Tag Archives: Sprouter

Inspiration – Digital-Savvy Canadians to Watch in 2011

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Since this is the first week back at work for everyone in 2011, I thought I’d share some inspiration for Canadian digital media companies and professionals who want to kick some serious butt this year. Here are links to blogs and articles about the Canadian digital media companies and professionals that we should keep an eye on in the digital space in 2011.  I often come up with a blog post idea and discover that someone else has already covered it.  In this case, I have decided to aggregate the lists of notable Canadians rather than write one myself.  However, it is still very early in the year and I’m sure that there will be many more notable Canadians to brag about in a few months.

Maybe these lists will inspire you or your company to become notable for 2012 – or even make the re-cap lists of the best digital media companies and professionals in Canada at the end of 2011.  Good luck to all of the Canadian companies who are showcasing their products at CES in Las Vegas! Who else do you think needs to be added to these lists right now?

The Next Evolution in Canadian Peer to Peer Communities

I mentioned in an earlier blog that niche social networks are steadily on the rise in Canada.  I am seeing a similar splintering effect happening in the peer-to-peer classifieds space.  Canadian start-ups are carving out niche sites that appeal to a very focused set of shoppers and are finding unique ways to monetize these sites – something that Craigslist will not do.  Sites like Kijiji and eBay definitely make money off of their sites but they do not offer the niche targeted audience that advertisers are seeking.  Another benefit to a niche classifieds site is the ability to build a community around that niche and position oneself as an expert in that audience’s set of interests.

Here are some of the top niche peer-to-peer classified sites/communities that I have discovered to date:

  • iStopOver.comFounded in Toronto, this international travel website helps travellers to save money and find a furnished apartment or house to rent when travelling abroad.  Their services came in handy for two recent international sporting events, including the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.  iStopOver’s competitive advantage is that they build trust with their users by holding the guest’s money on their behalf until confirmation of a reservation (i.e. the guest shows up and the place is to their satisfaction), and releases it directly to the renter/host once the guest approves to check-in.
  • SmartBrideBoutique.comThis Toronto-based start-up is focused on helping brides to save money on their wedding by purchasing gently used wedding products (i.e. wedding dresses, decor, accessories, etc.) from recent brides.  It’s a win-win situation where brides-to-be can save up to 50% on their wedding items and recent brides can recoup some of their wedding costs. Check out my previous post about how these ladies inspire me.
  • CardSwap.caHave you ever been given a gift card to a store where you would never shop?  CardSwap helps you to swap gift cards for other ones with other local Canadian users.  Or, you can exchange the gift card for money.
  • JobDeals.comI just heard about these guys at last night’s Sprouter event.  JobDeals is a local job help resource which allows users to post their needs for local services and allows job seekers to pitch/bid on the work opportunity.
  • CommunityLend.com – This website must have been a savior to a number of people in the recent economic meltdown. CommunityLend is a destination where borrowers can lower their loan rates by auctioning off their loans to lenders who bid at the offered interest rate on your loan request until enough bids are made to cover the value of your loan.   This service is currently only available in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.
  • 1DegreeBio – A reader just sent me some information on this site.  You can’t get any more niche than hosting a marketplace for sourcing antibodies online! They have implemented an independent review process for scientists to rate and review products that are essential to their research. They are building a community to set a new quality standard in the raw materials that are the foundations of scientific research and discovery.

If I have missed any really important sites, definitely let me know.

The Rise of Niche Social Networks in Canada

Social media word cloudI mentioned in an earlier blog that I feel that Canada and Toronto in particular,
is just ripe for start-ups.  I wanted to share some proof of this statement. As Facebook
has inevitably become a verb for connecting with friends (i.e. “Facebook me”), niche
social networks seem to be the next phase in the social media evolution.  There are
a number of start-ups emerging in this space in Canada right now.

Here’s a list of some of my favourite new Canadian niche social networks.  These sites foster social networking in a more focused environment, rather than just creating a group or page on Facebook:

(1) Sprouter.comThis is a site based in Toronto that connects entrepreneurs worldwide. Entrepreneurs can tweet questions out to the online community and share advice on the Sprouter platform. Sprouter hosts frequent live chats with successful entrepreneurs to allow community members to learn from their peers online. A key ingredient to Sprouter’s growth has been their offline events called “SproutUps” that enable entrepreneurs to connect face-to-face and share best practices.

(2) WineAlign.comBased in Ontario, this site is a free community-based service for reviewing, sharing and discovering wine. This site is ideal if you are trying to find the perfect bottle of wine to go with the meal that you are planning. Their site is synched up with the LCBO database to help you find the right wine at the right price at an LCBO near you. Site visitors can also connect and share information about their favourite wines and new wine releases.

(3) LoonLounge.com – This is a site dedicated to connecting new and prospective Canadian immigrants to various Canadian immigration services groups via an online community. LoonLounge was created by a Canadian immigration lawyer David Cohen, who realized that there was a missing link in the process of immigrating to Canada. The site’s mission is to “improve the Canadian immigration process for the millions of people involved: applicants waiting in the queue, new immigrants adjusting to life in Canada, Canadian employers waiting for skilled workers to arrive, and the many people around the world who dream of one day making Canada their home“.

(4) UrbanMoms.caThis site was inspired by a woman whose friend Madeleine, a mother of 2 children, had recently lost her battle with cancer. This motivated the friend to raise money as a trust fund for the kids who were left without their mother. The support from mothers helping to raise money across the country was astounding and inspired the friend to create an online community for brave mothers to share advice, opinions and expertise on various motherhood topics. The site includes a collection of motherhood blogs, community postings, product reviews and contests.

(5) Vestiigo.comThis is a fairly new Canadian career site that makes jobs searching more social. Job seekers are able to contact the hiring manager directly when applying to postings. When you sign-up, you receive personal messages from the site owners to welcome you to the site. They also want to know how they can help you and welcome you to contact them directly – which makes you feel welcomed. Daily job postings are sent out to the community via a number of social media  platforms including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn Groups.

(6) Rypple.com – This Toronto-based start-up creates community-based software that helps managers to encourage a constant feedback loop for their teams. A major focus of the software is to encourage the idea of “giving thanks” to your peers. This site is inspired by the idea that employees need constant recognition in order to feel valued. This idea of providing constant feedback within the team also helps to make quarterly and annual reviews a breeze for managers.

(7) TeamPages.com – This B.C.-based social networking site provides a platform for sports teams and leagues to set-up their own pages/sites – making organization and communication a lot easier. Benefits of the site include: managing team and/or league schedules online, scheduling games and events, sending out e-mails and text messages to your team and/or league, displaying team scores and player statistics, and much more. There is a fee associated with managing your team page(s) – packages are based on the level of sophistication required.

(8) ShesConnected.com – Founded in Toronto by Donna Marie Antoniadis, this social networking website was created for busy women by women. The site allows women to manage both a personal and a professional social media profile in one place. The site also boasts a community database of over 400,000 bloggers and offers community management to help advertisers take a meaningful approach to spreading the word about their products and services to women online. ShesConnected.com just recently hosted their first social media conference in Toronto in October 2010.

Not many of these sites have advertising on them yet, but I feel that it is only inevitable that I will soon be targeted by Rogers for Small Businesses on Sprouter and Food/Lifestyle brands on sites like WineAlign very soon.

If you know of any other Canadian niche social media communities worth noting, definitely let me know and I’ll add them to the list.