When serial entrepreneur Brett Price began working with cloud-based apps in 2009, his main company, GAIA Custom, a custom athletic apparel business, had just folded from a supply chain cut off. But like any true business thoroughbred, what he saw was opportunity. The then 36-year-old early adopter of tech solutions was quick to relaunch GAIA entirely online, integrating powerful new digital management tools — all from his Vancouver condo, basically in his pyjamas.
All of the sudden, he explains, “You could get a really integrated, Oracle-class software integration, all online, for very inexpensive.”
The experience was a light-bulb moment. Brett and his wife, Nicole Pfeifer, immediately recognized another opportunity.
“In 2009,” says Brett, “we started to show businesses how they could basically have billion-dollar software, like the big players, but for dollars a month.”
This was the inception of Suite Apps, a second company that, today, has grown into a full-service virtual sales and marketing agency that outsources expertise from around the world. Not bound to brick and mortar, in 2013, when Brett and Nicole wanted to buy a house amidst Vancouver’s impossible real-estate crunch, they decided to uproot Suite Apps from the metropolitan matrix of the Lower Mainland and moved it to Kimberley.
With fibre-optic Internet and hearty bandwidth proliferating across the Kootenays, and the Canadian Rockies International Airport only 15 minutes away, Kimberley’s affordability and proximity to world-class wilderness seemed obvious. Nicole, who’d previously been the director of e-commerce at Best Buy, left that job to focus on Suite Apps. In 2014, the couple also founded another online custom apparel company, KazoomCycling.com, rounding out their packed portfolio.
All three businesses are thriving, and from their living room sofa, some of Suite Apps’ clients have included the Campbell Soup Company, and Ahold — an international food retail business that’s worth over $77 billion USD a year. In 2016, Suite Apps also won “Home Business of the Year” in Kimberley’s Business Excellence Awards — showcasing a town on the upswing with strong contributions from the tech sector.
“Most of the people I hang out with are remote workers now,” Brett says, today 46, and a happy homeowner. “The day is not about nine to five, the day is about getting the work done. I just skied a powder day from nine to noon, and now I’m going to work. … I don’t think anywhere in BC, maybe Canada, offers a better mix.”
This blog post is part of an ongoing series focused on people who work in the technology sector. It is supported by Imagine Kootenay and Kootenay Association for Science & Technology (KAST). Read our previous story from the series: D-Pace finds success in Nelson.