Facing huge demand for its product, Bedford, N.S.-based Guild Solutions is planning a restructuring and debt financing in the coming months to hire more staff, possibly doubling its headcount this year.
The company, which makes software for professional associations, now has 25 employees and will bring on five more in the next month. The staff could reach 50 this year if it can find the right people. Its recent sales have been so strong that it only has the capacity to install the systems this year that it has already sold.
The challenge for the company now is to find key personnel in Atlantic Canada’s tight market for tech talent. The company has been recruiting internationally and across Canada, and is attracting staff to its growing headquarters.
“We spend more money marketing for employees now than we do for customers,” said Founder and CEO Colin Gourlay in an interview Wednesday.
“The toughest [discipline to hire] is always software developers, but we’ve been having challenges hiring support personnel. We can train the right person if they come in with the basic knowledge of how technology works. But even with that, we’re just not getting resumés coming in the door.”
Guild grew out of the Bedford-based digital consultancy Electric Playground Media, and has developed administrative software for the association management industry. The company grew by targeting professional colleges, which are the organizations that oversee the credentials and membership of licensed professions. Examples would be the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia – if you want to practise, you have to be a member in good standing of the group.
These organizations have difficulty administering all the data that they’re responsible for. Guild’s software is like a CRM designed for these groups, providing cloud-based software that allows collection, distribution and updating of that data.
In the last few years, Guild has added new functions, such as: automated renewals, so registrars don’t have to call hordes of delinquent members; eLearning, so the organizations can teach members and then hold exams; billing products to collect dues; and voting systems so members can elect boards of directors.
With the added functionality, Guild has expanded into new market segments, such as general industry associations and unions. Gourlay said an independent market analysis has determined that it has a total addressable market of $3.6 billion just in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., and about half that market hasn’t been tapped yet.
Guild Software is now profitable and Gourlay wants to grow quickly to meet the demand. In the coming months he will borrow money to finance the growth. Equity financing would take too long to raise, he said, though he may consider an equity raise later.
With the financing, he plans to divide Guild and Electric Playground into separate corporate entities. Long-time staff of Electric Playground will take over management of that company, which has been developing software products in the self-storage market, and even done an installation in Chile.
Gourlay will head Guild and foresees rapid growth.
“With Guild, I’m going to go hard,” he said. “We’re developing our own training programs and we’ll hire as many people as possible and train them . . . We’re just going to hire as much as we can to keep up with demand.”