Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to Toronto, Silicon Valley North

A tech revolution is taking off right here right now in Toronto. What does that mean for you and me? It means exciting work opportunities and fierce competition for creative technical talent.

Why are companies such as EA, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Disney, Facebook, Twitter and Google partnering with and buying Toronto tech companies?
  1. Excellent People – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook says it best, "We have not once bought a company for the company. We buy companies to get excellent people."
  2. Great Schools – Toronto has access to a wealth of talent being produced in schools like Waterloo (Masters Program in Technology Entrepreneurship), University of Toronto, Sheridan College, Queens University, and many others which have world renowned Technology and Engineering programs.
  3. Community – Toronto has a community of young tech entrepreneurs who are building word class companies and networking at camps, informal meetings and through social media sites like Sprouter.
  4. Government Tax Credits – SR & ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development). “SHRED” gives millions in stimulus dollars to small and medium sized businesses. CEO of Polar Mobile, Kunal Gupta, says he “briefly looked at outsourcing to India or China but between the talent and the tax credits, we realized it was cheaper to do it in Toronto.”
  5. Extreme Labs creates an environment for developers to build companies and follow their dreams. They run a very cool training program for young entrepreneurs who are given $5000 and during a 12 week session create products that are presented to a group of VC’s and investors (Dragon’s Den Style). The three companies that were successful last year raised 1.5M.
  6. Funding – Money is becoming more available to entrepreneurs. Companies such as Tech Capital, RBC Ventures, Blackberry Partners Fund, Extreme Venture Partners and Growthworks are investing millions in technology startups.
  7. New Devices – This tech trend has staying power. Smart phones are selling more rapidly than PC’s. Tablets will gain market share as the price point comes down over the next 6 months. Apps are driving sales of these devices.
Let’s look at some of the recent amazing success stories of Toronto companies:
  • Polar Mobile – 6 million downloads of their apps – Sports Illustrated, Time, Food Networks, CNN, CBS, NCAA Sports, and 500 new apps to come for Microsoft
  • Five Mobile – custom apps for Rogers, Disney and Sony Pictures – one of their apps for the The Score has over 6 million downloads
  • Rypple – just raised 7M – their software integrates smartphones and office email
  • Extreme Ventures – invested in 14 tech start ups – 250 staff – one of their companies BumpTop recently sold for a rumoured 35M to Google
  • Sysomos – allows corporate clients to analyze Twitter and Facebook conversations – sold last summer for 35M
  • Endloop – fantastic app called iMockups that gives developers a template for developing apps on an iPad – all object oriented
Toronto is an exciting place to be right now if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and you’re interested in app development. We are fortunate to have a number of these companies as our clients.

Action Points

  • Talk to us about the possibility of working for one of these companies. Email us at
  • Join the conversation and network with entrepreneurs. Join Sprouter, a Twitter-like community for startups and entrepreneurs, and answer the question “What are you working on?”
  • Read more about the tech revolution in this November 2010 Toronto Life Feature Article "Download My App" posted by Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile:

Written by Tim Collins


  1. Hey Tim,

    Thanks so much for including Sprouter in this article. Great run-down of the booming Toronto technology scene!

    Community Manager, Sprouter

  2. Hi Erin,

    I really appreciate your comment! Sprouter provides a great platform for entrepreneurs to network, share ideas and find solutions. Love your newsletter too.

    Tim Collins

  3. Hey Tim, I'm right into Sprouter and heard Kunal speak a couple months ago and was impressed, lots to be proud of in the Toronto tech scene right now. But this is just beginning, lots of innovation ahead and big exits to truly earn the Silicon Valley North honour.

    Great article, just shared it via Twitter @JeremyCampbell

  4. Hi Jeremy,

    I believe we will hit a real tipping point in Toronto with mobile developers and mobile development companies in 2011. The big exits will need to come to retain the mobile developers that have 2 years of J2ME, Objective C, and Android. They have worked 60 or 70 hour weeks for the past couple of years. If a few big exits come...others will "follow the dream"