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Hootsuite founder Holmes looks to create Canadian “tech mafia”

Ryan Holmes: “It's an absolute travesty to see Canadian tech entrepreneurs selling their start-up businesses to American buyers for $10 million or $50 million early on...

Ryan Holmes: “It’s an absolute travesty to see Canadian tech entrepreneurs selling their start-up businesses to American buyers for $10 million or $50 million early on…”
True to his desire to create a Canadian version of the “PayPal mafia”, HootSuite founder Ryan Holmes has teamed up with Seattle angel investor Geoff Entress to create Invoke Labs.

The venture is an offshoot of Vancouver’s Invoke Media, which Holmes created working out of his apartment, helping to develop Food.ee, Sprout at Work, and most famously the ever-expanding HootSuite. HootSuite has become the most famous export of a newly thriving Vancouver tech scene.

While Invoke has always specialized digital development, the creation of a separate entity for solely for incubation formalizes the process of creating a start-up hub north of the Pacific Northwest border, bolstering the efforts of Seattle’s 9Mile Labs and Portland’s PIE.

“Invoke Labs provides incubation services to technology start-ups with compelling ideas,” said COO Keith Ippel. “We want to help both Invoke Media and smart entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality, while providing opportunities for direct investment for investors in a diversified risk model.”

Holmes will sit on Invoke Labs’ advisory board, along with Dario Meli (co-creator of HootSuite, who has been on a world-wide tour to develop a new company called Quietly), and Invoke’s David Tedman.

“It’s an absolute travesty,” Holmes wrote in an editorial for the Vancouver Sun recently, “to see Canadian tech entrepreneurs selling their start-up businesses to American buyers for $10 million or $50 million early on. These companies move south of the border and the talent pool often follows. We need investors on the home front to encourage technological growth within Canada and show confidence in the true quality of Canadian tech experts by investing locally.”

Early in February, the internationally renowned TED Talks Conference announced it would move to Vancouver until at least 2015.

Entress, while excited about the prospect of assisting on the board of the new incubator, has said he’ll likely participate in-person about once a month.

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