Canada: The New Silicon Valley?

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The rise of the digital age and rapid expansion of online markets means that startups are focusing on and profiting from continued growth in the tech industry. But don’t immediately assume that these well-known, globally competitive companies are all from the Silicon Valley—because they’re not. Read on to discover the top four tech startups from Canada that have made a big splash internationally.

HootSuite Media, Inc.

The rise of social media around the world has given all types of brands a new arena in which to interact, engage and sell to customers. But with a growing number of social media websites, online brand management becomes increasingly important—and often difficult to manage. Enter HootSuite, a Vancouver B.C.–based company that is essentially a social media communications dashboard used by brands such as Facebook, Martha Stewart, Zappos and Gap, in order to keep all their social media activities and account information in one, easy-to-use, web-based area. Hootsuite also offers the ability to track metrics and preschedule posts and tweets—an attractive and ready-made solution for socially active companies. CEO Ryan Holmes initially launched HootSuite in 2008 to fill a need at his own agency, Invoke Media, to manage multiple Twitter accounts. Now, just three years later, HootSuite’s award winning platform has over 2 million users worldwide.

Shopify

Shopify is an e-commerce platform which allows users to create online digital stores. It was founded in 2005 in Ottawa, Ontario, by Tobias Lutke and Scott Lake, after the two friends needed an online shopping cart for their new snowboard business. When they found no suitable choices, Lutke decided to write his own program and Shopify was born. Now, the platform hosts a growing list of over 15,000 stores for companies such as Amnesty International, Tesla Motors, and Angry Birds. Since its rapid startup success, Shopify has given back to the community by introducing contests for entrepreneurs, such as the 2010 Build a Business Competition that awarded the tidy sum of $100,000 to the newest online store on Shopify with the highest revenue in their first two months.

NVI

One of the fastest growing Internet marketing agencies in the world is based in Montreal, Quebec. NVI, founded in 2004 by a group of friends passionate about web technology, is currently the largest social media agency in the Canada. Cofounder Guillaume Bouchard was recently awarded “Canada’s Top Young Entrepreneur” at the Profit 200 CEO Summit and was the youngest person ever nominated for the award. NVI has worked with notable brands such as Google, Microsoft, Koodo, Club Med and Yellow Pages, and has recently added offices in Toronto and Vancouver in order to expand its client base across the border and overseas. 

Research In Motion Ltd.

Perhaps the most successful Canadian startup to date is Research In Motion (RIM), a telecommunications and wireless device company best known for developing the Blackberry smartphone. RIM was founded in 1984 in Waterloo, Ontario by Mike Lazaridis soon after dropping out of university. With the help of some seed money from family and a contract with General Motors Canada.,by the early 1990s, RIM was well on its way to becoming the multi-billion dollar company that exists today. Eventually moving from automation to telecommunications, the first Blackberry was actually a two-way pager based on RIM’s own wireless networking technology. As the system developed, models became more advanced and prices decreased. In 1999, the Blackberry email solution was developed, which has become the basis for today’s smartphone technology. 

Though Canada is often seen as the quiet and reserved neighbor to the U.S., still waters can run deep, as expressed by these four innovative companies that are making waves worldwide. There may be only one Silicon Valley in the U.S., but there’s always room for another—and Canada just might be in the running to become the next one.

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