The Current

Canadian startup founders on disruptive innovation

The Canadian startup scene is heating up. Meet three people whose startups are sending seismic signals into industries as diverse as construction, health care and financial services.
From L to R: : Dr. Joshua Landy, co-founder and chief medical officer for Figure1; Mallorie Brodie, CEO & co-founder of Bridgit; Michael Katchen, founder and CEO of Wealthsimple. (Courtesy of Dr. Joshua Landy, Michael Katchen and Mallorie Brodie)

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>> The Disruptors

Canada's startup community is having a moment right now. Big successes like Hootsuite and wattpad have created momentum and attracted attention. 

According to Google Canada, outside Silicon Valley, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor represents the highest concentration of startups on the planet.

"The ecosystem especially at the ground level is really positive here right now." - Josh Landy, co-founder and chief medical officer at the Canadian startup  Figure1 . 

Landy tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that in his observations Canadian startups typically have a focus on diversity and equality in the workplace, "making sure that people have a positive experience working there, and work really hard to retain talented engineers and staff."

"You imprint your cultural DNA on the way people interact at that place," says Landy.

Founder and CEO of the wealth management app Wealthsimple, Michael Katchen agrees. 

Before starting his company, he had been living in San Francisco, not far from the centre of the startup universe: Silcon Valley, California. But when he had the idea for Wealthsimple, Katchen tells Tremonti, he decided to come home to Canada. 

"When I moved to California, I made a huge number of friends from Toronto that were working in the startup environment there," he says. "In my three years in San Francisco, all of them moved home and all of them started businesses in Toronto. 

I saw something happening here and I wanted to move home to be part of it.- Michael Katchen, Founder and CEO of the wealth management app Wealthsimple

Mallorie Brodie, CEO and co-founder of the construction management startup Bridgit, says one challenge facing Canadian startups is the need to import experienced talent from the U.S. In order to expand rapidly, startups need people who have experience growing similar companies — and a lot of that talent resides in Silicon Valley, she tells Tremonti. 

"We...don't have the talent that has gone through that rapid growth to the extent that some of the U.S. markets do." - Mallorie Brodie, CEO and co-founder of the construction management startup Bridgit

"Anything you can do to make recruitment easier to bring in the talent to Canada, to bring in those individuals that have rapidly scaled some of the largest companies in the U.S., is something that will really help companies in the Canadian market accelerate." 

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith.