Vancouver doesn’t immediately pop into mind when one thinks about the nation’s hot spots for the tech scene. California’s Silicon Valley, Seattle and increasingly Portland are more often the go-to cities.
But Allison “Allie” Magyar, the CEO of Hubb, an event management software company located at 4510 N.E. 68th Drive in the Cold Creek Industrial Park, is helping to put Vancouver more prominently on that map (although it doesn’t help when websites write that it’s in Portland and not Vancouver).
The business is “bursting at the seams,” Magyar said in an interview with the Columbian at Hubb’s modern offices, complete with a gym adorned with posters of ’90s boy bands like N’Sync and 98 Degrees (she said, with a laugh, that these are motivational for some of the female employees who grew up in that decade), as well as areas where employees can nap.
Hubb was named the Emerging Technology Company of the Year by the Technology Association of Oregon this month. Magyar is also a finalist for a competitive Entrepreneur of the Year Pacific Northwest award from EY (formerly Ernst & Young), a profitable London-based accounting network firm that provides various corporate business services. (The EY gala is June 15 in Seattle.)
For that award, she’s up against 21 other CEOs and founders around the Pacific Northwest, including another Vancouver CEO: Sean McClain of AbSci, a company involved in the biopharmaceutical industry, as well as Matt Thomas, the CEO of the popular drink company Brew Dr. Kombucha, based in Portland.
Hubb focuses on making it easier for companies to organize events. Its cloud-based software is used by businesses such as Seattle-based Microsoft, an early client. Magyar, a Clark County native and Columbia Adventist Academy graduate who now lives with her family in Ridgefield, helped start Hubb after becoming frustrated with dealing with old technology, such as fax machines, to do basic things such as register for events. It evolved out of another company called Dynamic Events, also housed at the location with Hubb.
Magyar, 38, has been focused on making Hubb an attractive place to work for young recruits by turning traditional work culture — that is, people sitting and staring at computers in cubicles — on its head, joining a seemingly growing trend in the tech start-up world. We’ve all heard how Google has slides in its offices. Hubb has one, too, as well as grocery delivery of healthy food to the offices for employees twice a week. On the wall was another award, “Healthy Employer of Oregon.”
The Columbian caught up with Magyar to talk about her approach to the business for this week’s Working in Clark County:
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
When I graduated (from high school), I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was a missionary for a year over in American Samoa. I came home, and I went to Clark College for a couple of quarters. During that process, I realized I always had a love for cars, since high school. I got heavily involved into that scene and ended up throwing a car show at Clark County Fairgrounds when I was 18 years old. I basically took my life savings, which was like $1,000, and rented out the fairgrounds. We ended up with like 3,000 people that came to this car show paying $15 (each). I looked at that and thought “OK, this can be a career.” I took all the money I made on that car show and re-invested and did two car shows the next year and then four car shows, then eight car shows, then 10 car shows. So from the time I was 18 to 24, I really cut my teeth on what it meant to produce car shows. From there, a friend of our family introduced me to a company called Dynamic Events that was up in Redmond. I went to work there in 2004. Dynamic Events at the time planned and managed events for Microsoft, so that was in my wheelhouse because I had managed events with car shows. I bought the business by February 2006.
Can you describe exactly what Hubb is?
Our product is traditional SaaS, which is software as a service, so anyone can login online on the web whether it’s your phone or your tablet or your computer, your PC, anywhere around the world. When you think about going to a trade show or event, you always look online to see who the speakers are and the sessions because you want to know if content is relevant for you to attend. You also look at sponsorship lists and say, “Are there any exhibitors there that I really want to go see who are relevant?” So what Hubb does, is we help collect all of that information. We help do a call for content or call for speakers so people can submit what they want to talk about. We help with the collaboration with the internal teams voting and accepting or declining all the content, to the speakers being able to upload their bio or make changes to their title and abstracts. Our software helps automate that entire process and collect it and help you market it so your website is always up to date, your registration has the right things to register for, and your mobile app has the right sessions.
You have a nontraditional office environment at Hubb. What do you see as the benefit of having this type of culture and workspace?
Well, I think the philosophy that we have is, you hear about “work-life balance” all the time. We don’t believe in it — we just believe there’s one life, and that you live it to its fullest. So if we can create an environment where employees can come be their full selves here, they’re going to enjoy waking up every day, they’re going to enjoy the environment they’re in, they’re going to live a more fulfilled life. We believe that every person here contributes to the success of the company because of who they uniquely are and what they can uniquely contribute. It’s our jobs as business leaders to create environments where people can thrive.
Who really inspired you to do what you do?
My dad had me building first aid kits when I was 8 years old. So, growing up I always saw his mentality. He’s a fabulous sales guy. He coached my basketball team, he was always there for me, but also very inspiring just as a business person. I feel very fortunate growing up learning what it meant to work hard and get satisfaction from that and get paid. I only got 5 cents for the first aid kit, but it’s just that rhythm to help you think about what you can really accomplish and achieve.
This article was updated to reflect the correct acronym for software as a service.