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Founder Ryan Holmes's goal is to keep Canada's best and brightest from heading south

Ryan Holmes founded HootSuite in Vancouver five years ago, and today the company has more than 8 million users in 175 countries. It counts among its customers 744 of the Fortune 1,000 companies, including brands such as Siemens, Virgin and PepsiCo. They use HootSuite for such things as launching marketing campaigns, distributing targeted messages and managing team workflow.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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At the HootSuite office in Vancouver. Mr. Holmes has committed to keeping the company in Canada. And he’s fostering other opportunities that he hopes will discourage Canada’s entrepreneurial talent from heading south. “Silicon Valley is overflowing with ex-pat Canadians,” he says. “We’ve lost some of the best and the brightest. And I think that we’ve lost talent that is going to be hard to bring back to our country.”

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To that end, Mr. Holmes and fashion innovator Meredith Powell have created a foundation called the Next Big Thing, which will offer 10 budding entrepreneurs ages 18 to 22 a bursary of $10,000 and six months of mentoring at HootSuite. They want to draw “kids who want to do big things” to the program.

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Hootsuite headquarters has a well-used yoga studio.

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Mr. Holmes is also spreading the word that Canada’s educational institutions should do more to encourage students to pursue careers in technology. He hopes this will help counteract the dearth of computer programmers and engineers that is plaguing the industry – and which he expects to become worse in the future.

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As successful as he is, Mr. Holmes believes he could have gone farther and faster if he had had the kind of financial help and mentoring that he now seeks to provide young people. There’s no magic recipe for creating a successful company, he says. The main thing is deceptively simple – coming up with a product that people want.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

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