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:
Last Updated: January 10th, 2022
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.
Notable Vancouver Growth Stories From The Last Year:
Hyper-growth Vancouver startups recently in the news:
1. Vancouver-Based Dapper Labs Raises $250 Million USD
2. AI-powered competitive enablement platform Klue lands $62M
3. Nexii becomes fastest Canadian company to reach unicorn status
4. Vancouver startup Embed raises another $60 million ahead of launch
5. Vancouver-based Thinkific aims to raise $160M through IPO
6. Vancouver, B.C.-based Semios raises $100M for farming tech and services
7. Bench raises $72.5M and relaunches product offering
8. Kris Hartvigsen’s Dooly raises $96.5M Series B round
9. Vancouver-based Blockchain Startup LayerZero Labs Raising $100 Million
10. Visier Announces $125M Series E Funding
Green energy is one of the fast-growing industry in the Lower Mainland.
1. General Fusion – A global leader in nuclear fusion
2. 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
7. Clir Renewables – Turns renewable energy data into action
8. Hydra Energy – Hydrogen-as-a-service for transportation
9. Moment Energy – Repurposing retired electric vehicle batteries
Pioneering companies sustainable technology alternatives.
1. Nexii – Sustainable building technology
2. Saltworks – Turning saltwater and wastewater into potable water
3. 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.
8. ChopValue – Products from recycled chopsticks
9. TruEath – Eco-friendly laundry detergent
10. Acuval – UV-LED water purification systems
Vancouver’s social media startup sector is very strong.
1. Hootsuite – Social media dashboard
2. PlentyOfFish – Free dating website
3. Social Creators – Peer-to-peer accountability
4. TradableBits – Social engagement platform
5. Trulioo – Global identification technology
6. Strutta – Social promotions and contest platform
7. PlaceSpeak – Location-based civic engagement platform
iOS and Android app development agencies in the city.
1. Axiom Zen – Mobile innovation studio
2. East Side Games – Marijuana-themed mobile games
3. A Thinking Ape – Mobile gaming company
4. TapStream – Mobile app marketing platform
5. Mobify – Mobile ecommerce platform
6. Conquer Mobile – Mobile app development
7. AirG – Mobile social discovery platform
8. HotHead Games – Sports games on mobile
9. EventBase – Event app platform
10. Generate – Creative photo and video editing app
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. Vandrico – Context-aware wearable technology
5. LiveKindly – Vegan health and fitness portal
6. Plantiga – Smart insoles for athletes
With interest in cryptocurrencies exploding, blockchain startups are booming.
1. Dappler Labs – The NFT company. Games on the blockchain
2. Layer Zero – Decentralized blockchain connectivity platform
2. Defined – Trader tools for the biggest decentralized exchanges
3. Hive – First publicly traded crypto mining company
4. Stably – Enterprise asset tokenization solutions
5. Covalent – Unified API for blockchain adopters
6. Blockchain Intelligence – Real-time search and data analytics
7. Manifold – Blockchain products for NFT communities
VR, AR and The Internet of Things (IoT):
Vancouver has one of the largest virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence 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
7. Fantasy360 – Virtual and augmented reality
There is a lot of local activity in the digital marketing and CRM (customer relationship management) space.
1. Unbounce – Landing pages 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. Wishpond – Online marketing platforms
7. Carburetor – Automated outbound sales
8. ThinkCX – Data platform for call centres
9. NiceJob – Reviews and reputation platform
10. Copilot AI – Lead generation and sales prospecting
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. Sprocket – Dropshipping for ecommerce retailers
4. iQmetrix – Wireless retail technology
5. Elastic Path – Ecommerce software
Local companies innovating in the massive cloud computing space.
Vancouver has a thriving digital media and advertising sector.
1. Adbusters – Culture jammers
2. Cossette – Big ad agency
3. Tribal DDB – Part of the DDB conglomerate
4. Invoke Media – Spun off of Hootsuite
5. Smash Lab – Impressive designers
6. Habanero – Conversion optimization
7. Rainmaker – 3D graphics and animation
As Hollywood North, Vancouver has a healthy industry of streaming online video companies.
1. Broadband TV – Streaming video channels
2. Lumen5 – AI-powered video creation
3. StoryTap – Video marketing platform
4. SendToNews – Sports highlight video distribution
5. UrTheCast – The world’s first live space streaming camera
6. Perch – Live streaming video portal
7. Reelhouse – Film creator community
8. CineCoup – The film accelerator
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
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
10. Abcellera – AI-powered therapeutic antibody drug discovery platform
Emerging online travel startups based in Vancouver.
Healthy eating is something of a religion in Vancouver. Naturally, food is a sexy industry for innovators.
1. Daiya Food – Dairy-free alternative to cheese
2. Vega – Vegetable and hemp protein products
3. Gardein – Vegan and vegetarian food substitutes
4. Food X – eGrocery Management Solution
5. Nude Beverages – Alcoholic beverages
Vancouver startups who are helping improve agriculture.
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. Bench – Virtual bookkeeping service
3. Quadriga CX – Bitcoin trading platform
3. FrontFundr – Crowdfunding investment for startups
5. Grow – Digital banking solutions
6. Embed – Financial tech company
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. The Urban Camp – Empowering young entrepreneurs
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
8. Certn – AI-powered recruiting
9. Dooly – AI sales assistant platform
10. Visier – People analytics and planning company
Other emerging Vancouver startups that don’t quite fit anywhere else.
1. Weddingful – A platform for planning weddings.
2. Modo – Car sharing platform
3. EchoSec – Location-Based Social Media Search
4. SpaceList – Commercial real estate marketplace
5. Poparide – Ridesharing platform
6. Mojio – Connected-car startup
Any new Vancouver startups that I’ve missed? Feel free to contact me.