As CEO Brian Heath officially opened Drivewyze's new corporate headquarters in south Edmonton, he got a big laugh from the crowd as he showed a picture of his company's first office space — a Tim Hortons near the University of Alberta campus.
That's where he and co-founder Fred Ko first started talking about building a company around safety technology for the trucking industry as they pursued their MBAs. Three real offices and 19 years after they founded parent company Intelligent Imaging Systems, their spinoff Drivewyze now has a new, 30,000-square-foot building, complete with a pickleball court, an outdoor patio, a foosball table, and other accoutrements you might expect from a fast-growing software-as-a-service company.
"We went from meetings in a local coffee shop to becoming the driving force in innovation and technology in the trucking industry — all by attracting world-class people and talent right here in Edmonton," Ko said in a release about the July 21 opening of the new building at 5425 Calgary Trail.
Heath told a crowd of employees, customers, partners, and officials that he wants the complex to serve not only Drivewyze's staff, but also the community, welcoming startup events, hackathons, and the like to the spacious auditorium.
Since it was a featured company at Startup Edmonton's Launch Party 4 in 2013, Drivewyze has grown into an operation with 200+ employees, looking after software in more than 2.8 million trucks and customers in 43 states and two provinces.
"We export software and knowledge, and we import American currency," vice-president of marketing Doug Johnson said in an interview.
Because very few of its customers are here, Drivewyze hasn't had a huge local profile as it grew. Now, however, it makes sense to increase awareness to help recruit and retain talent as the company scales up, Johnson said. The company has a sales office in Dallas, and Heath himself lives in Vancouver, but the company considers Edmonton home.
Coun. Michael Janz noted at the opening that while Heath and Ko were setting the wheels in motion for their startup in the early 2000s, he was watching his tech-oriented University of Alberta classmates making plans to leave for California as the best way to pursue their dreams. Now Drivewyze is among the companies keeping that talent here, he told the assembly.
"It's such an exciting Edmonton story to have."
Hear from Drivewyze's Brian Heath in a future episode of Bloom, Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.