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Vancouver Startups Ecosystem 2017

A recent report by Startup Genome has rated Vancouver as Canada’s number one startup ecosystem. Further, the city on the west coast is also ranked 15th in the world which is a direct recognition of the city’s thriving startup scene that produced the likes of Hootsuite, SLACK, and Plenty Of Fish.

This recognition from Startup Genome also shows that the city has had a significant impact on technology niche with over 55% of companies offering their employees stock options to support this robust ecosystem. It also shows that the education system and the local government are in tune to help grow this vibrant startup hub.

The city is also uniquely placed to leverage assets like the Hollywood North which comprised of a strong industrial foundation to support the cloud and enterprise data. Further, immigration policies have also helped build the region into what it’s today (with over half of its residents having a first tongue other than English).

What’s Vancouver known for?

According to the report, Vancouver reputation is growing in areas such as animation and visual effects. In fact, it has two of the top six video game franchises and the highest concentration of animation and visual effects studios.

The city is home to about 800 to 1,100 startups with some popular stories of success. For example, Slack’s founder estimated the software to be worth $100 million, but that figure was exceeded in just three years. Now it has become the fastest growing business software in history. 

Further, Vancouver is also home to Broadband.tv which is the third largest video streaming site after Facebook and Google. There were also some major exits last year like artificial intelligence startup Bitstew which was bought by GE for $157 million and TIO Logic which was bought by PayPal for $233 million. This follows the same pattern as Plenty of Fish which was also sold to Match.com for $575 million a couple of years ago.

But the city isn’t all about tech, it’s also one of the world’s top 20 Global Financial Centers. A lot of the success can be attributed to accelerator collaborations and ambitious incubators between the following:

  • Wavefront, BC Innovation Council
  • Launch Academy
  • BC Tech Association and others

These organizations are also committed to growing the next generation of tech entrepreneurs over the next decade. All this points to a great future for British Columbia and Canada.

Vancouver startups ecosystem 2017
Image Source: Startup Genome Report 2017

The Startup Ecosystem in a Nutshell

While it’s true that Vancouver has the least amount of startups in the top 20, their valuations are highly competitive. The funding metrics also evidence that the early stage funding is around $334,000 per startup.

Further, the market reach is quite strong with 57% of the customers coming from abroad. In fact, it’s the highest ranking when it comes to reaching foreign customers. Further, the growth index is set at 4.3 with 800 to 1,100.

Out of all the entrepreneurs, 12% are women and 30% are immigrants making it an internationally recognized city for creative, innovative, and sustainable business. As a result, the city is well on it’s way to fulfilling BC Tech Association’s mission to make British Columbia the best place to grow a tech company.

The report essentially provides a benchmark of where the city stands in relation the world. Further, it also shows where there is room for improvement while also evidencing what the city is doing well in this competitive field.

When it comes to weaknesses, there are some highlighted in this report. These concern issues like performance and funding. When it comes to performance, we’re talking about valuations, growth, exits, and aggregations.

When it comes to reaching the level of unicorns, Vancouver still lags behind. So a lot more work needs to go into accelerating collective growth and funding. This will also be critical to keep the city competitive.

But the major weakness lies in the lack of talent that’s needed to drive the industry forward. However, this can change in the near future with favorable immigration policies and educational initiatives in the region.

The startup ecosystem is currently skewed towards B2B (with 20% more B2B startups than the global average) rather than B2C (with 50% less than the global average). However, a mix of both is more or less close to the global average.

Where do you think Vancouver will be ranked next year? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.


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