My academic background is in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada. To make a long story short, I was working for Apple in California, widely considered to be the pinnacle in the space, when I realized Mechanical Engineering just wasn’t for me. I shifted gears to intern at Polar (then Polar Mobile) in Toronto, and quickly found the passion I was looking for in software. I also loved that working for a smaller company meant I could do more and make a bigger impact.
In my last year of university, I was accepted into Velocity, the University of Waterloo’s Entrepreneurship Residence. GooseChase was born a few weeks into the final term at a Hackathon on campus...we built the platform for the weekend and afterward, we were bombarded with questions about when it would be ready for launch. The idea grew and now we’re here!
Inspired by scavenger hunts, GooseChase is an online platform that enables people to create exceptional experiences for their communities. From teachers aiming to boost learning in the classroom all the way to Fortune 500 organizations using GooseChase to run their employee onboarding, the use cases really are endless. If you have a group of people you want to activate, educate or engage, and you want to do something different, make a big impact and spark some delight, GooseChase is probably right for you.
I shared a little about it already, but essentially GooseChase was “hatched” at a Hackathon. Like most good ideas, it had legs (wings!) of its own, and we instantly saw demand for the platform. We knew this was going to be interesting when we saw people completing missions like jumping into pools fully clothed, shaving company logos onto their heads...all for a GooseChase (and maybe good karma and bragging rights). We knew we had tapped into something exciting and engaging, and so we built a platform to keep up with that power!
What’s different about our team is that we’ve figured out how to make the most of our bootstrapped, sustainable growth background by really putting our customers and team culture first. Not having to answer to outside investors means that we don’t have the level of aggressive politics synonymous (in pop culture!) with startups. We’re able to make decisions based on our clients and team’s health and happiness, and we’re free to experiment with things like “Flock Fridays”, our version of the 4-Day Work Week.
Because of this, we’re able to attract incredibly smart and genuinely good people who approach work and life with the same passion. They’re attracted to our platform because it is about getting people out, engaged, exploring, moving, doing interesting things...our mission and vision wouldn’t resonate as much with someone who wants to just grind at work.
We are the ones to solve the problem of people wanting to get out and do something different and have immersive experiences because we as people prioritize it in our own lives.
It probably wouldn’t be that different, to be honest - I do all the things I want to do. I’m able to live wherever I want and work with awesome people on cool things. As long as I’m building something good for others, I’m happy.
I am uncomfortable with the idea of just taking from the world; I’m most fulfilled when I’m contributing to the good in it.
Revenue is of course a huge component for us, but right now our North Star is monthly successful game organizers. That’s because a game organizer is only successful when their participants are engaged and having a great time. As a result, our product is only successful when our organizers are. Our goal is to grow the number of game organizers that are successful.
From a business perspective, as a bootstrapped and profitable company, we of course have to look at monthly and annual revenue, churn percentages, and lifetime value.
First is that our growth is steady and organic, we don’t really do any paid outbound initiatives: someone will join a game with friends on Friday and call us to organize their own for their company on Monday. People try us, love us, come back for more, and stick around: when we onboard clients - everyone from Ivy Leagues, to space agencies, to global non-profits, to film studios - they stay after experiencing just how versatile the platform is. GooseChase gets baked into their plans for achieving other objectives, be it day-to-day HR activities or bigger events. The stability of our retention rate, and what that means to us financially and operationally, is really fulfilling.
Secondly, seeing all the cool ways people are using it that we never could have imagined is incredible. I’ll never forget seeing a teacher create a game where students had to use gummy bears to showcase different forms of government: Democracy was gummy bears in a circle, Dictatorship had one gummy bear hovering over the others...the fact that GooseChase unlocks that kind of creativity, and therefore those unique experiences, is really fascinating.
Seeing as we’re an experience creation platform, I’m still optimistic about AR and VR because those are tools we can use in the future to create more interactive, engaging experiences. The idea that you can take your real life and add some spice to it opens up so many opportunities for us as a company. Applications aren’t all the way there yet, but as it evolves, there are probably some pretty cool opportunities.
What I worry about sometimes is the addictive style of some social networks. We’re really committed to fun, positive interactions for people who use GooseChase, and are careful that our product isn’t designed to be negative or addictive.
I am technical, and I do code, but I’m also a product person at heart. HackerNoon does a great job at treating the spectrum of engineering and product, and isn’t afraid to dive deep on the topics they cover regardless of how technical or niche they may be: from talking about the latest programming libraries, to HIPAA compliance, to running a product team...the content is always relevant and hits the sweet spot between product and engineering. It’s a resource everyone on the team benefits from.
In the early days, we kept getting pushed to raise funding. “Successful startups raise money” was the default - raising funds, hiring like crazy, and burning out to build a rocket ship. Bootstrapping was not seen as the “successful” avenue for anybody. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the idea of forging our own path and going at our own pace, despite what other people were impressing upon us. My advice would be to make peace with my gut feel and to know that bootstrapping is no less valid than the rocket ship of VC money.
I would also tell myself not to get too caught up in the myth of “Do what you’re passionate about, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Yes, working on things I’m passionate about is motivating, but creating a life outside of work you’re equally invested in is just as important.
Don’t be afraid of a 4-day work week! You can work fewer hours and make the same or even better impact. If you have good, smart people who share your vision and understand what work needs to get done, trust them to do it on their own timelines. It’s worth it.
Vote for GooseChase as a Startup of the year in Waterloo, Canada!