Twice in the past month, I have had the privilege of exploring and experiencing Eastern Canada's fast-developing startup ecosystem.
In Toronto, where I went in June to host a breakfast to expand my syndicate, Gaingels, to the city, a host of strong accelerators and funds have begun to develop an exciting new hotbed. To cite just one example, the DMZ accelerator at Ryerson University in central Toronto hosts several dozen startups, several of which have already raised follow on funding from both Canadian and international investors.
Eastern Canada is particularly strong in e-commerce and premium manufacturing startups, where unicorn startups like Wealthsimple, Shopify, and Hootsuite have already established Canada's brand in the sector, and new startups, such as Toronto's Le Daveed, which manufactures tech and fashion forward premium leather products, are building on a mixture of local pride and talent to fuel their growth.
"I was just on a support chat with Shopify (also based in Canada), and the staff wrote me a personal note thanking me for my kindness and patience - and ended it with 'Canadians FTW.' There's a palpable entrepreneurial pride here right now, and we're proud to be one of the eCommerce success stories emerging from this country," said Andrew Dale, founder of Le Daveed.
In Montreal, where I just spent several days at Startupfest and hosting another event for my Gaingels syndicate, the startup scene is a bit earlier in its development, but no less exciting. Thousands of entrepreneurs and investors filled Startupfest, and myself, Chris Arsenault from iNovia, Lylan Masterman from Whitestar, and Neha from 500 Startups all faced a dozen hard but engaging questions from an eager audience looking to delve into tech investors' interest in their startup community.
Canada's startup scene will certainly face challenges. With a population 10% the size of the US, a tighter labor market, and stricter banking and investment laws, Canadian entrepreneurs must work even harder than their American counterparts to succeed. But, based on what I have seen on my visits, they are certainly ready and willing to take on that challenge.