Fired from their jobs, Ottawa neighbours team up to start over
Serial entrepreneurs Bruce Linton, Steve Cody launch Ruckify after search for adequate chainsaw
For most people, being fired is a nightmare. But for Bruce Linton and Steve Cody, it just means one project has ended and another is about to begin.
"Being fired is fashionable," said Linton, who admits his recent dismissal from Canopy Growth wasn't his first termination. "Oh God, no."
Cody was also recently fired, dropped from the company he founded, Better Software, when the venture capitalists who'd invested heavily in the emerging firm showed him the door.
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"That night ... we started Ruckify," Cody said of the startup best described as an online rental marketplace for practically anything. "That idea had always been stewing in the back of my mind."
Yin and yang
Cody and Linton sit in a small meeting room just off the software development floor of their newest venture's Ottawa office.
They're serial entrepreneurs, and also neighbours in a tony development in the city's west end. Both have big personalities and are good at sales, but they're also like yin and yang, bringing different skills to the table.
Either it's a rocket ship to the moon, or it's fireworks that explode, but for sure it's interesting- Bruce Linton
"We're different kinds of entrepreneurs, right?" Linton asked Cody. "You've always been a sole proprietor, bootstrap it, and that skill set is the inversion of mine, which has been, how do we make something really big, go to the capital markets?"
So Cody is the ideas guy who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. Linton brings in the money.
Neither guy is afraid of taking chances, neither shies away from failure, and of course, neither worries about being sacked.
"Either it's a rocket ship to the moon, or it's fireworks that explode, but for sure it's interesting," Linton said, generating a laugh from Cody.
Is Cody OK with that?
"For an entrepreneur, that's a dream," he said. "I mean, to be able to take something and plan on going to the moon is unbelievable."
The back story
Cody dropped out of high school in Grade 10 and never went to university, an unusual path for a man who became CEO of a software firm.
But he and his family have found success building several traditional companies including a window cleaning enterprise, a party supply chain and six different rental firms.
By contrast, Linton took public administration at Carleton University and even went on to become president of the university's student association. Then, straight out of school, he went to work for Ottawa tech mogul Terry Matthews and was involved in several technology companies before co-founding Canopy Growth in 2013.
The nugget of the idea for Ruckify came after a storm took down trees in their neighbourhood.
"Bruce loves the chainsaw, so as soon as the storm had passed the chainsaw was going in front of my house," Cody recalled.
But the chainsaw wasn't big enough, and Linton figured they must know someone who had the tool they needed.
"He's like, 'We should make an app for that.' So that's kind of where the idea was born," Cody said.
Cody wanted to call the new company "Rent-it," but his teenage daughter thought that name was stupid. She did some research and somehow came up with the word "Ruck," then together they added the last three letters.
"I thought, well that's kind of cool," Cody said of the unusual moniker.
According to the company's website, Ruckify is now the world's largest rental marketplace. Linton calls it the Uber or Airbnb for things.
Take anything you own, could be a wheelchair, could be a chainsaw, exercise bike. Post it on Ruckify to make it available to rent.- Steve Cody
"I ruckified a rototiller — awesome, because how often do you need a rototiller? — once a year for 11 minutes," Linton said.
The rental items are insured for theft and damage.
"Take anything you own, could be a wheelchair, could be a chainsaw, exercise bike. Post it on Ruckify to make it available to rent," Cody said.
It took two years to build the code for the new company, which launched in Ottawa but is moving into Calgary, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Vancouver, and is also eyeing several markets south of the border.
Their outside investors include former Dragons' Den dragon Brett Wilson and Joe Fresh's Joe Mimran.
Cody is now working full time, overseeing the new venture out of the Kanata office, while Linton travels North America bragging about it.
"This is Steve's 24/7 job. This is where he lives and Bruce does not," said Linton, who often refers to himself in the third person. "Next week I'm in California to go through the next steps.... Listing [on the capital markets] should be in the first quarter of 2020."
Linton is known for dreaming big, and Ruckify is no exception. As for Cody, he says right now, there's no place he'd rather be.
"If I can have a dream job, this would be my dream job," he said. "To have the opportunity to be a student and learn from Bruce, I think that's pretty good."
That is, until one of them gets fired.