Category Archives: Opinions

Toronto or Waterloo / Kitchener for tech startups?

We always want a great place to start our business. In deciding where to bring your business, you must define your priorities on several factors like operating and developer costs. Both, Toronto and Waterloo are considered very business friendly cities but which one is better?

The question below was asked on Quora recently on where it is better to create a technology startup. See the answers given below.

Which is the better place to start a tech startup in Ontario: Toronto or Waterloo? Why? It seems like it would be easier to attract people to Toronto, but Waterloo has a strong support community.

Stavros Rougas , Co-founder Expertise Finder (, journalist, writes:

I co-founded a startup that is based in both Waterloo region (downtown Kitchener at Communitech) and in Toronto.

Waterloo region is better for an early startup:
– cheaper
– engineering talent pool
– far easier to connect with people and get support (ie people more more helpful and open)
– tech is the big industry in town

Where Toronto excels:
– need to raise money (more Canadians with money live here, VCs…)
– partnerships: Canadian head offices are normally in Toronto
– connecting with prominent people beyond tech
– have a bit of traction and need to grow (more of everything available if show a little success)
– pool of creative people beyond engineers (marketing…)
– Toronto is more interesting, this attracts people even though it costs
more, Kitchener-Waterloo remains a nice glorified suburb where you
must have a car to have much of a life (light rail and other pending
projects are changing this slowly)

Jesse Rodgers, Building startups in Toronto. Co-founder of TribeHR. Built up VeloCity:

That is a really complicated question that gets even more complicated by the fact that you don’t hear about the activity in Toronto and *everything* startup or tech related gets coverage in Waterloo. I don’t think either place is better than the other but each has it strengths, you decide which you value more.

What I think Toronto’s strengths are:
High net worth individuals that have built $100M+ companies in Canada, have a track record of investing in and helping tech companies grow, and will likely found another company themselves.
Research and talent – there is $1.2 Billion in research annually at the University of Toronto alone and 17K grad students from the top schools across North America.
The city is coming of age and offers a heck of a lifestyle for young adults. You can rent a condo right down town where you and the founding team can live/work… it is a more common practice than people think.

What I think Waterloo’s strengths are:
There is a tight community of founders that know how to get from the idea stage to seed level with a great support network to make the scary ‘founding a company’ feel less scary. This is a huge plus btw.
You can easily access the Co-op student talent at the University of Waterloo which is *the best* talent you will find at an undergraduate level anywhere in North America. It is also extremely cost effective talent.
You can still access Toronto’s ecosystem from Waterloo — this one is diminishing quickly as the transit situation is rapidly deteriorating (it now takes over 4 hours for a round trip, it was 2 hours) however there are ways to still make it work.

Have fun with your choice… and remember location won’t make you successful unless you are in retail 😉


15 Canadian Tech Entrepreneurs To Follow on Twitter

Recently, we showed you the top Canadian tech accounts on LinkedIn to follow if you want an inside look at the tech startup industry in Canada. Now, we’re focusing on the best and boldest tech experts that Tweet tips from across the country.

Follow these legendary pioneers in business and technology and your newsfeed will fill with riches, how to make it in business, and things you should or should not do. You’ll finally be that much closer to making your millions. American dream is alive and well but has moved north to Canada.

Here are our 15 favourite Canadian tech entrepreneurs on Twitter.

LP Maurice / Montreal, NYC
CEO & Co-founder of travel startup @Busbud. Entrepreneur, traveler, maker. Blog: @ASwellBlog.


Ian Jeffrey / Montreal
Father. Husband. Marketer. Speaker. Foodie. HABS fan. GM & CPO of True Key. Co-Founder of MTLinTECH & FounderFuel.


Tobi Lütke / Canada
Verified account @tobi @Shopify CEO by day, Dad in the evening, hacker at night. – Rails Core alumni; Author of ActiveMerchant, Liquid. Comprehensivist


Stewart Butterfield / West coast
Slack boss • Flickr co-founder • ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ • I’m trying my hardest!


Robert Herjavec / Wherever I need to be.
Dad, Husband, Founder & CEO of global cybersecurity firm Herjavec Group, Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank, Author


Ryan Holmes / YVR/SFO/NYC
Entrepreneur, investor, future enthusiast, inventor, hacker. Lover of dogs, owls and outdoor pursuits. Founder and CEO of Hootsuite.


Darrell Etherington / Toronto, ON
Transportation and automotive reporter at TechCrunch


Allen Lau / Toronto-Waterloo Corridor
Married2 @MrsEvaLau. @Wattpad CEO/cofounder. 3x entrepreneur. Two Small Fish Ventures cofounder. Jesus follwr. I luv wattpadding,gadgets,cars&making new things.


Shahrzad Rafati / Vancouver, Canada
<em?Founder and CEO @BroadbandTV – Avid about job creation, entrepreneurism, critical & creative thinking, and healthy lifestyles.


Andrew Casale – Toronto / New York
President & CEO of Index Exchange, sarcastic, sometimes thoughtful, ad tech exec Toronto / New York


Eva Lau / Canada
Co-founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, former Head of Community of @Wattpad. Married to @allenlau and most importantly, I’m a mom 🙂


Ted Livingston
Founder and CEO of @Kik


Michael Litt
CEO at @vidyard & loving it. Interested in video? What about the rise of the machines? How has technology allowed you to be more human?

Shaliza Somani / Toronto, Ontario
Shaliza Somani is a seasoned professional with over 10 years of experience specializing in internet marketing, business development and operations management.


Allan Wille / Ottawa, Canada
Father of two, husband, and CEO at Klipfolio. Cyclist, designer, optimist, and generalist.


7 Reasons Why Tech Recruiters Instantly Reject Resumes

Do you ever wonder why recruiters never call you back for all those jobs you have applied for? Then this article is for you.

We asked Alex Kovalenko, director of Kovasys IT Recruitment Inc. in Toronto to go through the seven reasons why technology recruiters reject resumes.

“If a tech recruiter can not tell within ten seconds that you are worth a call then your resume will go straight into a recycle bin. Keep in mind that at our firm recruiters can review up to 50 resumes every day and can not spend hours reviewing resumes,”

said Alex Kovalenko with Kovasys IT Recruitment Inc.

Mr. Kovalenko says that there are seven reasons why IT recruiters could potentially reject your resume and are the following.

Firstly, when a recruiter looks over a resume

He or she wants to find experience in the field. If a candidate is a PHP Developer with no object oriented development experience and the job is for an object oriented Java Developer the recruiter is not going to call. Companies are paying recruiters to find an apple to fill an apple job. Companies are not paying recruiters to help candidates transfer their skills from one field to another. If a company is going to pay a recruiter a significant retainer fee, they expect a perfect match.

What is candidate’s level or title?

If the recruiter is searching for a team lead developer and a candidate’s title is a senior developer, that candidate should not expect an interview with the recruiter. Again, the recruiter is hired to find a team lead developer, not to squeeze a senior developer into a team lead position. On the other hand, if the client wants a senior developer and a candidate is a team lead – that candidate is over-qualified and even if he or she thinks they can do a senior developer’s job the client will not. The first team lead job that comes along might interest that candidate more, causing the recruiter and the company to suspect that you are going to pursue the better opportunity; neither party is willing to risk that.

The next area the recruiter is going to look at is the most recent experience

If the client wants a Linux Systems Administrator for a hosting company and a candidate has the experience, but it was over five years ago, recruiter will reject the resume. Any good recruiter can find a candidate with that current familiarity. If candidate was a good Linux Administrator five years ago and have not worked in that area since, their skills might be nowhere near contemporary due to new technologies like virtualization, vmware, etc.

Free-Photos / Pixabay

Location, location, location

If a client is in New York and a candidate is in Miami – that candidate will most likely not get an interview. Relocating candidates is just too problematic if there is a viable candidate in the client’s location. In addition, most companies are not interested in paying for relocation in a bad economy. Moreover, there is usually the additional challenge of a spouse who must also relocate and find a job.

The next aspect the recruiter will look at is whether the industry experience matches the client’s

Again this is not an economy that allows for deciding whether skills will transfer from one industry to another. If candidate is in medical software development and the job is in financial development – the recruiter will not be calling. Skills might transfer and candidate might become a financial software developer, but it is not up to the recruiter to do that.

TinTin12 / Pixabay

Education is the next big thing to consider and this one can be an automatic killer

Most recruiters are looking for a Masters in Computer Science or Engineering because they are hired to find the best candidates. No company will be paying a recruiter for a non-degreed or Bachelor in Arts candidate.

If candidate does not hold any position for an extensive period of time, job seeker should not expect an interview with a recruiter

If candidate had six jobs in the last four years there better be a very good reason for it.

And last but not least Kovalenko says:

List your accomplishments and what technologies you have worked with the two – three companies you have worked for. Make sure your resume is two pages long (even if you have worked for over 10 years) and is in traditional and chronological format.

Foreign IT: how to get a job in Canada faster

Due to Canada perception as one of the best countries to live and work in a lot of people want to know – whats the best way to come work and live here? A lot of people incorrectly assume if they keep on applying for tech jobs from abroad they will get an interview. The only problem with that is even if a company does interview you – they will still need to pay thousands of dollars to apply for your work permit, and sometimes wait for up to 10 months to receive decision from Service Canada.

Recent Update: Government of Canada introduced tech work permit where they will give their decision within 2 weeks vs 10 months before. However you still need company to give you an offer and then company will apply on your behalf. 

Another way a lot of people overlook is that if you come to Canada to study (even for an 8 months degree) – you will be eligible up to 3 year OPEN work permit and can apply for your permanent residency and Canadian citizenship afterwards. You can also bring your spouse and children with you and apply for PR while you are studying so that you can receive your PR by the time your study work permit expires.

A lot of people will point out that it is expensive to do it this way, but it does not have to be. A 1 year program at lower cost university is around $5,000 – $10,000 Canadian dollars and annual expenses with housing can be had for another $5,000-10,000 so you can have a chance for a better life in Canada for under $20,000.

Pexels / Pixabay

Top three cheapest universities to get your master’s degree in Canada if you are a foreign student and money is a concern?

Graduate international tuition and fees: $5,377/year

Graduate international tuition and fees: $5,718/year

Graduate international tuition and fees: $8,220/year

You might also want to check out Top Canadian Universities with Computer Science Degrees and Top 1000 Canadian Universities and How They Rank in the World.

Once you have completed studies in an eligible program at an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution, international graduates can apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, which will allow you to work in Canada.

In its effort to retain international students, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has recently made changes to the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program to make it more flexible and responsive to the needs of international students. Under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program, international graduates can now obtain a three year open work permit, allowing them to work for any Canadian employer in any industry. They are not required to have a Canadian job offer at the time of application.

Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for a Post-Graduation Work Permit, international students must:

– have studied full-time for the eight months preceding the completion of their program (please see note below) and must have graduated from:
– a public post-secondary educational institution (university, college, or CEGEP); or
– a private post-secondary educational institution that operates under the same rules and regulations as public institutions, and receives at least 50 per cent of its financing for operations from government grants; or
– a Canadian private educational institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees;
– apply for a work permit within 90 days of receiving written confirmation from their academic institution that they have met the requirements of their program;
– have completed and passed the program of study and received written notification that they are eligible to obtain their degree, diploma, or certificate; and
– have a valid study permit when applying for the work permit.

Potential applicants should note that:

– the program of study must be a minimum of two years for the graduate to obtain the three year work permit. However, if the program was less than two years but longer than eight months, the graduate can still obtain a work permit for the same duration as the program of study. In cases where a student has obtained a one year degree or diploma from an accredited educational institution within two years of having successfully completed a previous accredited Canadian post-secondary degree or diploma, he or she may qualify for a three-year open work permit; and

– while a student must have been studying full time in the eight months preceding the date of application for an open work permit, an exception is made in the case where a student fulfills all the requirements except full time study in the last session of their program. For example, if a student only needs two courses in the final session to complete the program but all previous study has been full time, the student may still apply for the Post-Graduate Work Permit Program.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation Makes Life Difficult for Technology Startups

For many technology startups getting the message out is crucial for their businesses success, but with Canadian anti spam laws they might want to consider moving to the US where email marketing faces much less restrictions and penalties.

Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (or “CASL”) came into effect in July 2014, about ten years after the U.S. has enacted its anti-spam law.  While the U.S. has enacted an anti-spam law promoting an opt-out model, Canada has adopted an opt-in model. The main difference between these systems is the fact that under an opt-out model, businesses can send promotional email messages unless the recipient informs the sender that it no longer wishes to receive such emails, or “opts out” of receiving them. Business groups, for the most part, tend to prefer the opt-out approach because it is easier to imply consent and thus create mailing lists. Under an opt-in model, the recipient of the promotional email must affirmatively give the organization permission to send information about new products or sales.

Under CASL guidelines you can send a commercial email with implied or express consent:

Express Permission

Express permission is obtained when you explicitly ask your potential contacts for permission to send them email, and they agree. You need to use clear language when you ask and you also need to include the following information to fully inform them about who will be emailing:

  • Your name (or the name of the party/company asking for permission)
  • Company name
  • Company address
  • Company website
  • Company phone number
  • Company postal address

The customer must also be told which email provider (such as Constant Contact) will be sending the emails and that unsubscribing at any time is an option.

Implied Permission

Implied permission takes place in a situation where the conditions of express permission have not been met but some previous relationship exists. Some examples of implied permission include:

  • Existing business relationships where the recipient has:
    • Bought or leased a product, good, or service from the business owner in the past two years
    • Been involved in an investment or gaming opportunity with the customer in the past two years
    • Entered into a written or electronic contract with the customer in the last two years
  • Existing non-business relationships where the recipient has:
    • Made a donation or gift to a registered charity or political organization in the past two years
    • Volunteered with the charity or political organization in the past two years
    • Been a member of an organization’s club, association or not-for-profit volunteer association in the last two years

You can’t keep contacts who have only given you Implied consent on your list forever. Implied consent does expire after a period of time and needs to be converted into Express content. Your Implied permission will expire:

  • For contacts captured BEFORE July 1, 2014: On July 1, 2017 (three years after law goes into effect)
  • For contacts captured AFTER July 1, 2014: Two years after they were initially collected. This applies only if the contact doesn’t buy something new or doesn’t renew their subscription, loan, account, or contract

Why Canada’s anti-spam model not good the way it is done now?  

  1. it is not clearly defined. What does constitute commercial message ? If a business wants to send a survey to someone – am I breaking the law? What constitutes a business relationship exactly – if I had a coffee with a secretary 2 years ago and email her boss today – is that a business relationship?
  2. This regulation only applies to Canadian businesses – (most spam 99% or more) is sent from outside of Canada – so this does not solve any problem at all you will still get spam.
  3. Gmail already sorts through email filtering out 99.9% of spam – maybe Canadians do want to get contacted by a nearest Crossfit gym about their new programs / promotion or big data mining software tool that would be useful for our business – but under the law it would be illegal for them to contact me unless I opt in (but I would never opt in because I am busy at work / have kids at home / etc) .
  4. Just opting out is the best way to go about it from a consumer and business view. Punish businesses who do not abide by unsubscribe requests.

To conclude, we include the following article that been republished with authorization from napkinmarketing >> ideas that influence to discuss this issue in more details:

Email marketing can often be a game changer for lead generation and new business development. But many businesses still shy away from using email marketing more strategically as a marketing tool.

Case in point: One of my clients, a financial advisory, recently sent out a very successful campaign to over 20,000 prospects. The content: well thought out, insightful accounting advice for their specialized audience. The response was incredibly positive: prospects were calling his office, and several email recipients wrote back, thanking him for the information (quite unheard of for a “cold” mailing”). Yet this same client does not want to email his list more than once per year, afraid, in his words, to “piss people off”, despite evidence to the contrary- that many prospects appreciate the valuable free advice that he shares, as demonstrated by his ringing phones and renewed interest in his business.

Look, no business owner wants to be known as a spammer. But a fundamental misunderstanding of Canadian SPAM laws and what constitutes valuable content keeps a lot of small businesses from launching email campaigns, when it can help them enormously with their lead generation efforts. Though many businesses are concerned about violating SPAM laws, the new Canadian SPAM legislation, CASL does allow for emailing to B2B prospects, emailing to individuals who publicly publish their emails and colleagues with whom you have pre-existing relationships.

Though we do encourage all clients to actively seek consent to email everyone on their list, in many cases, such as with list rentals and emailing members of an association you are a part of, the law allows you to send campaigns as part of the course of legitimate business. For more information about CASL and spam laws, go to

The key to avoid being a spammer? Provide valuable content. The positive interest you will gain will translate to more opt-in sign ups, prospect calls, interest and awareness of your business. And for those who don’t want your email campaigns: they do have the option of clicking the “unsubscribe” link. Always honor all unsubscribe requests!