With the work the small-but-mighty Canvas team has put into their product, it’s no surprise they would eventually be acquired. To do so within two years of starting the company, however, is quite the achievement. California-based Jobvite acquired Canvas in February 2019, along with two other companies following a fresh $200 million investment.
Founded in 2017, Canvas creates solutions for text-based recruitment and job candidate interviewing, an emerging and lucrative opportunity as the mobile-savvy Millennial generation constitutes more of the workforce. When TechPoint spoke to Canvas in June 2017, the company’s product was rolling out. Canvas’ tools enable recruiters to interact with candidates using text messaging from initial introduction through the entire interview process—much like how Match.com uses text messaging to enable people to find a life partner, a favorite analogy of Canvas president Aman Brar.
Even in the fast-paced world of tech, an acquisition within two years of launching a company is a quick turnaround. Brar credits this to his company’s ability to establish partnerships early in Canvas’ life cycle. “We had taken a strong partnership approach to gain our early success, integrating with a variety of applicant tracking systems,” Brar said. “That led to Jobvite structuring a distribution agreement with us about six months ago. It was a monumental deal for us for getting our technology into as many recruiter hands as possible.”
From that distribution agreement, Jobvite Text powered by Canvas was born. As a company, Jobvite’s bread and butter has been recruitment software. Canvas fit in well with Jobvite, and the partnership was proving fruitful. Brar says the basis of the acquisition was this great success the two companies were accomplishing together.
The Canvas acquisition is one of several in a recent spate of acquisition activity throughout Indiana. This activity was not lost on Brar, who saw it as a signal of a particular trend in the tech ecosystem. “We were essentially trying to determine if we were going to continue to fund the business and grow the business independently, but we felt like what was happening in the ecosystem was happening earlier than I expected, which was this massive consolidation,” he said. “People were partnering up and getting bigger, positioning themselves to attack the enterprise market opportunity out there.”
Canvas considered its market opportunity, which led to the important decision for Brar and the team on what to do to secure the company’s future. “When we weighed the pros and cons of going at it alone or partnering it up, combined with the value that was being articulated by Canvas, we recognized this was a good deal,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for Canvas to expand our reach and for the city of Indianapolis to have a company ready to leverage our workforce.”
While the company has only ten employees now, Canvas is setting its sights on rapid growth in 2019. Canvas will continue to do business independently under its name but will work with Jobvite to extend its current Indiana operations. And Canvas is thinking big already: along with retaining all current employees, Brar is planning to scale the combined Jobvite and Canvas operation to 50 employees by the end of year. Marketers, salespeople and product engineers could find new homes at Canvas later this year.
Brar will stay on as president of Canvas to lead these audacious goals. “My personal focus right now is how do we build Jobvite as a top-notch employer in Indianapolis,” he said. “We’ve got a big hiring goal out ahead of us, so we’re laser-focused on that.”
For Brar, Indianapolis as a city was critical to the success Canvas has experienced. Early in Canvas’ life, Brar was working to shape the initial concept and direction of the product. He credits the openness of leaders in the tech community to share their thoughts on Canvas’ early concept as important in creating the final product. That closeness of community played a key role in enabling this acquisition. “When it came to the acquisition, Indianapolis was viewed as a strategic asset and a place where it made a lot of sense for the best in talent across Jobvite and Canvas,” Brar said. “We ought to be proud of that.”