March 17, 2023: What do the Biggest Brands do to Succeed?

plus: we learn more about compensation management, discover more opportunities in tech, see what has developed with SVB and more!

Profile: Jafar Owainati and Barley

What is Barley?

Barley is a compensation management platform that empowers companies to set up their salary structure (think salary ranges), stay on top of pay equity, and manage important processes like salary reviews and promotions. A recent study showed that only 32% of employees believe they’re paid fairly. Our goal is to help companies stay on top of compensation and build trust between employees and their employers.

What was the insight/inspiration that led you to launch it?

My co-founder, Billy Mainguy, and I wanted to build a company that had people at the center of its mission.

We started to see some major market shifts in the world of compensation from location-based pay (after we all went remote) to headlines on pay equity gaps, to new pay transparency legislation. We experienced the challenges of compensation firsthand scaling our previous startups and recognized that the new market dynamics make it even harder.

After digging, we learned that most companies are still managing their compensation on a bunch of disparate spreadsheets! Not because they wanted to, but because they had no effective alternative. That’s when we decided that it was the right time to address these challenges head-on.

How has it been received by the market? Why do you think it has been so well received?

The overwhelming reaction to Barley is how needed the solution is.

With our recent launch, our customers have shared how intuitive the Barley platform is while solving a very complex problem. Overall, the reason why we think it has been received so well also comes down to market timing. With the extremes we have experienced from a competitive talent market to transparency legislation rolling out, compensation is at the forefront of every company’s mind.

How did you know you were ready to found a company?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial itch and I had a chance to first fulfill that when I co-founded Loopio back in 2014.

My aspirations were always to build and scale multiple companies. After growing Loopio to over 150 people and 1000 customers alongside my co-founders, Zak Hemraj and Matt York, I felt excited and ready to tackle a new problem and build from the ground up again.

How did you meet your founders/know they were the right people to start a company with?

I met Billy in undergrad at Queen’s University.

Our friendship grew when we both worked in Dubai at the same time a couple of years after graduating. We both learned a lot building our previous startups and we have very complimentary backgrounds (mine being more go-to-market focused and his being deep in product).

We knew that we would be a strong founding team and have always wanted to work together - it was all just a matter of time.

What has been the hardest thing on your journey so far?

The initial mental and work shift from being at a growth stage startup where I had a significantly larger sized team driving the business forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting deep into the weeds. It has also meant a lot of re-learning while also unlearning (not falling into the trap of repeating things I’ve done in the past). It’s also part of what excited me to start Barley in the first place.

What has been the most pleasant surprise?

Being recognized as a thought leader in the compensation space, so early in our journey.

It’s been amazing to see HR leaders share our resources with their networks and the positive feedback on how it informs their strategy and day-to-day work.

What is your super strength?

My ability to consume and retain information quickly.

I started to learn how to speed read early on in my career and it’s a skill that I’ve continued to hone. It’s allowed me to build my knowledge on a broad set of areas that I can then put to work. It also allows me to decide which areas I need to dive into deeper and where I need to bring on the right expertise.

Who is the unsung hero on the team? Why?

Josh Wilks, Barley’s Head of Engineering.

We see Josh’s technical leadership in action every day, but he’s also been a great partner to Billy and me.

He rolls up his sleeves and goes deep in the code, jumps in on operational parts of the business, and brings a calm demeanor regardless of the stresses of scaling a startup.

What are you trying to achieve over the next 12 months?

Over the next 12 months, our focus is continuing to deliver new functionality to solve the broad array of compensation challenges organizations face and building our customer base.

*We covered Barley's raise on a recent episode of Quick Takes*

What is your proudest accomplishment outside of your startup?

My previous start-up, Loopio.

So proud that we built a people-first company that continues to thrive under the current leadership (and has also delivered from a results/growth standpoint).

Connect with Jafar and learn more about his journey here

Quick Takes: Where do we stand after the collapse of SVB?

*image credit: Bloomberg Finance

This week, we recorded a breaking news episode for Quick Takes on where things stand as of now with the current collapse of SVB.

Our team was joined by William Lam of Jeeves and Andrew Hennigar of BLG to break down what the future looks like for the tech ecosystem in Canada.

*This continues to be a developing story and we will keep the community updated as we learn more.

More Quick Takes returns next week

Quick Takes returns LIVE with a brand new episode on March 23 at 12:00 pm ET/9:00 am PT across the TechTO platforms.

Catch up on past episodes here, and subscribe wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Headlines and Content

  • #ICYMI - Catch up on past newsletters if you hadn't yet subscribed!

  • More Canadian Startup News for the week ahead >> READ MORE

  • When did the banking venture crisis begin? >> READ MORE

  • Acquisition News: Versaterm Public Safety, a Canadian public safety software firm owned by Banneker Partners, acquired CI Technologies, a provider of professional standards, internal affairs, wellness and early intervention software for law enforcement agencies >> READ MORE

  • **NEW CONTENT DROP** Listen to the latest episode of our Founders Journey Series, featuring Lloyed Lobo of Boast.AI and Traction >> LISTEN HERE

Some major takeaways from our conversation with Lloyed:

  1. "I talked to a couple of entrepreneurs at happenstance and they told me that if you ever want to be an entrepreneur, you have to go into sales. It's the best job because selling is everything. Talking to your investors, convincing people to buy your product. Convincing the media, recruiting employees even convincing your spouse to do things. It's all sales, it's all communication."

  2. "The leading indicator of product market fit is engagement. Whatever your core metric is. If I'm offering a service that I need them to use every day, then is the customer who's paying for it, using it every day?"

  3. "The brands of yesterday were built on what they told the world about themselves. Brands of the future will be built on what the community says about them." 

  4. "What are the biggest, and best brands doing? They're building communities."

  5. THE RIGHT REASONS TO BUILD A COMMUNITY? "If you don't have the passion for helping others become successful, if you don't have the passion for changing an industry, don't do it because there are cheaper ways to grow and you'll do it just to build somebody else's definition of success."

  6. "Great communities and great companies have great alignment. What is the purpose? The forever? Why do we exist? What is the vision? What will the world look like because of us? How do we do it? And then the values, how do we behave?"

  7. "If you can get even a single thing to work, you have a great business. If you try several and don't nail one, you're finished. So work a focus on one."

  8. "You can't just create a random PLG product and dump it out there to 10 people. When you have an idea, you have to convince 10 people to try it. Talk to them, understand their pain points, and pull out what solution you can build for them. Then they test it out. They give you feedback."

Learn more about building communities and just how Traction and Boast.AI came to be

*What are your takeaways from the episode? Reply to this email and share them with us

You’re passionate about your tech solution, we’re passionate about helping you sell it. Learn proven techniques for prospecting, negotiating, pitching, and client-relationship to close more business and grow your market share with membership in the Canadian Professional Sales Association.

Start your free trial today (no credit card required).

Don’t forget to check out our March 23 free webinar, Close More Business in a Down Economy.

Struggling to find predictable sales revenue? Riding a rollercoaster of peaks and valleys? Learn how to create a sense of urgency and increase the size of your deals to generate more revenue with less effort.

*this is sponsored content

TechTO Talent

Software Developer, Loopio (Toronto, ON)

Why is this cool? Loopio is a workplace that unleashes learning & growth opportunities for Loopers. They provide autonomous, challenging work that allows each employee to master their craft. In this role, you will work cross-functionally across a team of innovative Engineers, Product Managers, and Designers to deliver a world-class product to their users >> LEARN MORE AND APPLY HERE

B2B Marketing Director, Integrate.AI (Toronto, ON)

Why is this cool? At, they are empowering organizations working on the world’s most important problems - from cancer research to new drug discovery, to more equitable financial products - to solve them without compromising the world’s most sensitive data. Their platform enables privacy-safe AI and analytics collaboration within and between organizations without needing to directly share or move data using cutting-edge machine learning and privacy-enhancing technologies. In this role you will collaborate with their Product, Engineering, Science, and Go-to-Market teams to turbocharge their growth >> APPLY HERE

*Reply to this email and let us know the jobs you'd like to see

Events and Links

Check out the interesting content, events, and happenings for the community here:

  • TechTO Special: Web3: March 22, 2023 - Learn all about one of the hottest topics in tech from the top innovators in the business >> REGISTER HERE

  • Best of TechTO Returns! April 3, 2023 >> REGISTER HERE - Limited early bird tickets available!

  • *EXCLUSIVE TECHTO INSIDERS SOCIAL: April 13, 2023 >> Learn more about how to attend on our website >> LEARN MORE

  • HealthTO: Privitization - April 19, 2023 >> REGISTER HERE

  • TECHSPO Toronto: May 18-19, 2023 - Where business, tech and innovation collide >> REGISTER HERE

Want to showcase your company, events, and opportunities to 60,000 subscribers across the Canadian Tech Eco-system? Reach out to [email protected] to learn more!

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