Historically, Silicon Valley has been known as the premiere location for startups in North America, but we are now seeing a new locale emerge further north. Canada, with its supportive incubators and close-knit communities, has quietly been building a big reputation and a proven track record for nurturing and growing tomorrow’s exciting tech-based startups and top talent.
The biggest challenge in writing this article is covering the breadth and depth of exciting talent coming out of Canada, of which we are hardly scratching the surface here. With that being said, here are few of our favorite Canadian Startups to Watch for 2014.
Today, more than ever, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of pins, passwords, keys, and cards required to get through each and everyday securely. But now, thanks to the Nymi, there is a first of its kind innovative solution for identity authentication.
The Nymi is the first ever piece of wearable authentication technology and is developed by Toronto’s Bionym Inc., a leader in biometric recognition systems. Founded in 2011 by Karl Martin and Foteini Agrafioti, Bionym Inc. seeks to innovate in the technology field through their specializations in biometrics, authentication technology, and identity.
The Nymi is a wearable technology bracelet that allows you (the wearer) to take control of your identity securely through the use of cardiac rhythm recognition, which measures your own unique heartbeat. Alongside this heart ID, the Nymi features motion sensing, proximity detection, easy connectivity, and comes in 3 colours.
Once clasped around your wrist and activated with the touch of your finger, the Nymi powers on, illuminates, and interacts with your devices. You, then remain conveniently authenticated all day until your device is taken off.
The Nymi allows you to wirelessly take control of your computer, smartphone, and gaming device. It also enables you to unlock your car with the turn of a wrist and securely replaces the pin on your credit card when making purchases.
This really exciting wearable technology is now available for early adopters to preorder and is priced at $79.
If you are looking to purchase your next iPhone or sell your current iPhone, be sure to check out Orchard. Based out of Toronto, Orchard, started by Bruno Wong, Alex Sebastian, and Hamza Javed, uniquely launched their business first as an app and have since rolled out a full-service website in 2014.
Orchard saw a hole in the market between free sites such as Craigslist and Kijiji, where users sacrifice convenience and experience for better prices. Thus, Orchard blossomed, seeking to deliver that perfectly ripe combination of convenience and value.
Orchard bases their business on brokering transactions between buyers and sellers of iPhones, and delivering a better user-friendly experience for this process. Furthermore, Orchard takes the guesswork out of selling your device by offering a really innovative, first-of-its-kind, free app to test your phone’s hardware and software and offering accurate market pricing with the possibility of making up to $275 more on its resale.
Orchard looks forward to becoming the go-to service for buying and selling used smartphones in North America, if not globally. Additionally, they eagerly await the wide-scale adoption of wearable technology pieces (such as Google glasses), and see themselves perfectly positioned for the resale of these items.
Clio, a cloud-based software-as-a-service firm was founded by Jack Newton and Rian Gauvreau, friends since third grade that had, very early on, agreed to be business partners. Rian was working in IT for one of Canada’s largest law firms when he realized a huge opportunity for practice management improvement within this industry. Connecting back with Jack, who was working as a product developer with a software company at the time, they reached out to both the Law Society of British Columbia and friends/family for advice, and thus Clio was born.
Clio offers legal practice management solutions that cater to both the needs of growing law firms and also forward-thinking on-the-go lawyers looking for time optimization. Their solutions include time management, calendars, billing, invoices, documents, client contacts, tasks, and additional matters necessary for today’s practicing lawyers. They boast that using Clio saves lawyers 8 hours each week in painful practice management.
Clio innovates through their above-and-beyond customer service, continually listening to and implementing their customers’ wants and needs. They, uniquely, hold an annual Clio Cloud Conference where they simply ask customers what they don’t like about the product and then they fix it. Additionally, they also host meet-up events in Canada, the US, and the UK to get first-hand customer feedback about the product.
Clio is excited to build upon their already strong brand presence in the US and Canada and boost growth in foreign markets where their product is needed. While they are recognized as the premier cloud-based legal practice management solution, by 2019, they look forward to being bigger, broader, and deeper, leaving their mark for the better on the entire professional service industry.
Bully Creative offers complete design strategies for clients including branding, web, iOS, print, packaging, and environmental design. Bully Creative sees design—now more than ever—as a necessary tool to cut through the overwhelming noise received by today’s consumer. They go on to say:
“Our industry is playing an increasingly large role in how companies conduct themselves, and it has led to design adopting a larger definition, bringing under its umbrella nearly any interaction between a company and the public. It’s becoming more commonplace for design to provide the rails for how a company is perceived, how it grows, how it finds and keeps its clients, and how it builds trust. And as technologies continue to evolve, new design challenges will surface, providing new mediums, and different methods of communication. All of this makes for a pretty ripe (and exciting) market.”
Rather than focusing on specific industries, Bully Creative determines the projects that they take on by client-type, ensuring that the organizations they work with value good design and also require a complete end-to-end solution. This enables Bully Creative to strategize each project and apply their unique process across several mediums to best add-value for their clients. Bully Creative continues to innovate through exploration, which is interwoven into their process at all levels.
As a med student with a passion for clinical research, Kudlow was inspired by the progress made through the scientific method, but saw a major flaw in information overload brought on by the exponential growth in peer-reviewed research articles over the past 10 years. TrendMD looks to address this challenge by enabling publishers to get their research noticed (to further drive citations) and in turn assist readers with searching for relevant content.
TrendMD has created a free content recommendation widget that—when placed next to scientific, technical, and medical articles—generates article recommendations based on content similarity, click behavior, and social media buzz. The widget aims to drive engagement, promote content, and generate additional revenue publishers. Very similar to Google Adwords, but for peer-reviewed content, producers pay TrendMD by setting a budget and paying only when they receive traffic.
Kudlow describes his innovative approach to scientific research here:
“Without an ambient awareness of what other research is out there, you can never produce good science. Good science depends on replicating results and building what is known – content discovery systems are crucial to this.”
TrendMD looks forward to becoming the go-to tool for all scholarly content producers to use when disseminating research to their network. TrendMD, therefore, seeks to replace the need for researchers to go on the conference circuit when promoting their work by establishing themselves as a “digital conference”.
Vanhawks, an exciting startup founded in 2014 by Ali Zahid, Niv Yahel, Adil Aftab, and Sohaib Zahid, has raised $820,000 on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and in doing so, the Valour was born.
The Valour brings technology to your commute by offering the first ever smart and connected bicycle. Beautifully constructed from lightweight, high quality, carbon fiber, the Valour is connected to iOS, Android and Pebble via Bluetooth syncing with the Vanhawks Intuitive app. This app determines the smartest and safest route for your trip and enables you (the rider) to remain focused on the road, while following the turn-by-turn navigation indicated by LED lights on the handlebar. What’s amazing is that Valour is also aware of your immediate surroundings providing blind spot detection, tracking objects 10 ft. behind and 4 ft. beside, as well as vibrating when you turn into traffic.
The Intuitive app also allows you to track all of your metrics in real-time to include time, speed, calories burned, best ride, and distance enabling you to challenge and motivate yourself. Another exciting feature is that your bike links up with others in the area creating a smart Valour biking community. And the greatest part is that the more you ride, the smarter your bike becomes. It will grow to detect road quality, road closures, etc. and will share this information with the others in your area. In the event that your bike gets lost or stolen, have no fear as you can send out a lost notification. You will then be notified immediately of its location once another Valour bike passes by yours.
Priced reasonably at $1049 for a single-speed or $1249 for a multispeed, we can look forward to seeing the Valour community grow on our urban streets bringing enhanced safety, comfort, and exciting insights to our daily commutes.