The ability of a company to serve a global market is always rapidly expanding. Toronto Business Development Centre works daily with startup founders from around the world to expand their business into North America. Harvey Kandola, of Documize, is one of our dedicated founders who chose Canada because of its access to international markets and quality of life.
What is a Product Manager?
Product managers are involved in every industry from automobile manufacturing to streaming services. Their function is simple to define but not to execute; successfully execute the lifecycle of the product. This means developing and pitching product ideas, updates, and positioning, helping manage development, and ensuring that the product satisfies the target consumer.
How did this ubiquitous job title come to be? The official product manager position was created by Neil H. McElroy in 1931 when he worked for Procter & Gamble. If you recognize the name, it’s because he became the Secretary of Defence and helped found NASA.
A good product manager becomes your cross-functional connection in your organization. They manage goals and expectations for business leaders, help ensure correct and consistent brand messaging, and become specialists in the product functions and applications. But how does one become a good product manager?
p>With lots of practice and the right tools.
Harvey Kandola was born and raised in London, England, and started his first company months before the 2008 recession. Since then, he has grown and exited his first tech-startup businesses and moved to Toronto to expand his latest venture through the TBDC Startup Visa Program.
By trade, Harvey is a full-stack engineer. As he was growing his business and helping his family run their plethora of businesses, he saw the potential for a SaaS company that would help manage that mountain of word docs, contacts, and manual processes that came along with product management.
Documize was created to give product managers a system of records, and create a centralized hub for product teams. For those of you who haven’t had much experience with product managers, it means that this program can help coordinate logistics & objectives, analytics from all different stages of the product lifecycle, and overlays customer interactions to help teams build a roadmap for success.
The software was developed over a course of a couple of years and is now being used by hundreds of customers.
Harvey’s Entrepreneurial Journey
Harvey states “For my first startup, I packed in my city job and took out a lease on an office, and in one month the 2007/2008 recession. In the beginning, we were worried that it was going to be a nasty fight. But in reality, when money is tight, new players have the opportunity to bring a cheaper product to market.”
“Aside from that, we received threats of lawsuits from bigger competitors. We were threatened once by a large competitor and you have to hit back. Also patent chasers, you just have to learn to brush it off and move on. You think ‘this is it’, but then you come back and get on with it.”
Harvey always sort of knew that he would be an entrepreneur. Both of his parents ran businesses, and he became the Chief Technology Officer at his brother’s company, MRM Worldwide. In the role, he learned a lot about people, processes and the inevitable chaos of management in large blue-chip organizations. But, he always heard the faint call for entrepreneurism.
Harvey’s Journey to North America
Harvey’s first startup, Countersoft, was founded in 2002 that made enterprise-grade projects and help desk management software; 60% of his customers were concentrated in the USA alone. He finally felt it was time to start something new when large enterprise customers all complained about the constant battle to retain and share know-how.
When he decided it was time to launch Documize, he was originally looking to start the company in San Francisco. Because the procurement process for American enterprises can be long and arduous, he was looking to secure a starting location that would give him an easy place to manage American licensing, payments, etc.
After being offered the opportunity to obtain a Green card to the US, he decided to move operations to Canada instead and landed in Toronto in July 2020. TBDC’s Startup Visa program was appealing because it provided a central location for dealing with both the US and Europe. Currently, 95% of Documize’s revenue is outside of Canada.
Now in the process of getting his Toronto team established, Harvey is grateful for the insight and advice the TBDC team has provided him throughout his journey. He says the financial know-how and industry connections the team has provided him made the startup journey so much easier.
Advice for New Startup Founders
Harvey has two pieces of advice for new startup founders.
Disasters are inevitable and you just have to look at the big corporations (Instagram/ Facebook have outages) if they can’t get it right with their millions in resources, how can we be expected to. You just have to take it on the chin and keep moving.
, you have to really focus on building a great product. In our early days, about 90% of our customers were word of mouth. Even the supply chains of your enterprises will be using your product and pushing it forward. If your customers aren’t ripping it out of your hands then you don’t have a great product.
Are you interested in Canada’s Startup Visa Program?
Thinking of taking your startup international? Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) is Toronto’s oldest business incubator and the only one that helps companies move anywhere in Ontario. Since our inception, we’ve helped over 9000 companies move to Ontario and scale. If you are leading a company with proof of concept and a strong management team, we can make the connections you need to accelerate your expansion into the North American market. Excited about the opportunities you see here? Book a call to see if your business is ready.