Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

David Steckel co-founded Setter, a property maintenance app that helps users get things done around their homes

Company HQ: Dufferin and Queen
Founded: 2016
Employees: 40
Users: 600

How it works: “Setter operates like a general practitioner for your home. Instead of having to organize a dozen different people to take care of odds and ends, we coordinate everything: from lighting installation to car detailing to roof repair and everything in between. We once helped a customer get their cat out of a tree.”

Eureka moment: “I worked in home renovation for a decade and would get calls from confused people asking if I could come clean the gutters or fix the AC. There’s no manual to help homeowners maintain their properties, and I realized the entire process could be streamlined.”

How much you spent initially: “I spent $100,000 building an app, but it turned out to be useless. I’m a home expert, not a tech expert, so I brought in a co-worker. We bootstrapped the company for a year and then looked at venture capital money.”

Your turning point: “We got noticed by Sequoia Capital at a tech event. They back companies like Apple and Google, so having them come on board was extremely validating.”

Your big-time backers: “Sequoia helped us secure a $10-million round of funding. At the time, we were one of the only Canadian companies they were invested in.”

Tech Jargon you use too much:  “Kaizen. It’s a Japanese term that means continuous improvement. Toyota uses it a lot in their business model.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Don’t be afraid to make risky decisions. If you fail, you learn.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “My construction career was growing and we were taking on a lot of ambitious projects. People told me, ‘Don’t leave this behind to unclog toilets and mow lawns.’ ”

Past life: “Before construction, I worked at Scaramouche. It’s where I learned about customer service.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “I love architecture and design, so I’d build cool houses around the world.”

Coolest thing in your office: “Tacos. We love them. There are pictures of tacos on the walls, stuffed tacos, and we send each other digital tacos on Slack.”

Your tech role model: “Gabriel Weinberg, the creator of DuckDuckGo. No one paid attention for years, but now his search engine is going nuts.”

App you can’t live without: “Kindle. I always have two books
on the go: one for fun and one for work.”