Vancouver: Canada’s Greatest Startup City? An update 2.5 years later

Yesterday ReadWriteWeb included Vancouver in its Never Mind the Valley series and the blog post touted Vancity as a fine option for those looking to ‘start-up’.

When you talk about vibrant West Coast startup scenes, obviously Silicon Valley dominates the conversation. Then there’s Seattle, of course. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Portland too. But just north of the border, the entrepreneurs in Vancouver, British Columbia insist that their city should be viewed alongside these other prominent West Coast hot-spots.

Home to the recent Olympic Winter Games, the coastal city is Canada’s eighth largest, often ranking as one of the most livable cities in the world. Known for its proximity to both the mountains and the ocean, it’s a great spot for the outdoorsy, the adventurous, and yes, the entrepreneurial.

vancouver skyline

This very positive post on Vancouver reminded me of a similar one written in August of 2007 by Victoria Revay over on Montreal Tech Watch titled Vancouver: Canada’s Greatest Start-Up City?.

In the post Revay goes through the standard list of reasons why any city is a great place to start a tech business – access to capital, great talent pool, quality of life, etc.

Very similar to ReadWriteWeb’s 2011 prognosis.

Looking back two and a half years later the most interesting part of Revay’s post is most definitely the list of Vancouver companies that she used to back up her argument. How about a couple updates.

 

NowPublic.com was just named one of TIME’s 50 best websites of 2007 and the company also announced a $10.6 million round of financing early last week. Co-founder and CEO Leonard Brody’s vision of building the largest news organization in the world where anyone with a cell phone can make the news is fast becoming a reality.

UPDATE: NowPublic was acquired by Examiner.com for a reported $25 million in September 2009 and no longer has the majority of its staff in Vancouver.

Club Penguin is actually Kelowna based, but we’ll pool it with the Vancouver crew of cool startups. This virtual playground for kids was just acquired by Disney for $700 million. Lane Merrifield, Dave Krysko and Lance Priebe’s startup did well.

UPDATE: Club Penguin is now part of the Disney Interactive Media Group but still calls Kelowna home. Reports are that the founders have missed out on lucrative earnouts but this was still a huge acquisition for BC.

DabbleDB lets you crate and share a database and then build an application on top of it. The platform is innovative, with a simple point-and-click interface.

UPDATE: In June of 2010 DabbleDB’s parent company was acquired by Twitter.

Bryght builds online dynamic communities and interactive websites and best of all “Bryght sites are flexible, secure and search engine optimized out of the box.”

UPDATE: Bryght was acquired by Raincity Studios and then shut down. Raincity suffered the same fate.

Plenty of Fish is the world’s largest online dating website that generates over “500,000 relationships a year”. Markus Frind still runs the site out of his Vancouver apartment with no employees.

UPDATE: Frind is still in Vancouver but no longer runs the site out of his apartment and has 20 employees.

Email2 is a courier of email. Thierry Levasseur’s company delivers mall & medium sized businesses as a service, email2 seamlessly integrates with your existing email infrastructure.

UPDATE: Email2 has been very quiet locally but they appear to still be kicking along with offices in Portland and Vancouver.

Sxip Identity is Dick Hardt’s identity 2.0 that works on new identity models for the digital world.

UPDATE: Sxip Identity didn’t survive and ended in a battle between Hardt and investors in May of 2008.

ElasticPath is an ecommerce platform that maximizes sales with little time and effort. It also has the most powerful AJAX single screen check out available.

UPDATE: Elastic Path continues to grow and is a shining example of what is possible when you grow a business in Vancouver. This week they hired senior executives from ATG and SAP to help chart their strategic future.

Certainly a mixed bag of results – a couple failures, a couple acquisitions, and a couple businesses building equity in Vancouver. It’s still safe to say that Vancouver is a solid Canadian option for tech startups looking for a home.