Canada has long been globally known for the incredible support it offers entrepreneurs, be they international or homegrown and as a result, it's no surprise that the country excels with regards to successful start up businesses. While the lure of their southern neighbour is well documented, the Canadian government offers a wide range of aid to help small up and coming businesses, including non-payable loans and grants. In addition to this, some of the very brightest technology students hail from The Great White North, graduating from well regarded institutions such as the University of Waterloo.
Perhaps one of the most currently well known and universally recognizable start-ups to hail from Canada is the Kik Messaging App. Founded by a group of students attending the aforementioned University of Waterloo in late 2009, the basic premise was to bridge the gap between iPhone, Blackberry and Android smartphone users, with the app available across all platforms. Unlike the large majority of messaging apps and social media platforms, users are able to use the service fairly anonymously and as a result, Kik is extremely popular with the younger generation. Founder and CEO Ted Livingston has since been recognized as Toronto's most brilliant tech innovator by Toronto life.
Although often mistakenly thought of as a US-based company, the social media managing platform Hootsuite also hails from our neck of the woods. Founded by Ryan Holmes in 2008, the service manages multiple social media networks and handily organizes them into one neat little package for the user. The company has since raised around $250 million in outside funding and boasts more than 15 million users in over 175 countries, making it one of the best known Canadian startups in the world. Similarly to Kik, Hootsuite has been nominated for a number of awards, including winning Best Twitter App from Australian newspaper mX and the prestigious Canadian New Media award in 2010.
While start-ups relating to social media are on the rise, the online gaming industry's popularity is also currently on the up. Electronic gaming has recently emerged as much more than just a cottage industry in Canada and users are now more keen than ever to log onto their computers for a first class experience relating to the world of online casino. Such online gaming sites are legal and quite popular in Canada, with brands such as Spin Palace offering a six-level VIP program to entice new players. There are also Canadian companies behind iGaming staples, such as Amaya (soon to be renamed The Stars Group Inc) which has acquired online poker brands Full Tilt and PokerStars. Amaya is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange as AYA and has become one of the world's biggest publicly listed online gambling companies, currently trading at around $35 per share as opposed to the fairly paltry $1 when it made its market debut in April 2010.
In addition to online gaming, video game developer Bioware remains one of the Canada's most successful start-up ventures since its initial founding in 1995. American video gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) partnered with the company a mere two years after its inception before fully acquiring it in 2008. Bioware responsible for a number of lucrative gaming franchises including Mass Effect, Neverwinter Nights and Dragon Age. The company continues to stand out as one of EA's best performing brands year on year and is reaping the benefits of the Canadian gaming boom currently taking place.
While Canada is well known for its stunning scenery, charming Prime Minister and polite citizenry, it is often wrongly overlooked when it comes to discussions about industry and business opportunity. For far too long, the country has been overshadowed by the United States and is often seen as simply an extension of it as opposed to a seperate, successful entity in it's own right. However, with the emergence and growth of homegrown start-up companies making waves throughout the business world, people are rightly starting to sit up and take notice of The Great White North.