Canadian Startups Recognized in Techvibes Annual Contest
By Margo McCall
A friendly buying and selling platform, a quick-and-easy online store builder, and the maker of connected urban bikes were among the members of the Canadian startup community singled out for kudos in Techvibes' 2014 Canadian Startup Awards.
Now in their fourth year, the annual awards celebrate Canada's entrepreneurial talent. This year, more than 40,000 votes were tallied to determine winners following six weeks of nominations and voting.
"These winners represent the best of Canada's startup ecosystem as chosen by the people," said Knowlton Thomas, managing editor of Techvibes.
VarageSale, a platform where local Facebook groups get together to buy and sell, won Startup of the Year. At VarageSale, members of the group list items, comment on them, and then discuss whether they want to purchase them.
Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr, received the 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year award. In 2002, Butterfield, along with Caterina Fake and Jason Classon, founded Ludicorp, which was acquired in 2005 by Yahoo! The company developed a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called Game Neverending, but it was Ludicorp's Flickr photo-sharing website that caught Yahoo's attention.
After leaving Yahoo! in 2008, Butterfield co-founded Tiny Speck, which developed a massively multiplayer game called Glitch and a project management tool called Slack. The company, which now has an office in San Francisco, has raised $60 million in venture funding and generated $1.5 million in revenue as of August 2014.
Shopify, which lets users quickly build their own online stores, was named Employer of the Year. Founded in 2006 by Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake, it powers more than 120,000 online retailers including General Electric, Amnesty International, CrossFit, Tesla Motors, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Foo Fighters, and GitHub. The company employs about 400 people--10 times more than four years ago--and has raised $122 million in funding.
Salesforce SVP Dan Debow was named Angel of the Year 2014. He invests in or advises more than two dozen companies, including: Thalmic Labs, Bionym, Clio, InteraXon, BuildDirect, MeetingHero, Sulfer Heron, and GetGifted. He's also co-founder at social performance management company Rypple and enterprise software firm Workbrain.
OMERS Ventures received the Venture Capital Firm of the Year 2014. The Toronto-based company, a branch of the pension firm OMERS, focuses on the media, telecom, and technology sectors. Vanhawks, which makes connected carbon-fiber urban bikes, was named Accelerator Graduate of the Year 2014.
VarageSale, as well as all three Employer of the Year finalists—winner Shopify and runners-up FreshBooks, and Shopify—will be hiring at the Techvibes Tech Fest in Toronto on February 19, where they will be presented with their awards by Robert Lewis, Techvibes editor-in-chief. Techvibes has been hosting the annual Canadian Startup Awards since 2011.