Vancouver startup Olive raises $1m as it cuts costs for other businesses

Olive CEO Chris Heard near his company's new office on Granville Island in Vancouver | Photo: Chung Chow, BIV

What happened: Vancouver startup Olive raises $1m

Why it matters: The new capital comes as the company was forced to rethink its target clients during the pandemic

Investors are extending an olive branch in the form of $1 million to a Vancouver startup looking to cut costs for other businesses.

Olive Technologies Inc. revealed Monday (September 28) the close of a seed round led by Texas-based Active Capital (Active Venture Partners LLC), with participation from Novator Partners LLC and American accelerator Techstars Central LLC.

The Vancouver firm specializes in streamlining decision-making for IT products and services, reducing companies’ costs as well as reliance on outside consultants.

CEO Chris Heard said the pandemic has roused a wide array of sectors that have “traditionally been fairly behind adoption of technology” into making new investments in their infrastructure.

“Now they don't have a choice. They have to go out and adopt tech. And getting it wrong is going to be super costly as well,” he told BIV. 

“So not only do they have to adopt it, they have to get it right.”

Olive graduated from Techstars’ Seattle cohort earlier this year, during which the accelerator made an initial investment in the Vancouver company.

“So having them now reinvest and double down on it just expands our ability to get in touch with people,” Heard said.

The company was originally focused on offering services to large restaurant chains.

North Vancouver-based A&W Food Services of Canada was one of the startup’s most high-profile clients but with so many restaurants shuttering its doors or else only slowly reopening, Heard said Olive has been reaching out to a broader range of customers such as utility companies and construction firms.

"Most of the investment funds are going into the engineering team,” he added.

While the CEO said Olive’s product is effective, it’s also a little rough around the edges and investment dollars will go towards polishing it up and adding machine learning.

Meanwhile, Heard said the pandemic has saved the company money in terms of travel costs after months of constant pre-COVID-19 flights to meet with potential customers or else raise capital.

Instead, that money will be redirected to marketing.

“We don't see the ROI on getting on a plane,” he said.

The startup currently has six people on its team with plans to use some of the new capital to add up to two more people to its workforce by year’s end.

And its headquarters will be moving from downtown Vancouver over to Granville Island in early October.

“There's not too many of us, we're in a very tight group. And the benefit we get from being together is much higher than the benefit that I would get from getting on a plane to go to meet somebody in Vegas or Italy,” Heard said.