I decided to write this letter while flying this month. Or more precisely, if I didn’t write this letter while flying, I’m not sure if I’d ever get it done. In 30 days I’ll have flown to Moncton, Edmonton (twice), Calgary, Kelowna, Toronto and Vancouver. Spring has sprung, which for Benifactor means the season of growth and new opportunities.
When I was a kid summer was the busy season in Christina Lake and instead of enjoying the warm summers that brought all the tourists, I flew as an unaccompanied minor to visit my grandparents and other relatives. This continued into my teens, ending in a missed flight and free accommodations courtesy of Delta airlines and a very grateful letter to the airline from my mum.
My youth trained me to accept change as a constant where others might, as my recent travel companion has demonstrated, heave into a vomit bag. Conversely, proceeding through life at a walking pace makes my soul ache.
This month, I want to write about one of our five P’s, Procreation, and announce our newest venture, BKeeper.
About five years ago Frontier had just hired Zach Bulick as creative director and shortly after made a series of great hires, including Sophie Wooding, Nick Tassell, and Mariam Ghani—the three of whom recently completed four years of employment—and we were riding high. We had more work than we could shake a stick at, an enormous new office, and a great team.
As an entrepreneur, my job was done.
We were, from then on, going to refine Frontier’s purpose. We capped our client list at a dozen—allowing for some chuckles due to my bakery roots—and made a point to tell our clients about our vision to be a team of twelve with a dozen clients. We even swapped offices with our next door neighbours to fit into a space that was just right.
My time at the office dwindled and I spent much of the summer on my front porch bored and aimless. I’d committed to a vision that kept me from disrupting the work environment that would allow the Frontier team to thrive. But the downside was that I failed to find my purpose.
Then, the journey began again, accidentally. New leads kept coming in, and instead of saying no, I said Frontier’s full but I could do the work myself. Later that summer while out on a date I watched the Electric Timber Co play and thought, wouldn’t Charity Electric Co be a fun name for all this side hustle I’m doing?
There’s now a team of five with two former employees, and over half a million in revenue from serving charities across the country.
Finally, in spring 2016 I reframed the whole picture. What if Frontier was the prequel to a larger story that was just beginning?
I wanted a company name that spoke to the angel investing/venture capital world as I was beginning my infatuation with the show Billions, and I wanted it to have my name in it so I couldn’t work myself out of the business as I had done with Frontier. I also wanted it to speak to my desire to create social impact through business.
Thus Benifactor Capital was conceived.
My role as CEO, aside from these letters and connecting people, is to spur on creation. Profit is the work of a great team with excellent processes who manage their boundaries well, but without procreation, we will slowly mature and ultimately die.
One major challenge for our team is working within different phases of the entrepreneurial journey. While the Frontier team continues to mature as a multi-million dollar business, others need to count every cent and hold multiple roles.
One major opportunity for our team is that, when an established team engages with procreation, it could mean the birthing of a new enterprise. The Frontier team created Glass Register as a solution to our own needs to build better donation forms. Our rising HR costs ended with the creation of Good Marketers Group.
Now, in response to our rising bookkeeping costs, and to quell ongoing requests for a referral to a fast, efficient, and cost-effective bookkeeper, this summer we’ll be launching BKeeper. And, it’s with great pleasure that I’ve asked Sarah Kryzmowski, another great hire from 2015, to be its first general manager.
On May 1, her first day on the job, Sarah will be tasked with sorting transactions for six organizations with plans to add two more over the summer.
BKeeper’s colour within the spectrum will be honey and will make ample use of puns involving bees. For instance:
Our purpose is to take the sting out of bookkeeping; our joy is looking after your honeypot. We believe there’s pride in doing the small things well. By coming alongside your organization and overseeing your most basic transactions, our hope is to let you do what you do best and blossom to your full potential.
By creating new organizations and empowering entrepreneurial leaders, I feel connected to my purpose and ultimately my creator. It’s central to Benifactor but it might not be your cup of tea. If you’re in our community and don’t see yourself as creative or akin to change, I simply request that you become a defender of the new.
Your gifts might be in analyzing existing systems or optimizing processes, and with those gifts we can truly achieve greatness. But fear and criticism of emerging ideas is a different story. We all need to be caretakers of the vulnerable, and that includes innovation. I will end my letter with a quote from one of my favourite movies, Ratatouille, which speaks to the heart of what I ask of you all:
“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talents, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new; an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking, is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core.“
PS - 2018’s Annual Reports are finally here! Take a gander at all the milestones we achieved together last year: