“Hello, world!”

That phrase has been uttered and typed a million times in computer programming. It symbolizes a start, a new beginning, the adventure yet to come. For us, however, I am attempted to write “Hello again, world.”

This is not a start, but it is a new beginning. Years ago, when I (John Lyotier, the writer of this first blog entry) was working on a new project called ‘YO!’, my friend and then Creative Director, Joe Deobald, challenged me to document the journey. He said at the time, and I paraphrase, “You never know where the story may go. It may be really big, so sometimes it is good to create a journal of what got you to your destination.”

I promised him then, in that story, that I would document my thoughts and create a living log of the journey taken. After all, I love telling stories. And after ten years of creating my last adventure book, I am not done yet.

Adventure is out there
“Adventure is out there!” (From Pixar’s animation masterpiece, ‘UP!’)

I do not know yet where these posts will live. That is one of the first challenges in front of us: to create a brand that matches this audacious undertaking.
Who is us? We are the team behind Left Technologies, Left Travel, RightMesh, W3 Engineers, and a whole world of other brands. For ten years, we had built a home and company in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada and in Khulna, Bangladesh. Yes, these are two unlikely locations from which a company could be built, but that is essential to understanding that which we want to create and why.

To understand our new story, it is important to understand where we have come from. Ten years ago, in June of 2010, myself and my good friend, Chris Jensen, started up a company called Left of the Dot Media Inc. We did not know what we were going to be building at the time, but we knew that we wanted to build something of real and lasting value that made our mark and impacted our Community. It was called “Left of the Dot” because we were working on generic domain names and building out brands and companies that were left of the ‘dotcom’.

John Lyotier and Chris Jensen
John Lyotier and Chris Jensen in 2010, working out of Starbucks

Even before we knew what we were going to be building, we got together and created a shared list of ten core values. These values would be our ‘unwaverables’. They would be with us, and guide us, and offer us comfort in times of stress. These values were quickly summarized with our tagline, “We are Left. We do things Right.”

Over the next three years, the company grew. Our first employee was someone we had found online, Rakib Islam (then a stranger, now a friend). Rakib was a young and talented engineer who worked out of his home in Khulna, Bangladesh. Our second, was the aforementioned Joe, a talented designer with whom I had worked previously. Then we grew again, adding Ayesha, Rashid, Sabbir to our team in Bangladesh, and many more here in Canada. I mention the names because this team is with us still on this new adventure, building again something which we felt we had left uncompleted.

In those first few years, one of the brands we had developed out was Villa.com. Our initial goal was building out sub-brands “left of the dot”, so we had launched sub-domains off that original domain name. They became sites like “Tuscany.Villa.com” or “Orlando.Villa.com”. We never really got traction with this business model, but it exposed us to travel and alternative accommodations specifically.

The original mockup of our old Villa.com website, circa 2011.

Then, in the Spring of 2013, one thousand days into our journey and on the edge of insolvency, we sold Villa.com on behalf of the owner and used our share of the proceeds to fund the creation of a new subsidiary that we called Left Travel. The goal with Left Travel was to build a demand generation engine that connected travelers with places and accommodation options from those who had travel to sell. Think large OTAs with a lot of inventory that had an insatiable demand for high-intent travelers.

We used the domain names belonging to initial shareholders, be it RentByOwner.com, RentalHomes.com, BedroomVillas.com, or

Rent By Owner
An early version of the Rent By Owner homepage

Renters.com as our starting blocks. Our initial focus was on alternative accommodations as we saw these as the largest growth area and needed to meet the expected surge in international arrivals. For context, this was still in the early years of Airbnb and prior to Vrbo being a part of Expedia. Over the years, the domains changed, but our commitment to building a platform that connected travelers with travel sellers did not.

However, that initial spring was momentous for a different reason. It was also the year of our first trip to Bangladesh to meet our colleagues in person. Up to that time, all business was done remotely over Skype. I had never been anywhere like Bangladesh before, and this first experience changed me while transforming the company.

Opening of Bangladesh Office photo
Chris Jensen opening the office in Khulna, Bangladesh in 2013 while John, Ayesha, and Rashid look on.

I have said on other occasions that when we left the Vancouver Airport, we had a 7-person company. But when we had returned, we had grown to a team of 25. For it was on that first trip, that our team of 7 and Rakib’s team of 18 became one. Not economically or legally, we had already tied that knot with an interdependence of circumstance and choice, but with friendship and understanding. This is what travel does to you. It opens your eyes and hearts to new possibilities and new worlds. Hello world, indeed.

Over the next seven years, the company grew and transformed, never forgetting our roots or our values. “We are Left. We do things Right” was emblazoned on our front door. We built several different products (some successful, and some less so). We were recognized by industry peers for the culture we had created. This had included being two-time winners of each of the BC Tech Association’s TIA award for best Community Engagement balancing “Work, Life, and Play”; twice being recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers (and the smallest on the list); and twice honored by Deloitte’s Fast 50 as one of the fastest growing technology companies as measured by growth in revenue.

Tough Mudder team photo
The team celebrating our 2nd Tough Mudder completion, a different kind of win.

I raise these awards not to toot our own horn, but to highlight the dichotomy of how quickly success can turn to failure—to emphasize how quickly that which you hold close can disappear overnight. In the Spring of 2020, Left Technologies became victims of the pandemic.

We did not see it as first. I mean, we saw the physical signs. In February, I traveled through Hong Kong on the way back from Bangladesh and saw the airport was a ghost town. But our numbers masked the underlying seriousness. In February, we were up more than +90% YoY as the Left Travel growth engine was in full force, chugging along. By March, cancellations swept over the industry. By April, it was all-hands on deck in a fight for survival. In June, we filed for creditor protection. And in August, after more than ten years of love, sweat, and tears, the company had filed for bankruptcy. It was over.

However, if you are reading this, it means that I have found a home for these words. It means this time of rest and uncertainty has manifest into a new project we have started has taken root. In those final few months of Left, I communicated regularly with the team, telling stories from the years that had passed. I signed off on each post with the word, “Upwards”. We had gone ‘left’ and ‘right’, but the writing was on the wall that it was time for a new direction.

Left Technologies offices in Maple Ridge
After 10 years with Left, cheers to a new beginning.

So once again: Hello world. Cheers to a new beginning and to a new direction.



John Lyotier, Founder

  Note: This post was written in late August 2020 following the bankruptcy of Left Technologies, yet not published onto this site until August 2020.