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It's about being a “Yes, and…” versus a “Yes, but…” person

Photo-David Barrett
David Barrett

Episode Summary

Expensify CEO David Barrett admits he never planned to get into the expense management space. But by saying yes to opportunities, he built Expensify into a successful innovation economy.

Episode Notes

Say “Yes, and…”

When Expensify CEO David Barrett pitched his big idea, it was flatly rejected. But when investors and potential customers told him a throw-away idea was insanely great, he didn’t fight back. Today the expense management company is one of the world’s most successful players in the Innovation Economy today and all because Barrett said “yes, and...”

Setting Up Shop

Barrett chose to set up shop more than 1,000 kilometres away from Silicon Valley and a million miles away from its business model. He was advised to pitch his app to Fortune 500 companies but he went with small to medium sized businesses instead without spending a dime to acquire them. “Our real longterm differentiation is how we acquire customers and that we do it in a way that is dramatically lower cost to sale… It's a 100% organic,” he says.

Profit over Growth leads to both

Most innovation economy start-ups are advised to focus on growth over profits. But Barrett was profitable almost from Day One. “We just control our own destiny,” Barrett says. ”That means that we can hire who we want, we can grow how we want. As such, I think that we have far more control and a far greater appetite for risk now than ever before.” That profitability has given the Portland-based company a leg-up over Venture Capitalists looking to take control of the board.

Join David Barrett as we explore the bank vaults of his 100 year old headquarters with our #CIBCInnovationEconomy series, then listen to Barrett offer his contrarian advice with the CIBC Innovation Banking Podcast.

CIBC Innovation Banking is a trusted financial partner to entrepreneurs and investors. Get in touch with our team at cibc.com/innovationbanking.

Show Contributors: 

Michael Hainsworth

David Barrett