January is always an exciting time for entrepreneurs. The start of a new year kicks the drive and optimism in us into high gear. At Grow, we see an exciting year ahead of us as we’ve launched RateTracker, the first of its kind, on a global scale (with a rapid adoption rate). Our relentless dedication to innovation using data and technology stems from the inspiration we get from many of our Canadian technology peers.
These 11 (Yes, 11 – we wanted to whittle it down to 10, but then we thought, ‘why?) Canadian tech companies are just some of the examples of amazing innovators that are going to make the headlines in 2016.
Canada recently lost these rock stars when they moved from the University of Toronto incubator, down to Y Combinator in Silicon Valley. That being said, they’re still a Canadian startup as far as we’re concerned.
Developing a new medicine takes, on average, 15 years and can cost up to $2-billion. Atomwise is changing that sluggish cycle through its use of advanced supercomputers, harnessing machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to create accurate and predictive models capable of analyzing existing medications to determine their effectiveness at treating other diseases. That could save lives by speeding up the time it typically takes to identify medical solutions to disease outbreaks.
BlackBerry changed how the world communicated, and after a period of chaotic growth, became the largest company in Canada, as measured by market capitalization, with nearly 20,000 employees worldwide. The company subsequently fell from grace in an equally chaotic fashion (I highly recommend entrepreneurs read “Losing The Signal” to learn the untold story of the rise and fall of Blackberry). In spite of that coloured history, the company’s CEO, John Chen, topped the list of highest paid Canadian CEOs in 2015 pulling in just under $90,000,000.
Are they an exciting Canadian tech rebound story, or will they continue to struggle? Either way, their story will make the headlines in 2016.
Since selling successful eyewear business ClearlyContacts, Roger Hardy has applied his online sales prowess to footwear for his next big venture. Merging three online retailers – Shoeme.ca, Onlineshoes.com, and the more recently acquired socks retailer Richer Poorer, Roger took the Canadian and global market by storm in 2015. In 2016 he’s looking to open a handful of strategic physical stores alongside the development of a more robust delivery platform. More importantly, these guys are well positioned for a successful IPO, an enormous milestone that wouldn’t be surprising to witness in the latter half of 2016.
Hootsuite has been a driving force behind Vancouver’s budding technology community, but it will again dominate the headlines in 2016. CEO Ryan Holmes is helping fuel the Vancouver technology renaissance with talks about a potential IPO, and savvy marketing campaigns to educate the world on how to utilize social media.
As one of Canada’s fastest growing startups in history, the company has not been immune to some growing pains, having endured some layoffs in a recent corporate reorganization with a focus to further streamline the business and refine its focus over time. They’ll continue to evolve and cement Canada on the map as a technology leader.
What separates Slack from the plethora of other messaging apps out there? Ask any one of their 2 million active daily users, and you’ll probably hear something along the lines of “you’ll understand when you use it.” The intuitive design, reliability, and the company’s unique ability to add useful features before you have a chance to complain about something the product doesn’t already master all make it a no-brainer for adoption. Add in the playful features like Giphy (type in “/giphy <any word>” and you’ll instantly get a silly GIF) and you’ve got yourself a communications platform that is truly addictive.
Slack recently launched a new $80 million fund focused on seed stage companies building platforms and bots to integrate into Slack – guaranteed to keep the company relevant in 2016.
Launched in the spring of 2013 by Dr. Joshua Landy, Figure 1 is making waves in the medical community. Billed as the “Instagram for doctors,” the app allows medical professionals to discover, share, and engage with compelling medical cases.
In September of 2015, the Toronto-based company crossed the 1 billion milestone for cases viewed on its platform, and it champions a user base of more than 500,000 medical professionals. As the world’s brightest medical professionals continue to share findings with each other with unprecedented ease and convenience, Figure 1 will remain one to watch.
Based in Vancouver, Vision Critical provides a customer intelligence platform that allows companies to build engaged communities of customers for feedback and insight. The company has unprecedented levels of customer and market insight, and is rumoured to have already hired BMO to help with their impending IPO. Any time a successful Canadian tech company jumps into the public markets, people will take notice. Look for them to grab headlines around their IPO this year.
They’re a west-coast bionics company on a mission to make “humans more durable.” Using 3D printing technology and advanced computer vision technology, Wiivv builds bespoke gear through extracting data points from smartphone photos. Based in Vancouver, the company recently closed a $3.5 million USD seed round and has received international venture funding from Evonik Industries, Formation 8 Capital, Real Ventures, and MAS Holdings.
Wiivv has already jumped onto the headlines in 2016, as co-founders Louis-Victor Jadavji (22) and Shamil Hargovan (27) were recently featured in Forbes’ 2016 30 under 30 list.
Nudge is a modern networking app that tracks the strength of your network so you spend less time connecting, and more time building relationships that matter. If you think of LinkedIn as a giant conference where you can establish great surface level relationships, Nudge is a new way to grab a cup of coffee with someone for a more intimate conversation to help you with your business or career. I predict rapid adoption in 2016 for people looking to build trusted business relationships in the digital world.
Alberta is quickly becoming a place to watch for exciting Canadian startups, with companies like Showbie leading the charge. The education system has been desperate for more innovation to help bring their processes into the 21st century. With the price of tablets quickly coming down, Showbie was launched for teachers and students as the “paperless classroom application” in 2012. The company continued to launch new features through 2015 as they gain more traction. With over 2 million teachers and students signed up, Showbie has added the next feature that completes the education circle: parents. Parents can now sign in and track their child’s progress in the classroom, allowing the family to obtain greater transparency and feedback on how they can help their child succeed.
Gaslamp Games’ first game, Dungeons of Dredmor, was released in 2011 to both commercial success and critical acclaim. With many users playing the game for hundreds of hours (the mean average Dredmor user’s playtime is 18 hours according to the website SteamSpy), it has spawned a legion of addicts and remains a popular favourite today, four and a half years later. Gaslamp’s newest game, Clockwork Empires, takes a new approach, released an Early Access version, with the company continuing to release new additions each month. On the road to completion, Gaslamp Games has released one stable patch per month, serving as an example of open and transparent game development done right.
Players eagerly report that their characters are going mad at the sight of dead bodies, starting cults, and worshiping fishpeople and other creatures from beyond the stars; and that’s a game where they’re “winning.” It’ll be interesting to see if 2016 is the year where Gaslamp can move from loyal cult following to mainstream success.