Archive for the ‘Startup Ecosystems’ Category

Mexico Bank Buys Into Singapore Startup in a Big Way

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

For Singapore startup Lucep, their first product hit came from India’s banking industry, with a virtual queue service called VirtuaQ, reports Tech In Asia’s Malavika Velayanikal.

The next generation of VirtuaQ, Lucep OmniPath, is what COO and co-founder Zal Dastur calls “an omnichannel management system” built for banks and medical clinics.

The impact has been international: A leading Mexican bank chain bought into the product in a big way, licensing it for 1,800 branches.

“A lot of banks are looking for ways in which they can reach customers that have never dealt with banks before. These customers expect a bank to behave like any other consumer business,” Dastur said in an interview with Tech In Asia.

An Innovation Mindset: Silicon Valley’s Biggest Export

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Silicon Valley’s biggest export isn’t the iPhone, Google search or Tesla cars. It’s an Innovation Mindset and right now it’s getting exported at an exponential rate.

Over the course of the last 20 years, Silicon Valley has produced some of the most disruptive and game-changing innovations in the world. In just a 49 square mile radius you’ll find three of the 10 largest companies in the world by market capitalization: Facebook, Google and Apple. Dozens of others are making massive businesses by overturning old markets: Uber, Airbnb and Netflix to name just a few.

Virtually every major world city now has some form of Startup Hub, at least partly inspired by Silicon Valley. It’s here you’ll find the scrappy local entrepreneurs huddled in co-working spaces hammering out the next big disruption. And, virtually all of this is new in just the last 10 years.

Corporations are taking note that innovation is on an exponential growth curve and are fighting to not be left behind.

Spending for R&D programs worldwide is now at an all-time high with little sign of slowing and, among them, technology companies lead the pack. In a recent Global Innovation Study by PwC, it was found that nine of the top 20 R&D spenders were tech companies. Unsurprisingly, many of those names listed are the companies we’ve come to associate with growth and success.

Organizations are starting to respond: Corporate Innovation Officers and Head of Innovation roles, virtually unknown 10 years ago, are becoming a de facto standard in corporate America.

There is very little room to argue against innovation leading to success. Despite this knowledge, companies are struggling under this sudden “innovate or perish” imperative. Transformation doesn’t happen with business as usual, and change makers are increasingly turning to the tools, techniques and cultural approaches that created the Silicon Valley boom as their guiding light.

New thought leaders like Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, and Geoffrey Moore, creator of Crossing the Chasm, are exporting this knowhow to the world. Corporations are also discovering that innovation culture is at odds with their traditional quarterly-driven mindset and are looking for solutions.

On his blog, Silicon Valley guru Steve Blank points out that a business’ innovation practice needs to be uniquely accepting to experimentation and failure in order to achieve long-term success. Indeed, the “fail fast” and experimentation culture of Silicon Valley lore is starting to make sense for corporations that need to push conventional boundaries to remain competitive.

Innovation is hard, there is no doubt — and by any objective measure, Silicon Valley has led the way. As cities and companies battle to stay on top, it’s awareness of this that will separate the winners from the losers.

That’s why the Innovation Mindset is, and will remain, Silicon Valley’s biggest export.

Overpromising and Other Lessons Learned From Failed Unicorns

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

Since unicorns — valued at more than $1 billion — are given valuations based on the promise of future growth, it’s not surprising many never live up to their potential.

In Entrepreneur Magazine, guest writer Daniel Neiditch highlights five major pitfalls that prevent unicorns from actually living up to the hype.


“Lofty goals are an important thing to have,” he writes, “but your business can’t be based on something you’re not ready to deliver.”

Not Valuing The Workforce

As the vital cogs that keep a growing company’s engine moving, it’s important to value the contributions of your employees.

Trying to Grow too Fast

Be patient. Don’t give into the temptation to spend like a big company.


Be honest with customers (and employees too).

Ignoring the Competition

A great idea is one thing but you need to prepare for the competition you will almost certainly face down the road.

High Rents Driving Biotech Startups Out of New York and Boston

Monday, August 21st, 2017

Young people aren’t the only ones who can’t afford the rent in New York. Biotech firms are also leaving the Big Apple in search of affordable accommodations outside the city.

Though the city offer numerous benefits to growing companies, lab space is simply too expensive to build and operate, says Andras Forgacs, chief executive of biotech startup Modern Meadow.

“We don’t have the time and we don’t have the capital to be in the real estate development business in New York City,” he told VentureBeat. “That’s not what our investors asked for.”

Modern Meadow would have had to pay $200 million to build its own lab in New York. Instead, it found existing lab space in New Jersey.

It’s a similar story in Boston.

Triple net leases are $78.50 a square foot in Cambridge but drop to just $15 in the outer ring of Boston’s suburbs, according to brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield.

Vancouver is a VR and AR Hub of the Future

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

In the global technology race, successful cities are constantly searching for fresh ways to innovate and grow new startups. One of the emerging hot spots is the field of virtual and augmented reality, where the city of Vancouver is aiming to position itself as the up-and-coming global hub.

Here are three advantages that could turn Vancouver’s dreams of becoming a virtual juggernaut into reality:


With a stable of legendary video game studios and top mobile game developers, Vancouver has built a solid reputation as a center for digital creativity. But its film production and VFX communities also set Vancouver apart: local film studios have created many of the jaw-dropping set-pieces in recent Hollywood blockbusters, with some receiving Academy Award nominations for their work. Given the intersections of film in VR and AR, the outstanding talent pipeline that has made these entertainment studios successful is sure to play a huge role in fostering local startups.


From sea to sky, Vancouver has always enjoyed spectacular scenery. But its prime location is close enough to key innovation hubs like Silicon Valley — and even exploding digital markets like China — give Vancouver a clear advantage as VR startups seek new investors and begin launching in foreign markets. Its status as North America’s “gateway” to Asia has also attracted a diverse student population drawn to local universities and colleges seen as leaders in developing digital talent.

Ecosystem Support

Governments are now realizing the region’s VR and AR potential. The province of British Columbia announced new tax credits at the BC Tech Summit for companies that are making VR and AR entertainment. Local VR and AR talent is also teaming up to launch a center of excellence to collaborate and help startups scale more quickly.

With this depth of talent, along with an attitude of camaraderie and support in the local ecosystem, Vancouver is a sure bet to be a veritable hub of cutting-edge virtual reality entertainment.

Ecosystem Spinoffs: New Tech Hubs Form Outside the City Limits

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Urban tech hubs have followed the trend of San Francisco: As success skyrockets, so too does the cost of living. In British Columbia, New York, California, and beyond, startups are taking advantage of the connected digital age by finding new places to set up HQ.

Offering physical proximity to major tech centers like Vancouver and Silicon Valley, along with a great quality of life, these three up-and-coming startup ecosystems are attracting talent and investment from around the globe.

Okanagan Valley – B.C.

With tech incubators like Accelerate Okanagan helping to attract and develop talent and a new innovation center in the works, the Kelowna/Okanagan Valley area in B.C. is poised to become the next go-to destination for tech companies. The area has already seen tremendous growth, thanks to an attractive lifestyle, a temperate climate, and an affordable cost of living.

Albany/Tech Valley – New York

Encompassing over 250 miles from just north of uber-expensive tech hub New York City, Tech Valley has become the epicenter of the Northeastern U.S. for tech companies with a focus on biotech, nanotechnology, and life sciences, thanks to its concentration of world-class educational facilities. Median incomes in the area have steadily risen since tech investment began to take off.

Silicon Beach – California

As the cost of living and working in Silicon Valley rises, more and more tech startups are heading to the beach—specifically Silicon Beach, an area on the west side of Los Angeles from Santa Monica south to Venice and Playa del Rey.

While these areas once faced significant challenges attracting top talent away from major tech hubs, the narrative is starting to shift. With a continued focus on quality of life and investment in the tech sector, these smaller ecosystems prove that startups can thrive in new environments.

Wealthsimple CEO Takes 2016 Techvibes Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

Wealthsimple launched just over two years ago, and already the Canadian company is rolling out their robo-adviser services across the United States. That’s only part of the reason why CEO Michael Katchen just took top honors as Entrepreneur of the Year at the Techvibes 2016 Canadian Startup Awards.

As the Financial Post reports, Wealthsimple’s steady climb to 20,000 users in Canada and CA$750 million in assets is a result of aggressive but smart expansion, and an outlook that takes national regulations into account while pushing forward with an international vision.

“We want to build one of the largest and most innovative financial services companies globally,” says founder Katchen. “(Our recent U.S. launch) is very rare for a financial services company, especially a company at our stage.” 2016 also saw Wealthsimple introduce socially responsible investment portfolios and a new account minimum of $0, allowing investors of all levels to join.

“It’s exciting for me and for the whole team,” says Katchen of his Entrepreneur of the Year win. “It’s humbling to be in that category with some amazing people. Mike Serbinis (of League) is one of the Canadian entrepreneurs I most admire, so that was awesome.”

Katchen and the Wealthsimple team don’t aim to be industry disruptors: instead they want to be enablers working with financial services professionals to make investment wealth a real possibility for everyone.

“I feel very lucky,” says Katchen. “We feel energized and excited about where we’re going to go from here. We’re just getting started.”

Federal Startup Funding Drives Major Economic Growth

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

A global view confirms that governments are catching up to what VC’s have known for a long time: investing in tech startups has a massive payoff.

As the Globe and Mail reports, Canada’s Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains is urging a push toward increased federal investment in startup tech. It’s easy to see why: countries that invest in startups with a vision and actionable plans see a confirmed economic uptick within just a few years.  

In Singapore, the government has provided enough funding to startups to secure the 10th spot in Compass’s Global Startup Ecosystem Report. This national success story is defined by huge growth and major exits.

Finland’s government investment programs have contributed to the country’s rank in the top five of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) Global Innovation Index. Employment and revenue have consistently risen alongside government investment.

Canada’s tech and startup growth has steadily made the industry a massive pillar of the nation’s economy. While federal funding and tax credits are available, government investment hasn’t risen to a level that recognizes the massive worth of the country’s tech sector.

Entrepreneurial passion and smart private funders continue to drive international tech growth, but governments are an essential part of the startup equation. The countries that recognize this are quickly becoming major players in an increasingly competitiveand excitingglobal tech scene.

Taking Strides Toward Gender Diversity in the Tech World

Monday, February 27th, 2017

As engineer Susan J. Fowler’s viral account of her year at Uber underlined, a lack of gender diversity and faulty HR policies can lead to a vastly flawed corporate culture.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick replied indirectly to Fowler’s allegations with a company letter where he flagged stats of other leading Silicon Valley companies: Women make up less than 20 percent of technology teams at many, if not most, leading Silicon Valley companies.

Correcting imbalance and combating unacceptable behaviour are the responsibility of everyone in the tech industry. Right now, women are taking the lead. Whether through funding, advice, or mentorship, women are helping other women to thrive and succeed.

One of the keys to progress? Women funding other women:

The Clear Link Between VC Diversity And Success For Female Founders

But that’s not enough. VC firms often lack a female partner, which can create a culture of funding the familiar:

Propelling Tech Industry Success For Women: The Right Funders and the Right Insights

Building the ranks of female engineers and innovators starts with education. Organizations like Hackbright Academy are bridging the gender gap in tech through teaching:

Chilecon Valley: An Immigration-Fueled Startup Success Story

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Foreign innovation drives startup economies. In the US alone, 51% of billion-dollar startups were founded by immigrants.

Cities across the world have taken notice: encouraging the free movement of information and talent is crucial to tech sector success. Santiago, Chile, is forging ahead with a government-backed plan to attract top talent.

As reported in Brookings, part of Santiago’s success as Latin America’s tech hub is due to a program called Start Up Chile. The government-backed incubator/accelerator offers $40K of seed capital to entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world, as long as they stay in Chile for at least six months.

Since the program’s launch in 2011, $40 million USD has been invested in 1,309 startups. Out of these startups, 76% are run by foreign entrepreneurs, with 32% of the startups funded by Start Up Chile remaining in the country at the program’s completion. This influx of talent has given Santiago’s ecosystem an enormous boost, and has prompted the nickname “Chilecon Valley.”