New York-based ‘wed-tech’ startup Zola is headed to Montreal, ready to hand out four golden tickets to talented engineers in the city.
The company will open its first Canadian office in Montreal and will hire a lead engineer tasked with building their own mini-team of three more engineers. Zola has been labelled the “fastest growing wedding company in the country,” and most recently took on a $100 million series D round from Goldman Sachs and others in May.
“We’re thinking of that lead engineering role as someone who is more interested in an entrepreneurial role,” said cofounder Shan-Lyn Ma. “So while were a company that has a business model that works, and you’re not going to wonder when you’re next paycheque is coming, we are looking for someone who’s interested in essentially starting from scratch in how they build out the engineering team in Montreal.”
Ma told MTLinTECH that while the company had considered Toronto as a possible Canadian landing spot, Montreal ended up checking more of the boxes.
“We want to access a lot of the great students that come out of these excellent engineering schools,” said Ma. “And we’re headquartered in New York, so the proximity to Montreal was a plus.”
Ma added that the company is looking for a “very diverse population that aligns with our company culture.” Love never discriminates, and, evidently, neither does Zola in its hiring practices.
While the beginning will only see four hires in Montreal, they can look to bring on more engineers in time as long as everything goes well.
Originally from Singapore, Ma grew up in Australia and moved to California to attend Stanford University for her graduate studies. Later, while working in New York City for Gilt Groupe, she met her cofounders in Nobu Nakaguchi, Felix Lung and Kevin Ryan.
“We loved working together. Our background was in product management and designing products that we love and we wanted to do that again.”
The foursome undoubtedly has significant experience at the executive level in successful tech companies. Before heading off to become CPO at Chloe + Isabel in 2012, Ma had already served as a senior director of product management at Gilt as far back as 2008.
“We’ve all done a lot of work in this area, so it’s not like we’re learning the hard startup lessons for the first time,” she said. Of course, added Ma, there’s still new lessons that pop up all the time.
The CEO started Zola to reinvent the traditional registry process, but now sees an opportunity to address every need a young couple may have, from caterers to Cuisinarts and more. In talking with Ma, the CEO’s pride in her team’s tech platform was clear. One of Zola’s competitive advantages is its tech platform that powers the business, combining an ecommerce model with a marketplace business.
Ma told Techcrunch that the bigger vision is to “cater to couples from the day they get engaged, into their first years of marriage.”
“We’ll be using the [$100 million] funding to accelerate the product development of more wedding planning tools for couples, so we can be that go-to destination.”
Zola also has an office in Charlottesville. It acquired the location earlier this year when another wedding startup, Borrowed and Blue, went out of business after the CEO’s wife ran up some hefty charges on the company credit card, and got caught doing so. Some of the employees from Borrowed and Blue joined Zola once the New York company acquired the assets.
Currently Zola has 115 employees, and by the end of 2018 it expects that number to jump up to 150.
And it doesn’t seem as though the industry that Zola is focused on will subside any time soon. After all, there will always be profits to be had in the business of love.
“Even in times of recession, the same number of people get married every year,” said Ma. “Its actually very consistent.”
“The thing that I get excited about is that this industry is quite antiquated. It hasn’t really been tapped by great design technology. We haven’t seen that in weddings and we want to be the ones who lead that.”
Are you interested in working at Zola’s new Montreal office? Contact Adam Adelman at email@example.com