Why Canadian tech is finally accessing the global talent market

remote work
Ripple Ventures' Matt Cohen explains how Canadian tech can take advantage.

The pandemic has made accessing global talent more possible than ever before. That’s especially evident in the thriving Canadian startup scene.

Previously, Canadian startups had a particularly difficult time convincing people like Wall Street executives to hop from their lucrative jobs to the startup world, but in the age of remote work, this dynamic is absolutely thriving.

It’s no longer necessary to pay top San Francisco wages to get software built.

In addition to the world’s top executives, the global pool of developer talent has opened up dramatically, allowing startups to work with high-quality devs in Europe, South America and many other traditionally difficult to access markets.

It’s no longer necessary to pay top San Francisco wages to get software built, and that’s resulting in faster revenue cycles and more technology coming to market. This shift in the global talent pool has had arguably the most significant impact in Toronto, where startups have recently been able to raise big venture rounds and hire top executive talent as well as world-class developers at a fraction of the price it used to cost.

The Canadian Government has done its part in helping attract this talent. The Start-Up Visa Program, for instance, now allows investors ranging from large VCs all the way to angels to fast-track recruits’ immigration processes. Pair this with the healthcare and parental leave benefits our country offers, and founders have considerable leverage to attract new hires. But the pandemic has now given founders even further flexibility.

With the normalization of remote work, startups and talent often no longer even have to deal with immigration burdens at all if they seek out remote hires. In tandem, founders no longer have to deal with huge salaries for developers and executives.

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After working with Canadian startups for a decade now, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges associated with attracting top talent, and the pandemic has turned this dynamics upside down. It’s really not important where your developer team is located anymore as long as they are producing high-quality work. For the price of a San Francisco-based dev, founders could hire a team of excellent Latin American software engineers. Will the quality of work be as good as the metropolitan-based? Maybe not, but it will be 80 or 90 percent as good and, for the price, that’s probably a good trade-off. With more developers, founders can iterate and build more quickly in order to bring products to market faster and at a discount, which is a massive advantage.

On the executive side, remote work has opened up the doors to massively experienced talent that can make or break a young business. Canadian-based startups can now attract senior-level executives with experience at Fortune 500 companies like never before.

This is a massive boon for these startups which was previously inaccessible before the pandemic. The access to this fresh talent pool has been a major driver of growth for Canadian startups and it’s attracting enormous amounts of capital from VCs who also used to limit themselves to Silicon Valley-based investments.

In these ways, the pandemic has given rise to huge opportunities for Canadian founders. The combination of business and investment opportunities opening up, and better products being brought to market faster due to accessible and cheaper developer talent and high-quality, experienced executives guiding these companies, has created the perfect storm for explosive growth in our thriving startup scene.

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I’ve been watching these dynamics unfold over the last two years and it’s all coalescing to make Canada anything but a second thought in the startup world. All the variables needed to create a vibrant ecosystem of rapid growth tech startups have suddenly been made available to a community of startups and founders that were already poised to grow rapidly. Now the possibilities are endless.

For Canadian startups to really leverage these dynamics to their benefit they need to create the infrastructure required to hire a global workforce.

Everything from payroll services, accounting, and recruiting needs to be built with the ability to hire people anywhere in the world at the earliest levels. Services like Deel can help manage US payrolls, and hiring US recruiters is a great way to access that talent pool. Figuring out healthcare can be tricky, but creating a US-based sub-company can help navigate those dynamics with US hires.

There is still much to be seen as this global trend continues, but the infrastructure currently exists to operate this way and I suspect those tools (and the corporate culture they help drive) are here to stay.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Matt Cohen

Matt Cohen

An operator turned investor, Matt Cohen started Ripple Ventures in 2018 to bring his “operator-first” mindset to the early-stage investing world. Matt also runs “The Tank,” an incubator space that helps connect Founders to the advisors and mentors they need to bring their ideas to life. He regularly shares his perspective on early-stage VC and startup dynamics in places like TechCrunch, Crunchbase, and on the Venture Unlocked Podcast w/ Samir Kaji.

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