In recent years, many of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest have found themselves head-to-head with stiff competitors from the Great White North; in fact, many would argue that Canada is the continent’s new focal point of tech innovation. The country continues to be a booming haven for new entrepreneurs—homegrown and international—and boasts numerous startup benefits: a huge selection of government aid packages for small businesses, world-class universities (e.g, the University of Waterloo, Canada’s answer to MIT), to name a few.
From airfare prediction apps to consumer fintech solutions, the following are 15 Canadian tech startups to keep an eye on this year.
Cellphones may be the bane of many teachers’ existences, but Top Hat is planning to turn those distracting devices into powerful learning tools. The app allows teachers to use students’ devices in-class to get real-time feedback and answer to questions, create interactive homework and quizzes, and even author and sell their own interactive textbooks.
Hubba describes itself as, appropriately enough, a “LinkedIn for products”: the solution allows retailers to discover new products that are relevant and popular in their particular industry; brands that put their product information on Hubba can share it with thousands of potential buyers. The solution lets users connect with key industry people directly, making for a unique product-oriented social media platform.
Voices.com is taking the talent agent out of the equation when it comes to hiring voice-over talent. The platform allows clients to post jobs, find/review an actor’s credentials via search, and negotiate directly with talent. Voice actors can showcase their skills, review job postings, and submit auditions. It even features a patented escrow system that allows clients to pay their talent securely and directly.
SkipTheDishes has grown to become North America’s fastest growing food delivery network—using an algorithm-based dispatch system, the company connects users with local restaurants and food courier services, making great local food more accessible to those that aren’t able to go out regularly, or just aren’t in the mood to cook. The service is now available in 15 Canadian and 5 American cities, with more locations on the way.
Eventbase is an award-winning firm that specializes in creating custom-tailored apps for large events, used by Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, SAP, IBM and Cisco. The company’s mobile offerings give users information regarding an event’s schedule, interactive maps of the venue, location-based attendee networking, and more.
Simply put, Hopper’s mobile app analyzes and predicts airfare. For example, users search for a particular flight on a certain day— the app will predict whether it’s a good time to buy or not. If prices are steeper than normal, the app will instruct users to “wait” and allow them to track their desired flight, alerting them when a price drop is detected. When an optimal price appears, users can book directly from the app.
Unbounce is an app that enables users with little to no web development experience to create attractive, functional landing pages for websites. Features include hundreds of eye-catching templates, drag-and-drop authoring, and targeted overlays: users can set certain users actions (e.g., arriving on a page, clicking an element, scrolling down) as “triggers” for activating more website features, allow them to completely control who can see potential offers on the website and when.
Drop is a fintech app that allows users to link their credit and/or debit cards for streamlined shopping and reward points accumulation. Based on how users spend their money, the app automatically searches and recommends offers relevant to them, while highlighting how many additional reward points each potential purchase is worth. Points can be redeemed for restaurant meals, clothes, and yes—cash.
Zoocasa’s mission is to create a better home-buying experiences by leveraging the latest technologies in the real estate market, thereby enabling better buying and selling decisions. The company started as a property listing website—these days, it has its own team of real estate agents to augment its existing team of tech experts and marketers.
Breather allows businesses to book on-demand, private workspaces and conference rooms in the U.S., Canada, and London. Using the platform, users can easily find and book a space that fits their needs in a matter of minutes—they can even cancel their reservation free of cost.
League’s goal is to make it easier for small businesses to customize health benefits for their employees; the company labels itself “the digital alternative to traditional health insurance.” Notable features include fully-integrated health/wellness solutions focused on prevention, flexible benefits plans, easy-to-use claims reporting, and more.
Montreal-based Element AI takes a business-oriented approach to developing deep learning technologies: the firm assesses the specific AI needs of an organization and develops/implements accordingly. The company has put together the largest privately-owned AI R&D lab in Canada.
Ever since movie audiences saw Tom Cruise effortlessly controlling a futuristic computer with simple hand gestures in Minority Report, tech fanatics have been clamouring to make the technology into a reality. Thalmic Labs’ approach to this challenge involves wearable technology that works seamlessly with other devices; its first product, the Myo armband, reads electrical signals emitted by the wearer’s arm muscles to allow for gesture/motion-based device control.
Founded by a team of University of Waterloo students, Kik has come a long way since it first launched as a basic messaging app for integrating chat functionality between different devices. The solution has gone on to become one of the most popular messaging apps on the market, boasting millions of users across the globe.
Vancouver-based Hootsuite is one of the firms credited for securing Canada’s prominent place in the global tech startup arena. The social media management platform allows marketers to manage multiple social media accounts from a single dashboard, view analytics on how their social content is performing, manage team members’ social permissions, and more.
In short, with highly-qualified, STEM-based university graduates entering the job market, rising national interest in digital entrepreneurship, and government tax incentives that reward R&D focused companies, Canada’s tech startup community is second to none; be sure to keep these 15 companies on your radar in 2017 and beyond.