Innovation Doesn’t Need to Start With an MBA: Startups and Entrepreneurship in Vancouver

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Foodee

Business writer Julianna Davies writes extensively about the vast opportunities of an MBA in entrepreneurship, but in the piece that follows she shows how even this sort of highly nuanced education is not always essential to small business success. Her analysis is centred around three Vancouver-area tech companies, which makes it a nice follow-up piece to previous Vancity Buzz articles about hot local startups.

On the surface, Vancouver may not have much in common with Silicon Valley but if tech startups keep exploding north of the border the way they have in recent years, the Canadian city may soon put itself on the map as a haven for innovators and entrepreneurs. Vancouver has birthed more tech-related startups in the past year than any other Canadian city, and with more on the horizon, things do not look to be slowing down anytime soon. The following are three of the coolest new offerings.

CineCoup
The main idea behind CineCoup is to “disrupt” the traditional method of making a feature film. It will begin soliciting 1-minute long trailers from independent filmmakers in the fall of 2012; the top 10 will be optioned for development, and the final pick will be financed with CA$1 million and guaranteed a Canada-wide theatrical release sometime in 2013.

CineCoup got off the ground in May 2012 under the leadership of veteran filmmaker J. Joly. Joly, who is an advisor at the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television and a board member for the Vancouver International Film Festival, founded the company as a way to reach out to independent filmmakers who have good ideas but may lack the funding and inside connections to secure a mass-market release. “Through first-hand experiences working on both the traditional and social marketing side of film, I witnessed a disconnect between how the industry operates, and how the current generation of content creators and consumers behave,” Joly told MarketWire. “CineCoup is designed to bridge this gap by re-imagining the development, financing, and distribution of original feature films.”

Food.ee
Vancouver-based Invoke Media, led by entrepreneurs Jon Cartwright and David Tedman, launched Food.ee in late 2011 with the aim of making corporate food orders as easy as clicking a mouse. The company markets itself as a one-stop-shop for businesses or co-workers who want to order meals together, and works as both concierge and delivery coordinator. The site will suggest a number of nearby restaurants, but also adapts and grows to a user’s preferences.

“We knew we weren’t the only ones tired of using multiple services to find a new restaurant to go to,” Tedman told TechVibes shortly after the site went live. “Reviews are great, but we wanted to improve suggestions by curating them based on a personal taste graph using patterns and similarities in the food we typically eat, and the types of restaurants we go to.” For now, the Food.ee platform is only optimized for full web browsers, though the company has plans to go mobile in the near future.

Wantering
Fashionistas and style mavens have been flocking to Wantering since its launch in the spring of 2012. The site operates as a sort of search engine for fashion trends. Users can click through ideas or pictures featured on fashion blogs and e-commerce sites, then be linked immediately with purchase options. “We realized that there was all this expertise and thought going into fashion articles, but then when you went to a store it all got lost,” Nicholas Molnar, one of Wantering’s four Vancouver-based founders, recently told the Toronto Star. “There was a total disconnect. And so we started looking at ways that we could take the expertise inherent in fashion blogs, and Svpply, Polyvore, and Pinterest, and channel it into a more productive use.”

The site faced a bit of user heat when it was discovered that many of the featured bloggers had not consented to the use of their content. The company rebounded quickly, though, transitioning to an invitation-only model for borrowed images and articles, and is rolling out invitations for users, as well. “Registered” users will be able to set up taste profiles and personalized landing pages to make the shopping experience more intuitive.

Both Food.ee and Wantering below have been interviewed in our Vancity Entrepreneurs series.

Food.ee interview: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/06/vancity-entrepreneurs-food-ee-interview/

Wantering interview: http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2012/08/vancity-entrepreneurs-wantering/

Vancouver is quickly blossoming into something of a haven for Internet start-ups. Most of the talent is young, and most of the projects small; still, the city has a lot to offer, and the community is growing seemingly every day.

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