Garrick Tiplady, the Managing Director of Facebook and Instagram Canada sat down with us to talk about his responsibilities and challenges in his role, the initiatives he put in place so far and how Facebook and Instagram can help entrepreneurs scale their businesses.
Garrick Tiplady is the Managing Director of Facebook Canada where he is responsible for leading and managing all of Facebook and Instagram’s commercial operations in Canada. Previously he was the CEO of Vemba Corporation, an enterprise platform for premium video distribution. Prior to that, Garrick was the SVP of Customer Experience at Rogers Communications. While at Rogers, he also served as the SVP Strategy and SVP Chat’r Wireless. Before joining Rogers, he was a Principal at the Boston Consulting group within the Technology and Communications Practice. Garrick serves on the Board of ThePowerPlant and Advisory Board of RightToPlay. He received an M.B.A from the Richard Ivy Business School and a B.Sc. in Physiology from McGill University.
Today, Facebook launched its Small Business Grants Program in Canada. What was the inspiration behind the launch of this program?
COVID-19 is not just a public health crisis – it’s also the biggest economic shock we’ve felt in our lifetimes. As people are being told to stay home, businesses are having a hard time staying open, causing broader ripple effects from job loss to a significant toll on our mental health.
Small businesses in particular, who are the backbone of the Canadian economy and the heart of our local communities, are some of the hardest hit. In Canada, nearly one third of small businesses are unsure if they will be able to re-open, while a little over half of the small businesses think they won’t be able to operate longer than 90 days without a source of revenue. We’ve heard loud and clear from small businesses that financial support will go a long way.
What can you tell us about the program and how it will help entrepreneurs during these challenging times?
In March, Facebook announced $100 million in grants for up to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries to support those hard-hit by the economic slowdown that the coronavirus pandemic is causing. In Canada, we will provide nearly $3.5 million in cash and ad credits to approximately 650 businesses in Toronto, Ottawa-Gatineau, Montreal and Vancouver.
Between May 26 and June 2, business owners in eligible cities can apply for a grant of more than $5,000 of cash and ad credits. We hope this will be a critical injection to help local small businesses who need it most, so they can keep the lights on.
Additionally, we are offering virtual trainings, support groups and new products to help businesses adapt. Starting this June, Facebook Canada will run a free three-part virtual training series in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, which will be made available on their Canadian Business Resilience Network website. Small business owners can also join the Boost with Facebook Canada group to access peer and expert advice and check out Facebook’s Business Resource Hub, which contains advice and information to help businesses during the crisis, as well as virtual trainings and resources.
What strategies are used to see which small businesses are eligible for the grant program? What aspects and criteria are considered?
We want to make sure we get this right. In Canada, this meant taking time to find the right partners, like various local Chambers of Commerce and small business experts for on-the-ground insights and expertise to ensure the needs of local businesses are met.
In terms of eligibility, we focused on four key criteria. Applicants must be a for-profit company, have between 2 and 50 employees, have been in business for over a year, and have experienced challenges from COVID-19. The small businesses must also be located in one of the eligible cities where Facebook has offices: Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa-Gatineau.
On their application, businesses will be asked to share a write-up of their business so we can get to know them, and what they would do with the grant. They’ll also need Tax ID and proof of incorporation. Businesses do not need to be on Facebook to apply.
Aside from the Small Business Grants Program, what are some of the other ways that Facebook and Instagram Canada are helping Canadian SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Right now we are focused on three key areas where we think we can support. The first is offering more personalized training programs. Our three-part virtual training series in partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce will be starting in June. While businesses can also join our Boost with Facebook Canada group and check out Facebook’s Business Resource Hub, which contains advice and information to help businesses during the crisis, as well as virtual trainings and resources.
The second is launching new tools to make it easier for people to support the local businesses they love. These tools include personal fundraisers for businesses so business owners can ask their loyal customers for support; gift cards and food orders so customers can tap stickers on Instagram to make a purchase through our partners’ site; and, “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram so people can give a shout out to their favourite businesses.
Third, because we know that entrepreneurialism comes to life in many forms and all industries are feeling the impact of COVID-19, we have set up relief efforts for Canadian performers and publishers. In March we launched #CanadaPerforms in partnership with the National Arts Centre to provide much-needed financial relief for performing artists across Canada whose livelihoods were directly impacted by the closure of performance venues. For local news publishers, we launched a grant program offering a total of $2 million in grants to support Canadian and US local news organizations. 81 Canadian publishers have received grants to cover unexpected costs associated with reporting on the crisis in their communities.
Many small businesses are offering promotions and discounts to encourage consumers to purchase from them. What advice can you give to entrepreneurs that can help them during these challenging times?
Look to your community to help bridge any gaps and for sources of inspiration. In times of crisis, we really see who the heroes are in our communities. I had the opportunity to chat with Augustina Valenza, the founder of Fragola, a baby food delivery business. When this crisis began to unfold, she saw families struggling financially because of job losses due to COVID-19 and she created a program to help. On Instagram, people can now donate for gift cards or pay for direct delivery of baby food for families in need. Augustina was able to send baby food to thousands of families across Canada.
Augustina’s creativity and commitment to help is not only inspiring, but this shift also made her business more resilient. I think we’re seeing brands that take these risks to help their communities are paying off and people are going to remember the brands that stepped up and offered support during this crisis.
What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed within Facebook users since the COVID-19 breakout?
The use of messaging services has exploded since the start of the crisis. As more people practise social distancing, they are turning to services like ours to stay connected with friends, loved ones and colleagues. For instance, group calls on Messenger and WhatsApp have more than doubled. We’re seeing businesses use our services to stay connected with their customers – whether that’s communicating with them directly through messaging services, sharing their products/services on their feed/stories, or keeping their community updated on their offerings in real-time.
With this unprecedented spike in usage, we are doing everything we can to keep our platforms stable and reliable. For the people using our messaging apps, as well as the people using our feed and stories products to stay updated with their communities and connected with their customers online. We are also building new features and tools to offer support where people need it most right now. In addition to our tools and resources for small businesses, we launched a Coronavirus Information Centre on Facebook to help people find information and tips, features like Messenger Rooms to make it easier for people to have video calls even without a Facebook account, and programs like #Graduation2020 to celebrate special moments.
On a final note, what can you tell us about any future projects or initiatives that Facebook has planned that can be beneficial for small business owners?
I personally believe that every single industry will be impacted in some way, forcing every company to think differently. For many businesses their transition to digital has accelerated almost overnight. This is where the future of commerce was already heading, but it’s particularly relevant now. People already buy and sell on Facebook and Instagram, but we recently announced a new way for businesses to do business – it’s called Facebook Shops.
With Facebook Shops every business – whether that’s a major global brand, a local retailer, or someone selling handmade jewelry out of their living room, has the ability to set up a virtual storefront for free. We’re also working with partners like Shopify to help small businesses build and grow their shops on Facebook and use our other commerce tools.
This is a forward-looking vision and it’s going to take some time to roll out, but our general feeling is that shopping online should be more like shopping in a physical store – and business can now make that happen, at the time when they and their customers most need it. We’ll continue to work with our partners and listen to small businesses to understand how best we can support them in recovery.