Canadian start-ups get helping hand from Silicon Valley Canucks

They have hit it big south of the border and are now ready to lend a helping hand to fellow Canadian entrepreneurs developing their companies in the tech industry.

Although the organization has only been active for 18 months, the C100 has quickly become a player in the Canadian tech landscape, partnering with various groups and agencies to produce events geared towards mentoring local business owners and connecting them with potential investors.

Arthur Wong participates in a panel discussion on building globally competitive startups. (From left: Robert Simon, Arthur Wong, Derek Ball, Dups Wijayawardhana)

The not-for-profit organization is the brainchild of Anthony Lee, general partner at Altos Ventures
Management Inc.
, a software and digital media investment firm and Chris Albinson, manager and co-founding director of Panorama Capital, a technology and life science venture capitalist firm.

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Modeled on the success of organizations such as California Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) and The Indus Entreprenuers (TiE), the C100 is actively involved in mentoring Canadian entrepreneurs and accelerating startups through personal connections in California’s Silicon Valley.

One hundred of the most successful entrepreneurs, tech executives, and venture capitalists living in Northern California were selected as charter members to support the C100 mission, and are expected to actively contribute capital and time, said Atlee Clark, program director of C100.

Their involvement is leading to the development of a strong Canadian tech ecosystem, with an increasingly well connected talent pool both in Canada and in California, said Clark.

The C100 produces events such as AccelerateAB, AccelerateTO, AccelerateMTL, and the GROW conferences.

The C100 also organizes ‘48hrs in the Valley‘, a mentoring event held several times a year which brings Canadian startups to Silicon Valley and exposes them to entrepreneurs, tech executives, and venture capitalists.

Through these introductions, invaluable connections are made leading to long term mentoring opportunities and a flourishing Canadian tech ecosystem. To date, 98 companies have raised over $125 million in investment capital as a result of introductions by C100 members, said IronKey CEO Arthur Wong.

Local start-ups get a push at AccelerateAB


At the recent AccelerateAB conference in Calgary, attendees in a tightly packed room at the Mount Royal University heard a very upbeat message from serial social media entrepreneur and C100 member Howard Lindzon founder of the company StockTwits, a stock trading social site.

Related story – StockTwits founder wants you to learn from his mistakes

Expressing his confidence in the small and medium sized business (SMB) tech sector, Lindzon told the audience: “Start a business or work for a startup now”.

Lindzon’s keynote kicked off the afternoon with a focus on building successful startups in a country not recognized for its tech ecosystem.

Howard Lindzon at AccelerateAB

Integrity, passion, and serendipity were the keywords heard throughout the afternoon, with speakers and panelists agreeing that the most successful startups consist not only of the right ideas, but a shared passion for the product, trusted partners, and a little luck.

Building a social layer in biz

Although a business idea may be brilliant, it requires the right combination of resources at the right time to get it off the ground, the speakers said.

Lindzon spoke of the importance of the social layer in business, espousing social networks’ ability to add context to business in ways Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn cannot.

For instance, he said, StockTwits draws social correlations between stocks similar investors like, resulting in the creation of micro-communities. Within the social trading site, members share trading ideas about stocks, futures, foreign exchanges or the market and economy in the form of short messages.

Need for global strategy

Lindzon’s cheerleading was tempered by Wong, CEO of online security solution firm IronKey and C100 member.

Wong said the lack of a strong global strategy as the biggest weakness in Canadian startups.

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Although Canadian entrepreneurs develop innovative ideas, he said, startups are missing a strong go-to-market piece mainly due to the Canadian reliance on a commodity economy. “Do you say you are a global company or do you act like you are?” he challenged Canadian entrepreneurs.


Martin Studzinski is a marketing and communications professional and technology enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter @martstudz or reach him via email at [email protected].

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