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Varun Mathur created a poll in StartupNorth.

"Globalization for me but not for you" - Thomas Friedman in describing China's approach in an op-ed in NY Times today.
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Should Canada adopt active protectionist measures to help local tech startups thrive and grow (such as China, South Korea, India have done) - instead of being a totally free/fair market to anybody in the world ? How do you balance it with consumer choice ? Canada has a US$1.6 trillion dollar economy, 10th largest in the world, yet our time/attention/money is going to startups which pay their taxes and hire people in foreign jurisdictions.
As a nation with progressive values (where we need to spend) - we need a **systemic engine** which creates multiple local tech startups which grow and thrive and contribute to the local economy. Is it time for something different or will the current approach (active local investment, superclusters, research labs, friendly immigration policies, and good coffee) actually make us globally competitive 10-20 years from now ?
"Because while China hails globalization, it imposes a 25 percent tariff on imported cars (while America imposes only 2.5 percent) and 50-50 joint ventures and technology transfers for big companies that want to gain access to China’s giant market. But China gets away with it....
..In technology, China has embarked on a plan called “Made in China 2025” that’s plowing government funds and research into commercializing 10 strategic industries while creating regulations and swiping intellectual property from abroad to make them all grow faster. These industries include electric vehicles, new materials, artificial intelligence, integrated circuits, biopharmacy, quantum computing, 5G mobile communications, and robotics."
www.nytimes.com/2017/11/14/opinion/china-trump-xi-jinping-trade.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage...
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Tim CapesThe problem with protectionist measures as you describe them is most Canadian start-ups can't achieve the kind of scale we want to see without targeting the US as a market. For many types of business that means at a minimum having a sales office in the US. To give you an idea, even if your problem is 1/10,000 of the Canadian Economy (which is a larger percentage than most start-ups seem to be working on), It is a 160M Canadian market in a 1.6T economy. Even 100% marketshare doesn't make a unicorn. If you can expand that to the US, You get up to around 12X the market, and now you have a potential unicorn if you have near monopoly performance. If you take that global, you can be a unicorn in a competitive market. Similarly, research is also becoming more distributed, do you want to punish Canadian companies for having research branches or remote employees at: CMU, MIT or Stanford in addition to Canadian universities? Lastly, interprovincial trade in Canada is a nightmare of regulations and disconnected ideas. I don't want to see government programs for technology become downright byzantine. Complicated applications and conditions lead to more start-up energy and effort wasted on applications and program compliance and less effort on the core problem the start-up is solving.

3 days ago   ·  4
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Kareem SabriIf a startup grows in a government-enforced monopoly does it really grow? How would the Canadian startups that were the beneficiaries of this fixed market fare when they ventured outside of their protected home turf? Not sure what progressive values have to do with protectionism, it sounds more like the rhetoric from Trump.

2 days ago   ·  1
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Varun MathurKareem Sabri Yes - it does! Protectionism has enabled local startups to thrive in China: WeChat (Tencent - $470 billion market cap) .. Facebook Alibaba ($475 billion market cap) .. Amazon, eBay Baidu ($84 billion market cap).. Google Meituan .. Groupon Didi .. Uber ..and then grow beyond their borders, and even go on to be key investors in some Canadian startups (Kik - Tencent, Wattpad - Tencent). ..and also invest in key Indian unicorns..Paytm - Alibaba, Ola - Tencent, Flipkart - Tencent, .. and also invest in key US unicorns.. Snap-Alibaba,Tencent; Lyft-Alibaba,Tencent; Magic Leap- Alibaba They didn't bring their products around the globe - but diversified their assets globally. Canadian market is a small fraction of the Chinese, so as Tim Capes points out - protectionism in the current market itself won't make much sense....but what if there was an economic union with other similar markets and other similar clever ideas to give Canadian startups an edge ? Instead we have several startups which have had a good start fail to capture the local market due to intense competition from well capitalized foreign startups; and also then failing to grow. Only a very, very few are finding the escape velocity to grow -- and that is not good for the Canadian economy in the long run. We need our own Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent --- and they are highly unlikely to grow in the wake of intense competition from multiple billion dollar firms in the world who can subsidize their products in the local market while the local startups struggle to hit payroll. www.wsj.com/articles/tencent-continues-to-snap-up-stakes-in-u-s-startups-1510187357?mod=e2tw

2 days ago
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Varun Mathurand then there is also the argument that some tech firms are too big and destructive for innovation/other businesses in a jurisdiction. For instance, 2 million Canadians work in retail -- how many would lose their jobs to indirect/direct competition which Amazon brings to the market ? Even a startup founded by a Canadian serial entrepreneur, Shoes .com, could not survive that competition. Whats in store for grocery chains, etc ? Should the government do absolutely nothing to intervene ?

2 days ago
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Sean HutchisonChina has a massive domestic market. Canada does not. Small markets need trade to hit any meaningful scale

2 days ago

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Kareem SabriI find it disconcerting that the Chinese economic model, favourably called state capitalism, more accurately crony capitalism, would be advocated for Canada. Chinese business practices are immensely corrupt and the government wields enormous power. As I'm sure you know, companies that enter or dominate the Chinese market are forced to play ball with the government to get the protections the government affords them. That's a dangerous proposition, and fundamentally unethical. While you may argue our government wouldn't do the same thing, it's still unwise to concentrate power in a small number of companies that haven't earned it through competition but rather by currying government favour. It creates perverse incentives. Restricting competition hurts not just consumer choice, but incentives for innovation and improvement. Competition helps pick winners. While Peter Thiel may like monopolies, they aren't particularly good for consumers. The idea that Canadian startups would thrive under a protected market is only true in that they would likely enrich a relatively small group of people. If monopolies helped build great companies, we would expect Canadian telecommunication companies, a monopoly for much of their existence, to be among the best in the world. They are not.

2 days ago

2 Replies

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James MartindaleWe already have protected banks, retailers and telco's and all it's done is give the population overpriced sub standard goods. Any further protectionism will render the country uncompetitive and useless. It may not be the best start up ecosystem in the world, probably not even in the Top 10 but at least in some categories we have a go.

2 days ago

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James Martindale

Richard RemillardThe Friedman article reflects the bipartisan consensus in the US that American and China are increasingly competing with one another and that the trade deficit that the US has with China is but one aspect of a rapidly evolving(and to the US, negatively evolving) relationship that has military, cultural, trade and technological aspects. The real question for Canada is: how can we effectively manoeuvre between these two behemoths so that we don;t end up getting super squeezed? Concretely, giant US and,increasingly Chinese(Tencent, Alibaba and ANT Financial) are swooping into Canada and with very deep pockets are buying out the home grown talent. We may have to find a third way so that our most promising earlier-stage firms don;t end up being the tails to US or Chinese big dogs...

2 days ago   ·  1

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Richard Remillard

Chris MaedaProtectionism won't work in the Canadian market like it works in large Asian markets. China and Japan are large and culturally very different from North America. So CN and JP companies benefit from better understanding of the distinct local market in addition to any trade barriers (e.g. a Silicon Valley startup could never have built WeChat). In Canada, you have a small domestic market, you are culturally similar to the massive US market, you have a free-trade agreement in place, and you have a cost advantage compared to US companies. So you don't want trade barriers with the US. And existing trade barriers have been terrible for Canadian consumers: compare the cost of milk, cell phone service, and bank accounts in Canada to the US. Canadian consumers get screwed by Canadian trade barriers.

1 day ago   ·  1

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Chris Maeda

Varun MathurThanks all for your perspective. What bugs me here is -- who pays for the schools and hospitals in Canadian cities in the next few decades, if there is significant disruption of small and large Canadian businesses by massive, trillion dollar firms which employ bulk of their workforce and pay taxes in a foreign jurisdiction ? It costs $242 billion a year for medical expenses in this country annually already -- what is the threshold at which care starts getting affected if local businesses are shutting down ? This year we have seen established retail operations like Sears Canada shut down with 14000 Canadian jobs lost, as well as once promising startups go under in the wake of intense competition from foreign startups in the Canadian market. We need better ideas for the years ahead.

1 day ago   ·  1

6 Replies

Varun Mathur

Varun MathurHere is another example: South Korea. Population, economy size similar to Canada's. It has a mix of both leading tech firms based there (Samsung, ~$360 billion market cap) as well as local tech startups which through a combination of unique local culture + "frustrating" government actions got enough wind that they have been able to become local market leaders, ahead of much bigger, more formidable US and Chinese firms in their home market. E-commerce (Coupang > Amazon), Messaging/social network (Kakao, Band > Facebook, Instagram), search engine (Naver > Google), navigation/maps (Naver Maps > Google Maps), ride-sharing (Kakao Mobility > Uber), home sharing/rental (Bnbhero > Airbnb)--- local South Korean startups are leading the pack there in each of these categories. Those conditions also led to the development of Line -- "Line, a free mobile messaging and call service that is now being promoted as the “Facebook of Asia”. Within 18 months it hit the 100m-user mark, which took Facebook and Twitter around four years" www.economist.com/news/business/21597937-home-south-koreas-biggest-web-portal-has-thrashed-yahoo-... www.forbes.com/sites/ryanmac/2016/04/13/coupang-south-korea-amazon-bom-kim/#3b69e37d68b1 qz.com/906280/in-seoul-a-new-sharing-economy-takes-hold-one-that-leaves-uber-and-airbnb-in-the-cold/ techcrunch.com/2017/06/30/chat-app-kakao-raises-437m-for-its-korean-ride-hailing-service/

21 hours ago
Varun Mathur

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For all of you in Toronto, I'm thinking of opening a new 5000 sqft event space connected to my King St location of StartWell dedicated to being a venue for our local startup/tech community.

The space is amazing and spread over 2 floors (used to be a supper-club called Cabal), with high ceilings, exposed brick, a commercial kitchen and bathrooms!

What's everyone's take on having a King W located startup-focused event space? It could be the first non-institutional dedicated space for hackathons, meetups, pitch competitions, demo days, large meetings and more!

I'm really excited about this project as we haven't had a dedicated space like this for things like Product Hunt Toronto since HIGHLINEvc left the Burroughs building (and even that was a mixed-use space) from what I know of.

If anyone reading this organizes events in the community or sponsors ecosystem stuff etc... and would like to come see the space/help me get the project going please drop me a line ([email protected])
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Amit Shah, Raz Zohar and 23 others like this

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Kundan JoshiLove it! New venue for all our Toronto Innovation and The App Labb events!

7 days ago   ·  1

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Nael El ShawwaYes! I will send you a note! DevTO would love to check it out.

7 days ago   ·  1
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Danielle SmithSuper great idea

6 days ago   ·  2

1 Reply

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Zaheer MeraliGreat idea! Will send you a note to connect on a few ideas. Also FYI - Karel Vuong, Liv Zufferli, Ravi Nagraj

6 days ago   ·  1

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Daryna KulyaHey Qasim Virjee sounds awesome! Product Hunt Toronto has been very fortunate to have the support of Marcus Daniels Lauren Robinson at Highline in our early days and Boris Chan at Pivotal Toronto currently. Agree that Toronto needs a space like this - sending you a note to see how Product Hunt Toronto can help.

6 days ago   ·  2
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Matthew PotterLet me know if you need A/V suggestions and help.

6 days ago   ·  3
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Bilal JafferyLet’s chat. I know of solid events folks and have done few in my past lives

6 days ago
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Lauren Crerar LintonInterested in seeing the space. I️ will send you an email Qasim Virjee

6 days ago
Lauren Crerar Linton

Robyn EdgarLove this!

5 days ago   ·  1

8 Replies

Robyn Edgar

Alex KolodkinTWG hosts a bunch of events at their Spadina/Adelaide location.

4 days ago

3 Replies

Alex Kolodkin

Marianne Bulger🙋‍♀️

4 days ago
Marianne Bulger

Marianne BulgerEmily Katherine - Would be awesome to see The Quiet Company host a morning meditation here!

3 days ago   ·  1
Marianne Bulger

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Kitchener-Waterloo Founders,

I will be in town tomorrow. I am a VC at August Capital who is a big believer in Canada tech. I will be hosting drinks and dinner at The Bauer Kitchen (187 King Street S.) starting at 5:30pm (dinner at 6:30pm). Stop by if you want to talk about tech and startups, or just want to grab a drink. Looking forward to seeing you there.
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Andrew Sider, Nick Elzenni-McLeod and 23 others like this

Nick Elzenni-McLeodHi Villi, missed your meet and greet here in Waterloo, are you open to connect and chatting with new ecommerce startups?

1 day ago

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Nick Elzenni-McLeod

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