The Vancouver startup scene has exploded in the last decade and the city has one of the best startup ecosystems for a city of its size.
The Vancouver advantage is that unlike larger metropolises like Toronto, San Francisco or New York City, it doesn’t have many traditional blue-chip companies with high-paying jobs. This means wages tend to be much lower and there aren’t as many opportunities to advance, which forces locals to get creative with their work.
The result is one of the most small business and startup-friendly environments in the world. However, what holds back Vancouver remains the provincial mentality of local elites and their dependence on natural resources and real estate.
Additionally, there aren’t many venture capital investment opportunities on Canada’s west coast so many startups that begin in the city relocate to Silicon Valley as they grow.
Vancouver’s Startup Scene:
The Vancouver tech scene is a major contributor to the local economy and a shining light in a city that has historically relied on its bountiful natural resources and awe-inspiring geographical location where the mountains meet the ocean.
The biggest difference between living and working in Vancouver instead of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area is people have a much better work-life balance as the surrounding mountains and beaches offer easy access to skiing, mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, camping, sailing, and paddleboarding.
Here are some of the local organizations promoting the startup scene in Vancouver:
1. Vancouver Startup Week – The city’s biggest startup festival happening annually in late September.
2. Launch Academy – A government and investor-backed program for startups.
3. Innovate BC – Providing funding, expertise, and connections for startups.
4. BC Business – Local business magazine covering tech companies.
5. DigiBC – Support Vancouver’s growing video game, VR and AR development industry.
6. Business In Vancouver – A local publication that publishes data about local businesses.
Creative Spaces To Meet People:
As the old axiom goes: it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. Networking and building relationships is a good big part of getting hired for the vast majority of good creative tech jobs.
Here are some of the best groups and creative spaces in the city to meet new friends and make connections with entrepreneurial and artistic people:
1. TechVancouver – The biggest entrepreneurship meetup of startup founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the city.
2. YVR Startups – Startup leaders and local creative professionals share their startup stories and expertise in panel discussions followed by networking mixers.
3. Internet Masterminds – A great group hosted by local social media entrepreneur Matt Astifan that features talks by successful online entrepreneurs, digital marketers and affiliate marketers.
4. Vancouver Founders – Originally called Vancouver Pixel Crafters, this meetup created by local entrepreneur and investor Boris Mann and is now managed by Launch Academy.
5. Creative Mornings Vancouver – The local Toronto chapter of Creative Mornings featuring local speakers from the creative arts and digital media communities.
Finding Creative Jobs At Vancouver Startups:
There are a lot of vibrant local industries and many tech companies that are regularly hiring in the city of Vancouver.
Canada’s Innovation Grants and Incentives:
There is a low barrier in Canada to entry for entrepreneurial people who want to create their own jobs.
1. Invest Canada – Learn about some of Canada’s lucrative R&D programs and other incentives for business research and innovation.
2. Corporate Tax Credits and Incentives – Canada provides significant incentives for creative R&D in film, media, interactive digital media, computer animation, and special effects.
3. Innovation Canada – A tool from the Canadian government to find programs and services that can grow your business.
4. Wage Assistance Programs – The Apprenticeship Job Creation Tax Credit allows employers to claim up to $2,000 per year for each eligible apprentice and the Canada Job Grant incentivizes employers to better train employees.
Fast-Growing Vancouver Startups:
Here some notable Vancouver startups and innovative tech companies that are actively growing and hiring new talent.
Keep in mind that 95% of startups fail so some of these companies many have recently pulled the plug on the website and business.
Green energy is a fast-growing industry In Vancouver.
1. General Fusion – A global leader in nuclear fusion.
3. Corvus Energy – Lithium-ion battery system for industry.
3. Ballard Power – Fuel cell technology.
4. Innergex – Renewable energy producer.
5. Axine – Wastewater treatment.
6. Etalim – Modular power generation from waste heat.
Pioneering companies finding new ways of generating power, cleaning water and creating sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.
1. Saltworks – Turning saltwater and wastewater into potable water.
2. AweSense – Smart grid technology.
3. EnWave – Vacuum-microwave dehydration technology.
4. Solegear Bioplastics – Biodegradable plastics.
5. Ostara – Converts wastewater to fertilizer.
6. SunCentral – Sunlight atriums.
7. Intuitive AI – Zero waste AI platform.
Vancouver’s social media startup sector is very strong.
1. Hootsuite – Social media dashboard.
2. Social Creators – Brand storytelling.
3. PlentyOfFish – Free dating website.
4. TradableBits – Social engagement platform.
5. Trulioo – Global identification technology.
6. CogniLab – Online research platform.
7. Strutta – Social promotions and contest platform.
8. Quiet.ly – Personalized lists and recommendations.
9. Content DJ – Identify engaging content.
10. PlaceSpeak – Location-based civic engagement platform.
iOS and Android app development agencies in the city.
1. QuickMobile – Mobile event apps.
2. East Side Games – Marijuana-themed mobile games.
3. A Thinking Ape – Mobile gaming company.
4. FitBrains – Brain training apps.
5. TapStream – Mobile app marketing platform.
6. Mobify – Mobile ecommerce platform.
7. Conquer Mobile – Mobile app development.
8. AirG – Mobile social discovery platform.
9. HotHead Games – Sports games on mobile.
10. EventBase – Event app platform.
11. Generate – Creative photo and video editing app.
12. Axiom Zen – Mobile innovation studio.
Fitness and Wearable Tech:
Vancouver is one of the healthiest cities in the world and the health and fitness sector is a growth industry here.
1. Fitplan – Fitness plans from social media influencers.
2. LifeBooster – Real-time safety monitoring systems.
3. WIIV – 3D Printed custom insoles.
4. TZOA – Wearable enviro-trackers.
5. Vandrico – Context-aware wearable technology.
6. MIO Global – Heart rate monitoring watches.
Mixed Reality AI, IoT
Vancouver has one of the largest augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) innovation clusters.
1. Finger Food Studios – Large AR, AI and IoT innovation studio.
2. Cognitive 3D – Analytics for digital realities.
3. Archiact – Virtual reality design studio.
4. LNG Studios – Architectural rendering and 3D visualization studio.
5. Llama Zoo – Interactive AR/VR/MR studios.
6. Antheer – Augmented reality solutions for industry.
There is a lot of local activity in the digital marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) space.
1. Unbounce – Landing page platform for marketers.
2. Vision Critical – Customer intelligence platform.
3. ResponseTek – Customer experience management software.
4. Allocadia – Marketing performance management platform.
5. Spokal – Inbound marketing platform.
6. Equire – CRM tools.
7. Wishpond – Online marketing platforms.
8. Carburetor – Automated outbound sales
9. ThinkCX – Data platform for call centres.
10. NiceJob – Reviews and reputation platform.
Retail and Ecommerce:
Online shopping is disrupting the local store. These companies are on the cutting edge of ecommerce.
1. Indochino – Buy suits and dress clothes online.
2. BuildDirect – A massive platform for home builders.
3. iQmetrix – Wireless retail technology.
4. ShoeMe – Canadian shoe selling alternative to Zappos.
5. Elastic Path – Ecommerce software.
6. LemonStand – Online store platform.
7. Ethical Deal – Groupon for ethical products.
Local companies innovating in the massive cloud computing space.
Digital Media Companies:
Vancouver has a thriving digital media and advertising sector.
1. Adbusters – Culture jammers.
2. Blast Radius – Award-winning digital agency.
3. Cossette – Big ad agency.
4. Tribal DDB – Part of the DDB conglomerate.
5. Invoke Media – Spun off of Hootsuite.
6. Smash Lab – Impressive designers.
7. Habanero – Conversion optimization.
8. Rainmaker – 3D graphics and animation.
9. Gener8 – 3D Art Studio.
As Hollywood North, Vancouver has a healthy industry of streaming online video companies.
1. Broadband TV – Streaming video channels.
2. VideoClix – Interactive video ads.
3. SendToNews – Sports highlight video distribution.
4. UrTheCast – The world’s first live space streaming camera.
5. Perch – Live streaming video portal.
6. Reelhouse – Film creator community.
7. CineCoup – The film accelerator.
8. Fantasy360 – Virtual and augmented reality.
Some innovative companies building the future of computing and hardware.
1. D-Wave – A global leader in quantum computing.
2. Recon Instruments – Wearable technology like Google Glass.
3. RedLen – Semiconductor radiation detectors.
4. Avigilon – Surveillance technology.
5. Captherm – Cooling system for high-power electronics.
6. Elix Wireless – Wireless power transfer technology
7. MTT Innovation – Laser project technology.
8. MDA – Commercial satellites.
9. Point Grey – High-performance digital cameras.
10. Zaber – Motorized linear slides.
11. Tinkerine – 3D printer manufacturer.
12. Epic Semiconductors – Innovative chips.
Vancouver has one of the largest video game development industries in the world.
1. United Front Games – Xbox One and PS4 games.
2. Battlefy – Online gaming platform.
3. EA Canada – Sports video games.
4. Black Tusk Studios – Xbox 360 games.
5. Roadhouse Interactive – Mobile gaming company.
6. Victory Square Games – Mobile educational games.
Medical and Biotechnology:
With UBC an international biotechnology leader, Vancouver is a hotbed for innovation in the medical sector.
1. Zymeworks – Protein biotherapeutics.
2. Phemi – Process automation and big data for health care.
3. Ayoga – Gamification of patient self-care.
4. Medeo – Connect with local doctors.
5. StemCell Technologies – Scientists helping scientists.
6. Mckesson – Medical imaging solutions
7. Telus Health – Innovative eHealth solutions.
8. Kardium – Medical device for treating atrial fibrillation.
9. Coastal Genomics – Makers of a gel electrophoresis machine for gene separation.
Healthy eating is something of a religion in Vancouver. Naturally, food is a sexy industry for innovators.
Local companies trying to disrupt the financial sector with Bitcoin, Ethereum, cryptocurrency and other financial innovations.
1. Payfirma – Mobile credit card payments like Square.
2. Digital Payments Technology – Digital parking meters.
3. Bench – Virtual bookkeeping service.
4. Quadriga CX – Bitcoin trading platform.
5. FrontFundr – Crowdfunding investment for startups.
6. Grow – Digital banking solutions.
Charity is going digital and these startups are at the forefront of this industry.
Local education companies trying to disrupt traditional education.
1. Thinkific – Online course platform.
2. LearnDot – Enterprise learning solutions.
3. Lighthouse Labs – Coding bootcamp.
4. CodeCore – Web developer coding boot camp.
5. My Yoga – Online yoga classes.
6. CoderCompanion – Code architecture visualization.
7. Animist Ecology – Eco-mindfulness training.
Online software as a service (SASS) for business.
1. Slack – Team communication platform (now based in SF).
2. Procurify – Business spending management software
3. Contractually – Easy legal contracts.
4. Clio – Hire out legal work.
5. KarmaHire – Job ads platform.
6. Rise – HR and payroll management.
7. Klue – Competitive Intelligence.
Other emerging Vancouver startups that don’t quite fit anywhere else.
1. Weddingful – A platform for planning weddings.
2. Modo – Car sharing platform.
3. KeyCafe – Manage keys for rental properties on AirBNB.
4. EchoSec – Location-Based Social Media Search.
5. Indiloop – Music remix platform.
6. SpaceList – Commercial real estate marketplace.
7. Poparide – Ridesharing platform.
8. Cube2Go – On-demand storage.