Date Company Founded: November 2014
Current number of employees: 5
What they do: Capture change from cash transactions and save it on your phone for later
In the startup world, the fintech space has been heating up as of late. Whether it’s small firms making the big banks nervous or trying to shake up the investment world, a race between the old and the new is on, to make the financial world more efficient and cost effective for everyone.
Enter Ottawa’s ChangeJar with a solution that hits both those marks. Say you’re at a local cafe and open your wallet to find only a twenty dollar bill. Rather than get back a handful of bills and coins: swipe your smartphone and the balance is digitally dropped in your ChangeJar account. No fees and no fuss.
The CEO and founder, Tom Camps, came up with the idea after hearing his son complain about the nuisance of change after a small purchase. The startup has now officially launched in Ottawa and is partnering with many of the forward-thinking retailers and restaurants in the city.
We spoke with CEO and founder, Tom Camps about the innovative new technology.
Say I don’t work in technology – explain to me what you do? The problem you solve?
Everybody hates change. Instead of having to carry your change around in your pocket or purse, it goes onto your phone/app and we save it there so you can spend it later. ChangeJar leaves virtually no footprint, and transactions can be as anonymous as cash transactions. We wanted to stay away from the service fees that are associated with credit cards. ChangeJar transactions are free.
Talk about some of the resources in Ottawa you’re using to grow and scale?
We currently work out of the Invest Ottawa facility which is a great place to launch a startup. Ottawa has fantastic transportation connections considering our market isn’t Ottawa, it’s in North America right now. Ottawa is located in the middle of Canada, making it easy to travel to Toronto or Montreal. Our airport is fantastic for its size, and ranking #1 in Canada for its quality and traffic. Ottawa is a very connected city that we are proud to be located in. We’ve worked a few times with the Capital Angel Network, they’ve invested in ChangeJar.
What’s your strategy for competing in the fintech space, which is becoming more crowded by the day?
We are somewhat contrarian: While everyone else is focused on increasing credit card payments, ChangeJar is the only fintech company focused on increasing the use of cash.
Why do you think Ottawa is a great place to grow a business?
The number one reason is the quality of life, people want to live here. Ottawa is such a great city to raise a family- ranked #2 by Today’s Parent. It’s a great city to live in, considering the cost of living is very reasonable as opposed to Toronto or Vancouver. We have so much talent and people want to be here because it’s such a great place. That’s the single best reason to put a startup here.
How did you discover Invest Ottawa’s services?
It’s interesting actually because when I started this company I had looked around for a place to work- because I can’t work at home, I’m a social guy. We then started working in two places; I split my time between Invest Ottawa and The Hub downtown. The Hub was smaller with more of a social entrepreneurship focus. I felt that Invest Ottawa had more business support. We actually ended up shifting here full time and have been here ever since.
How has working with them helped your business?
We’ve currently been at Invest Ottawa for just over a year and a half. The biggest benefit is being in a facility that has a business first focus. We love the atmosphere and energy from other startups. There’s a certain energy that comes from other startups and that helps a lot. I get to talk to people that make introductions and help us network on a larger scale. The best thing overall is the vibes we get from being in such an open creative space.
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