in Canada

I love my city, and so should you

There are dozens great cities in this country that I love to spend time in, these are cities that are making an impact on the world and which get noticed by the world. Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver are the headliners with Calgary, Victoria, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Waterloo and Halifax all staking their own claims to greatness in unique ways.

There have been a lot of blog posts lately talking about how someday a Canadian city can be our Silicon Valley. Toronto or Montreal have been the most vocal in trying to be recognized as a great valley equivalent, and even Vancouver seems to have jumped in the fray. The bidding is in comparing the communities of each city, and the prize is the title of being the Startup Hub of Canada.

The point is being missed completely, and I have a surprise for everyone.

The way I see it is that our job here in Canada is different, and we should stop wasting time trying to become Silicon Valley (who really uses that term?): Canada will never have a San Francisco. We will never have a Silicon Valley, we won?t even have a Boston or a Seattle. We won?t really even have a Boulder.

The opportunity for Canada is first to build strong communities individually, and then the job is to build strong connections between those communities. Canadians (who are still here!) are different from those who flock to San Francisco in search of the holy grail. Canadians love their own city, and they aren?t very excited about the idea of all making their way to another city in search of success. Most of us will choose to make a go of it in our own backyard, where we are connected to our great communities and where we feel like we can all have an impact.

We need to compete fiercely with eachother for the prize of being the top city to build a startup in Canada, but we also need to start creating a larger ecosystem where we can can the egos and start to make connections.

I regularly impress myself with my own ignorance of what is going on in Vancouver especially. We constantly miss great stories just because the connections are so weak. Hopefully this blog can start to change that, but what is more likely is a tightening connection between BarCamp communities across the country.

Open, Creative and Connected Communities are the next Silicon Valley. No city will be able to compete.

  • Ali A.

    Good point, Jevon.

    All that said, Guelph is still the best place to start a startup.

  • Ali A.

    Good point, Jevon.

    All that said, Guelph is still the best place to start a startup.

  • http://heliostorm.com Margaret Howe

    I loved this about open & connected communities. We are an itty bitty startup in Edmonton & just have begun making connections within Alberta.

    We are learning that shared experience benefits everyone, whether it ranges from the simple emotional support of exchanging tips on common problems to all-out business partnerships. And we are hoping that down the road when we are ready for the next step in growing & going for financing, we’ll have lots of mentors willing to give us advice.

    Excellent blog!

  • http://heliostorm.com Margaret Howe

    I loved this about open & connected communities. We are an itty bitty startup in Edmonton & just have begun making connections within Alberta.

    We are learning that shared experience benefits everyone, whether it ranges from the simple emotional support of exchanging tips on common problems to all-out business partnerships. And we are hoping that down the road when we are ready for the next step in growing & going for financing, we’ll have lots of mentors willing to give us advice.

    Excellent blog!

  • http://www.klondikeconsulting.com/blog Ian Graham

    Jevon, I concur with the sentiment in your post. I love Ottawa, think it is a great city and intend to stay here because of the quality of life and opportunities.

    Just a thought and perhaps something for the folks at StartupNorth and other city blogs to ponder. One of the greatest motivators I have found is that spirit of friendly competiton. Have seen it in action at a number of companies I have worked with and groups that I volunteer with.

    One way to promote a sense of community and connectedness within and between Canadian Cities is to have a competiton “Whose the greatest start-up city in Canada.” Again this is done in the spirit of friendly competition with perhaps some way of weighting the results so smaller cities like Ottawa and Halifax could compete against the heavy weights like Toronto and Montreal.

    there was a facebook competition a while back to determine which city had the greatest NHL team fans. Results were pro-rated (hope that is the right word) based on the number of responses versus overall population of the city.

  • http://www.klondikeconsulting.com/blog Ian Graham

    Jevon, I concur with the sentiment in your post. I love Ottawa, think it is a great city and intend to stay here because of the quality of life and opportunities.

    Just a thought and perhaps something for the folks at StartupNorth and other city blogs to ponder. One of the greatest motivators I have found is that spirit of friendly competiton. Have seen it in action at a number of companies I have worked with and groups that I volunteer with.

    One way to promote a sense of community and connectedness within and between Canadian Cities is to have a competiton “Whose the greatest start-up city in Canada.” Again this is done in the spirit of friendly competition with perhaps some way of weighting the results so smaller cities like Ottawa and Halifax could compete against the heavy weights like Toronto and Montreal.

    there was a facebook competition a while back to determine which city had the greatest NHL team fans. Results were pro-rated (hope that is the right word) based on the number of responses versus overall population of the city.

  • http://tekartist.org/ Stephane Daury

    Amen!

  • http://tekartist.org/ Stephane Daury

    Amen!

  • http://www.hyperbio.net Leila Boujnane

    Well that’s an awesome post. Amen. Was actually thinking about this after the conference at Mars on Wednesday. I have a draft post brewing but you beat me to this. I will still post, being an adopted Canadian and all, my perspective is a bit different and yet very close I will come back and comment after the weekend. Great post Jev.

  • http://www.hyperbio.net Leila Boujnane

    Well that’s an awesome post. Amen. Was actually thinking about this after the conference at Mars on Wednesday. I have a draft post brewing but you beat me to this. I will still post, being an adopted Canadian and all, my perspective is a bit different and yet very close I will come back and comment after the weekend. Great post Jev.

  • http://remarkk.com/ Mark Kuznicki

    Great post Jevon! This is absolutely critical – we will not ever BE Silicon Valley. We have to stop making Silicon Valley = success. We are BECOMING us, the question is how to make US more successful. In a knowledge economy, we need to respect the cultural and creative resources of our age – our people. It is for this reason we are sometimes frustrated at the lack of engagement with community demonstrated by our institutions. Keep up the good work at StartupNorth!

  • http://remarkk.com/ Mark Kuznicki

    Great post Jevon! This is absolutely critical – we will not ever BE Silicon Valley. We have to stop making Silicon Valley = success. We are BECOMING us, the question is how to make US more successful. In a knowledge economy, we need to respect the cultural and creative resources of our age – our people. It is for this reason we are sometimes frustrated at the lack of engagement with community demonstrated by our institutions. Keep up the good work at StartupNorth!

  • http://ricksegal.typepad.com Rick Segal

    Well said.

  • http://ricksegal.typepad.com Rick Segal

    Well said.

  • http://blog.bootuplabs.com Boris Mann

    Of course. It’s all about cross pollination. So, um, when y’all going to come visit, finally?

    @Ian Graham: I don’t really think we need more competition between Canadian cities: we need to celebrate our diversity and our uniqueness. And we need to LEARN about that uniqueness and share it.

    @Mark Kuznicki: “we are BECOMING us” — yep, exactly.

    Lastly…this is a message we need to be giving to everyone from conference organizers to municipal politicians: this is not a competition to beat down other cities, but instead an opportunity to work together.

  • http://blog.bootuplabs.com Boris Mann

    Of course. It’s all about cross pollination. So, um, when y’all going to come visit, finally?

    @Ian Graham: I don’t really think we need more competition between Canadian cities: we need to celebrate our diversity and our uniqueness. And we need to LEARN about that uniqueness and share it.

    @Mark Kuznicki: “we are BECOMING us” — yep, exactly.

    Lastly…this is a message we need to be giving to everyone from conference organizers to municipal politicians: this is not a competition to beat down other cities, but instead an opportunity to work together.

  • http://buzzpressurre.com Jeff Fedor

    I’m in the same boat as Leila. Probably because of our shared panel experience. I too have a draft but you’ve done all the heavy lifting here. Well said especially the competition between cities point.

  • http://buzzpressurre.com Jeff Fedor

    I’m in the same boat as Leila. Probably because of our shared panel experience. I too have a draft but you’ve done all the heavy lifting here. Well said especially the competition between cities point.

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  • http://sixent.com Melany Gallant

    I completely agree we need to support our own communities. Whether it’s through friendly competition between Canadian cities or some other means, we need more of a grassroots approach to this effort. DemoCamps and BarCamps are certainly one way but there needs to be more awareness about what Canadian startups are doing. Our Canadian startups need to be more vocal.

  • http://sixent.com Melany Gallant

    I completely agree we need to support our own communities. Whether it’s through friendly competition between Canadian cities or some other means, we need more of a grassroots approach to this effort. DemoCamps and BarCamps are certainly one way but there needs to be more awareness about what Canadian startups are doing. Our Canadian startups need to be more vocal.

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  • http://www.geeksww.com/ arun

    I totally agree with that … the government should take the initiative and provide mentorship, guidance, and funding

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