It’s been a good year for Ian Crosby, the 29-year-old CEO of one of Vancouver’s hottest tech companies. He was included in Forbes magazine’s list of “30 Under 30” in the enterprise-tech category, his company raised $20 million in venture-capital funding, and his wife, Karen Kim, is expecting their second child.
Over the phone, Crosby told the Straight that he’s passionate about ensuring his kids and other children won’t have to leave Vancouver to earn a living. “No one else out there is going to do that,” he said. “It’s up to us to create the opportunities for the next generation.”
He knows what it’s like to have to move away. After graduating with a UBC degree in finance and economics, the Burnaby native went to the United States to “get his foot in the door” of business by working as a management consultant.
In 2010, he and cofounder Jordan Menashy launched Bench, which has developed intuitive software to deliver accounting services to small businesses.
“We wanted to actually make the experience of running a small business delightful,” Crosby said.
The company has more than 200 employees and promises clients that it will never send their data overseas. For Crosby, it’s all about reducing anxiety that accounting can create for entrepreneurs.
“We want to give people the feeling of control over their financial life,” he declared.
Crosby was inspired by his dad, a lawyer, who created his own accounting system out of frustration with what was available on the market.
The energetic, witty, and articulate CEO has enjoyed tremendous success, but it hasn’t gone to his head. He emphasized that he’s not one of those omniscient corporate executives, like some in their 40s and 50s. He prefers transparency over braggadocio.
Crosby is also passionate about environmental issues, questioning why anyone would build a pipeline through the heavily populated Lower Mainland, which attracts so many tourists. He pointed out that there have already been pipeline accidents in Burnaby, where he lives with his family. “It doesn’t make sense,” he said.