“This is not just a loss for Ottawa’s tech sector; it is a loss for Canada.
Family and friends of Brad Rollo have described the founder of GoFor, an Ottawa-based renewable delivery startup, as smart and not afraid of risk. His wife, Melina Craig, recalled that when Rollo founded GoFor in 2016, he was the only employee.
“At first it was Brad, and he rented a little white van, and he did the deliveries himself,” Craig recalls. “He had this alias that he used because he didn’t want people to think it was so small, just him and his van. He always dreamed big, even from the very beginning.
John Bradley “Brad” Rollo died in his sleep from cancer on December 24, 2021. Rollo’s death sparked an outpouring of memories and tributes from his family and friends.
“He always had a zest for life,” Craig told BetaKit. “He was always looking for fun things to do and exciting things to do. I guess that’s part of being an entrepreneur.
“He was always grateful, kind, resourceful and focused on success.”
Craig called the response from family friends “incredible”. She said people were continually bringing food home and walking the family dog. “There are hundreds of people reaching out and helping us,” she said. “It’s so heartwarming. He was very much loved.
Nick Quain, vice president of business development at Invest Ottawa and one of Rollo’s friends, recalled going with Rollo one night to an angel presentation event. He had met with Rollow beforehand to tell him about Rollo’s cash flow issues, and said that Rollo showed up to the event just to work on his pitch and see what might come of it.
Much to Rollo’s surprise, he won the event and ended up with a check for $10,000. “Brad and I couldn’t stop laughing afterwards as he walked out with that big giant check,” Quain said. “Only Brad…”
Rollo, 52, was born March 2, 1969 in Ottawa. While he made a name for himself in the tech field, Rollo actually studied geography at Laurentian University. Craig said he was working on Geographic Information System mapping, which eventually led him to technology. But before becoming a tech entrepreneur, he ran his own construction company.
Rollo met Craig at a casual basketball game in 2003. Craig is an architect, and the two have joined forces and knocked down houses together. “There was always a business going on, whether it was in construction or a business idea,” Craig said. “He had other tech-related ideas in the past, but GoFor was the one where everything clicked.”
GoFor calls itself a revolving delivery service that offers small businesses outsourced truck fleets and web-based scheduling solutions. Large companies can complement and scale their own existing fleets and connect to GoFor’s logistics system.
A tribute to Rollo on GoFor’s website said the startup was founded on a dream and a cocktail napkin, “literally.” The tribute recounts how, when Rollo was working as a contractor in the construction industry, he experienced slow and incomplete deliveries to the job site. “It led to the idea that was written on a cocktail napkin and the creation that took place in what we know today as GoFor,” reads the tribute.
Quain recounted how, at the start of GoFor, Rollo made the decision to rent space at a time when the company had no money, signing a long-term lease that gave him six months free for a huge space. warehouse style. Rollo quickly sublet half the space to another tech startup to provide immediate cash flow over the six months.
At the start of GoFor, Rollo traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018 to test out the US market. That was long before GoFor’s Canadian model had proven itself, Quain said. “But he knew it was a different market and the US was important, so he spent time there to position the business later for US growth and to understand their market dynamics,” Quain recounted.
GoFor won the AccelerateOTT Pitchfest, receiving $500,000 in 2019 from the pitch competition which aims to address key opportunities and challenges facing the startup and scale-up community.
GoFor was founded on a dream and a cocktail napkin, “literally”.
The startup raised a C$9.8 million seed round in 2020, and later that year raised a C$20 million Series A round to continue its expansion in the United States.
“GoFor bears the imprint of Brad’s passion, enthusiasm and creativity in creating it all from a simple idea conceived so long ago,” reads GoFor’s tribute to Rollo. “Brad’s infectious energy has inspired so many over the years and will always live on in the company he helped create.”
Tech entrepreneur, investor and Millions.co co-founder Adrian Salamunovic recalled he first met Rollo for what was supposed to be a quick coffee when Rollo was first launching GoFor at Invest Ottawa in 2017.
“At the time, I was an adviser for several companies and he wanted to have my opinion,” recalls Salamunovic. “I was impressed with the idea and that Brad was ‘scratching himself’ as someone who had been in the construction industry and was solving a very real problem. I remember how determined and passionate he was.
Salamunovic told BetaKit that he helped Rollo increase his head circumference. “He was always grateful, kind, resourceful and focused on success,” Salamunovic said. “It doesn’t feel real to me that we lost him. Brad created a business whose legacy will be around for a long time. He was a disruptor and to me embodied everything that makes a great entrepreneur. It’s not just a loss to Ottawa’s tech sector; it’s a loss to Canada and he will be missed.
Outside of work, Rollo enjoyed playing basketball and had a flair for the ultimate Frisbee. He excelled in the latter sport, playing for the Canadian senior men’s team, which won a championship in Halifax.
Rollo loved to travel. Before meeting Craig, he had spent six months in Southeast Asia, and he and Craig both traveled to Europe and South America. Craig said after Rollo was diagnosed last year, they took their children, drove across the country and spent eight months in British Columbia. Craig said exploring other countries was one of the things that made him happy.
“He loved his little boys more than anything,” Craig said.
Rollo is survived by Craig, their sons Declan and Kieran, his sister Lindsey Rollo and their father Ron Rollo.