While Silicon Valley holds the status of being the original and most successful technology hub in the world, it’s not necessarily the best one for start-up entrepreneurs. Boasting a diverse workforce of highly skilled tech talent, top educational institutions, and affordability, Toronto has been dubbed one of the fastest growing tech hubs in North America. According to the CBRE’s 2017 North American Scoring Tech Talent report, Toronto added 22,500 new technology jobs to eclipse tech hotbeds New York (5,370) and San Francisco (11,540) combined. While no scarcity of tech talent exists in the Toronto start-up ecosystem, this article features five entrepreneurs who have established themselves as truly outstanding innovators.
Joseph Weinberg: Co-Founder & CEO of Paycase
Joseph Weinberg is helping people to efficiently transfer money around the world with his FinTech start-up, Paycase. According to the Paycase website: “Paycase offers an affordable and flexible way to send money overseas, it’s that simple.” As the leading value network that merges traditional and crypto finance, Paycase provides infrastructure and liquidity to global financial markets.
A secure and FINTRAC registered money service business (MSB) since 2015, Paycase helps traditional financial industries understand and integrate the blockchain ecosystem within their own. A global remittance platform that is affordable, flexible, safe, and fast, Paycase is challenging and changing the traditional money transfer model.
To successfully compete in the market, Weinberg’s digital platform demands the appropriate marketing resources, regulatory compliance, financial liquidity to perform payments on real time, and reliable and experienced staff. “I feel like I’m retired, but we’re just getting started,” Weinberg told the Financial Post last year.
Revolutionizing the global financial system is no easy task. Before the meteoric rise of cryptocurrency, Joseph Weinberg was getting laughed out of boardrooms with his bold predictions about Bitcoin’s potential to change the world. With business acumen and faith in his ideas, Weinberg has proven himself to be both a visionary and an inspirational entrepreneur.
Mark Ury: Founder of Storybird
With his picture book platform Storybird, Mark Ury is fostering an interactive storytelling community. Storybird describes itself as “one part educational platform, one part real-time publishing, and one part social network.” Storybird essentially lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. The system curates artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspires writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories.
Millions of writers, readers, and artists are attracted by Storybird’s simple idea. According to the Storybird website, more than 5 million stories have already been created on the platform by amateurs and professionals alike, making it one of the largest storytelling networks.
A family experience inspired Mark Ury to create Storybird. He told TechCrunch in an interview in 2013: “The idea for Storybird came a few years ago when my son and I created a book for my wife. I wrote, he illustrated—and the final product had me thinking about visual stories and the cloud.”
Now Storybird functions to create an endless library of stories and inspire a new generation of writers and readers alike. Connecting a diverse range of people all over the world is an impressive feat, and Ury is undoubtedly an entrepreneur to watch.
Karl Martin: Co-Founder & CEO of Nymi
Karl Martin wants to do away with passwords with his start-up Nymi. Nymi made a splash years ago when it unveiled a wearable, multi-factor authenticator, the Nymi Band, that uses people’s heartbeats to wirelessly log into iPhones, iPads, and other devices. The Nymi Band does this through utilizing strong biometric modalities such as Heart ID, a proprietary technology that leverages the wearer’s unique cardiac signature (called an ECG) as a biometric identifier.
In contrast to other biotech authentication methods involving fingerprint scanning or facial recognition, the Nymi system doesn’t require the user to authenticate every time they want to unlock something. Because the Nymi Band is a wearable device, the system sustains authentication so long as the wearer keeps the wristband on.
The Nymi website describes Martin as equal parts inventor and entrepreneur, with several patents to his name. With a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in signal processing, Martin is a recognized expert in biometrics, security, and privacy.
Speaking to the Globe and Mail years ago, Martin said of his Nymi product: “We’ve established we have something valuable: All you have to say is ‘password killer.’” With his creative problem-solving skills and commitment to making our lives easier, it’s safe to label Martin as a tech pioneer.
Eric Green, CEO and founder of Askuity
After living in the retail/CPG world for many years, Eric Green saw an opportunity to improve it with technology. Green’s company, Askuity, is a platform that combines secure and automated POS data collection with powerful analytics and mobile technology to uncover sales enablement insights. These analytics enable collaboration, planning, and retail execution between retailers and product suppliers.
The Askuity website claims its mission is to “empower the world’s brands to grow their retail business through profitable insights.” With 92% of brands reporting that better POS data could help them improve promotional effectiveness, Askuity’s enablement platform is undoubtedly a valuable and necessary modern tool.
According to Green, the retail world is “changing so quickly that brands and retailers really need to be able to react and stay ahead of the consumer choice.” Green is confident that brands who are able to harness the power of retail data successfully will be “the winners with both consumers and retailers in the new world of retail.”
Askuity ultimately aims to be the single source of data-driven insights for every store, every product and every consumer. Green’s dedicated commitment to improving and enhancing the retail market establishes him as a truly inspirational problem-solver.
Hamed Abbasi: CEO of Plooto
Hamed Abbasi is making life easier for small businesses. While small and medium businesses (SMBs) are driving real change across North America, financial institutions can appear rigid in their behavior toward these creators of change. Abbassi’s company Plooto offers a simple, hassle-free payment management system that hopes to reduce the friction between SMBs and financial platforms.
By connecting to a user’s accounting software to auto-load upcoming bills and invoices, Plooto reduces data entry and errors through ready-made payments. Plooto also simplifies and hastens the payment approval process by allowing users to approve payments from anywhere with the click of a button. Other useful Plooto features include automatic financial record updates and secure wire transfers through the use of email.
Plooto is an excellent alternative to what traditional banks are offering the SMB business segment. Working with all of the tools that SMBs are already using in their business, Plooto offers an intuitive and less complicated platform. Furthermore, Plooto is cost-efficient. Abbasi told Digital Journal last year: “Plooto is different from credit card providers in several ways, but one of the most evident differences is that we don’t charge an interchange fee on any of our payments.”
Abassi and the entire Plooto staff are ultimately confident that Plooto will not only continue growing but set a new standard. Abassi’s cost-efficient solution demonstrates both his ability to detect areas of industry improvement and an admirable commitment to bettering the financial conditions of SMBs.
Toronto is a hotbed of tech talent. Our list features a handful of entrepreneurs inspiring us with their drive, creative solutions, and impressive insight into the world of technology.
Know a great start-up entrepreneur that should have been featured here? Send it our way!