Think Global - How Canadian identities and local networks can provide pathways to international audiences.
How Canadian identities and local networks can
provide pathways to international audiences
A Workshop by Qasim Virjee
Community Development, Canada
SoftLayer, an IBM Company
The Canadian Startup story is different than elsewhere in the world.
We can’t emulate the Valley in just one area of the country and Canadian
entrepreneurs need to consider their collective cultural strengths - which
set them apart and above Americans and others.
• Huge Geography
• Limited local $ (In 2014, VC $1.9B invested in 379 deals)
• Seed vs after-round ﬁnance availability
• MegaDeals [$100M+] unlikely
• Cultural emulation makes success impossible
• Canadians spend the most time online /week globally
• We look at more diverse content than anyone else in the world
• Canadians pay some of the highest rates in the world for Internet
access (i.e. its important to us.)
• English speaking Canadians spend ~7hrs/week more than French
Solutions: Digital Culture
• More than 200 ethnic diversities (2011 National Household Survey.)
• Nearly 7million Canadians are foreign-born (~21%) (2011)
• Canada’s average immigration intake is ~250,000 people
• Asia was the largest immigration source over the past 5 years
• 70% of visible minority groups live between Montreal, Vancouver and
Toronto (where ~50% of the population is non caucasian.)
Solutions: Cultural Diversity
• Community (2/3 of Canadians in a statistics canada survey in 2008
reported feeling a ‘very strong sense of community belonging.’)
• Ease of corporate registration
• Mainly urban populations
• Ethnic diversity
• Living cultural links
Unique Value Propositions
• Founder: Nana Osei
• Goal: Fair wage jobs in Ghana
• Product: Lightweight eyeglasses made of reclaimed redwood, zebra
wood and bamboo.
• Global Story: Designed in Canada, materials from Ghana,
produced in Japan and China.
• Founders: Jeremy Johnson, Christina Sass, Iyonoluwa Aboyeji, Ian Carnevale
• Goal: Give brilliant young people in Africa an on-ramp to the digital economy
and give companies access to world-class talent.
• Product: Global talent acceleration & skills marketing/placement.
• Global Story: Co-founders based between Toronto & Lagos accepted to
Highline Accelerator in Toronto (formerly Extreme Startups) before pivoting,
rebranding & sourcing global investments (incl. Steve Case (co-founder AOL)
& Omidyar Network (eBay founder’s foundation.)
Examples: Andela (ex-Fora)