Six reasons to keep your startup in Canada, from HootSuite

Your startup doesn’t need to move to the U.S. to achieve success – in fact staying on Canuck soil will make it easier to retain top talent while keeping a high standard of living, according to HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes.

The Vancouver-based entrepreneur presented a compelling argument for keeping your business in Canada at last week’s Grow Conference. Addressing the trepidation felt by entrepreneurs by not being in a tech hot spot such as Silicon Valley, Holmes shared his reasoning behind headquartering HootSuite in Vancouver.

 Business is going through a global decentralization process, he said. “The next big startups are going to be in India and China. You’re no longer going to be forced to move to a centre like Silicon Valley to build a business, and investors are open to that.” Canada possesses an advantage in its close proximity to the United States while offering numerous incentives to develop a business locally.

Holmes referred to the venture capital (VC) meetings he held while fundraising, with many investors questioning his choice of location-he offered several points of reasoning behind the choice to headquarter HootSuite in Vancouver.

Easier to focus on building a product

It is difficult to retain talent in a centre such as Silicon Valley-developers are constantly looking to jump to the next popular startup. Canadian startups also face competition, but a lack of distraction from the next Google or Facebook allows startups to focus on building an excellent product.

Access to a strong talent pool

Canada has many highly educated, experienced engineers, with centres such as Toronto and Vancouver having built an ecosystem of startup entrepreneurs and developers. HootSuite and other startups contribute to the building of engineering talent in Canada.

Higher standard of living

Holmes spoke of his love for Vancouver, a world-class city with access to excellent health care and education. It is not always feasible for founders to uproot themselves and their teams, and Canada offers an excellent quality of life.

Although Canada offers incentives to building a business locally, startups still need to face the fact that the United States is the global centre for commerce. How do startups build a successful business while taking advantage of their close proximity to the United States?

Here are some tips on how to maintain your startup in Canada without suffering any of the disadvantages.

Network, network, network

Attend the big conferences such as Grow and startup events in your city. Many of these conferences fly up entrepreneurs, investors, and tech executives from Silicon Valley-forge meaningful connections with them and make them remember you as “the really cool startup from Edmonton,” says Debbie Landa, CEO of Dealmaker Media and organizer of Grow. These connections will help you make the most of your time when you have to fly down to the United States for meetings.

Leverage your location

Canadians have extremely easy access to the United States-entrepreneurs need to take advantage of this. Canada is the same time zones as the United States, which leads to easy phone meetings. If in-person meetings are required, the major centres are a short, inexpensive flight away.

Incent  investment

Recently it has become very easy for foreign investors to fund Canadian startups. Leverage this to your advantage and highlight the strong Canadian economy to encourage investment. Contact organizations such as the C100 to learn how you can use investment policy to your advantage as a startup headquartered in Canada.

Business is becoming increasingly mobile and global, and Canadians startups are at an advantage of being extremely close to the United States geographically, linguistically, and culturally.

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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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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