Montreal's tech sector is showing fine form as it branches out from its roots in digital special effects (Softimage), video games (Ubisoft) and information technology services (CGI), says Sylvain Carle, a veteran web entrepreneur, mentor and general manager at startup accelerator FounderFuel.
"People today don't say, 'Who's the next CGI?' They say, 'Who's the next Facebook?'" said Mr. Carle, a former senior developer advocate at Twitter who left last year to devote himself full-time to helping build Montreal's startup scene.
Here are three promising Montreal tech companies at various stages of development:
Formerly known as Oomph, Crew matches freelance web designers and developers with clients who need mobile app, website or related work done. Launched two years ago, it recently announced it has raised $10-million from an investor group led by Boston's Accomplice (formerly Atlas Venture) that includes the Montreal-based funds iNovia Capital and Real Ventures as well as Business Development Bank of Canada's BDC Capital. Total funding to date is $14-million. Co-founder Mikael Cho and his team developed a network of carefully selected designers and developers who are then hooked up with appropriate projects.
Busbud is a mobile app and platform that lets global travellers find the best deals in intercity bus travel and book tickets. It has bus schedules for over 10,643 cities in 89 countries. It was developed by Montreal natives LP Maurice, Michael Gradek and Frederic Thouin. Last year, the company closed a $9-million (U.S.) series A funding round led by OMERS Ventures and Revolution Ventures, joined by iNovia and Real Ventures. Mr. Maurice, a Harvard MBA, moved back to Montreal from Silicon Valley a few years ago and is a high-profile blogger and booster of the local startup scene.
PPL Connect is a free app that gives users access to their phones from any web-enabled device. Calls or texts can be sent through a computer, laptop or tablet, says co-founder Jenviev Azzolin, 31, a Concordia University business graduate and – along with founding partner Denzil D'Sa – a former Bombardier Inc. employee. PPL Connect recently launched a new app, Hotel My Phone, which allows users to borrow a friend's smartphone and use it as their own. "We had a zero marketing budget for Hotel My Phone," said Ms. Azzolin. So far, the company has raised about $1-million. Potential partners, including some big telecoms and phone manufacturers, have come calling, she adds. "We're at an interesting stage where the apps have attracted a lot of attention, where people are calling us instead of us calling them."