The fastest growing Canadian startups are an intriguing group of companies. Their growth is in a wide range of industries from medical to social to identity theft protection. Although their products and services may be diverse, they have similarities in other ways, including a strong belief in their company mission and a dedication to success.
Whirlscape Inc. began as a University of Toronto incubated startup just over a year ago with a unique method for touchscreen typing. Their keyboard, Minuum, was a QWERTY keyboard like no other as it consisted of a single strip of letter rather than the common four row keyboard. Because it took up a fraction of the screen, many users found it worked better than the traditional keyboards. The keyboard also has potential for use with wearable technology such as Google Glass and motion-sensing technology such as Microsoft Kinect.
One of the largest communities for discovering and sharing stories, Wattpad owes its success to mobile as those are the consumers who are spending over three billion minutes per month on the platform. Statistics show that 85 percent of those accessing the site are on smartphones or tablets. According to Wattpad, starting up in Canada gave them access to a talented pool of artists and engineers which was the key to their rapid success.
Bionym may be the future of how people interact with the world around them. Their product, Nymi, is a wristband that uses the unique cardiac rhythm of the person wearing it in conjunction with other devices as an alternative to password or pin-based authentication. The developers say that the wristband may have benefits in retail or hospitality where customer preferences and history can be used as a form of identity.
Kik is a mobile chat application that has increased traffic by over two percent per week since it was launched. Their user base has grown to over 200 million and they have closed $70.5 million in funding. Their key to success has been to providing an app that is fast, simple and allows users to personalize the system. Kik has become one of the top ways for people to connect, one-on-one, through mobile devices.
Recon is a head-mounted, wearable device that is in direct competition with Google Glass. Recon Instruments has been developing athletic-friendly HUDs for snowboarders and skiers since 2008, but they hope to soon release a model for all athletes. The Snow2 model puts a magnified display in the periphery of snowboard goggles. The company has partnered with Oakley and Smith Optics to sell glasses with the device installed.
Wavo allows users to organize music into shareable playlists and to discover music through connections with friends. The company, which was founded in 2012, has seen an increase in traffic of 26 percent per week. The site works to connect artists, industry and music fans with the goal of supporting music and building a community of creative people. The site was developed by modern artists and offers musicians digital tools necessary to break out their songs faster and more efficiently.
Mojio is a small, internet connected device that plugs into the diagnostic port of a vehicle, making a "dumb car smart" as the website explains. The device monitors speed, direction, oil levels and more. In addition, it is able to operate even if the user does not own a smartphone, unlike other plug-in diagnostic devices. The company recently received $2.3 million in seed funding through Relay Ventures in order to develop Mojio for the mass market.
A smartphone app designed for physicians, Figure 1 allows healthcare professionals to share and comment on medical images. It has been called "Instagram for doctors," as medical professionals are able to view graphic photos related to medicine, such as surgically removed tumors and chests in the process of being opened by a surgeon. The company raised $2 million in seed funding early last year and they are hoping to release apps in Android version as well as a desktop application this year.
These are just a few of the startup companies in Canada that should be watched for growth over the next few years. Their innovation and focus are helping these young companies succeed.