girl reading book on grass

OUR STORY

A Look Under the Hood

Learn about the origin, purpose, mission, vision, values and team

Our Story

photo of Skai and Joe as kids

1988 — Old Pals

The founders of Guusto, Skai and Joe, grew up together in a small town just North of Toronto. They both went to the University of Western Ontario, where Joe studied Psychology and Sociology, while Skai studied Engineering and Business. After graduating, they both travelled the world for a few years before landing back home in the middle of the global financial crisis.

photo of Skai and Joe drinking wine

2008 — Our First Venture

With no one hiring at that time, and $5000 in the bank, we figured it was worth a shot trying to start a company. We flew to Whistler, stayed on a friend’s couch, and started a Dining Tour (think high end pub crawl with food and wine). We were able to grow the business locally, but without strong relationships with restaurants in other cities, it was not easy to expand.

Photo of Skai

2012 — Seed for Guusto

Being in restaurants every night, we noticed they would often get calls from people requesting to send a drink to a friend for some celebration, or a client to show appreciation. However, the staff would often refuse to take credit cards over the phone. Aha! There should be an app for this!

photo of Skai, Joe, and the first Guuto Developer

2013 — Getting Launched

We took all our savings and hired an agency to build Guusto as a consumer app that allowed you to send a drink to friends or clients. It took 6 months, but we eventually got the technology working, a handful of partner restaurants, and some early customers. This proof of concept allowed us to raise a small amount from friends and family to hire our first developer.

One Drop Logo

2014 — Building in Purpose

We made a lot of mistakes in those early days, but one thing we did get right, was building purpose into the core of the company. We partnered with the One Drop Foundation, an initiative by Guy Laliberte (founder of Cirque du Soleil), to donate 1 day of clean drinking water for every gift sent. Our business has changed dramatically over the years, but this purpose, this “Why”, has been a consistent motivation to really show up everyday and make a positive impact in the world.

Skai & Joe at the Den

2015 — Entering the Den

We took our pitch to Dragon's Den. It was a wild experience, as they were grilling us for well over an hour. The live demo of the product went smoothly, but the Dragons were concerned that we weren’t growing our app users by mandating app downloads to redeem gifts. We challenged them on this point, as many people would just never send gifts in the first place. In the end, we left with no deal, and were running out of cash fast. 😬

Joe talking at tradeshow

2016 — First to Raise Equity Crowdfunding

Shortly after, we started seeing a few HR people using the app to regularly send gifts to employees. Serendipitously, the investment regulations changed, allowing us to offer our early adopters the chance to own shares in Guusto. We went on to become the first company in Canada to close a round of equity crowdfunding. With some cash in the bank and an army of brand champions behind us, we were off to the races… or so we thought.

Skai & Head Down

2017 — Long Slog

We started working closely with HR Leaders to build more robust employee recognition tools. We focused all our energy on customers and solving their problems. The business began to grow, but it was slow going, and we nearly ran out of money several times over the next few years. We were up against competitors that had raised millions of dollars and always seemed to be a step ahead. There were plenty of days where we wanted to throw in the towel, but then everything changed...

Guusto Team

2019 — Ironic Epiphany

When researching what customers were saying about us online, we came across a 1-star review on our Glassdoor profile. This was the moment we realized that if we wanted to really succeed, we first had to build an amazing culture where people loved to work. The irony was that we were selling employee recognition tools, but not using them internally. So, we switched to focusing on our people first, recognizing them consistently for demonstrating core values, and intentionally shaping a great culture.

Guusto team

2020 — The Transformation

This new focus on building our team and culture completely transformed our business. Employees started delivering amazing results, we attracted superstars to join us, and things really took off. In less than a year, Guusto skyrocketed to the #1 Highest Rated Recognition Platform on G2 and grew over 250%. We learned the hard way, but now fully understand what separates great companies from the pack: you can’t leave culture to chance!

Read more about our story in our blog

WHY

Purpose

Create amazing workplace cultures, so people get to love where they work. Provide access to clean water to those in need.

HOW

Mission

Help HR Leaders build employee recognition programs that make it easy to consistently recognize great work and transform culture. Donate 1 day of clean drinking water for every gift sent.

WHAT

Vision

A world where the vast majority of people get to work at places with amazing culture, where they feel appreciated, connected and inspired. A world where everyone has access to clean water.

Our Guiding Core Values

We hire, review performance, and recognize employees (using our own software to send Guusto gifts) based on these core values.

LISTEN: We seek to deeply understand customer problems and desires.

They are why we exist! We embrace feedback from colleagues as a valuable opportunity to improve and get to the best ideas, but we do not need consensus to make decisions. We contribute to an inclusive and equitable culture and respect diverse opinions.

LEARN: We practice radical curiosity.

We aren’t afraid to voice problems and ask questions. We seek wisdom through books, podcasts, courses and mentors. We further our learning by testing new ideas to see what actually works. We’re eager to collaborate with colleagues and customers to find creative solutions.

LEAD: We take initiative and own projects.

We make decisions and commit. We choose to focus on results rather than work completed, and are accountable for successes and failures. We care about colleagues and recognize their contributions, but aren’t afraid to deliver constructive feedback to help them grow.

LEAP: We push to get a little better everyday.

We focus on opportunities over problems. We set ambitious goals and strive for high standards with everything we do. At the same time, we stay scrappy by trying to do more with less. We aren’t afraid to take risks, knowing that failures lead to innovation.

Meet the Team

headshot of Aarathy Premnath

Aarathy Premnath

Web Developer

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headshot of Abbas Kherodawala

Abbas Kherodawala

Product Manager

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headshot of Alan Mendes

Alan Mendes

Senior Web Developer

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headshot of Cameron Waind

Cameron Waind

Associate Product Manager

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headshot of Camille Cabuniag

Camille Cabuniag

Marketing & Client Collaborator

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headshot of Ciaran Fontein

Ciaran Fontein

Mobile React Native Developer

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headshot of Conor Moloney

Conor Moloney

Content Marketing Specialist

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headshot of Deborah Komkov

Deborah Komkov

Marketing Specialist

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headshot of Ellie

Ellie

Office Therapist

headshot of Denzel Tjokroardi

Denzel Tjokroardi

Junior Web Developer

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headshot of Emma Wang

Emma Wang

Customer Success Manager

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headshot of Felipe Santos da Rocha

Felipe Santos da Rocha

Lead Web Developer

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headshot of Gurleen Kaur

Gurleen Kaur

Accounting Manager

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headshot of Jenna MacLean

Jason Tong

Head of IT and Security

headshot of Jenna MacLean

Jenna MacLean

Account Manager

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headshot of Joe Facciolo

Joe Facciolo

Founder and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer

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headshot of Julia Fulton

Julia Fulton

People & Culture Coordinator

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headshot of Kaeleigh Grant

Kaeleigh Grant

Marketing Communications Coordinator

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headshot of Kerem Camur

Kerem Camur

Customer Success & Marketing

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headshot of Kevin Burnside

Kevin Burnside

Software Developer

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headshot of Kevin Fernando

Kevin Chao

BDR Team Lead

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headshot of Kevin Fernando

Kevin Fernando

Head of Growth Marketing

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headshot of Kevin Huang

Kevin Huang

Junior Web Developer

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headshot of Kwesi Thomas

Kwesi Thomas

Customer Success Advisor

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headshot of Luc Guetre

Luc Guetre

Customer Success & Marketing

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headshot of Manesh Sandhu

Manesh Sandhu

Client Collaborator

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headshot of Maya Fernandes

Maya Fernandes

Client Collaborator

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headshot of Michelle Swolfs

Michelle Swolfs

Product Designer & Web Developer

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headshot of Mikaela Lane

Mikaela Lane

Senior Financial Controller

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headshot of Naseema Kaudeer

Naseema Kaudeer

QA Lead

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headshot of Nathan Lew

Nathan Lew

Marketing & Design Specialist

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headshot of Niloufer Gill

Niloufer Gill

Marketing Specialist

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headshot of Noah Reid

Noah Reid

Customer Success

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headshot of Noah Warder

Noah Warder

Head of People

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headshot of Paulo Moreira

Paulo Moreira

Senior Web Developer

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headshot of Pedraum Safarzadeh

Pedraum Safarzadeh

Frontend Developer

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headshot of Sam Goldwax

Sam Goldwax

Junior Web Developer

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headshot of Sam Kim

Sam Kim

Junior Web Developer

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headshot of Sarah Tong

Sarah Tong

Senior Product Designer & Web Developer

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headshot of Shannon Donegani

Shannon Donegani

Director of Client Collaboration

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headshot of Sharla Wasilinchuk

Sharla Wasilinchuk

Director of Client Collaboration

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headshot of Skai Dalziel

Skai Dalziel

Founder and Chief Product and Client Success Officer

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headshot of Steven Zhu

Steven Zhu

Web Developer

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headshot of Suhkdeep Singh

Sukhdeep Singh

Customer Support Representative

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headshot of Tahir Nathani

Tahir Nathani

Associate Product Manager

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headshot of Zsofia Slamani

Zsofia Slamani

Client Collaborator

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Learn more about the culture and careers at Guusto