Vancouver seems to be missing a huge piece of the tech eco-system puzzle – a giant check mark from our tech hub to-do list – a colossal “Mission Accomplished, Guys” banner, or at least that’s what investor and owner of Blumberg Capital, David Blumberg, is flying in from San Francisco to try to tell us.
This is the formula of successful tech scenes: Flourishing City plus Anchor Tech Company multiplied by Supported Tech Scene equaling to the likes of Silicon Valley and our Microsoft supported friends down in Washington. Flourishing city? Check. Not to mention bike lanes and a mountain culture that makes our lifestyle a must-have. Anchor tech company? Checkity check. HootSuite’s got us covered and with their hands and money in everything from start-up events and coding schools we can go right ahead and check off supported tech scene from the equation. Well, not quite.
“Look, we need let the balance of powers shift a little bit,” David suggested. “That’s what actually makes a successful eco-system. When the next best thing flourishes out of that very hub.”
But not just any ol’ start-up, David is talking about one of those companies with products or services that go from changing the norm to becoming a necessity. “The two twin pillars in a start up are the disruptions it can create to an inefficient model and the innovation that can fix it,” David explained. “Mobile, social media and cloud, those three have open the playing field for new companies looking to have those qualities. Uber disrupted the taxi monopoly. Virgin and Jet Blue SouthWest made flying simpler. They make life better, cheaper and they’re driving down the cost of financial services. This is what I’m interested in.”
Well, the last time David was interested in something it turned into leading the original seed round financing of Hootsuite. So it isn’t a surprise that as a sole seed investor in Trulioo, a cyber identity verification tool, David’s hinting that Vancouver’s next tech hub anchor company may be springing from the same roots. “Nothing will ever be Hootsuite,” David confessed. “But I think Trulioo has a number of traits that I saw reminiscent of Hootsuite. Both are driven by product savvy entrepreneurs and it’s very much a B2B tool, there’s also a point where you can offer this to individuals but for right now it’s for businesses and government use.”
Speaking of governments, bylaws seem to be another reason why David’s U.S. interests are nestled into our maple leaf bedded tech hub. “The Canadian government’s regulation around privacy rights gives a great leverage. A European company may not be comfortable going with an American company who provides the same services of identity protection because of our federal laws so shout out to the Canadian government right now,” David included as an aside. “What Stephen Harper is doing for small businesses by opening immigration and making sure privacy is in effect, it’s an excellent job.”
Alright, but hold up one server error minute. David may be offering Trulioo up to the plate but can we really listen to a dude who seems to be trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy for a company he’s investing in? “Am I trying to promote the company we’re investing in? Absolutely. That is positively the truth,” David laughed. “But why on earth should that mean I don’t know what I’m talking about? Part of my job is to grow communities and businesses. Any good investor tries to boost the start up they’ve invested in.”
And any good investor keeps his eyes wide open for what’s new. With The Blumberg Pitch Night taking place on April 30, 2014 there’s a lot of room to settle the who’s-the-next-Hootsuite debate. “I’m scouting for new companies,” David revealed. “I want to come to a place that I can find a hub of brain power, and Vancouver’s it.” But it may be more about taking on a title or claiming a prize for David. It’s about kick-ass creations.
“Make things better, more intuitive and thinking about capitalism – being an investor is making a transaction. It’s where someone can help develop something financially because they can’t do it themselves. That’s what I do, I give money to someone to do something I can’t do myself,” David explained. “I really believe that the innovation that happens in start up companies can help the progress of the world and empower the human race. “