Meet Bobbie Racette, Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus.
2022 RBC Momentum Award Finalist
Bobbie Racette is the Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus and askBetty — two businesses that offer virtual help to busy professionals. An unstoppable force in the Canadian startup community, Bobbie acts as a mentor for eCommerce North and serves on the Board of the Telus Friendly Future Foundation. She’s also a member of The51’s Community Council and Calgary’s CORE Working Group, ensuring the voices of underrepresented folx are included at both local and national levels. She has been recognized as one of 50 Changemakers for 2021 by Report on Business magazine and Startup Canada’s Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year. Bobbie is a Cree-Metis woman who prides herself on building an inclusivity-first company, championing indigenous people and the LGBTQ+ community.
My first job ever was… I worked as a teacher’s assistant at Jean Vanier School in Regina, a school for disabled children, where I developed my passion for American Sign Language.
I decided to be an entrepreneur because… I faced barriers as a part of three marginalized groups: Indigenous, female and a member of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. My goal was, and always will be, to provide fairly paid work to underrepresented folx.
My proudest accomplishment is… I recently closed a Series A funding round, and I am proud to say I am the only Indigenous Woman in Tech in Canada to close one. We continue building the technology that will allow us to go global. Virtual Gurus now has a team of 40 employees (and growing) and over 650 virtual assistants.
My biggest setback was… When I was explaining the social impact in early pitches, investors: tried to get me not to sell VG as a company that hires marginalized folx; told me to hide my tattoos; and told me not to tell my story about why I started VG.
I overcame it by… I sat back and evaluated the type of investors I was pitching to and quickly realized I needed to start pitching to impact investors.
If you Googled me, you still wouldn’t know… That I love to drum and dream of one day teaching drumming to deaf folx.
When starting my business, I wish I knew… More about how to be a leader.
My best advice for people looking to grow their business is… Be prepared to learn. Google was my best friend. When I started Virtual Gurus, I had to learn everything on my own, including how to create financial documents, build technology and websites, hire, and ensure I had all the right licensing to have this type of business. Persistence, mixed with passion and a clear vision, is vital. Don’t be afraid to live your story.
A great leader is… someone who nurtures and inspires others to be leaders. A great leader knows how to take accountability, adapt, learn and grow while being vulnerable and open.
The future excites me because… I want Virtual Gurus to be THE place where virtual assistants want to work and where at least 65% of our talent identifies as underserved. This year, our goal is to hit $9-14MM in ARR (Annual Recurring revenue), which we are on track to hit. There’s so much more opportunity out there. Whether it’s expanding into new markets, bringing more efficiency into the business, or dreaming up new ways to create positive social impact.
Success to me means… I’m really proud of the opportunities we’re providing for underrepresented folx, and the more of them I see succeed, the more I feel I have achieved.