During the round table discussions between Toronto’s up and coming entrepreneurs and a handful of investors at AccelerateTO, I was able to spend brief moments with CEOs and founders to get a snapshot of what it is some of these companies do. The general consensus from local industrialists and international financiers was that Toronto is transitioning into the next hotbed for tech start ups and is fast becoming known as a source for talented engineers. Some of these local companies sound like they operate their businesses on fictional planets (which, would be cool) or sound like they belong on Star Trek or Doctor Who. Names such as Tiipz ,Chango, Fixmo and Mobovivo are some examples, but they are real companies (with cool-sounding planetary names). Another bonus: they live in Toronto. If in fact Toronto is going to grow into the Silicon Valley of the north, it’s best we find out what’s going tech industry from the people in it. Here are five entrepreneurs that are growing rapidly inside Toronto’s start-up ecosystem.
Who: Yoav Schwartz (Chief Executive Officer)
Startup: Uber Flip
What is your niche: Interactive marketing and digital publishing.
How old is your startup: Started in 2008.
Is your business breaking out right now: It has its ups and downs. There’s “money in the bank” as they say, but you are always pushing toward that next milestone.
Is Toronto really a breeding ground for start-ups: It’s picking up. People are seeing other people who have started “startups” previously and aren’t afraid to do it. It’s definitely making the world smaller.
Who: Craig Follet (Co-founder)
What is your niche: It’s a marketplace for experiences sold to the people, by the people. You can share and buy just about anything. You can even make money if you want — or not. Read here to find out how it all works.
How old is your startup: Started in 2012.
Is your business breaking out right now: Just within the last month it’s exploded. It grew 400 per cent compared with the previous month.
Is Toronto really a breeding ground for start-ups: Yes. The talent pool is excellent. It’s a big city; an open-minded city. It has the right kind of market for creative variety.
Who: — Joseph Puopolo (Founder/Chief Executive Officer)
What is your niche: Realtime marketplace for print needs. We make it easier to source printing online. Items such as brochures, business cards, rack cards and posters.
How old is your startup: Started 2012.
Is your business breaking out right now: It’s one month after launch and progress has been rapid so far.
Is Toronto really a breeding ground for start-ups: There’s no such thing as “the” perfect place for start-ups. At the moment we’re all enjoying some wins and things in the industry seem to be going well.
Who: Ben Zlotnick (Founder/Chief Executive Officer)
What is your niche: Incubation startup. We conduct a three intensive program to help explode “start-ups” and get them “pitch-ready” for investors. Look here for more about what they do.
How old is your startup: Started 2012.
Is your business breaking out right now: We are currently doing our third intake for this year, in November.
Is Toronto really a breeding ground for start-ups: People in the industry are now starting to refer to Toronto as the Silicon Valley of the north. You have Waterloo down the road. Great Universities with great engineers. It’s picking up quite a bit.
Who: Eli Aleyner (Senior Product Mgr)
Startup: XtremeLabs Inc.
What is the niche: Product management and leading technical projects in Mobile, Internet spaces.
How old is the startup: Started in 2007.
Is the business breaking out right now: Xtreme now has 200 employees.
Is Toronto really a breeding ground for start-ups: Toronto absolutely is a great place to start a company, particularly because of great talent that is available here.
Justin Robertson is a freelance journalist from Toronto. His work has appeared in The Walrus, National Post and Toronto Standard. Follow Justin on Twitter @justinjourno