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Here Are The Top 25 Startups To Work For In Canada 

Written Chris D’Alessandro

Photo by You X Ventures

We asked LinkedIn how you can be a better candidate to work at the hottest startups in Canada.  

When you think of working at a “startup”, you might picture the beanbag chair filled Facebook or Google campuses. There’s a chef-prepared breakfast, smoothie bar and puppy room (which is somehow, miraculously, always stocked with puppies). 

But the truth is that most startups are a complete grind. Unglamorous, underpaying under-puppied, uncertain of their future… and your next paycheck. 

That’s not to say every startup is a baron, puppy-less wasteland that might shut down next week. If working at a startup and being a part of the culture is appealing to you, there are a select number of startups you should be keeping your eye on. 

startups
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

How do you determine the top startups? 

Every year, LinkedIn publishes an annual list of the top 50 hottest startups to work for today.

The list is determined by the billions of actions taken by LinkedIn’s 645+ million members. To be eligible for the list, a company must:

  • Be independent and privately held

  • Have at least 50 employees

  • Be seven years old or younger

  • Be headquartered in the country on the list which they appear 

  • Have a minimum of 15% employee growth over the time period

When those qualifications are met, LinkedIn measures four key pillars to determine who should make the list. 

  1. Employee growth

  2. Jobseeker interest

  3. Member engagement with the company and its employees

  4. How well these startups pulled talent from LinkedIn’s flagship Top Companies list.

Essentially, are these companies steadily growing, and are they able to attract and keep the best of the best employees?

We asked LinkedIn nicely to send us a Canada-specific list, and they were more than happy to oblige. 

What’s unique about Canada? 

Basically, there’s a big green elephant in the room. 

This year, LinkedIn’s Top Canadian Startups features two companies built around the cannabis industry. The first, Cannabis Compliance Inc. (#4), is one of Canada’s first consulting firms to advise on regulatory issues around cannabis. The second is Ample Organics (#20), a leader in cannabis technology, providing innovative business solutions that facilitate compliance with government regulations.    

What’s interesting about those two particular cannabis industry startups? They don’t sell an actual cannabis product. They’re a consultancy firm and a technology company. This may indicate that we’ll see many more competitive startups in Canada as a result of cannabis legalization—whether they produce and sell actual cannabis or not. 

So, who are the top 25 Startups in Canada? 

Down to brass tax. Besides Cannabis, AI companies are dominating: Element AI (#1), an AI research firm which helps use applied research to create new AI products, and Wealthsimple (#2)—a millennial-friendly robot investor tool. 

Convenience is also a prevailing theme. Within this theme is the likes of Ritual.co (#10), an app that allows you to pre-order and pay for your food from your favourite local restaurants and coffee shops. League (#5), a digital platform to easily access health benefits, and Drop (#6), a coalition customer loyalty program, in which users earn points to their favorite retailers by using their linked debit or credit cards.

Finally, craft beer is still alive and well post-cannabis legalization with Collective Arts Brewing coming in at #19. 

Here’s the full list:

  1. Element AI

  2. Wealthsimple

  3. Clearbanc

  4. CCI

  5. League

  6. Drop

  7. Connected

  8. Dialogue

  9. integrate.ai

  10. Ritual.co

  11. Mejuri

  12. Ada

  13. PathFactory

  14. Opencare

  15. Flybits

  16. Certarus

  17. StackAdapt

  18. Loopio

  19. Collective Arts Brewing

  20. Ample Organics

  21. Swift Medical

  22. Borrowell

  23. Greenhouse

  24. #paid

  25. Venngage

So, how do you get a job at one of the top startups? 

We also asked LinkedIn just what would be required to land a dream job at one of these dream companies? 

More and more, it’s all about having the right skills, and less so about where you went to school or even where your last job was. Remember, these companies are hungry for the best talent possible, and they’re not overly concerned where that comes from. 

What is the most in-demand skill set that startups are looking for?

LinkedIn admits that each startup will be looking for their own unique, bespoke skill set. However, they are seeing specific trends in skills:

  1. You need to understand big data. According to LinkedIn, big data reigns supreme. More than anything else, this year’s Top Startups are looking for candidates who understand analytics and data analysis. Your crash course in understanding Google or Adobe analytics would serve you very well. 
  2. It really helps to have some solid digital marketing skills. LinkedIn highlighted that this year’s Top Startups are especially interested in people with digital and social media marketing experience. They are also looking for people who understand Adobe Photoshop and Instagram. So basically, teach yourself all the Adobe tools you can and start producing and promoting original content on your social channels.
  3. Coding is another big one. LinkedIn explained that Top Startups need coders and engineers of all stripes. Among the most coveted candidates at Top Startups are ones with working knowledge in SQL, Python, C++ and Java. Also in demand are candidates with experience in cloud computing, enterprise software, and software as a service. Again, if this is something that’s always interested you, but may not be available in your current program, research a boot camp or alternative education method. 
  4. Financial pros are also in demand. In particular, LinkedIn data suggests that candidates with expertise in financial analysis are especially wanted.
  5. Great salespeople are always wanted. Every company needs employees who can keep revenue coming into the business—and it’s simply not a role that everyone is cut out for. You have to be personable, persuasive, patient and hustle your ass off. While startups need tech and marketing experts, they also need sales managers to keep their growth engines humming. In particular, many startups are interested in candidates who can navigate customer relationship management software like Salesforce.

Don’t forget the soft skills. 

In-demand skills are all well and good. But so often, especially in a startup environment, and especially for an entry-level position, whether your hiring managers could just picture themselves working next to you every day can be the definitive factor in being hired or not. 

Additionally, LinkedIn asserts that your soft skills play a valuable role in the hiring process. According to LinkedIn, 80% of talent professionals say soft skills are increasingly important to company success.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn released the 2019 Global Talent Trend report that found soft skills, meaning your ability to collaborate and communicate, matter most to HR professionals and recruiters. 

Furthermore, if you’re interested in landing a job with a startup, check out A Student Recruiter’s Insider Tips To Ace An Interview At A Startup.  Also, review A Student Recruiter’s Insider Tips To Land A Job At A Startup.

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.