Wade Jacques and Matt Elliott are the founders of Communal, a company that helps member-based nonprofits manage their memberships, programs and events, volunteer opportunities, donations, and facility rentals all in one space.
Childhood friends turned co-founders
Wade and Matt have been friends since childhood, and have always shared an interest in tech. They’ve started various projects together over the years, and most recently wound up working at Benevity together.
They came to Benevity – Wade working in End User Care, and Matt in Software Development – knowing that the goal one day would be to run their own business.
“They [Benevity] knew that from day one, and put us in positions that allowed us to foster and grow and learn the things we needed, to be able to one day apply those skills for ourselves,” Wade says.
“They put me in, I think, seven different positions from the User Care team, to Account Management, Client Success Management, to Sales, both inbound and outbound.”
“It allowed me to have that safe environment to learn those skills first hand, all with the lens of ‘you will one day need these skills if you're going to go out and do this on your own.’”
What is Communal?
Communal streamlines the operational side of member-based non-profits like community or cultural associations. Knowing how many manual tasks go into running this sort of operation, they went about building a better solution.
“[Organizations] aren’t actually able to spend enough time fulfilling their mission and giving back to their community. So our goal is to help them remove those manual tasks so they can ultimately spend more time on their actual mission, creating a large impact in their community,” Wade says.
They weren’t expecting how impactful the software could be.
“To see it happen, hear the stories and be a part of making something that is genuinely having a direct impact on your local community is really exciting,” Matt says.
For example, a group they were working with saw a huge spike in participants in their soccer camps during COVID. Previously, it was taking the group 30-40 hours to set up one of their programs, but they were able to cut their setup time down to under five hours with the help of Communal’s software.
Hearing stories of how Communal is positively impacting the community makes it all worthwhile for them.
“Sometimes you spend so much time just being at the software, you forget about the actual impact – seeing it firsthand is a pretty special thing,” Wade says.
Going forward, Communal is looking forward to expanding beyond Alberta.
“At first we were just looking to help community associations and more and more types of nonprofits like culture associations, senior clubs, even private schools that are wanting to streamline their operations to increase their impact, ” Wade says.
“These groups have come to us and we've been able to see the impact directly. So I think it's really exciting to see what other opportunities are out there that we can help and make their operations just a little bit more efficient.”
More so, Matt says they’re looking forward to “growing the company and hiring a small team – leading a group of people on this mission that we've started and see where we can take it.”
Watching Calgary grow
Having both grown up in Calgary, they were always interested in being part of the city’s tech community.
“Coming out of school and having a tech background I always wanted to contribute and be a part of the tech ecosystem. Everybody was moving elsewhere, Vancouver or San Francisco or someplace in the States,” Matt says.
“To see it starting to happen here where I grew up and have a lot of family and personal connections. It's really exciting to see the tech foundation being laid here.”
Watching the growth in the tech community, and knowing it’s possible to start and grow a business in the city they’ve called home for so long is exciting.
“It's great to see more support systems coming for more diverse growth. And not just talking about it, the action that is now impacting businesses like ourselves and giving us the support we need,” Wade adds.
“The Platform Incubator has created a monumental shift in our thinking. We came in and had an understanding of what we were trying to achieve, but we didn't have the focus that was needed to actually execute on some of that planning.”
Acknowledging that entrepreneurship can be lonely, Matt has found the community aspect of the Platform Incubator invaluable.
“Hearing from, and being connected to the other entrepreneurs in the program has been super beneficial, and something we didn't have before.”
Platform Incubator Entrepreneur-in-Residence Spotlight: Jason Tate is the CEO & Managing Partner at Adocera. Jason has been working closely with the Communal team throughout the Incubator. Get to know him:
Jason has been leading businesses through an era of exponential digital change across North America for over 25 years. He is a senior leader and mentor with an extensive technology background. From his roles with Long View, Apple, Robots & Pencils and Chata.ai, Jason has accumulated a tremendous amount of technical experience, including managing enterprise data centers, leading global software development teams, and directing cutting-edge AI/ML scientists.
Jason leverages his diverse career experience to enhance organizational productivity and efficiency by effectively leveraging technology. His past leadership roles have included everything from Director to Chief Operating Officer.
Jason is also an instructor at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) - School for Advanced Digital Technology and Mount Royal University, working with: entrepreneurs, executives and senior managers of start-up and high-growth enterprises. Jason currently sits as a technology expert on several post-secondary advisory boards in Canada and the United States.
Communal is part of Platform’s first Incubator cohort. The Incubator provides high-potential founders with the resources and connections needed to build world-class companies. Founders work closely with an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and a community of founders to grow their business over 18 months. Learn more about the Platform Incubator.Back