By Mark Evans
Canada’s startup landscape is healthier than ever, as evidenced by the recent International Startup Festival in Montreal.
Putting aside the ambitious name (I would have selected something like the Canadian Startup Festival), the fact that it was well-organized and well-attended suggests there might just be some real traction within the startup community.
For too long, the landscape has been dominated by a supply and demand problem – lots of enthusiastic entrepreneurs chasing too little capital. That meant there was a lot of talk but not a lot of walk, because without financing, it’s difficult to develop an idea and drive growth.
A few key things have changed in the past year or so.
First, I sense entrepreneurs are more sophisticated, experienced, and creative about how they start, operate, and finance a new business. We’re talking about people who have been in the startup trenches, and are now starting to see the benefits of their toil.
Second, there has been a surge in the amount of seed and startup capital available. It’s far from a financing tsunami, but it’s a solid start. It means (hopefully!) entrepreneurs can get the money they need to take a real shot at building something. It doesn’t have to be millions of dollars, although it would nice it if that kind of dough-ray-me were available. Many entrepreneurs can go a long way with $100,000 to $250,000, using a lean and mean approach.
Third, we’re starting to see exits; nothing spectacular, but acquisitions nonetheless. The recent hit list includes Pushlife (acquired by Google), Tungle (RIM), PostRank (Google) and Five Mobile (Zynga).
What’s more encouraging is that, if you scratch beneath the surface, there’s an awful lot going on. In my consulting business, I’m doing a lot of work with startups and, as important, coming across a lot of startups during my travels. These are companies with great ideas working away in relative anonymity, until the time comes for some of them break out.
All in all, call me optimistic that Canada’s startup community is starting to see some serious traction after too many years of struggling. A lot more can be done but at least we’re getting there.
First published on markevanstech.com.