Matias Marquez

Matias Marquez

Founder and COO

AGE: 28

COMPANY: Buyatab Online Inc.

The story: Matias Marquez landed on his big idea while walking around SFU’s hilltop campus. He looked at the unused gift card in his wallet, observed everyone wandering around tapping on their smartphones, and put one and two together. “A gift card is just a card number,” he recalls thinking. “Why does the physical card have to cross the country if someone can just use it on their phone?” That idea became Buyatab: a platform that allows consumers to purchase digital gift cards from a merchant’s website or Facebook page. In launching a digital platform, Buyatab is finding success in a space once dominated by global companies such as Chase Paymentech, Moneris and Micros/Oracle: “We had the technology that the merchants really wanted.” For Marquez—the son of a Chilean immigrant father who launched his cleaning company with limited education and language skills—Buyatab was an opportunity that had to be seized. “If my dad can do this, with the challenges he had, what excuse do I have?”

Markers of success: Buyatab, which is privately held, is cash flow positive and has revenues “well into the eight figures”—with the majority of revenue and growth coming in the U.S. The company has 40 employees in Vancouver and works with clients that include Whole Foods, Tim Hortons and Fairmont Hotels.