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Virtual Gurus: Meet Bobbie Racette, the First Indigenous Woman to Close Series A


The Story Exchange | Corinne Lestch | July 19, 2022

Bobbie Racette was once the hesitant face of Virtual Gurus, the Canadian tech company she started, but she has since embraced her identity.

For tech startup founder Bobbie Racette, being the first to do something runs in her Cree-Métis blood. Her mother was the first woman carpenter in Saskatchewan, a Canadian province home to First Nations peoples.

Racette is the first Indigenous woman to close a Series A funding round of $8.4 million for her company, Virtual Gurus, which pairs staffers with companies that want to outsource bookkeeping and other administrative tasks.

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She has brought the company to a $40 million valuation since she launched in 2016 with $300 and a splash page. “Somebody’s got to lead the way, and somebody has got to be the first,” said Racette, who also identifies as LGBT.

“Society says, ‘You have to be somebody else when you’re starting a business, or hide your tattoos. Don’t tell people you’re gay,’” she added. “It’s just like, no, man, be you.”

Currently, there are about 900 “virtual assistants” working for Virtual Gurus, but they are real people working remotely — Racette makes sure to prioritize hiring members of historically underrepresented groups, including single moms, veterans and people with disabilities. “We try to bring on people who have often been told, ‘No,’” she said.

The company doesn’t force anyone to self-identify, but many organizations seek out Virtual Gurus expressly for that purpose.

“We’ve had, for example, Black Lives Matter in New York City come to us and [say they] only want Black virtual assistants,” Racette said. “We’re doing that because we understand that diversity angle.”

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Companies can select a subscription model based on how much help they need, and Racette is building out a machine learning component that aims to create the best possible matches between workers and clients. She has also hired 40 full-time staff and plans on bringing on 1,500 more virtual assistants by the end of the year.

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