You don’t fully realize just how entrepreneurial Vancouver is until you entrench yourself with the tight-knit community of these business heroes.
As an entrepreneur myself, learning the stories and visions from all of the people I interviewed in 2013 has been as inspiring as it has been insightful. Just like my 2012 Vancity Entrepreneurs round up, it’s my pleasure to put together a recap of a 2013 year in review of Vancouver’s entrepreneurs.
Starting from January to December 2013, below is a recap of who was featured and where some of them are today.
Indiloop is a cloud based music mixing and streaming service. They aren’t a music streaming service like Spotify, or RDIO but take elements of them to make a great remixing tool.
Their update since we last checked in is that in 2014 Indiloop is starting it off by heading Cannes, France to Midem. Midem is the world’s biggest music business conference, and they’re one of the 30 tech companies invited to present. Indiloop is also hosting a panel at SXSW 2014 in association with BMI and they are also hosting the startup panel at Canada Music Week. Lastly, they are launching an iPad app in January and iPhone app in March.
Procurify is a cloud-based cost management software that allows you to approve and track every business dollar spent on a user-friendly interface. Procurify is powered by a creative team that knows how to hustle. How else would they convince Mark Cuban to invest half a million dollars from a cold email? Procurify is a GrowLab alumni.
Wundr makes it easy for anyone to create + publish interactive eBooks and ePeriodicals. Through their control of the creative process with templates, as well as an ePub 3.0 reading experience, readers are going to enjoy unique experiences with every book they read. And publishers are going to find it cost effective and cheap to create + publish their titles across multiple eBookstores. Wundr was recently acquired by Patriots Minefinders Inc. for over $2 million and share transfers.
Spacelist makes it dramatically easier for you to find and market office, retail and industrial space for rent. They are working with the best firms in the business to make commercial real estate more accessible. They are a recent GrowLab alumni, and are expanding their team and resources for 2014.
CineCoup is an innovative platform as studio disrupts the way sub $5 million independent features are packaged, marketed, and financed. They are essentially an incubator program that helps boost indie films into stardom. CineCoup is also a GrowLab alumni.
The Canadian pilot of the CineCoup Film Accelerator successfully launched March 1 with over 90 teams participating in the initial intake. With a focus on disrupting the way independent films are packaged, marketed and financed, filmmaking teams began with a 2-minute trailer for the film the wanted to make, then advances through an online engagement funnel, completing weekly missions that are designed to package their projects and build fan support.
For filmmakers, it is an opportunity to get up to $1M in financing for their film, a guaranteed theatrical release which seldom occurs for indie filmmakers, and to accelerate their career (the entire process takes little over a year). Plans for 2014 include launching into the US and rolling out TeleCoup in Canada this time focusing on television pilots.
Spruik is an online platform for consumers to refer their favourite businesses to family and friends in return for a cash reward. The person who received the referral also gets a discount, and the business – of course – gains a new customer.
Rocketcases focused on providing unique and creative iPhone cases. Recently featured on Business Insider, their new Woody Hybrid case is an evolution of their original Woody case. They’ve also added a leather case to their Elements line. Their case design and production abilities have enabled a number of corporate partnerships where they’ve produced custom branded iPhone cases for Hootsuite, The Vancouver Giants and many other local and international businesses.
They were featured on Global TV and Shaw Cable for their holiday gift guides. For 2014, they are looking to improve and increase their case line as well as add some new mobile accessories. They also have some very promising business partnerships in the works.
Natural Source Vending calls itself Vancouver’s Healthy Office Food Service and Vending Machines Specialists. Natural Source Vending enhances corporate culture and quality of life in offices, by providing healthy, eco friendly food solutions.
Specializing in local, all-natural healthy options, they give your staff what progressive Vancouverites crave, as well as what their bodies need to perform at maximum efficiency. This past year has been spent preparing for growth in 2014. They moved into a larger warehouse, fortified our operations and systems, as well as expanded the products and services they offer.
They have also been chosen to join the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub. This program will not only help accelerate their growth, but will also allow them to work closely with other like-minded, socially responsible companies. As there has been increasing interest in their free-to-staff healthy food programs, especially by the tech industry, 2014 has potential to be a game changer for in-office food service.
MuPrime is integrating the technologies that connect real world to relevant online contents in one suite. They essentially brand QR codes with amazing designs and customizable logos for companies to create maximum engagement with their customers.
Trulioo enables website operators that support social login to:
Trulioo’s disruptive leap into the identity space is full steam ahead. 2013 saw them reinvent how governments and enterprise viewed identity in an online environment. Combined with this, as well as streamlining their product offering, Trulioo can now provide any online business the ability to uniquely know their users in a low-friction, low-cost way. Having laid this foundation, 2014 brings plans for expansion into international markets such as the EU, Australia and the Middle East. To facilitate this, the team will double in size in the first 3-6 months and triple by year-end. The search for a larger space is also underway with the hopes to be able to create an invigorating work environment for their team as well as provide a space for the community to host and attend events relating to Vancouver’s thriving tech community.
Mobile Commotion provides mobile advertising options for brands on moving billboards, street teams, inside of taxi’s and other online services. In 2014 they will be expanding their services to street teams, web design/management, as well as in-taxi advertisements (Alberta).
Change Heroes is a social enterprise – and tech startup – on a mission to one day see a world where every child has access to education. To fulfill this mission, they built an online fundraising platform that makes it easy for anyone to raise $10,000 with their friends to fund a school in a developing country.
It’s all based on a simple formula. A group of 33 people donate $3.33/day for 3 months, which amounts to $10,000 – the cost of a brand new school that will educate and empower the children of tomorrow.
Foro is a student marketplace that makes it easy and safe for university students to buy and sell their items. They’re currently present in most university campuses around Canada and have expanded to San Francisco to raise money and expand the team. Their CEO Ali has shown a lot of character to get this company off the ground, make sure to check out Ali’s story of how he went from being homeless to raising $100,000.
RentMoola is a mobile and online payment network in partnership with Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express that allows renters and condo owners to pay rent, condo fees and other payments with their favourite rewards credit cards.
RentMoola was recently featured on CBC’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange, Global Toronto and the Globe & Mail after securing access to 165,000+ doors/renters/users. They launched RM Direct Debit in partnership with BMO Financial Group giving tenants and owners the option of paying with either their favourite rewards credit card or direct debit. This fall they opened an office in Toronto and will be opening offices in London, UK and New York City in early 2014.
Cocos~Pure® is incredibly proud of all it has accomplished since we established our business in 2011. We started out selling coconut water from the back of our cars and have now flourished into an international premium coconut water brand with distribution in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. We are all very excited about where this venture will lead in the next few years.
Bench is a modern, online accounting firm that provides audit-proof bookkeeping services to entrepreneurs across Canada and the US. They pair clients with professional online accountants and great software to provide everything they need to get their books done. They have raised $2.5m to date, have been growing 40% month over month, and are serving clients across North America. [youtube id=”cxnT5cLBJj0″]
Chimp is a web-based tool that empowers people to manage and amplify charitable impact. And it’s built on a simple idea — to empower people’s personal giving choices and to simplify the process.
Chimp reduces the friction involved in making informed donations and is the cheapest way to get money to any charity of your choice in Canada. In 2014, Chimp drops its beta shell and begins to expose its robust capacity to manage and amplify charitable impact.
Chimp also continues to be people focused and iterate features based on user feedback. For example, many people ask: “how do I find a good charity helping the causes I care most about?” So, Chimp will start working towards solving “charity discovery” (as opposed to search, something they already do). Chimp will also help more charities and companies succeed with their own charitable campaigns in 2014.
Two of the more prominent projects Chimp will power include one related to Canadian Paraolympians competing in Sochi and another for mental health in Canada, in partnership with one of Canada’s most important brands. [youtube id=”_dhah7Dcz5Q”]
It has been another fascinating year of diving into the lives and imaginations of our dear Vancouver entrepreneurs. You hear a lot about us becoming a serious entrepreneurial hub but you don’t actually believe it until you’re surrounded by it.
Co-working spaces and Incubators are popping up all over the place and as technology advances, its becoming easier and easier to start a company in 72 hours. It’s also great to see Vancouver entrepreneurs like Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes continuing to open up opportunities for young entrepreneurs and as our ecosystem evolves, more big players will emerge and the entrepreneurial spirit will leak into areas outside of just technology.
For example, this year I met people who are making some amazing things happen with iPhone cases, Coconut water, and moving billboards!
If you’ve been looking to take the dive into entrepreneurship but aren’t quite sure then consider a couple things:
1) Your biggest failure will be to never start. Also, you only really learn by failing so if you value real world learning, this is going to be your best self education you’ll ever be able to create.
2) It’s a win-win. Besides the incredible learning and self growth, one opportunity will always lead to another. The company you first build is simply a tool to meet amazing people, learn, and build your brand.
I personally decided to test the waters after graduating UBC just to see what would happen. I didn’t really expect me to last long but 18 months later, here I am entrenched in the world of entrepreneurship. What keeps me going is the journey.
Everyday brings something new and everyday you meet someone or learn something that changes the way you look at the world. Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone but if your gut is pulling you in that direction, make it happen – 2014 is your oyster.
A big thank you to all participants of Vancouver Entrepreneurs series, you have not only inspired myself but the Vancouver entrepreneurs of tomorrow. Best of luck to everyone on their future endeavours.
PS: I wouldn’t be much of an entrepreneur unless I filled you in on what I have been working on below.
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*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a series on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to paul(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re an ideal candidate.