Some food for thought while I get excited about the snow storm presently falling in Montreal. (skiing, sledding, dog sledding, cross country skiing, more fun driving, snowmobiling, etc..More snow always leads to a more exciting winter and much better for business…and deals as well)
At the beginning of every year brings out several things in the business world and the media: of course the best of ranking for the last year, the top predictions for the upcoming year and the best of lists for the present year. This year is no different.
As I read through many of these lists from top Canadian media, blogs, news sites, consulting companies, etc, (Canadian Business, Profit, Techvibes, Branham, E&Y, BDC, Fuel, FP, Deloitte, Globe & Mail, Canada Post list, etc) I started getting irritated. I started getting upset, I wanted to pick up the phone and yell at the authors of some of these absurd lists and surveys. Finally, I settled down and decided to write this post. Here is where I have issue:
- First and for most, the companies ranked on these lists are not exhaustive. Over the years, I have been involved in submitting many companies for these types of awards and rankings. The problem is the list of companies is limited to those the author knows or has researched and limited to the companies who have bothered to register. Thus missing out on hundreds of potentially perfect candidates.
- These lists have a tendency to go with the more obvious names that are in the media. The usual suspects are always there.. Hootsuite, Shopify, etc. The company who does amazing work and growing well in, say, the pharma tech sector, or another obscure field is very often ignored. Heck, some well known companies are ignored simply because they were not top of mind with the author’s definition of top company for their ranking system.
- More often than not, these lists are biased, probably unintentionally, to English Canada. Take a look at these lists across the country. If the origin of the list is from Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, then most likely there are only a few Montreal or Quebec based companies on the list. Certainly not nearly as much as the population percentage dictates. This is a reality dating back decades. I find that national lists originating from Montreal tend to have a far more realistic view of the whole country. I also appreciate rankings or lists based on provincial segmentation. This forces the author to research accordingly.
- So why am I really upset? Well, here it is. Take a look at these list over the past 2 years and you will notice that one of this country’s fastest growing sectors, a sector that has enjoyed spectacular growth and profit for the top companies in the sector, is almost completely ignored and not given the respect it quite justifiably deserves. The sector? The Deals industry; the daily deals sector, the couponing sector, the flash sales sector, etc. The whole sector is ignored and dismissed as a passing fancy and not a serious business sector. Really? Yes really!
- The only company in the entire sector that gets more press or ranked on some lists is Beyond The Rack. Hard to ignore given the funding they received and the sales they are producing. However, no list involving “fastest growing”, or “Top start ups” or Top Entrepreneurs” would be complete without the likes of Tuango in Montreal, Wagjag or Teambuy out of Toronto. These 3 companies are the top deal providers in the country and have survived and grown despite fantastic competition, disastrous PR pressures, and media backlash. When you have 3 startups that are 3 years old or so generating eCommerce transactions of between $35 million and $70 million EACH, then listen, they need to be on the list. When you have a Tuango that simply dominates its industry in its sole region, Quebec, and does that kind of sales volume with only 40-45 employees, then you have a very well managed company. Are they on any lists? Hardly any, if at all. When you have a company like Teambuy that was essentially the first (with Stealthedeal..now closed) to launch a deals service in Canada, compete head to head with the onslaught of 180 other deal sites entering Canada over the next 2 years, including juggernaut Groupon, and continuously reinvent themselves in terms of ecommerce, product development, user experience, funding management, and finally merging with Dealfind recently to become the country’s largest deal provider, well, then they certainly deserve to be on some kind of list right? How about Wagjag? Started independently, then brought into the Torstar family as a separate unit, launching innovating services in the travel sector and grocery sector and continues to grow as one of Canada’s largest deal providers. Do they deserve to be on a list? Do any of the CEOs of these 3 companies deserve to be named Entrepreneur of the year, especially in the eCommerce category? You bet. but they are not! Hence, my pissed off state at the moment. I do not believe that the media, business consultants, publishers, and general business folks truly understand how difficult it is to start, grow and profit within the Deals sector. It is a gruelingly competitive existence where you are only as good or as profitable as your last sales month. There is no rest, selling must occur all the time, every day. There is no 3 month sales cycle, there are no big orders. You don’t sell, you don’t get merchant inventory every day…you die. Period. These 3 companies along with the likes of the “next” generation of deal providers like Buytopia, Dealticker, Social Shopper, City Linked, Goyub and others all deserve more respect.
To continue my rant: take a look at other parts of the deals sector. Savings cards, aggregator portals, coupon companies, other deal provider NOT in the daily deal space. NONE of the leaders in these sectors get enough respect, media mentions or awards that they deserve. To name just a few:
- Student Price Card has dominated their sector for over a decade
- Wayspa: the leading savings portal for the spa industry in Canada and still growing
- Websaver: leading the grocery coupon distribution sector and growing quickly
- Checkout 51…a great new startup in the mobile couponing space
- There are dozen more examples
My question to all the authors and producers of these lists is this: Excuse me, but are you not aware of the successes of companies like Tuango, Teambuy, Wagjag, Beyondtherack, Student Price Card, Websaver, Wayspa, etc? If not, contact us and we will be more than happy to provide the necessary excitement.
Any list in Canada that compiles the top ecommerce companies, or those that have done well needs to include Tuango, Teambuy, Wagjag and Beyondtherack. Not doing so makes the list incomplete. These companies are as much part of the digital framework in Canada as any other eCommerce company. Shopify should not be the only one getting that level of eCommerce attention.
The complete lack of media and business attention to companies within the overall deals sector is one of the main reasons why the Canadian Deals Association was created. The entire sectors needs to produce PR for itself far more than in the past. The leading companies in this sector need to be on all top lists compiled by any Canadian author, publisher, blogger and business consultant. The top companies in this sector and some of its executives certainly need to be recognized more by government and business programs/agencies. The entire sector represents a significant part of the retail and merchant business in Canada and it is time for more recognition.
We, at the Canadian Deals Association, will try and do just that.
(I am a bit more calm now..albeit still excited…thanks for reading!)