Founder spotlight

Being honest, letting go to run a flourishing startup.

Photo (L-R) Float co-founders, Rob Khazzam, Ruslan Nikolaev (BCS ‘20) and Griffin Keglevich

Ruslan Nikolaev (BCS ‘20) and Griffin Keglevich, co-founders of Float (Velocity ‘19), have an intrinsic drive to innovate. Learning the method to achieve their success came along the way. This includes what they learned at Velocity after joining in 2019 to work on a company related to computer vision before starting to work on the idea that would become Float.

“Three weeks in at Velocity we started being more honest with each other that we need to build a business that solves a customer problem, our original idea wasn’t going to work,” Nikolaev said.

Float is a full-suite corporate expense management software and expense card. The startup serves over 3,000 corporate clients who have up to 500 staff, helping finance teams save time and money. Their customers include notable brands like online bank Neo Financial and underwear retailer Knix.

Recognizing the need to balance building a business and a product, they recruited Rob Khazzam, the leader behind Uber’s launch in eastern Europe and former general manager of Uber Canada, who saw the company’s vision and potential as clearly as they did.

The startup has raised over $80 million.

Expense management is not a venture Nikolaev and Keglevich set out to build. Nor did they anticipate spending the first months at Velocity setting aside their technical acumen to spend time on customer discovery. But that is how Float was born.

Nikolaev and Keglevich met during their undergraduate studies at the University of Waterloo. They bonded through their similarities in thinking and work ethic, and explored the path of entrepreneurship through pitch competitions, hackathons and projects. They soon realized their passion to make a difference through entrepreneurship could only be partially satiated by competitions and positive collaboration.

They wanted to build a business.

“My impression of Velocity was that it is the place to go when you want to start a company,” Keglevich said. “Many have that idealism and cool ideas to work on, but a startup has to give tangible value to the world and that’s what we learned from Velocity. How to validate a problem, figure out how you’re actually going to solve it, and then solve it.”