Why this Finnish founder decided to build his tech startup in Toronto

Apr 29 2019, 8:31 pm

I started my first company when I was 11.

Growing up in Finland, the small country known for creating Angry Birds and Nokia, I always had a passion for entrepreneurship.

Before starting my company Hostaway, I worked in tech startups for over 10 years in several countries. I have been part of companies that have raised a lot of funding and some that ran out of funding. I’ve worked on great products with incredible teams from around the globe.

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When I moved to Canada four years ago, I had no idea how to start my life in the new world.

Going to various tech events in Toronto, I would feel inspired by the ecosystem of successful founders and startups here. I was blown away by the growth the Canadian tech scene has seen in the last few years. It wasn’t long before I had that entrepreneurial itch again.

Hostaway came about as a result of noticing that there was a big opportunity in the travel industry. This industry was attracting a lot of investment from venture capitalists and I started researching where the most promising areas were. Short term rentals stood out as a niche to focus on, so I started to narrow in on that. Eventually, that led us to build a full service solution for vacation rental property managers.

We started the company with an Iranian in Finland and a Finn in Canada, and our first staff recruitments were from France, Russia, and Barcelona.

I knew that this could be a multinational billion dollar company. So now there was the pressing question of where to build it. Should I go to Silicon Valley? Back to Europe?

In the end, we decided that Toronto was the best place for our biggest office to be based.

Here’s why:

Growth

Toronto has an impressive cluster of business incubators and accelerators that offer a range of services and strategic partnerships to support budding tech companies. The DMZ, in particular, has been a massive help for us and we’re proud of be alumni of the program. Their mentorship and network made it easier for us to attract talent and accelerate our growth.

Talent

Toronto is the largest centre of education and research in Canada. We have internationally-renowned educational institutions graduating skilled, highly-educated and globally connected people. By locating our startup in Toronto, we positioned Hostaway to take advantage of a deep talent pool and gave ourselves the opportunity to work with the best of the best.

Diversity

People from around the world converge in Toronto with tens of thousands choosing this city as their new home each year. It is an incredibly dynamic and welcoming place to work and live. Our growing team is made up of nearly 20 nationalities speaking over 10 languages, an advantage for a tech product that is becoming a global market leader. Our Scandinavian values align perfectly with Canadian values and are at the heart of our culture: diversity, freedom, and transparency.

Travel

Being a travel tech company with global offices and investors, connectedness and ease of travel is key to our success. Being based in Toronto allows us to travel quickly to key destinations thanks to the more than a thousand flights that leave our airports each day. Operating in Toronto gives us quick and easy communication and travel with our key cities and regions.

Canadians

Canadians are humble. My advice to other local startup founders is to aim higher. The Toronto tech scene is booming and we’re right at the crux of this momentum and growth. We’re in the right place to build more billion dollar companies.

Marcus Räder is the CEO and co-founder of Hostaway, a travel tech company that provides a vacation rental property management software that helps property managers automate and scale their businesses.

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