Employee background checks spark startup’s business boom

Photo: Sean Gladwell, Moment, Getty Images

B.C.’s fastest-growing company, based on revenue growth over the past five years, is the Victoria-based tech startup Certn Holdings Inc., which specializes in employee background checks.

Certn’s revenue shot up 33,109.8% to $18.5 million in 2021 from $55,856 in 2017. The company had the fifth-highest revenue jump of any company to make Business in Vancouver’s Top 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list in the past 10 years.

“It’s been a snowball effect,” said Andrew McLeod, Certn’s co-founder and CEO. “Growth has given us the opportunity to unlock more growth.”

That growth, according to McLeod, has resulted from the combination of a great team, a great product and changing market and business conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

While business conditions outside of the company’s control contributed to Certn’s huge revenue spike, McLeod attributes much of the company’s success to its employees.

He wasn’t always so sure that a Victoria startup would be able to find the talent needed for such a venture, let alone to support accelerated growth. When the company was founded in 2016, McLeod bet $100 that Certn wouldn’t be able to find talent or investors in Victoria – a bet he later paid, happily.

For Certn, skyrocketing from five-digit to eight-digit annual revenue meant having to expand its services, its employee base and its market all at the same time.

Back in 2016, the company was focused on making the business of tenant screening fairer for renters. Its broader goal was to put the power of information in the hands of consumers – be they renters or employees.

“Right now pre-employment screening is the biggest part of our business, and that’s really taken off,” said McLeod.

With more people work i ng remotely during the pandemic, demand increased for digital and online employee background checks. The company has since grown from a staff of 20 to a team of 400.

Even after five years in which its revenue grew over 33,000 per cent, Certn is working to expand its global footprint and find new ways to further support consumers with information. ■