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Small-business profile: VanHack

How a Canadian company is matching employers with top tech talent from around the world

Man sitting on chair smiling

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention, and that was certainly true for Ilya Brotzky when he founded VanHack in 2015. A few years earlier, while working at the corporate offices of a mining company in Brazil, Brotzky met numerous local developers and software engineers “who were really good at the tech side of things, but not so good at communication, especially in English.” They were interested in relocating to Canada and, when Brotzky moved back to Vancouver in 2014, many reached out to him for help doing so.

“I thought, `Hey, there’s a lot of demand here. Maybe I can start an English school for developers, where I teach them soft skills, help them with their résumés and how to do a job interview,’” Brotzky says. And as his roster of eager international tech talent started to grow, so did interest from Canadian companies looking for Brotzky’s help connecting them with the developers they needed. “I realized we actually had a recruiting company on our hands,” he says.

Today, VanHack boasts an online community of more than 180K international tech professionals – from developers to designers, data scientists and digital marketers – all willing and able to relocate to Canada and elsewhere. (Brotzky’s team verifies that all candidates have the necessary visas and paperwork for employment outside their home countries.) The site also features a comprehensive searchable database that allows prospective employers to connect with would-be employees, and vice-versa, and VanHack’s client list includes well-known brands such as BlackBerry, lululemon, and Shopify.

The global nature of his business means Brotzky also spends a lot of time abroad. “I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past two and a half years,” he says, counting locations such as Chile, Berlin, Portugal and Luxembourg among his many temporary homes during that time. But bouncing from country to country used to make staying in touch challenging. “Whenever I moved to a new country I’d have to get a new SIM,” he says. “I changed my phone number six or seven times – so much so that people would make jokes and send me screenshots of how many phone numbers they have for me, and then ask: which one is yours right now?”

He says signing up for a Rogers Share EverythingTM for business plan with Roam Like HomeTM helped solve all those problems, and has made working on the road worry-free when it comes to staying connected and using his data. “With Roam Like Home, I have my phone, always the same number and, no matter what, I always have data,” Brotzky explains. “I can just use my phone exactly as I do at home and I don’t have to worry about adding a special roaming package or paying exorbitant roaming rates. It’s made [doing business] a lot smoother and less of a headache when I travel.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, globe-trotter Brotzky says he wants to see VanHack expand further in the coming years, and has already set his sights on boosting the company’s presence in regions such as Asia, Australia and the United States. “Our goal is to be the world’s best tech-recruiting company,” he says. “To be the leader in helping technical professionals relocate globally, from anywhere to anywhere.”

Does your business take you on the road? Here are some tips on staying connected.