Ian Crosby, co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based tech startup Bench, has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for 2016, holding the top spot in the enterprise technology category.
"This accolade is testament to the fact that a tech company does not have to be in California to succeed," Crosby said in a press release.
He says he’s hopeful the international attention will help Bench attract more of Vancouver’s top talent, as he plans on doubling the staff of the rapidly growing company in 2016.
Crosby, who is 29 years old, graduated from Sauder with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2008, four years before founding Bench with fellow Sauder alum Jordan Menashy, along with Pavel Rodionov and Adam Saint. They were seeking to create a web-based solution to make bookkeeping easier for fledgling startups.
"I was a bookkeeper in college, and I saw the pain," Crosby told Forbes. "We solve that pain by taking everything off the entrepreneur's hands."
Crosby says his experience in Sauder’s consulting program was a key boost to his career, as a dedicated lecturer helped land him a job at top consulting firm Bain & Company. It was while working there that he and Menashy saw the major advantage large firms hold over startups: only the big players can afford high end bookkeeping services. So the Sauder grads decided to level the playing field.
Bench offers cloud-based accounting services at a low cost, supported by both a growing team of bookkeepers and a user-friendly app. Since its inception, the startup has raised $15 million in venture capital and has processed more than $850 million in bookkeeping transactions. In less than four years, it has grown to 200 employees, and remains rooted in Vancouver.
Crosby was also named to a 30 Under 30 list by BCBusiness last year alongside four other Sauder alumni.
Read more about Crosby’s success and watch a video interview on the Forbes 30 Under 30 site.
More Sauder innovators
Crosby isn’t the first Sauder alum to be named to Forbes’ prestigious 30 Under 30 list; the magazine named fellow BCom graduate Brian Wong to their list three times. Wong graduated from Sauder in 2009 with a BCom at age 18 before heading down to Silicon Valley where he started his own company, Kiip, a mobile advertising platform. Having been featured in everything from the New York Times to the cover of Entrepreneur, Wong is known as one of the youngest entrepreneurs ever to raise major venture capital.
Engineer, entrepreneur and competitive swimmer, Dan Eisenhardt made the most of his varied skill set when he came up with an idea for high-tech sports goggles while pursuing an MBA at Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School. He honed his business plan in the course Technology Entrepreneurship and soon founded Recon Instruments with classmates Darcy Hughes, Fraser Hall and UBC Applied Science student Hamid Abdollahi. Recon quickly earned global recognition, and in 2015 was acquired by tech giant Intel, enabling the founders to make an even greater impact with their innovation.
Inspired by the vibrant colours and textiles she saw while working in Ghana, Maryanne Mathias co-founded her clothing company Osei-Duro as an MBA student at Sauder. The business is based in Ghana, supporting the country’s apparel industry by working with local designers and artisans. Osei-Duro designs have been worn by Michelle Obama and incorporated into major partnerships, most recently with Lululemon.