This past week Ben Zlotnick, CEO and Founder of INcubes—Toronto based tech-startup accelerator—had the privilege of joining Mayor John Tory’s mission to London, which was his inaugural trip outside of Canada. Ben brought along 4 Toronto-based financial technology companies as part of the mission: Karl Martin the CTO of Nymi, Rene McIver the CSO of Secure Key, Eva Wong the Co-Founder of Borrowell and Adam Katz the CEO of Kooltra.
The following paragraphs are a review of the trip, along with some humour, comments and thank-you’s.
During the first evening the Toronto delegation attended an event at the High Commissioners Office – Canada House, which is located right next to Trafalgar Square.
“It’s Rugby season in the UK, so the whole Square was fenced off for the matches to be shown to the public,” recalls Ben Zlotnick. “I tried to convince them to show the Blue Jays Game but to no avail.”
The event was put on by the High Commissioners Office and had an incredible crowd of Canadian expats, UK businesses already located in Toronto and multiple government officials. The Mayor spoke about his successful first year in office along with his continued focus on transportation, creating affordable housing, job creation, arts, and his willingness to push the envelope that Toronto is the place to be for European companies looking to launch in North America. Toronto is in short range of close to 120 million people (US & Canada), with world class Universities, Hospitals and Corporations.
Speaking of transportation, it is a hot one in Toronto, and as it turns out, in London as well. “Transportation was a key for us to get from place to place and the Underground Tube provided access to the entire city,” says Ben. “The only downside was the escalator incident which decided to breakdown and give me the chance to climb 400 stairs.”
The following day, the Torontonians had an opportunity to meet a number of hubs in the British FinTech Space. The first stop was by Barclay’s Techstars Accelerator in White Chapel, a very open and cool place in a growing area of London. It was followed by Startup Bootcamp, which was close to the London Tower and City Hall. Similar to other programs they all seem to have extensions of co-working spaces while surrounding themselves in areas that are close to their industries and supported by the large companies in the space. The remainder of the day the companies met with service providers that explained and discussed not only the opportunity to land in London but also the positive aspects of the local business boom, legalities, accounting, recruiting, and other areas to grow your business.
“A special thank you for making all the necessary arrangements to Henry Long from UK Trade & Investment, Pru Ashby and Ted Edwards from London & Partners which is an office put together by London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson to focus on bringing companies, tourist and dignitaries to London for opportunity and pleasure,” says Ben Zlotnick.
The last day of the mission the companies went with the Mayor, Councillor Thompson, Mike Johnson, Janet Ecker from the TFSA, Jeff Marsden from Oxygen Ventures to Canary Warf and met with INcubes partner, Entiq, the parent company to Level 39, which has grown to be one of the most successful FinTech hubs in the world.
“We had a chance to see the similarities between Canary Warf and downtown Toronto’s Path as they were both built by Canadian Developers,” Ben points out. “Presentations were given and discussed by Innovate Finance and Cognicity, which is the Smart Cities Program that has been set up in Canary Warf along with multiple Level 39 Companies in the FinTech Space.”
“One very interesting point that we noticed throughout London and the places we visited was that the majority of Directors, were extremely experienced women that have played a very pivotal role in growing the London technology scene,” notes Ben. “This is something we hope to see in Toronto.’
“From this mission we learnt about opportunities to expand in the UK market as well as offering an opportunity to London companies to have a soft landing in Toronto. We hope from this mission that there will be multiple initiatives between the 4 Financial technology companies that had the opportunity to join the Mayor, as well as establish partnership opportunities between Toronto and London,” concluded Ben Zlotnick.
INcubes is a Toronto-based accelerator that teams up with emerging entrepreneurs and talented startup teams to create solid businesses with innovative products and ideas. With its two flagship programs, the Funnel Program and the Acceleration Program, INcubes connects with the most forward-thinking entrepreneurs with the goal of turning their game-changing technologies into international success stories
About Level 39
Level 39 is Europe’s largest technology accelerator for finance, retail, cyber- security and future cities technology companies.
Parent company of Level 39. Entiq drives industry transformation through technology innovation.
Nymi’s first product – The Nymi Band – is a wearable device that delivers biometrically secured, continuous authentication experiences. The Nymi Band utilizes HeartID – a proprietary technology that leverages the wearer’s unique electrocardiogram (or ECG) as a biometric identifier. Nymi is proudly based in Toronto, and was founded in 2011.
About Secure Key
Secure Key delivers high-value online services securely to millions of consumers through federated authentication, regardless of the service, device or credentials.
Borrowell is Canada’s premier online lending marketplace.
Kooltra is a fast growing provider of cloud based platform built to optimize and revolutionize foreign exchange trading operations by offering cutting-edge technologies to financial institutions in a way that has never been done before. The product is a secure end-to-end solution covering most areas of a traditional capital markets operation.