North American tech is alive and thriving. And as an ecosystem partner, we want to highlight the people and stories behind that growth.
So we’re giving you the inside track into how a few rising tech companies got started, the challenges they’ve faced, and their take on the future of tech in Alberta.
We connected with Trent Johnsen, Founder and CEO at liveweb, who is changing the way businesses connect with their customers online.
Let’s see what Trent had to say…
What inspired you to found liveweb?
Trent: “A lack of effective communications at websites causes broken, inefficient sales and support processes – it’s inconvenient for customers and bad for business. Businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually on advertising and Search Engine Optimization to get prospects and customers to their website and then ask them to fill in an email form or dial a telephone number. Using chat, chatbots, and lead forms to try and capture contact details results in back-and-forth email and voicemail for days just trying to schedule a ‘first call.’”
What does liveweb do and how are you making an impact?
Trent: “liveweb is a website-based conversational sales and marketing platform that helps businesses meet, qualify, and convert prospects faster.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced in the early startup days of the company?
Trent: “liveweb is completely new to people. We’re creating a new communications category requiring people to change behaviour, which is always challenging. No one is expecting to ‘go live’ and instantly connect with voice, video, and screen sharing at a website. But, people’s reactions to it have been quite consistent: they love it and think it’s cool! It’s quick and easy and just makes sense.”
What marketing activities have you prioritized/invested in? What has worked well for you?
Trent: “liveweb is a product-led company, so the majority of our marketing investment is on our liveweb product and the customer experience of buying and using liveweb. Our first major integration is with a world-leading team email platform called Front, which is creating a lot of customer opportunities for us globally. We’re announcing Slack and Zapier integrations soon as well.”
How has COVID impacted liveweb?
Trent: “Covid has had positive effects for us by rapidly accelerating the adoption of both video calling and distributed work. liveweb is browser-based, so it enables people to work from anywhere and connect directly with prospects and customers via their website through voice calls and video meetings with screen sharing. It’s a very powerful alternative to trying to connect distributed teams using phone technology.”
What’s on the horizon for liveweb post-pandemic?
Trent: “Travel and people! We’re participating in SaaStr in San Francisco in September, and looking forward to time with customers and partners. And we are a distributed team in Canada and Europe overdue for a team meetup in Europe.”
What do you think the future holds for the Alberta tech sector? Please comment on industry trends you may have observed, investor growth, etc.
Trent: “I actually think the notion of ‘tech sector’ is kind of funny. Marc Andreessen was absolutely right in 2011 when he explained how ‘software is eating the world’. Technology is a horizontal application that impacts every business and organization and will continue to be the biggest driver of growth, jobs, and wealth creation on the planet. As we’ve learned during the Pandemic, talent can live anywhere. Think of Miami. So making Alberta a desirable place to live will be an important factor in our ability to attract and retain talent.”
What Alberta tech startup(s) are you currently watching and why?
Trent: “I’m on the Board at InterGen where we work on matching underutilized management talent with growth businesses to generate jobs and wealth in Calgary. We also have a fund where we’re investing in scalable tech businesses. I’m excited about our InterGen portfolio companies. You can see them here. I’m also following Thin Air Labs portfolio companies (of which liveweb is one). James Lochrie has a strong track record for investing early in great companies including Symend, Stellaralgo, Athennian, and Syantra to name a few.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting a tech company in Alberta?
Trent: “I’ll defer to British novelist Eden Phillpotts on this one: ‘The people sensible enough to give good advice are usually sensible enough to give none.’”
What’s your must-read, listen, or watch for anyone in tech?
Trent: “There’s no single source for me. There’s just such an incredible amount of information and content. I use Twitter as my newsfeed and I’m maxed out following 5,000 accounts. What looks like posting or sharing is usually me throwing something into my feed so I can find it later.
Three articles that have really resonated with me as I’ve been building liveweb over the past couple of years are:
- We Don’t Sell Saddles Here – Stewart Butterfield
- Front: Inside the $1.3B Startup Slackifying Email
- How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit
More Alberta tech stories to come…