In 2009, George Psiharis completed his part-time studies and graduated from the UBC Sauder School of Business with an MBA. Jump ahead to 2019 and Psiharis is now the Chief Operating Officer at Clio, a local company that offers cloud-based software for the legal sector.
Clio’s growth is now legendary: it just achieved the largest Series D financing round in Canadian history at $330 million.
Just how did Psiharis and his partners at Clio achieve such a staggering and still-growing success in Vancouver? The answer, says Psiharis, has a lot to do with the connections he built at UBC Sauder and the passion he’s held from the beginning to stay in and scale up in Vancouver.
His motivation to become an entrepreneur started after he completed his BA in Political Science at UBC. “Initially I wanted to become a lawyer,” says Psiharis. “However, after I completed my undergrad, I had a change of heart and realized I had a calling for business. I wanted to stay in Vancouver and I was determined to invest in a skill set that could be transferable to a variety of sectors. Getting my MBA seemed like the best step forward.”
While at UBC Sauder, Psiharis met Rian Gavreau and in addition to becoming friends, the two explored a variety of business ideas together. The inspiration for Clio struck after Gavreau became aware of a law society business grant that led to the early stages of Clio. Gavreau went on to co-found the company with his childhood friend and current Clio CEO Jack Newton, and Psiharis joined shortly thereafter.
Transforming the practice of law
“Clio was born out of a realization that the legal sector was one of the last major professions to be digitized. We discovered that only 30% of lawyers’ time was going to billable hours and many people who were seeking legal counsel were not getting any response to their service requests. There was a huge gap in the market and we sought to fill that gap. By creating a legal management software platform for small and medium sized firms to track hours, manage their work and collaborate with their clients, we’re able to empower lawyers with more time to focus on their practice. It’s been truly revolutionary for them,” says Pshiaris.
With nearly 500 employees, and the company now flourishing with offices in Burnaby, Calgary, Toronto, Dublin and Los Angeles, Psiharis feels proud that Clio has helped contribute to a thriving digital ecosystem in Vancouver. “Our hope is that securing this incredible Series D funding round sets a strong precedent for entrepreneurs and investors alike that Metro Vancouver is an excellent place for innovation to thrive. I’m so proud to be a part of that, and do feel like we're still just getting started” says Psiharis.
Taking talent seriously
Psiharis says he and his team at Clio won’t lose sight of the ongoing importance of investing in talent and culture. “We know our company needs great people in order to innovate and mature. That’s why we’re focused on creating a diverse culture at Clio that values connection and creativity. "My hope is that employees grow at Clio and go on to become the leaders that will inspire and engage others who come after them. In that sense, we are all growing while contributing to the ecosystem around us."
From aspiring lawyer to global innovator in legal sector software