A talk with my advisor and an unexpected client

Had an interesting chat with one of our advisors today.

For those unaware, these days I spend most of my time working on an immigration tech startup, at visto.ai, which has been a lot of fun.

One of the many reasons I’m enjoying it is I get to work with great people, including a few awesome advisors.

And one of the many lessons I’ve learned over the last few years is just how valuable it is to have smarter, more experienced people in your corner to have somewhat regular chats with.

In my case, I speak to two of our advisors pretty reguarly, usually every two weeks. This consists of me sharing an update on how things are going with the business, then chatting about any current challenges, key questions we’re trying to answer or strategic decisions we’re trying to make.

I find it helps a lot, for a few reasons.

First, it’s a good exercise to explain the situation to someone who’s not working on the business everyday. Just sharing updates and challenges helps keep my thoughts organized, and sometimes even inspires new ideas.

Second, getting advice from people way further along in business than me is so valuable. My two key advisors have lots of experience – I’m talking decades each – in either tech or immigration, and sometimes they have quick, simple answers to questions I’d been struggling with for days!

Lastly, it’s great for accountability. When you’re trying to build a business, either as a solopreneur or with a small team, one of the hardest parts is staying consistent and motivated, day-in and day-out. Knowing you have people to talk to keeps you honest and accountable, because you better have some good, interesting or productive things to talk about during each call!

Just a few of the many reasons advisors and mentors are awesome – agree? Disagree?

One of the things we were talking about was that we recently secured a new client who wants to use our immigration tech in a way we never really expected – so we’re adjusting on the fly.

Here’s how it went down.

When we launched earlier in the year, our goal was to help companies bring tech workers into Canada by making immigration easy (using software). Most of our clients are Canadian startups who want to hire more engineers but it’s just too competitive for them here, or foreign companies – especially in the US – who are opening/growing offices in Canada because of how much cheaper it is here, and how much friendlier immigration is.

Anyway, we built and launched a platform that provides the immigration part, the full solution.

If you want to get a work permit for a tech worker so they can come to Canada, we’ve streamlined it all. Document prep, form-filling, e-signing, status updates, review and submission by our lawyers – everything.

Building that was an experience in-and-of-itself, and the first few months after launch were great. The product was/is working well, clients are happy, etc.

But then the summer hit, and the tech industry slowed down. We saw companies run out of money, big layoffs, hiring freezes and more. We’re still chugging along, but making some changes based on the new reality.

We also got into talks with one of our clients who wanted to hire their own lawyer in-house but continue to use our software.


After a few weeks of negotiating and discussing, we signed a deal last week!

An interesting sequence of events because:

  • we didn’t build it for other legal teams to use, but were open-minded to clients that were willing to pay for a slightly different version of our current tech
  • we had to do some decision-making around whether we wanted to have our engineers build out that functionality or not
  • it unlocks a new revenue stream
  • opens up a new target market of potential clients we can try to sell to

It’s also another example of how tech can be such a different business experience. You set out to build a product for one problem or type of client, but it can evolve and adjust in ways you never imagined.

The best you can do is expect the unexpected!

Hope you enjoyed this update, and if you want to follow along more closely, make sure to join my daily email list here.

Have a great day and keep grinding.

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