There are challenges to building companies in Canada. But those challenges are no greater than ones faced elsewhere in the world.
This was one conclusion drawn at the World Congress on Information Technology, which was held in Montreal last week. The Digital Innovation in Canada panel discussed this very topic. Comprised of Isabelle Bettez, Aled Edwards, Jennifer Evans, Valerie Fox, and Kunal Gupta, the panel explained that no country is perfect for launching startups—and Canada is, in fact, one of the better ones.
"I'm always reticent to talk about a Canadian problem,” said Aled, a university professor and founding chief executive of the Structured Genomics Consortium. "Because if you go to a meeting in Boston you'll get the same kind of stuff.”
“Entrepreneurship is hard regardless of where you're based,” agreed Kunal, CEO of Toronto-based startup Polar Mobile. He added that Canada has good engineering and technical talent but a shortage of sales and marketing talent.
“I think Canada is an amazing place to start a company,” affirmed Jennifer, chief executive of Sequentia Environics, a Toronto marketing firm. Investors may be more conservative than in Silicon Valley, but everyone wants Canadian startups to succeed.
"One of the big challenges we have in Canada is the fact that we are pretty young at it still,” said Isabel, president of 8D Technologies, a Montreal-based technology firm. “We don't have any generations that have done it.”
“I don't think there are enough experienced entrepreneurs that younger guys like me can learn from,” Kunal agreed. He urges successful entrepreneurs to devote more time to mentoring.