Drew Bradstock knows all about downtown Kitchener’s tech ecosystem.
The former Google employee returned to his old stomping ground last week to officially open the engineering department of his new employer — Index Exchange — at 305 King St. W in Kitchener. A total of 18 engineers have office space in the office building.
The Canadian company, which has offices in Toronto, New York, London, England, and other parts of the world, chose downtown Kitchener for two main reasons.
“One, the level of talent in Kitchener, thanks to the University of Waterloo, is incredible,” said Bradstock, who is Index Exchange’s senior vice president of product. “Two, it’s the investment that has been made in the downtown community. It has made this an attractive place for tech firms to stay. This is a place where people want to live.”
Index Exchange sells advertising directly from publishers to advertisers using a real-time auction system. That guarantees the publisher, which includes major national newspapers like the Globe and Mail, Rogers, Bell the best possible price.
“It’s like an auction for every single spot on the page,” said Bradstock.
With the addition of LRT and the city’s willingness to clean up downtown Kitchener, Bradstock only expects the area to become more attractive to different tech firms.
“It has really improved, so people actually want to live downtown and they can walk to work,” he said. “It wasn’t always like that.”
Another part of the city’s success, Bradstock said, is the City of Kitchener’s cutting of red tape. He said, compared to a centre like Toronto, it’s much easier to set up shop here.
While he was complimentary of the changes to infrastructure connecting Kitchener and Toronto, dubbed the Innovation Corridor, he said one thing is still missing.
“The big key that is missing is expanded GO Train service,” said Bradstock.
Mayuran Yogarajah, Index Exchange’s senior vice president of engineering, the company’s second employee, is excited that the new office is now open.
“Back in 2014, we started looking at places in Kitchener,” said Yogarajah. “We knew there was a great tech scene there and a great tech hub. Being able to get into that market was a big differentiator for us.”