Product Prioritization: Feature Buckets

Using buckets to plan for future work

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.
For our first installment, we take a look at Feature Buckets, originally proposed by Adam Nash.
At Left Travel, we use Feature Buckets to ensure our roadmap is balanced between:

  • generating revenue
  • ensuring our users are delighted
  • fitting in longer-term strategic projects.

What are Feature Buckets?

Feature buckets are the classification framework of creating different groups, or ‘buckets’, that product features or ideas fit into. It is beneficial as in the way of roadmapping, and by having several buckets, it allows for a well-rounded and balanced product which satisfies more stakeholders.

The four categories of feature buckets

There are four commonly used categories used to provide balanced software. They are:

  1. Metric Movers
  2. Customer Requests
  3. Customer Delight
  4. Strategic

Metrics Movers

This bucket includes the features needed to move the needle on key metrics that matter to your business around growth, engagement and revenue. This can be anything from ARR, Churn, ARPU, MAU, LTV, ATV, etc.). For example, at Left Travel, we use metrics that focus on the traffic we send over to our partners and the quality of that traffic. For this, we use Qualified Referral Rate (QRR), Revenue Per Qualified Referral (RPQR), and our partner’s Conversion Rate.
If there is alignment on what the key metrics are that your business follows, it helps narrow the scope of this feature bucket.

Customer Requests

The Customer Requests bucket is filled with requests your organization receives from users and is important to carve out your roadmap. While having this bucket doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll address all, or even a large portion, of the requests that come in it, it does help ground the company to identify current pain points that users are having and decide when, how, or even if, you will address them.

Customer Delight

Remember the time you showed a user something, and they LOVED it? Features in this bucket may not be coming from users directly, but they spark joy in the customer when they see it. Here’s the best recipe to craft these features into delicious user treats:

  1. Listen to users and understand their pain points.
  2. Leverage technology to test and try.
  3. Innovate on UX to deliver and delight.


Data projects and new markets or opportunities are types of projects that can be hard to fit into the three previous buckets but are still important. That is why there is the ‘Strategic’ bucket for features that help keep the software looking forward and past some minutiae. Use this bucket to think big and be aligned with the business’s values and goals.

Balancing Buckets

Having not enough buckets

Having too few, or too many, buckets can cause problems.
If you have too few buckets, you may be putting all your eggs in one or two baskets. For example, if you only worked on features that fit into the Metric Movers and Customer Requests buckets, it is easy for your roadmap to lose sight of the bigger picture. If this happens, your software may become bloated with customer requests. This often leads to making segments of your customers happy for the short term while making the software more complex for the rest of your users. If you don’t have work filling up each of the four buckets, you’re missing important feedback opportunities from either internal or external stakeholders; or simply put, there’s a blind spot in your software.

How to find your Feature Bucket blind spots

  1. Brainstorm what features fit into the empty bucket(s).
  2. Imagine a competitor. How would their product stack up against yours? Focus on that.
  3. Take the list of features you’re not building and run them by your stakeholders (users, developers, dev ops, support, executives, sales, marketing, etc.,). What is their reaction?

Having Too Many Buckets

Simplicity is important when you need to be constantly communicating the roadmap to stakeholders. With too many buckets, it can get confusing. If you have lots of feature buckets, it’s time to think long and hard about why the extra buckets exist. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was it created to get a stakeholder’s work on the roadmap?
  • Could the buckets be rolled up into fewer ones?
  • Are the buckets too granular?

An important part of a roadmap is to be able to effectively communicate what’s happening now and what will be happening soon. If you have 8 buckets, it’s hard to have your team understand and support all of them. Best practices show that people can hold between 3 to 5 buckets effectively.

Ok… where does prioritization come in?

The feature bucket technique is aimed at exposing and categorizing ideas or product features into groupings. When I started at Left Travel, I found that the customer request and customer delight categories were under serviced. By ensuring that we keep our focus on those areas, we’ve been able to further close the gap between our competition’s user experience. Using feature buckets, it should help to:

  1. expose which buckets have too many or too few projects — helps to identify blind spots
  2. identify which features or ideas don’t fit into your roadmap and can be removed
  3. enable a meaningful conversation about the capacity assignment for each bucket and your team.

NOTE: This technique is not helpful to determine which feature is more valuable to do first.

Roadmap Example

Below is an example roadmap which visually resembles buckets (rows) and their status (columns). This can be easily changed to show dates in the rows if that’s the type of roadmap your team prefers.

Left Launches New Website!

The Left team is proud to announce the rebrand of our website! Built with our community in mind, our new site provides a clear message of who we are, our amazing culture, and what we’re building.

With our new clean design we’ve made the website more intuitive for our community and job seekers. We’ve also improved the structure of our content, so you’ll get more from scrolling our homepage, including our announcements, awards, and global goals for sustainability development.

We’ve refreshed our #LeftyLife blog to provide our community with updates into the going ons at Left. To make sure you don’t miss a thing, we’ve also included a live social feed stream from our Facebook.

Lastly, we’ve revamped our ‘careers page’ to provide insight into our culture and how we empower our global team to make their mark.

We hope that you like our new look, and if you have any feedback, please let us know on Facebook or Twitter.

About Left

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown to a global team of over 160. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Bangladesh, Singapore and the United States. RightMesh AG, a Swiss registered fully owned subsidiary of Left, contracts the research and development of the RightMesh project to Left.

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Product Prioritization: Stacked Ranking

Using rankings to facilitate discussions

Welcome to ‘Product Prioritization’ — our series of tools, tips, and best practices for the skilled Product Manager to determine priorities and get results. Each month, we will highlight one of the dozens of popular methodologies and explain how to use it.
For our second installment, we take a look at stacked ranking, first popularized by Jack Welch at GE in the 1980’s.
At Left Travel, we use stacked ranking when our team is looking for a quick and dirty list of priorities. Whether it’s a list of high-level sprint goals or which beer to buy for beer-o-clock, we’ve found this works best if the items in the list aren’t too complex.

What is stacked ranking?

A widely used prioritization technique, stacked ranking is used across multiple industries. At its most basic level, stacked ranking is the act of taking your list of items (ideas, stories, epics, etc.) that needs prioritization and ranking them from the most important (top of the stack) to the least important (bottom of the stack). That’s it — easy right?
The answer is yes and no. While the prioritization technique is simple in practice, it relies on qualitative data and opinions, which may not align with user value.

Tips and Tricks

1. Question the order:

Whether you created the list, or you’re reviewing it, it is important to ask questions about the reasoning behind the order of items to avoid bias.
Questions to consider:

  1. Why is the top idea the most important?
  2. Why is the bottom idea the least important?
  3. How much more/ less important is the idea in the middle than the top/bottom idea?

2. Rank individually, discuss together:

To avoid opinions being swayed during your team’s initial stacked ranking process, have each team member rank the list on their own and then compare the results. When there are differences between the lists, encourage a discussion to discover why.
At Left Travel this has led to great collaboration and knowledge sharing, particularly when someone on our team specializes in a certain data set.
By using stacked ranking, team members feel empowered to give their opinions on the ordering. When the team comes together, it makes for an insightful conversation about why there are differences between everyone’s ranks.

3. Get feedback:

Due to the opinion based nature of stacked ranking, it is important to solicit feedback from a wider group than your immediate team. Try circulating the list to other internal peers and stakeholders and ask if they feel differently about the ranking. Driving discussion is a quick way to get feedback and help mitigate opinion bias.

4. Individual use:

Stack ranking is great for prioritizing individual daily tasks that feed up into your larger company objectives. Online product management tools like Trello and Asana are helpful platforms to share your individual task list with your team.

Women in Technology: Insights into the Gender Gap

Joanne Lott, Manager, Operations & Business Development for our Left Travel brand, shares her reflections on women in technology.

International Women’s Day provides a timely opportunity to reflect on the progress of female representation in the Technology industry today. According to Statistica, the percentage of women in the US workforce has grown to 46.8% overall. The Technology industry, however, continues to lag behind with female participation at less than 20%, and women’s wages are an average $16,000 less than their male counterparts. In an industry whose survival depends on innovation, this lack of diversity and persistent gender gap remains a problem.

My career in the Technology industry began 20 years ago, and I have witnessed some great strides in making the tech workforce better for women, but have also experienced some of the historical and institutional reasons why Tech remains a man’s world.

Challenges for women

Getting a job in technology remains unfairly weighted towards men. An overall cultural bias persists that women are not as competent at, or passionate about, technology as men. At times in my career, there were assumptions made that my knowledge and passion for innovative technologies came from the males in my life, and not from my own technical competencies. This bias limits the hiring of women and incorrectly posits computers and Tech as exclusively male domains.

Some misconceptions about gender roles also continue, such as the idea that caregiver responsibilities might interfere with women’s ability to do a good job. For example, while interviewing for a role at a mid-level internet company, the recruiter asked me who would be watching my children upon my return to work. Despite being highly qualified, the fact that I was a mother was perceived as a strike against my candidacy for the role.

After gaining entry in the technology workforce, women also face challenges in the content they work on and in the workplace culture. In many companies where the technology and entertainment industries intersect, for example, the content can be strongly gendered and sexist. I have also worked in environments that were more akin to fraternity houses — where posters of scantily-clad women hung on office walls. This environment made it challenging to lead with authority or feel empowered to facilitate or manage innovation within my team.

This ‘bro’ culture also has a negative impact on the important informal networks so critical to women’s career progression. Many raises and promotions occur because someone in the Executive layer advocates for the progression of a particular individual. Studies have shown that women, especially women of colour, have less access to these critical informal social networks, limiting the speed of their career trajectory compared to men.

Some technology companies also have corporate cultures or management processes that require long or unpredictable in-office working hours. Many start-ups, for example, expect a 12-hour daily grind and push employees to the point of burnout. Because many women are also responsible for childcare or care of elderly parents, these types of demanding work conditions limit women’s career choices. Some companies make untenable work hours a requirement, making women choose between time with their children versus continuing on their career path.

The challenges described above can provide some historical context into why gender diversity in Tech still remains a problem. These are just a small number of challenges that can detract women and girls from entering STEM fields of study, in order to enter the tech workforce in the first place. Some of these challenges might also contribute to women leaving the technology industry altogether.

Why does it matter?

Diversity is critically important in driving innovation. Having different perspectives and experiences is a key force in coming up with new ideas. Studies have shown that being with similar others leads us to think that we all hold the same information and share the same perspective, thus coming up with flat and shallow solutions. Research also shows that when we hear dissent from someone who is different from us, it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who looks like us. Data and studies show that effective collaboration and creativity require a degree of agitation in order to be truly innovative; this is how diversity can contribute to new ideas.

Diversity is good for business. A uniform or homogeneous workforce can also limit the identification of market opportunities. Understanding consumer behaviour and design thinking are driving how products are made. Without diversity, many firms risk ignoring women’s perspectives when designing new software, online experiences, and products. For example, in the gaming industry in particular, a recent study shows that while only 22% of the video game industry is female, the gender split in playing video games is 45% female.

Additionally, according to the Anita Borg Institute, high performing companies have women in senior leadership positions. “Fortune 500 companies with at least three female directors have seen their return on invested capital increase by at least 66%, return on sales increase by 42%, and return on equity increase by at least 53%.”

What can we do?

Women have been trying for decades to give voice and address some of the challenges described above. Many technology companies continue to address these concerns and put into place policies that attempt to eliminate biases in hiring, salary, and workplace harassment.

Here are some things the tech industry could do more of:

Address the knowledge gap early

Companies like Left sponsor STEM coding camps and Girls Tech Hour of Code events to introduce coding and technology to girls early in life. This type of event can help girls by dispelling gender biases about technology and providing a level of comfort around innovative tools such as Virtual Reality headsets, open source code, and 3D printers.

Commitment by those in Leadership

Corporate Leaders can commit to gender equality and representation on all levels of their businesses. By setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as part of their formal objectives and planning, company leaders can set hiring targets to ensure women are equally represented in all areas — the Board of Advisors, Board of Directors, Engineering, Project Management, Product Design, QA, etc. Once onboard, companies can also invest in growing future diverse managers and leads by providing coaching, training programs, and promoting from within.

Executives should ensure their companies remove gender bias from their recruiting and hiring practices and pay scales. They can learn how to hire more women by understanding how other firms have done it. An example is “How Slack Got Ahead in Diversity”.

In order to retain talent, Managers should also ask women directly about what types of support they need in the form of policies or networks. For example, provide opportunities for women to build mentorship relationships with members of the Executive layer, which can help with women’s career advocacy. They can also create policies around remote and flexible work hours in order to empower women with challenging and unpredictable schedules.

The technology industry must embrace the concept that diversity enables innovation, and take concrete steps to hire more women, or they will fall behind in the business of new ideas.

Learn how to participate and support Women in Tech communities here:

About Joanne Lott:

Joanne’s career started in the Technology industry in 1998. Since then, she has worked for small internet start-ups, one large publicly traded corporation, and a couple medium-sized technology companies. In 2012, she put her career on pause to raise her children, and completed her MBA part-time. After a 5 year absence from the workforce, she is now the Manager of Operations and Business Development at Left Travel. She has two daughters.

Introducing Our New Data Scientist, Shariful Islam

Left Travel welcomes new data and machine learning scientist to global team

With recent global growth, including the launch of our four new international brands, Left Travel is growing our Data team to power our predictive analytics. Left Travel uses Machine Learning models to match the right traveler to the right destination, at the right property, at the right time.

We’re thrilled to announce the newest addition to our data team, Shariful Islam, as our Data Scientist. Although he only joined the team a short while ago, he has already started to make his mark on our organization.

About Shariful

Shariful holds a Master’s degree in Computing Science from Simon Fraser University (SFU), a Masters of Applied Science in Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering from the University of British Columbia (UBC), and a Bachelor of Science from the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. In addition to his degrees, Shariful has eight technical certifications, ranging from deep learning to sequence models. Over the past ten years he has worked at AIUB, UBC, North South University, the Art Institutes, and SFU, sharing his passion for data as both a lecturer and researcher.

A chat with Shariful Islam

Amber: Shariful, what made you look to transition from the education to private sector?

Shariful: After being in the education sector for nearly ten years, I was looking for a change. I took on technical contract roles in 2016 and 2018 which ignited my desire to work in a fast paced environment. I began looking for a role that would both challenge me and allow me create value within the industry.

Amber: Was there a particular reason that you pursued a career in the travel industry?

Shariful: It was a bit of a surprise actually. I was looking for a career in the tech industry, but it was the job description that was most important to me. I wanted a data science role that used machine learning and had growth opportunities. When I first saw the job posting from Left Travel, it immediately seemed like a good match for my career ambitions. As I learned more about the company, I saw that it was also a good culture fit. I really lucked out!

Amber: What made you want to work at Left Travel?

Shariful: In addition to the role itself, the team was a determining factor. They’re an incredibly driven group that is constantly innovating… I wanted to be a part of it.

Amber: What excites you the most about the year ahead?

Shariful: Left Travel has experienced consistent growth since its founding, and we’re on the path to have a record-breaking year. There is huge potential for me to use my skills as a data scientist to help increase that growth. Seeing the results of what we will do as a team is what really excites me.

Left selected as one of “BC’s Top Employers”

Maple Ridge Tech Company chosen as one of BC’s Top Employers in the country’s strongest job market.

MAPLE RIDGE, BC — February 21, 2019 — Left, one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, has been selected as one of BC’s Top Employers by Media Corp Inc. this morning.

“We are thrilled to be recognized as one of BC’s Top Employers for 2019. This award is several years in the making and reflects the efforts of our wonderful team,” said Chris Jensen, Co-Founder and CEO. “It would not be possible without all of our Lefties who are the foundation of our culture and who make Left such a great place to work.”

Now entering it’s 14th year, the award celebrates employers that lead in their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Employers throughout British Columbia were evaluated by the editors at Canada’s Top 100 Employers using the same criteria as the national competition: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement.

Left was recognized for its outstanding HR practices including its robust parental benefits, unlimited paid time off for community volunteering, and a culture that encourages a healthy work-life balance. The full magazine and the editors’ detailed reasons for selection are available online at:

This award adds to a number of awards received by Left in the past year in recognition of their corporate culture and HR practices, including being named as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.

About Left:

Left is a B-Corp Certified, Canadian multinational media and technology company committed to using technology for positive social impact. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, Left has grown to a global team of over 145. Left Travel, a brand of Left, has been using big data, A.I., and predictive analysis to convert high search intent traffic into quality bookings for hotels and short-term stays since 2010. With its mobile mesh networking project powered by blockchain and tokenization, RightMesh, Left is addressing the global challenge of connectivity — particularly in regions where the digital divide is greatest. Headquartered in the Vancouver-based suburb of Maple Ridge, BC, Left has offices and employees in Bangladesh, Singapore and the United States. RightMesh AG, a Swiss registered fully owned subsidiary of Left, contracts the research and development of the RightMesh project to Left.

About Mediacorp Canada Inc.

Founded in 1992, Mediacorp Canada Inc. is the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals. Since 1999, the Toronto-based publisher has managed the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which includes 18 regional and special-interest editorial competitions that reach over 15 million Canadians annually through a variety of magazine and newspaper partners. Mediacorp also operates, a large job search engine that includes editorial reviews from the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project and is used by almost 8 million users in Canada each year. Mediacorp also hosts the Top Employer Summit, Canada’s largest conference for senior- level HR professionals.

For more information, visit

Press Contact:

Dana Harvey, CCO


Left Award Summary 2018

At Left, we’re incredibly proud of our award-winning team! This past year the team was recognized for the efforts of many years of hard work, dedication, and — of course, our vibrant culture that exists because of our awesome Lefties.

Read on for the summary of the awards we were recognized with this year.

Canada’s Top 100 Employers

Left was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers on Mediacorp Canada Inc.’s 2019 list. With only 36 Canadian-based employees at the time of the application, Left was the smallest company of the top 100 organizations, some of which had up to 65,000 Canadian employees.


Now entering its 20th year, the 2019 Canada’s Top 100 Employers List is a national competition to find employers with exceptional human resources programs and forward-thinking workplace policies. Employers are rigorously graded by Mediacorp Canada Inc. on eight criteria, and still there are an increasing number of applications each year. Left’s scores for the eight categories of criteria were: Physical Workplace (A+), Work Atmosphere and Communications (A+), Financial Benefits and Compensation (B+), Health and Family-Friendly benefits (B+), Vacation & Time-off (A-), Employee Engagement and Performance (A), Training & Skills Development (A+), and Community Involvement (A+).

An internal analysis of the scoring revealed that with those ‘grades’ and only 36 employees, we earned a ‘GPA’ of 3.63, which placed us in a tie for 7th place in the top 100 organizations!

Read the full release on Canada’s Top 100 Employers here.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ and the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™

Left was selected from hundreds of nominations based on its rapid revenue growth, entrepreneurial spirit, and bold innovation. Our organization earned the spot as 16th on the Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ list in Canada, and 101st on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™ list in North America. Left’s impressive revenue growth of 409.08% from 2014–2017 on the strength of its subsidiary, Left Travel Inc., was a deciding factor in making both lists.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50 program winners consist of public and private companies in the technology sector, which have transformed the industry. Now in its 21st year, the program runs alongside the broader Deloitte North American Technology Fast 500™, with winners automatically eligible for this elite ranking.

Read the full release on Left being recognized by Deloitte as one of the fastest growing technology companies in Canada.

High Impact Hero Award

Left was proud to be the recipient of the High Impact Hero Award, presented at the BambooHR Summit. The ‘Hero Awards’ recognize companies that excel in various areas of human resources within the company. Award finalists were selected based on the quality, impact, and results of their programs. They were then interviewed by members of the BambooHR Hero Awards Committee. Winners in each category were selected based on the strength of their specific programs and passion for HR.

The ‘High Impact Award’, is given to a company that exemplifies general greatness in HR and has developed particularly effective HR programs. Left’s Dream and Community Engagement programs, were standouts as effective components of our overall culture and our 95% voluntary retention rate.

Read the full release on Left being selected for the High Impact Hero Award here.

Metabridge Top 15 Company

Metabridge selects the most innovative, high growth technology scale-ups to be in the Top 15 Canadian Scale-ups, which Left was honoured to have been selected for.

Left Co-Founders, Chris Jensen and John Lyotier, attended the Metabridge executive retreat where they were able to disconnect and network with like-minded peers and technology leaders. While at the retreat, Left was selected by the other 14 companies of their cohort as the ‘People’s Choice Award’.

Award Finalists

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Left Community Engagement Program 2018

Left’s Community Engagement Program, which includes unlimited paid time off to volunteer, is one that has created an identity for Left and the amazing people who are involved.

Last year, our team of 45 employees in BC volunteered an incredible, 1745.75 hours — that’s an average of 38.79 hours per employee!

Our program consists of three pillars: unlimited individual community days, quarterly commitments, and 101% participation. Read on for a recap of 2018 and the elements of our award winning community engagement program.

Individual Community Days

Not only does Left provide unlimited paid time off for Lefties to volunteer, but our Co-Founders actually thank

employees when they leave the office to do so! These volunteer initiatives look different for every Lefty as we let our staff define their own communities. The only ask is that hours are recorded and a picture is taken to share with the team to inspire them to get out and do the same.


Some of the amazing initiatives that our Lefties volunteered for in 2018 include: the SPCA, TedX, Immigration Services Canada, Womens Collaborative Hub, ACM, the Poco Grand Prix, the YWCA, Crisis Line, Coquitlam Adopt a Street Program, VOKRA, and many more.

Quarterly Commitments:

Four times a year we have company wide volunteer days. The initiatives are selected by our Culture Club.

2018 Initiatives included:

  • Highway and Park Clean Up: In the summer, our team cleaned up our local highway and park. Highways and parks are a big part of our community that often gets neglected, and we wanted to take the time to show them the respect they deserve.

  • Ronald McDonald House:
    In September, a large group of Lefties spent time grocery shopping and preparing a meal for 200 individuals staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Vancouver.
  • Hour of Code: We welcomed 100 children from grades 2–7 to our office for an Hour of Code, a global movement dedicated to expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing participation of women and underrepresented minorities. Students toured the office, participated in hands-on tutorials, learned about diverse careers in tech, and played with an oculus rift, robots, and 3D-printers. To address the gender diversity gap in computer science, a girls-only session was also held.
  • Maple Ridge Christmas Hamper Society:
    Each year, we sponsor a family with a hamper that we personally deliver.

101% Commitment

Our community engagement program is employee led — supported by our families and Left– this is the extra 1%.

As a team of 45 in Maple Ridge, our Lefties have each volunteered a considerable amount of their time in 2018. We are so proud of the impact our Lefties have had in our communities, and we are looking forward to seeing what they will do in 2019 as our Left family continues to grow.

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Legendary Lefty: Joe


Welcome to ‘Legendary Lefty’ — a series of interviews that reveals the personal stories of our amazing team members.

Today, I had the pleasure of chatting with Joe Deobald, our Entrepreneur in Residence. I learned how his career path started with a lawn mowing business, how he obtained Django (Left’s “Director of Greetings” or “D.O.G.”), and how his entrepreneurial spirit led him to Left.

Amber: Where are you originally from and when did you come to BC?

Joe: I’m originally from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. A natural born ‘farm boy’. My family and I moved out here when I was about 11 for elementary school; we bounced around a lot when I was young. I went to highschool at Princess Margaret Secondary School and during grades 11 and 12 I was at KPU [Kwantlen Polytechnic University]. After graduation I went to BCIT and SFU.

Amber: So you took university classes during high school at Kwantlen University?

Joe: Kwantlen had advanced courses that a select few students could take, as long as you had good grades. I was one of those few people, so I took computer programing and fine arts.

Amber: That is an interesting combination! What drew you to fine arts and computer programing?

Joe: Yes [laughing]! A unique skill set I guess. I think very analytically, but I am also very creative. I wanted to develop those two assets. In highschool, and I guess in elementary school too, all my hand-in reports were always over the top. Teachers would keep my work, everything from humanities reports to physics diagrams, as an example of what could be done [laughing].

Amber: What was your first business and how old were you? I’m picturing an elaborate lemonade stand.

Joe: I started my first business when I was 13 in lawn maintenance. I would go around the neighbourhood with my push mower, cutting grass. After a bit of success, I expanded to about a five block radius. When I had enough money, I bought a weedwacker and upgraded to an electric lawnmower so it was a bit easier and I could do more with less. I had about 20–25 yards I took care of each week. Lemonade didn’t have the returns I was looking for.

Amber: So instead of saving up for baseball cards or candy, you saved up for a weedwacker and a mower…

Joe: Yes [laughs]! I needed to make the job easier on myself!

Amber: So, after university what did your career path look like?

Joe: I started a company called SilverWayve with a buddy of mine from college… it just didn’t pan out. After that I moved to Eyestorm Media which was basically a freelancing gig where I built my own personal brand. Following that, I got a full-time job working at CityMax. I was hired as a junior designer and worked my way up to being the Creative Director. That is where I first met John (Co founder of Left).

When CityMax started to go downhill, I decided enough was enough; I was an entrepreneur at heart, and I needed to start my own practice. I founded a branding marketing agency called Full Frame Marketing Inc.

Amber: And how did you first start working with Left?

Joe: John had left CityMax just before I did to start-up a new venture with Chris Jensen called Left of the Dot Media. It had a horrible logo [laughs].

John reached out and asked me to help them on some projects. I came on and started working from their office which was close to my home in Pitt Meadows. The first project I worked on was After that, we started working on some cool brands like, and

I started taking on more and more clients with Full Frame, and Left became one of the biggest of those. As Left grew, I started getting too much work to do myself, so I started hiring people. I found some designers who I could nurture, and I brought them on to grow the business. With a team, I could focus on strengthening relationships with clients and forming new partnerships, which was always a part of my business model.

Amber: So you started by having Left as one of your clients. How did it transform into them acquiring your new marketing company ICO Agency earlier this year?

Joe: Over the years, I helped start multiple businesses, such as ShareShed,, Orange Envelope, Grayns and ICO Agency, all of which led me to Left.

Left was working on the RightMesh project, and my company, ICO Agency, had taken on the marketing. The work we were doing for RightMesh led John and Chris to clearly see the potential of the team I had built. The three of us sat down, in this boardroom actually, and we decided to have Left acquire ICO Agency in order to lock up the talent of the team for Left. Although it had felt like I was a part of the team for many years, that was the moment when I became an official Lefty, and my title became Entrepreneur in Residence.

My role is to “build the thing that builds the thing”. I get to do all the cool stuff that entrepreneurs get to do — establishing processes, bringing people onboard, helping people where they need to be helped, developing the culture, and scaling certain areas in the business. My next big project is preparing us for growth as we are going to become too big for our current space. I am currently looking into options of our next move.

Amber: That is quite the journey! What is it that you like most about being an entrepreneur?

Joe: I have always liked the challenge of it. The challenge of taking an idea and running with it. Growing up, my parents were always supportive of my ideas, but we lacked business connections, and even internet, to bring them to life. Over time, I got frustrated seeing the ideas I had thought up created by other people. So, at an early age, I decided to take initiative and run with the ideas myself. Even though sometimes the ideas didn’t work, I needed to try. I needed to know why it wouldn’t work before giving up on an idea. You learn more from your mistakes that way. That is what life is, it is all about failure and learning from it. So that is what I like about being an entrepreneur.

Amber: On that note, which of Left’s 10 core values do you identify the most with? I can kind of guess after hearing your last statement.

Joe: “Failure is an option” is one of the core values that I most identify with. Because if you don’t fail, you never learn. Failure makes you humble, and it makes you realize that you are never going to be perfect. You are going to fall, sometimes really hard, but you’ll be able to pull yourself up and hopefully you will have a network of support to help dust you off. Having those relationships in your life that support you really helps.

Amber: On a slightly random note, you are in charge of Django, Left’s resident “D.O.G.” (Director of Greetings). How long have you had him, and how did you become his proud owner?

Joe: I have had Django for four and a half years. We got him when he was about four months old from Alberta. He was a rescue pup. They found him with his brother and his sisters in a back alley, in a box, and they were eating rocks. We found him online, and I was like, ‘kay this dog is pretty dang cute’, and I reached out to the foster family. We flew him out, and I picked him up at the airport at about quarter after midnight. He came down the ramp in a crate, his ears down, and he looked pretty sad, still shocked from the flight. We got him home and took him out to the parkade and we became instantly connected. It was pretty cool feeling. His original name was Ricky, and so I had to change that. The movie Django had just come out and I thought it was fitting for his journey. Although he was Django chained for a few months while he was trained.

He grew up as a Lefty. We’ve always had a dog friendly office, and he grew up here. This is his family, this is his home, he knows who belongs here and who is a visitor — and you can tell by the greetings he gives. He is an awesome dog. Great personality, lots of energy and loves being part of bleacher talks, meetings and even new Lefty interviews.

Amber: I think so, too. Before I let you go, do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about Left?

Joe: I think that Left has changed the way we do business and how we connect with people. Not just external, but internally as well. This is felt by everyone who has become a part of Left, from our Lefties, to the people who come through our doors for a visit, to those we meet at events. I really love working here, and I am looking forward to what will come next.

Stay in Touch

To stay up to date with Left, please join our social channels:

Left Makes Coding Fun for Boys and Girls in Maple Ridge by Hosting ‘Hour of Code’

Maple Ridge, BC –November 2, 2018 — Left, one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, invited local students from Maple Ridge, Langley and Pitt Meadows in grades 2–7 to their office for an ‘Hour of Code’ that included hands-on fun to spark a passion for computer science and demystify coding. Students toured the office, participated in hands-on tutorials, learned about diverse careers in tech, and played with an oculus rift, robots, and 3D-printers. To address the gender diversity gap in computer science, a girls-only session will also be held.

Hour of Code is a global movement introducing tens of millions of students worldwide to computer science, inspiring kids to learn more, breaking stereotypes, and leaving them feeling empowered. This is the 3rd year Left has volunteered to host the event at their office.

Hour of Code events are held in conjunction with Computer Science Education Week (CSEDWeek), an annual program dedicated to encouraging K-12 students to take interest in computer science. Computer science is changing the landscape of work with computing occupations one of the fastest-growing, best paying, and largest sectors of all new wages.

Left decided to host a girls-only session this year as, although CSEDWeek is held in recognition of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, females are grossly underrepresented in computer science careers. In high schools, fewer than 25% of Computer Science students are girls. The Hour of Code initiative has been so successful in introducing girls to this computer science that just in the first Hour of Code, four years ago, more girls tried computer science than had tried in the last 70 years!

“As a tech company, we know how hard it is to achieve gender diversity in this field,” said Saju Abraham, Chief Product Officer at Left. “We want to help change that by inspiring girls to take an interest in computer science from a young age. It’s shocking that in a room of 25 computer professionals today, only 3 will be women.”

“This is the third year we’ve hosted local students here for Hour of Code,” Abraham added. “All our employees chip in and get really excited about empowering the next generation through sharing their passion. As a company, we’re known for our extensive community volunteer initiatives, but this event is hands-down our favourite event of the year. The feedback and excitement from the kids is priceless.”



We are Left, and we do things right. Officially one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, we are on a mission to use technology to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. The biggest problem we have identified is connectivity. We believe that if the world could rethink connectivity, we could improve health outcomes, impact education, and lift hundreds of millions out of poverty. To solve this problem, we are developing RightMesh, a mobile mesh networking platform and protocol that uses technologies inherent in mobile devices around the world (Wi-Fi-, Wi-Fi Direct, and Bluetooth) to provide last mile connectivity where existing infrastructure cannot service or meet demand. Individuals are incentivized to share data through financial compensation afforded by blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies (RMESH). We are also experts in A.I., big data, machine learning and predictive analysis for the travel industry. Focusing on the ‘Right’ traffic, our subsidiary, Left Travel, drives $450 million in gross travel bookings annually. Left is listed number 16 on Deloitte’s Fast 50 list for Canada and number 101 in North America on the Fast 500 list.


The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify “code”, to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with 1-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide. The Hour of Code takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week.

Press Contact

Dana Harvey
CCO, Left