With a surprising start on a farm without electricity, you wouldn’t have expected BC’s Ryan Holmes to grow into a successful tech entrepreneur. But the brilliant mind behind Hootsuite – the world’s most successful social media management tool – accomplished just that. Holmes proved that you don’t have to abandon your passions to achieve success, and he didn’t even need a formal business education to do so.
Although his name doesn’t have the same level of recognition as a Gates or a Zuckerberg, Holmes’s contributions have impacted the business and tech world in inspiring ways. He didn’t excel at any one particular field or dedicate himself to a single interest. Instead, Holmes achieved his success by being a jack-of-all-trades.
Holmes created three startups before he hit it big with Hootsuite. He began his first company while in high school – a paintball field that grew into an online supplier of paintball paraphernalia. He’d follow this up with another business venture – a pizza joint, Growlies. His entrepreneurial career looked like a teenager’s dream until this point. But this second venture came at a cost: he dropped out of a business program at the University of Victoria. However, Holmes soon proved that, for him, formal education would take a backseat to actual experience.
When Holmes sold Growlies as a franchise in 1999, he was about to head into a new field of interest just as it was set to boom – the internet. He promptly taught himself web design and development so that he could work at a technology firm. Once he had enough experience, he created his own digital media agency, Invoke, from which his biggest success was born – Hootsuite.
In 2008, Holmes founded Hootsuite, which became the world’s most widely-used social media management platform with over 16 million users, including over 800 Fortune 1000 companies. For those unsure of what services Hootsuite offers, the platform is generally geared towards businesses to help them alleviate the stress of having to post on multiple social media platforms several times a day. With Hootsuite, a company can schedule social media posts for the entire week, leaving behind the headache of having to log into one or more accounts at designated times during the day. Under Holmes’s guidance, Hootsuite steered towards being more socially conscious, achieving B-Corp distinction, which is awarded to leading for-profit companies with a social and environmental mission.
As in his youth, Holmes pursued a venture in 2015 inspired by yet another interest, much like how paintball, pizza, and the internet inspired his previous endeavours. This time, both space travel and virtual reality were at the forefront of his idea. He launched SpaceVR as a virtual reality platform for virtual space tourism. SpaceVR users will have an immersive VR video link from space transmitted to their headsets thanks to a VR camera orbiting the earth.
In the latest of his series of surprising and profitable ventures, Ryan Holmes wrote an Amazon best-seller, The $4 Billion Tweet. The book demonstrates his entrepreneurial and digital knowledge, arguing that both fields go hand-in-hand in today’s age.
Perhaps his most well-regarded contribution is his investments in the Maple Syrup Mafia. The name is cleverly spun from the “PayPal Mafia,” a name given to the successful entrepreneurs who were involved with the creation of PayPal, including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel, Max Levchin, and Russel Simmons. The motivation for the Maple Syrup Mafia is to help young Canadian entrepreneurs with their startups and establish Canada as a global tech hub.
While it seems that Ryan Holmes finds success at every turn, he’s carefully selective of what he pursues. Hence why his interest in Maple Syrup Mafia is so refreshing, because it focuses on the future of not only business, but the entire tech industry in Canada.
Alex Correa | Staff Writer
Photo Credit: LinkedIn