STARTUPS TO WATCH: LavaBlast - Simplifying franchise operations

OBJ Staff
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Jason Kealey stumbled on to LavaBlast's market niche more than a decade ago when he founded his first software company, Shade.ca, to provide web design.

A screenshot from LavaBlast's software.

One of the company's first customers was a franchiser - the clientele that LavaBlast now deals with every day.

The Gatineau-based firm, which went through the local Lead to Win startup program around 2009, sells products that allow retail locations and franchise plants to manage items such as invoicing, customer tracking and prospecting for future sites.

The company's baseline software is customized for each franchiser. There's a large capital outlay initially as the franchiser purchases and customizes the software. Following that, it pays monthly fees to LavaBlast for service and upgrades.

After five years of operation, LavaBlast is profitable, having never received any institutional funding. Revenues generally grow between 50 and 100 per cent annually; it was bootstrapped from day one.

The firm has a dozen customers so far, including Ottawa startup meeting space TheCodeFactory and Boomerang Kids, a consignment shop for children's items.

(We focus on) how their supply chain is structured, and how can we make it more efficient and save them money. Jason Kealey, LavaBlast founder

LavaBlast foresees more growth in North America, particularly in the United States, where it has customers such as parking lot painter We Do Lines and custom children's toy builder Teddy Mountain.

The firm says there are 6,000 franchises in North America, with 60 per cent of them in their target audience - franchises of 50 locations or fewer. And there's the possibility of international sales for less customizable versions of the software.

"We are looking at launching some more scalable products where we don't need to customize all that much, where it can be done or installed remotely," Mr. Kealey says. "We're getting lots of leads from Asia and even Africa for our software."

Year founded: 2007

Local head count: 5

Funding to date: Bootstrapped

Product: Franchising software

 

Geographic location: North America, Ottawa, United States Asia Africa

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