SASKATOON — Being recognized for the third time by the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce is a huge honour for Vendasta Technologies Inc., a testament to how the decades-old digital solutions company has earned the respect and admiration of its peers.
Vendasta won two awards in last month’s 2021 ABEX Awards including the coveted Business of the Year and bagged the Priority Focus Award for Digital Integration. They earned their first ABEX award for Growth and Expansion in 2019.
“We’re thrilled [winning the award], obviously for our company. We’ve worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce for many years and we’re fortunate enough to be nominated for our work in the past,” said Vendasta co-founder and chief marketing officer Jeff Tomlin, in an interview with SASKTODAY.ca.
“Both awards are a big deal for us, especially the one recognizing our contributions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic … It was a big deal winning the Priority Focus Award and it was especially a huge honour to be named the Business of the Year.”
Receiving two ABEX awards in one year has added integrity to a company that is already multi-awarded. Vendasta was a 2021 Webby Honoree in Apps and has been consistently named as one of the best workplaces in the country for youth and women.
Vendasta was also a two-time SABEX Business of the Year and Growth & Expansion awards recipient (2016 and 2017), and in 2018 earned the Community Involvement honours. SABEX is Saskatoon’s premier business award program.
Tomlin said two more awards from an organization composed of the province’s business leaders is a recognition of the hard work by their teams.
“You don’t just get here overnight. It takes a lot of persistence to build a company like what we’ve built. So, number one, I think it’s a recognition of the hard work that’s been done over a long period of time, building what we’ve gotten, and it’s also a recognition of the really hard work that the team has put in ... over the past year-and-a-half since we’ve been dealing with a different set of circumstances. We’ve worked hard to shift our focuses and change in response to the needs that have fallen out of the pandemic.”
He added the pandemic caused a big shift in an economic event that has shaken the world economy and market.
I think that we rose to the challenge. We quickly put together a set of products and services that our customers and their customers needed in response to the changes that come with the pandemic. This award is a great recognition of those efforts.”
“Businesses need to step back and observe how those changes are impacting customers and quickly assess what those impacts are and reach to that. Particularly, the need to understand if their ideal customers profile has changed and what additional capabilities they need to help changing the lives of those customers.”
Tomlin said that in Vendasta’s case, they made some observations to get through the pandemic.
“There was an incredible need for remote work. So, people need to be able to work remotely. They needed to be able to work remotely. They needed to be able to effectively work remotely with their teams and their clients.”
“We quickly assembled a suite of online remote tools and integrated them to our platform. We saw that people needed to be able to transact online and so we quickly assembled a suite of e-commerce tools that were ease to implement and created a complete suite of solutions that we call the online business tool kit.”
He added that those tools that they assembled were distributed through their channel partners that rapidly reached hundreds of thousands of small businesses. They also saw the huge demand in online learning.
“There’s a thirst for online education and learning, especially an increase in people’s digital saviness. So, with response to that, we quickly created a community and an online academy. That community exploded over the first few months when we launched it. It had tens of thousands of users at any given month that actively use those resources.”
The pandemic gave them the chance to become more creative.
“We sat back, and we looked at what our customers really needed. We adjusted our priorities, we delivered things that we’re speaking about. We must remember that businesses were faced with closing their doors and laying off their staff. These were existential threats to the business.
“They had to learn to communicate. They needed learning resources. They needed to act fast so that they could conduct business online in ways that they haven’t done before. There’s a lot of capabilities and solutions needed to be delivered quickly.”
Vendasta was founded in 2008 and Tomlin said the awards give them the further drive to improve their services further to keep up with the changing times.
“Today, we’re focused on developing an end-to-end commerce platform. Specifically, we create an ecosystem that involves technology vendors and channel partners that are looking for solutions for business clients.”
“We bring them together in a platform designed to create amazing small business experiences. And so, there’s a lot left to be done in this space. Small business has a challenge. It’s difficult for them to assess all the different types of solutions out there and find the time to do that type of work. We recommend, especially small businesses, to work with experts out there to achieve their technology needs. And the ecosystem that we are creating, I consider it still in its infancy. So, there’s still a lot of work to be done.”