Marketing & Creative Jobs in Canada Blog

How to Rapidly Grow Customers | Interview with Josh Bluman

As VP of Marketing at Fresh Prep, Josh Bluman has helped grow the meal kit delivery service from 100 customers to over 6000 in roughly one year. Bringing experience from Hootsuite and multiple eComm businesses, Josh knows a lot about quickly gaining momentum. Emma Bullen caught up with him to talk about his career path, and get his top three tips on how to rapidly grow customers.

Emma Bullen: Tell me about your career path. How did you get to where you are today?

Josh Bluman: I’ve been doing marketing for most of my career, and I’ve had an interest in digital marketing, right from the beginning. I started at BCIT where I did a marketing communications program and went on to work at a boutique marketing agency. From there I went on to another larger marketing agency and then became interested in starting my own business. I started a small online business with a partner and was able to leave my job at the time and focus on that as well as doing a bit of traveling. When I came back, I was able to maintain that business while starting another small business.

Around the same time, I got a great opportunity working for Hootsuite. I was able to keep my businesses running on the side while taking on a challenging full-time role. After a couple of years there, working in online strategy, I got involved with Fresh Prep. I was one of their first few customers and I was so blown away by the service that I reached out to the owners to find a way to get involved, helping it grow from the early stages. Here we are today with a big office space in East Vancouver and over sixty employees.

EB: What does Fresh Prep offer?

JB: Fresh Prep is a meal kit delivery service that makes it easy for busy people to cook high-quality meals in about 15-30 minutes. We pre-chop and pre-portion all the ingredients for any different recipe you choose, and we deliver those recipe kits right to your home or office. The menu changes every week, so you set up your taste preferences and we continue to deliver to you. You keep the recipe kit in the fridge, so anytime you get home from work, you’re hungry, you pull out the kit, and you’re good to go.

EB: This is a really competitive market. What sets you apart from the competition?

JB: It’s definitely a competitive space, but we believe there are a number of things we do that make us stand out. One is that we pre-chop a lot of our ingredients; we focus on making the experience as simple as possible for our customers. You won’t find any meals that take an hour to create. We do everything we can to cut down on time.

Another piece is that we have our own drivers. Unlike our competitors who use FedEx to deliver, we have our own fleet of drivers, so we can fully control the customer experience. It also allows us to deliver everything in a cooler bag instead of a disposable cardboard box. Our customers recycle the cooler bag by exchanging it with us each week. So that’s great for the environment, and it’s a lot more convenient.

Most importantly, our meals are great. We use local high-quality ingredients, direct from the source. Many competitors stick to several major suppliers, across the country but we’ve found success in focusing on local suppliers from Vancouver and high-quality ingredients.

EB: You’ve been at Fresh Prep from the early days. What were the first couple of things that you did when you came into Fresh Prep?

JB: When I came in, I first had to understand the company’s goals and where we wanted to get in the next twelve months, six months, three months and understand how much we were willing to spend to get there. I spent time learning about the company, its customers, and what marketing levers I could use to create a clear path to reach our goals.

We saw a huge opportunity with the website to improve the conversion rate and search traffic, significantly driving up the number of new customers signing up each month. And then we experimented with several marketing channels like facebook ads, paid search, and even some more traditional channels and have continued with what’s worked best for us.

EB: What three tips could you give me for rapidly growing customers for startups.

JB: My first one would be to focus. There are so many things you can do and it’s so easy to spread yourself thin across various marketing channels. Pick one thing to start with and master it; that will yield so much more potential. The challenge is knowing where to focus, so it’s important to evaluate and understand where you should put your time. If you spread yourself too thin across too many things, nothing will get done right.

I would also say to try to avoid planning too far ahead. Short-term plans are really effective for startups, especially now as everything moves so fast in the marketing space. So focusing but keeping a long term vision in mind, I think focusing plans on three or six-month cycles is the way to go. That way you can learn from what you’re doing and you can change faster. In general, I would say the smaller you are, the shorter your cycles should be.

My third tip would be to avoid copying bigger brands. It’s tempting when you see what a large brand is doing and think, “I’ve got to do that, too.” But in fact what got that big company to where they are today is not necessarily what they are doing now.

EB: How would you describe Fresh Prep’s company culture?

JB: The culture is reflective of the founders, and there’s definitely a very humble, modest attitude throughout the workplace. No one thinks they’re better than anyone else, and everyone is really there because they like doing their work. Decisions are made on facts and not just opinions. There’s also a culture of giving back and this is also reflected in our service. We try to work with nonprofits where we can, whether that’s working with Open Door Group, or donating leftover meals to neighborhood houses.

EB: Are you currently hiring?

JB: We are! Go to www.freshprep.ca and you can check out our jobs there.

EB: What’s your favorite question to ask in an interview?

JB: In general I like asking puzzles that challenge people’s critical thinking abilities. So if it’s a web optimization role, for example, it would be a question related to web optimization where there may not be an obvious answer to that question, but I want to understand about how that person thinks and solves problems.

EB: What’s a quality you look for in every employee?

JB: They have to be motivated in their field. If someone is motivated it makes things easier off the bat, they already want to do the job, and they already care about their work. The other thing I look for is great critical thinking. Someone who is analytical and strategic.

EB: What’s the most useful piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

JB: I think it’s something I’ve picked up from some of the great people I’ve worked with, which is just learning to stick your neck out and to have the confidence to take on something that you may not know how to do. Business changes quickly and it’s the people that can take on the unknown and make it work who grow the fastest in their careers.

EB: What book do you most often recommend to friends?

JB: I’ve just read Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight and I definitely recommend that one. It’s for anyone who likes Nike and it’s great business book in general. It really makes you appreciate the time and challenges that come with building a successful business, and there are some key takeaways that I am now using in my work today.

Making a Stir in the Cocktail Market | Interview with Ryan Close, Bartesian

Bartender Image by Shutterstock.

Imagine making a premium cocktail as easily as you can make a cup of coffee. That’s exactly what Ryan Close, Co-founder of Bartesian dreamed about. He is working with a team of product designers, cocktail experts, engineers, and food scientists to create a craft cocktail machine that uses capsule tech to make premium cocktails on demand. Emma Bullen caught up with Ryan to talk about his career path, the Kickstarter campaign, and how he’s getting press for the Bartesian cocktail machine. 

Emma Bullen: Tell me about your career path. How did you get where you are today?

Ryan Close: I worked for a few different small/medium enterprise companies around the $100 million mark. My role was to develop sales processes and re-engineer processes to maximize profit. So that was what I did for a decade, and I loved it, but I was always an entrepreneur, and I had a couple of small businesses that I developed and ran on the side that made some money here and there, but nothing enough to retire.

I met Bryan Fedorak, who had a finished developing a prototype for a cocktail machine, and his partner who was recruited from Apple as the solo engineer on the product. Bartesian wasn’t a company yet; they had a great idea for a product, but they needed some help to bring it to life. I thought it was a perfect fit for my skill set and background. We’ve partnered together for about three years now.

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Wishing You an Epic Holiday Season & 2018!

The team at FreshGigs.ca would like to wish you all, a very happy holidays and an epic New Year!

We wanted to take a moment to show our gratitude and send our warmest wishes to you, our community. We hope you are enjoying this magical time of year to recharge, spend time with friends and family, and to make plans for the year ahead.

We will continue to work hard in 2018 to make FreshGigs.ca the best place in Canada to find marketing and creative jobs and for employers to find unique talent.

We really hope your 2018 is as amazing as you are!
Michael, Sam, Vincent, Emma, and the whole team at FreshGigs.ca

Creative Cultures: Why The Metrick System Is A Sweet Place To Work

In our Creative Cultures series, writer Isabel Chalmers spends a day inside companies to learn how hiring, onboarding, and company culture play a role in employee happiness. From start-ups to design firms and all in-between, we’re pulling back the curtain on what it’s like to work in inventive and productive environments. Today, Isabel is at The Metrick System in Toronto.

First things first, The Metrick System, a branding and design agency with a focus on storytelling, has a really awesome office space. So awesome, that is was listed as one of the coolest office spaces in the world by The Wall Street Journal. I mean, what other office keeps bees (yes, they keep bees) and a repurposed classic Airstream trailer as a kitchen? There’s really nothing un-interesting about The Metrick System, even the work they do is cool (they were the masterminds behind the first ever 3D book printed in space, aboard the International Space Station). After spending the day at the office, talking with The Metrick System’s president, Laurence Metrick, I left motivated, inspired, and with a little jar of honey, made just by them.

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Content Creation with Extra Guac! | Interview with Amanda Riva

So far, Amanda Riva’s career path has been… absolutely delicious. As CEO of THP (The Hot Plate), she has launched a one-stop shop for brands that offers an affordable and on-demand solution for content creation and social media marketing. Emma Bullen caught up with her to talk about her career path, company culture, and what it meant to win the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.

EB: How did you get to where you are today?

AR: I come from a very entrepreneurial family. My Dad is a successful tech entrepreneur, and I worked at his company underneath his VP of sales when I was 17 to help make some beer money for school. It gave me a work ethic and an understanding of how to pitch an idea and to get people to buy in and not being afraid of rejection.

I started The Hot Plate as an online cooking show in university. I had moved into my first apartment, and I loved to cook. One of my girlfriends suggested I record myself and put it on TV McGill at McGill University. At the time we were the first people speaking to Millennials about food. We went on to win the Dobson cup at Miguel for Entrepreneurship.

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Why You Should Always Be Learning | Interview with Darian Kovacs

Darian Kovacs’ work in PR, digital advertising, and social media has taken him from organizing events as a teenager to founding his agency, Jelly Marketing. Emma Bullen caught up with him to talk about his career path, company culture, and what marketers should learn in 2018.

EB: Tell me about how you got to where you are today.

DK: When I was 14 years old, Almira Bardai who owns Jive PR was doing a project with her twin sister for ICBC. They got a group of students to help organize and put on a conference about road sense and leadership. I learned about what it looked like to market, promote, and get press about an event. I watched as Almira hustled the media: she got the newspapers, the TV, and the radio out to cover this event. As I gained experience, I became drawn to the way that we can tell a story in a way that the press would want to cover it.

When you think of a PR job, think of a dating agency. Our job is to get information about a brand and make sure we know it well. This way, we can set interviews with either a reporter, a news outlet or even an influencer for the brand we are representing. When it’s that good of a fit, they make beautiful story babies. It’s a fantastic thing.
The thrill of setting up your friend with another person and it works is that same thrill we get every day. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called The Tipping Point, and he talks about three different archetypes of people: including the connector. That’s the definition of the job of a PR person.

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Email Marketing: What Every Canadian Should Know

Antoine Bonicalzi’s career path has taken him from swimming pool salesman to Director of Marketing at an influential Canadian email marketing company, Cyberimpact. Emma Bullen caught up with him to talk about how he got to where he is today, tips for eye-catching emails, and what marketers should learn in 2018.

Emma Bullen: Tell me about yourself. How did you get to where you are today?

Antoine Bonicalzi: I was born and raised in Montreal, and I’ve worked in Marketing for almost ten years now. I was attracted to business and marketing in my early 20s. I went to college, but I never studied marketing formally; in fact, my degree is in kinesiology. Although I had a genuine interest in it, I knew when I finished university that I wasn’t going to pursue a career in that field.

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Creative Cultures: Merchant Advance Capital

In our Creative Cultures series, correspondent Crystal Henrickson spends a day inside companies to learn how hiring, onboarding, and company culture play a role in employee happiness. From startups to design firms and all in-between, we’re pulling back the curtain on what it’s like to work in inventive and productive environments. Today she meets with the energetic team behind Merchant Advance Capital.

With a beautiful open office overlooking scenic Stanley Park, Merchant Advance Capital is the definition of a homegrown success story.

Since launching out of Founder & CEO David Gens’s apartment in 2010, the fintech company has found its niche using innovative technology and big data to help small businesses in Canada access financing and grow their business.

Today, the company operates two offices in Vancouver and Toronto, and manages more than 50 employees, with roles ranging from portfolio managers to marketers to software engineers.

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Creative Cultures: At Uberflip Remarkable People Build Remarkable Experiences

In our Creative Cultures series, writer Isabel Chalmers spends a day inside companies to learn how hiring, onboarding, and company culture play a role in employee happiness. From start-ups to design firms and all in-between, we’re pulling back the curtain on what it’s like to work in inventive and productive environments. Today, Isabel is at Uberflip in Toronto.

Uberflip helps businesses create remarkable content experiences, and to no surprise, hires remarkable people to do the work. Walking up to Uberflip’s vibrant open-concept office, located in the heart of Liberty Village, I can hear laughter from the hallway, and as I wait for my interview, I’m greeted by everyone who walks by (and even offered candy). One thing is clear, Uberflip is anything but a boring place to work.

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It’s More Than Just Data | Interview with Deborah Hall from Dive Networks

Deborah Hall’s work in advertising, media, and software development has taken her from the world of mobile development to her current role as co-founder and CEO of Dive Networks. Emma Bullen caught up with her to talk about her career path, company culture, and the future of marketing.

Emma Bullen: How did you get to where you are today?

Deborah Hall: My profession is mechanical engineering, but I’ve spent the majority of my career problem-solving in the digital marketing space. Throughout the course of my career, I’ve built engines and plane parts and I’ve worked in advertising, media, and software. I guess you could say that I’ve come full circle. I still work in technology, but now I make software.

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