Edsby: Build a Winning Product by Building a Winning Team

“We’re putting the band back together.” CoreFour was named the winner of Backbone magazine’s 2013 Innovation Campaign in May. The formation of the company was a little like the reunion of a band epitomized by The Blues Brothers. The four founders, all employees of Nortel Networks in the ’80s, have been working together on and off for 28 years. And two members of the company are even brothers.

Their previous start-up, FirstClass, went from a garage to being publically traded on the TSX as Centrinity, before being sold to OpenText in 2002. Their latest endeavour is the award-winning Edsby, cloud-based education software which uses secure social networking and class and student management to help schools, teachers and parents communicate better.

In any great band, everyone must expertly play their instruments, and the founders of CoreFour are no different, said John Myers, president of CoreFour (and “Edsby Wingman”).

“We each know what our strengths are and the areas that we’re focused on, so we don’t tend to second guess each other,” he said. Brothers Steven and Jon Asbury are responsible for the product from a technical perspective, one on the engineering side and the other on the design. “It’s interesting how their focus has changed or sharpened over the years. Steve handles all the hard engineering, while John worries about the user experience. It’s brilliant how they work together.”

H.E. Scott Welch (“Scott”) has “a reputation as one of the best product evangelists around.” Myers—past CEO of Centrinity, and general manager at Nortel and Open Text—calls himself a generalist.

A strong team is fundamental to a start-up, and this dynamic team of founders is a significant advantage for Edsby. With past entrepreneurial successes under his belt, Myers knows what many other start-ups face through mentoring at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto or the Ryerson DMZ.

“So many start-ups talk about the challenge of finding someone on the business side, or on the technical side, and ask, ‘how do I find a partner?’” Myers said. “We have the luxury of having the four key roles filled, when typically you’re lucky to have more than one.”

And, by the way, they do actually play instruments, and Centrinity meetings would sometimes be broken up by performances backed by Jon’s “expert” guitar skills and Scott’s vocal work. Backbone will follow this band of entrepreneurs and their latest release—Edbsy—over the next year in this blog and in print.

[Originally published by Backbone Magazine here.]

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