I was recently asked to comment on Blueseed. And I have not been following the issue very closely. I have held a number of non-resident visas during my stay in the US as a student, employee and entrepreneur. I have held at various times during my time in the US an F1 visa, H1B visa, TN-1, B-1 and been an applicant for permanent residency. So I understand the intricacies of working with INS and making sure that I hold the appropriate entry documentation at all times. So I understand for many foreign entrepreneurs the bureaucracy that drives an initiative like Blueseed and the reforms for the StartupVisa initiative when trying to get access to the US.
But why do Canadian entrepreneurs care? If you can’t get into the US on an appropriate visa, should you care about an offshore community.
Some rights reserved by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center
For Canadian entrepreneurs and founders looking to immigrate to Canada, we have a number of very similar benefits to the US, and we are probably an even better place for most people to live. There are a number of benefits just based on our proximity to US cities with strong startup ecosystems. Vancouver is in the same timezone as the Bay area. Toronto, Waterloo, Montreal are in the same timezone as Boston and New York. I think that Canadian startup ecosystems are amazing and I’m not alone (see Startup Genome’s report and their methodology). Toronto placed #4, Vancouver #16 and Montreal #25. We have strong story of investments (Hootsuite, WaveAccounting, Fixmo, ScribbleLive, Kik, Wattpad, TribeHR, Achievers, etc.) and exits (Dayforce, Rypple, Varicent, Postrank, PushLife, Bumptop, SocialDeck, Cognovision, Radian6, etc.). The next 5 years look like a great time for startups in Canada.
Canada is a great place to live
Mercer cites Vancouver (5) followed by Ottawa (14), Toronto (15) and Montreal (22) as having the best quality of living. The Economist cites Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto as #3, 4 & 5 best places to live (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World’s_most_livable_cities). We have a ways go to improve compared to places like Norway (Canada #20 on best place to be a mom). All in all, the quality of life in Canada is amazing. The access to health care, education, culture, capital, security, is unmatched (in my opinion). Sure it’s a little cold but man it just makes patio weather so much more valuable.
Connecting beyond Canada’s borders
We have a growing expat support community with The C100. With strong ties in the Bay area, NYC, Boston and now the UK. We have a Canadian government that is starting consultation on a new “startup visa” for new immigrants.
Canada is an awesome place to be an entrepreneur. And we offer a high quality of life. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.