QueerTech
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QueerTech

Place Problem-Solving Front and Centre: Taylor Bond’s Startup Success

Taylor Bond is an entrepreneur, queer leader, and community organizer who wants to make sure more people in our community are able to achieve success within the tech industry. After studying political science at the University of Toronto, he worked in sales for a number of different tech companies, created his own tech startup, and was able to negotiate his company’s acquisition by a larger firm. Outside of his professional life, Taylor’s identity and confidence were really formed during his time as a young competitive swimmer and queer community organizer.

Although it’s indisputable that Taylor has been successful in his endeavours in tech, he maintains a level of humility about it all. He has worked hard to achieve his goals, but he also acknowledges that he was afforded a number of privileges that helped him along the way. The ability to work day and night, where others might have families or other obligations that take up their free time, is one such privilege he recognizes in his life. He says that his luck goes back even further than that, to his childhood as a “third-culture” kid — someone who spends their formative years in places that are not their parents’ homeland.

The benefits of being an outsider

Taylor was raised mostly in Montreal but spent time living in places like Japan, South Korea, and Ohio. His youth was filled with a broad range of activities from high school football games to geisha ceremonies and this provided him with a broader understanding of what diversity and inclusion meant from a young age.

While moving around the world and interacting with new and different cultures, Taylor says it was nice to connect emotionally with people who were different from him.

This kind of privilege not only allowed him to embrace other cultures but to feel embraced by them, despite being in a situation where he was the “other.” He recounts stories of swim meets at the age of 6 and 7, learning to play Uno with children who didn’t even speak the same language as him. It was a powerful experience that put in place the foundation of his identity.

Cultivating new skills in the hospitality industry

When Taylor graduated from university in 2013, many of the uses for tech that we now see as common were unheard of, and at this point he didn’t have big dreams of tech success. Instead, he took a job working at a hotel where he did overnight shifts in different roles from housekeeping to the front desk.

His role at the front desk, which included many short interactions with a broad variety of people, was something he enjoyed (something that no doubt helped him succeed in his future career in sales as he developed quick relationship building skills). After seeing many of his friends find jobs in the tech world, Taylor finally made the leap and accepted a sales job at a marketing technology solution firm called Influitive.

It was a pay cut from the hotel, and he was working mostly for commission, but Taylor says it was an excellent move for his future. He spent his time at Influitive gathering useful experiences, learning from various mentors, and building a network within the queer tech space that he says has been an honour to maintian.

This network allowed him to grow in his career. He moved on from Influitive to a telemedicine company called Dialogue, before taking a position at an app development company based in Halifax called MindSea, the role that would set him up for his greatest success yet.

SalesRight: A company born out of problem-solving

While working at MindSea, Taylor and his colleagues discovered a problem in the sales funnel. The company’s process of giving quotes to clients was too complex and potentially confusing, so they streamlined it. With their new process, transactions were all done in one place and it was more clearly understood what was being purchased. As it turned out, MindSea’s clients appreciated this new interactive quoting process, which led to the creation of a whole new company: SalesRight.

SalesRight helps SaaS sales teams close deals faster through interactive live quotes, and it has become a valuable and influential company through the combined hard work of Taylor and his business partner, Bill Wilson. The two have taken part in events like Startup Fest, and participated in unique experiences such as those offered by Startup School, where they worked with entrepreneurs from Brazil. They are also a part of Startup Train, which connects various entrepreneurs from Toronto and Montreal in speed dating style conversations while riding a train between the two cities.

It wasn’t easy, as both Tayler and Bill maintained full-time jobs while they built their startup, and experienced setbacks, but eventually they started to attract the attention of some successful Canadian tech companies, like Crescendo. It was at this time that the SalesRight team prospected digital commerce platform FastSpring to purchase their product, which set the foundation for a successful collaboration. After months of working closely and discovering overlapping goals, FastSpring decided to acquire SalesRight.

Prove your commitment to diversity and inclusion

As a community leader who has spent many of his formative years organizing and taking part in non-profit endeavours for both the tech and queer communities, Taylor wants to help others like him become successful.

His advice to young queer professionals is to lean into their identities. Be sure to include experiences on your resume that identify you as a queer community member. This will help you identify companies whose ideals aligned with your own, while also allowing recruiters an opportunity to ask about these experiences and learn how they can improve the success of their own businesses.

As a tech entrepreneur, he also has advice for business owners. Not only should they try to get involved with some of the resources that helped him find success, like those mentioned above, they should also avoid using words like “Diversity” and “Inclusion” as buzzwords. If you believe that those concepts are pillars of your business, then you need to prove it with executive and financial buy-in, he says. Go out and find new avenues of recruitment in order to connect with new people.

By connecting with organizations like QueerTech, leaders in the tech industry can prove that they are truly committed to creating inclusive workplaces and Taylor knows that’s not always easy. If you’re a cisgender, straight business owner, you might feel uncomfortable going into a queer designated space to recruit employees. His advice here: lean into that feeling! Learn what it’s like to feel like an outsider, just as he did as “the English kid” playing Uno with people from other cultures, and you’ll better understand what it means to feel welcomed.

Connect with Taylor

If you feel inspired by Taylor’s story, whether you’re a young queer professional looking for advice, or the leader of a company that truly wants to commit to fostering diversity, he invites you to reach out over social media. He can be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter with questions and he is eager to hear from anyone who thinks he can help.

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