its own right. While building corporate bridges from Regina to Toronto and Silicon Valley—they have remained true to their Saskatchewan roots.

The process has been anything but smooth, of course, but for the right kind of person the opportunities can be enticing. “It’s tough,” says De Jong, “but the potential for a software person to do the best work of their career is very real in a company this size.” Working with a company in the rapid growth stage comes with a hard grind—but 7shifts feels that in the engineering sector especially, graduates seem to be seeking that opportunity as opposed to the more traditional roles in established organizations. Roles with those companies might offer security, but can also come with clearly defined limits on advancement.

As 7shifts grows, they’re doing what comes naturally to Saskatchewan businesses: helping out their community. Having recognized that the single biggest thing to move them forward was exposure to the kind of experience you only get in places like Silicon Valley, Jordan and his team have been actively trying to promote that exposure. 7shifts has been instrumental in helping to grow the tech community in Saskatoon, bringing in talent and mentors, and encouraging the highly skilled and hard working Saskatchewan people to go experience what cities like Toronto, Montreal and San Francisco have to offer, but also working to ensure there is a reason to return with that knowledge and experience.

Photo by David Stobbe

Acknowledging that there are incredible people right here at home, Jordan does say there are experiences abroad you simply can’t get here that are critical for the growth of a company like 7shifts. “Go to the knowledge,” he says. “Learn. Bring it back.”

That advice and the company culture of learning and giving back, has allowed the company to grow from a pet project to a thriving tech company of nearly 40 people working with great restaurants and pubs locally and nationwide. You will see 7shifts in use by managers and employees to handle scheduling in local restaurants like Leopold’s Tavern, O’Shea’s Irish Pub, The Hose & Hydrant Brew Pub and Victoria’s Tavern in Regina—some recognizable names among a growing and distinguished list of clientele.

When asked what his favourite restaurant was, CEO Jordan Boesch laughingly said there was no way to pick a favourite—but he would admit that one perk of the job is that they can enjoy great local food and drink while getting direct feedback from their clients. This connection with their customers has allowed them to continue expanding at their frenetic pace. When asked what was next for the company, Boesch highlighted their plans for continued growth, and wanted to be sure he was quoted on an important point: “Don’t forget—we’re hiring.”