Canada’s most westerly province is not only home to world-renowned skiing and snowboarding conditions at Whistler, a vibrant cultural and arts scene, and stunning all-around natural beauty—it’s also fast becoming the tech powerhouse of the Pacific Northwest.
Nearby Seattle may be home to tech juggernauts Microsoft and Amazon.com, but British Columbia (B.C.) is holding its own when it comes to tech startup innovation. The following are 11 of British Columbia’s most promising tech upstarts to watch out for in 2016.
Cube2Go is creating innovative solutions in the self-storage industry. The cloud-based service operates by having medium-sized storage “cubes” ordered and delivered right to customers’ homes. Customers can then take as much time as they need to pack them up. Once filled, the cubes are picked up and delivered straight to a storage facility at no extra charge. Since price rates are per cube, you are only paying for the space used. In addition, they also provide an online photo inventory of what you currently have in storage.
People are increasingly turning to web and mobile offerings to avoid the dreaded taxicab and its exorbitant fares. Hitch Planet serves this demographic by enabling drivers to organize trips whereby hitchers can reserve seats for a certain fee and be picked up along the way. Trip plans are posted by drivers in advance and come with detailed maps of the planned route. Both drivers and hitchers must create a profile so that each party can review the other before committing to a trip, making for a highly trustworthy community.
Indiloop is an online music remixing platform, designed to be an accessible way for beginners to remix music. The app allows users to sample their own voice and even take audio from online sites like Youtube, SoundCLoud and Vimeo, and then edit it with streamlined software. Users can then upload their creations directly onto a number of supported social media platforms.
Weddingful—as its name implies—is all about weddings. It is a social platform designed to connect potential buyers with wedding vendors in an integrated social space. Clients provide information about their needs and preferences in order to have lists of applicable vendors (e.g., planners, caterers, decorators, entertainment providers, and more) automatically curated for them. Clients can also generate their own personalized wedding requests that are sent out to all applicable vendors in any of the relevant vendor categories.Vendors then have the opportunity to quote the customer directly.
BitLit is a mobile developer whose flagship product is called Shelfie: an app that essentially digitizes book collections. Users start out by taking a picture of their bookshelves—the app will then generate a matching list of e-books to download based on the photo.
Though you can always buy an e-book using standard methods, why bother paying again for a book—digital or otherwise—that you already own? Simply sign your name in capital letters on the copyright page of the book, snap another photo, and send it to Shelfie. Upon confirmation, the digital version of the book will be emailed to you for free.
LemonStand is an e-commerce platform that allows its users to create their own online stores. The service includes many useful features for small vendors, including automated inventory management, shipping and tax tools, and more. Because it’s subscription-based, users are free from paying individual transaction fees. The system is extremely versatile and can integrate with other popular online tools such as Google Analytics as well as online distribution services like Canada Post and FedEx.
Once a primary competitor to Google Glass, Recon Instruments designs and manufactures wearable technology with a focus on sports applications. Its featured product is the Recon Jet: a pair of smartglasses that display useful information for runners such as distance traveled, average pace, and navigational maps, among others. The glasses can also take pictures/videos and receive phone calls.
Battlefy is an online platform that assists in organizing and managing e-sport (i.e. competitive video game) leagues. The system automatically seeds teams, draws brackets, designs sponsorship pages, and manages livestream content. The main draw is the centralized nature of the site—once a league has been registered, both viewers and participants have a single source to review information about players and standings.
Some say that a shoe that fits all, fits none. Wiivv is a bionics company that specializes in creating fully customized, 3D-printed foot insoles. Using the supplied app on your smartphone, you can create an accurate model of your foot through a specific series of five easy-to-take pictures. Wiiv then takes these images and data to a 3D manufacturing facility for printing. Customers receive their custom insoles within two weeks and can use them for up to two years.
As the world’s first quantum computing company, D-Wave is a recognized leader in researching and developing superconducting quantum computers. In addition to developing the world’s first quantum computer hardware, much of the company’s efforts have recently been on integrating the efforts of quantum computing software companies, laying the groundwork for an entirely new industry of technological development. The company released their first commercial system, the D-Wave One, in the 2010, and have released several further editions since.
The same elemental force that keeps the sun blazing in the sky is finally being channeled into a usable form. General Fusion is a research and development company of over 50 professionals designing, simulating, and testing advanced fusion-based power systems. Focusing on economically viable solutions for the systems themselves and using abundant consumable materials, General Fusion aspires to be the first company to bring a new form of clean, virtually unlimited energy to the masses.
These 11 technology upstarts are a testament to the region’s strengths in creative entrepreneurship and innovation. From e-sports and quantum computing to online music remixing and smart eyewear, British Columbia is fast becoming Canada’s center for startup innovation.