This is a guest post by Victoria Revay, who works as an editor at NowPublic.com. NowPublic publishes crowdsourced news. The Vancouver-based company received last week $10 million funding from New York-based Rho Ventures — along with its Canadian affiliate, which is based in Montreal — as well as Canadian venture groups Brightspark and GrowthWorks Capital, both of which were early investors in NowPublic
Most of us associate Vancouver with its beauty, coffee shops and a casual West Coast lifestyle. However, as I came to find out in my research, Vancouver is currently the place to be for anyone wanting to be involved in a booming startup and tech scene. After interviewing many in British Columbia’s technology industry, there emerged a consensus of reasons why this is so. Primarily, it had to do with investor confidence. Next, many agreed that Vancouver offers unique educational programs that produces a talented pool of staff that is unrivaled anywhere else. Lastly, Vancouver is a desirable city to live in, not only because of it’s beauty, but also because of its proximity to Silicon Valley.
A key reason that was sited for Vancouver’s success as a city that fosters great startups, by people like David Raffa, a predominant VC in Vancouver and Jim Charlton of Growthworks was that investors get a high return on their dollar with a relatively low risk of failure. Raffa says that often companies in British Columbia can be built faster on less and operators can “run a leaner ship, because of tax incentives and lower salary demands.” This allows startups to have a chance of staying in the game longer, which often leads to investors getting a high return on their dollar. Chartlon of Growthworks also pointed out that in 2006, $43 million was invested in British Columbia based businesses, which not only displays investor confidence, but as well reinforces the success rates of local startups.
Entrepreneurs like Andre Charland of Nitobi, Dick Hardt of Sxip Identity, and Thierry Levasseur of Email2 would all agree that another reason Vancouver is a great place to start a tech company is because we have a unique mixture of schools in technology and arts that produce a pool of innovative, creative and educated graduates. Charland says schools like the Vancouver Film School, Emily Carr, BCIT, SFU and UBC all offer technology and engineering programs that “provide a great training ground for people with the skills to build great technologies.” Not only that, but the universities themselves spit out new technologies and this becomes a combination for a win-win scenario. Kris Krug of Bryght also mentions that there is a real bona fide feeling of community when it comes to the Vancouver Web 2.0 movement, which in his opinion contributes to the ongoing success tech startups enjoy. Krug says open-sourced social events like Democamp, Barcamp and Northern Voice help build the “geek tech identity” and strengthen this voice. He also says the super creative energy of that exact community fosters spaces like Workspace, which is what propels our city as “a pillar in the Web 2.0 movement.”
Lastly, Vancouver is constantly named one of the top cities to live for quality of life.(Monocle named it #15 in the world.) The air quality is great, we have some of the world’s most prime real estate in development, the arts and restaurant scene is thriving, the natural scenery is captivating and Whistler, host of the 2010 Olympic Games is only a few hours away. Naturally, the best of the best want to come live here. And being on the same time zone and in close proximity to Silicon Valley also helps.
Here are some of Vancouver HEADQUARTERS people are watching..
NowPublic.com was just named one of TIME’s 50 best websites of 2007 and the company also announced a $10.6 million round of financing early last week. Co-founder and CEO Leonard Brody’s vision of building the largest news organization in the world where anyone with a cell phone can make the news is fast becoming a reality.
Club Penguin is actually Kelowna based, but we’ll pool it with the Vancouver crew of cool startups. This virtual playground for kids was just acquired by Disney for $700 million. Lane Merrifield, Dave Krysko and Lance Priebe’s startup did well.
DabbleDB lets you crate and share a database and then build an application on top of it.
The platform is innovative, with a simple point-and-click interface.
Bryght builds online dynamic communities and interactive websites and best of all “Bryght sites are flexible, secure and search engine optimized out of the box.”
Plenty of Fish is the world’s largest online dating website that generates over “500,000 relationships a year. Markus Frind still runs the site out of his Vancouver apartment with no employees.
Email2 is a courier of email. Thierry Levasseur’s company delivers mall & medium sized businesses as a service, email2 seamlessly integrates with your existing email infrastructure.
Sxip Identity is Dick Hardt’s identity 2.0 that works on new identity models for the digital world.
ElasticPath is an ecommerce platform that maximizes sales with little time and effort. It also has the most powerful AJAX single screen check out available.
Vancouver’s startup technology scene is hot. Happy investors, talented staffers, superb educational institutions and a thriving “geek” community all help to foster ingenuity and a broad array of focuses in technology that could potentially make Vancouver one of Canada’s greatest startup city.
This finishes the cover about Vancouver startup scene. There was previously on Montreal Tech Watch a similar report about Ottawa