Aspire to Tech – Senior Director, Business Development at Boast.AI

Career Spotlight – Eric Grice

What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?   

My role at Boast.AI is in Business Development. I’m currently the Senior Director of Business Development and I oversee operations in Western Canada. I was the Director of Business Development for BC, but now, with our growth, I’ve taken over Western Canada – Manitoba to BC.  I am helping develop and grow the team so we can hit our growth targets.  I will be traveling back and forth between BC and Alberta often now that travel restrictions have been eased.

What makes your job interesting?

The most interesting part is that the companies we get to work with and what we do, are both super positive. In order to qualify for R&D tax credits, you have to be doing something innovative, something challenging, trying to push boundaries.  The companies and people that we work with are generally, entrepreneurs and, and tech companies that want to overcome some challenge that somebody else couldn’t overcome.  We help them by removing the not-so-fun process of applying for R&D funding and making it easy for them. It’s very positive.  That’s probably the most interesting. Interacting with these companies, getting to see the tech that they’re developing and seeing them grow as a result of the funding we helped them secure.

What makes your job the most fun?

It sounds cheesy, but it’s the people that I work with. We’ve got a really good group. Our CEO Alex is awesome – he’s very open and transparent.  Even though we’re remote, somehow, we’re able to have this great internal culture at Boast.AI.  We have been able to get through COVID relatively easily as a company because we were already working remotely, and we already heavily used tools like Zoom and Teams. Having absolute trust with everyone else is part of what makes it more fun.  Everyone’s on the same page. That is definitely fun for me.

What is the most challenging? How does your role help drive the company’s success?

It can be challenging to build trust with companies that have been doing it traditionally for a long time, or that have had a bad experiences with the R&D system. Sometimes what we tell them sounds too good to be true!  Boast.AI really does take a process that they found challenging, that takes them 80 hours and we say “how about you work with us for two to five hours? Oh, and we’re cheaper, better, and faster.” – It doesn’t sound like it should be real.  That’s challenging, getting people who have done it traditionally to shift their thinking. Many newer companies understand right away, but sometimes convincing more traditional companies to try something new and to step away from their comfort zone to do that is can be challenging, for sure.

In terms of company’s success, if my team and I don’t bring in new clients, then the company doesn’t grow, which is why our role is really important to keep the company growing.

What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?

A typical day for me is usually a combination of a lot of things.  The majority of my day is spent talking with new companies about R&D tax, talking about our process and how it works and how we can improve what they’re doing.  It is my responsibility to understand their needs, and make sure that there’s benefit there for them to go through the process. That’s 50% or 60% of my time. Then 30% to 40% on the sales side, building a pipeline, developing new campaigns, and working with the team to do that. But the majority of the time is, luckily, the fun part – getting to deal with actual companies.

Tell us about your career history.

I did everything – Bartending, I worked in factories, I did every job you can think of until I went to school for chemistry.  But I decided I didn’t want to be a chemist or a scientist, so I switched into International Management and had a chance to go overseas to Japan.  I worked for an IT provider there where we provided IT support, software setup, and hardware support for companies in Japan. That was my first experience.  From there I worked with accounting DRP software, I did security software and I worked in dental software for a long time, but it was all in companies that used software technology to make life easier or streamline, automate – like Boast.AI – with different technology, and it was always in business development.

Where might you go next? What motivates you for your future?

Right now, I don’t want to go anywhere. Boast.AI is super exciting with the growth that we are experiencing.  I love being part of that and directly helping to grow and sculpt this team.  We’re hiring several new team members in the coming months and pushing towards those growth goals. It’s hard work and it’s a lot of challenges and changes but it also can be really rewarding and enjoyable. If I did move, it would not be a bigger company because I enjoy the growth cycle.

In the future, I’ll 100% stay in tech. That’s been my whole career. There are too many positives in tech in terms of opportunities, and excitement, and all of those things that I like and keep me engaged day to day. I’m enjoying being able to share my experiences. I had a lot of good mentors over the years. Being able to do that more has been positive as well.

Any final words of advice?

For young people, just ask questions. Don’t be shy. There are no stupid questions, there really aren’t.  It’s better to speak up if you’re not sure. Ask if people want to share knowledge. It’s not a hidden thing and I think most people want to share their knowledge and experiences to inspire the next generation.