In 2009, driven by a massive property bubble, the previously buoyant Irish economy collapsed. The International Monetary Fund stepped in to ‘bail out’ a government that was forced to borrow heavily and recapitalize a banking sector in crisis. Irish people turned to their reflex action in times of crisis – emigration.
Lending a Helping Hand
At one point, an Irish person was leaving the country to move abroad every six minutes. Having already established himself in Vancouver’s finance industry, Irish native Ruairi Spillane saw an opportunity to help. He founded Moving2Canada.com to provide a support network for the burgeoning Irish diaspora who were traveling to Canada in search of a brighter future.
“I was keen to find a business idea that would solve a real problem and provide an innovative solution,” Ruairi explained.
“The onset of the global financial crisis soon after my move to Canada made me question my career choice in finance, but also opened me up to queries from would-be Irish emigrants, which helped shape my business idea.
“The Irish economy had collapsed spectacularly. Irish people again had to look overseas for economic opportunity. I found myself fielding lots of questions from friends of friends who heard I was living in Canada and wanted to learn more about moving here.
“When I looked at the market, there was no one-stop-shop for planning your move to Canada. Lots of firms were monetizing basic immigration and settlement information, which I felt should be freely available. Immigration Canada speaks a complex language and though immigration professionals can simplify this language, they are focused on generating 1-to-1 consulting opportunities. At this point, I had the motivation and inspiration I needed to set up Moving2Canada.com.”
Moving to another country is a process that’s rife with pitfalls. Emigrants need to quickly adapt to the many facets of day-to-day life in their new home; without the support network they’ve leaned on their entire life. Unfortunately, finding the advice you need online is akin to navigating a minefield. Moving2Canada.com immediately became the go-to resource for these individuals, cutting through the noise thanks to a completely unique selling point in the world of immigration advice – It’s free.
“The Moving2Canada business model is based on a community-first approach,” says Ruairi.
“I didn’t want to become just another gatekeeper of information. Instead, I wanted to open the gate and ensure that Moving2Canada could be used by people from all over the world. I decided to study the needs of would-be immigrants and new arrivals and focus the commercial model around creating partnerships with products and services that could add value to our audience.
“We offer job postings, a Getting Started Guide, and articles covering every step of the journey. On social media, thousands of people offer advice and support to one another in Moving2Canada’s discussion forums. Remembering the uncertainty and excitement of our own move to Canada, we get what it takes to make a successful transition from abroad, and we have created a support network that offers advice to the new-to-Canada segment. And the great thing is it’s all free.”
Giving Back to the Next Generation
Ruairi quickly took to Vancouver’s bustling entrepreneurial scene. In a province where 98 per cent of business is small business, Ruairi has demonstrated the skills and aptitude to excel. So, what advice would he offer to those following in his footsteps?
“Entrepreneurship is like gambling; we often talk about the wins and hide our losses,” he explained.
“We focus on the positives, but people think of Jeff Bezos and fail to realize the hardship behind every successful entrepreneurship story. It’s not glamorous and you must enjoy the hustle to succeed.
“Focus on solving a real problem and less on making money. If you solve a problem you are passionate about, you will find a way to make money out of it. Too many businesses are focused on commercializing their idea too quickly without addressing their customer’s problems.”
On February 21, at a packed Vancouver Convention Centre, Ruairi’s efforts were recognized as he was awarded Best Immigrant Entrepreneur at the 16th Annual Small Business BC Awards. Rather than using it as an opportunity to rest on their laurels, Ruairi and his team see it as just another milestone in their effort to become a global resource.
“Winning the Best Immigrant Entrepreneur Award provides my team with the recognition they deserve and drives us towards mastery in promoting Canada as a great place to live and work,” Ruairi says.
“It is also a strong signal to our community that their efforts matter. That immigrants supporting immigrants is recognized in Canada, and that paying it down keeps paying off. The award is an acknowledgement of our company values as a basis for a successful business and further endorsement of our community-first approach to our partners.
“Our vision is to be the leading resource for global mobility focusing on all major destinations for immigrants around the world.
“We are looking to grow our business in Canada and Ireland — we recently launched our award-winning concept in Ireland with Moving2Ireland.com — and expand to new regions.”