Canadian startups SecureKey, A Thinking Ape looking for networks, talent at London’s Tech City

Canadian startups SecureKey, A Thinking Ape looking for networks, talent at London’s Tech City
Christine Dobby | Jul 30, 2012 4:10 PM ET @christinedobby
For two Canadian startups, the chance to shake some hands and swap some business cards in London, England’s thriving Tech City is more valuable than an all-expenses paid trip across the Atlantic.
Last Friday, Toronto’s SecureKey Technologies Inc. and Vancouver’s A Thinking Ape were named as the eastern and western Canadian winners, respectively, of a contest hosted by United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI).
The prize includes flights and three days of accommodation in London as well as networking with investors and companies working in the British city’s tech hub
Greg Wolfond, founder and chairman of security authentication technology company SecureKey, said the startup, which recently scored a $30-million round of financing led by its main investor Intel Corp., entered the competition primarily for the networking opportunity, not for the free plane tickets.
“It was much more about the intros and the connections,” Mr. Wolfond said
In his estimation, Tech City, an area of east London where the government helped foster the growing tech sector, is likely to develop into a strong hub.
SecureKey has already won some work with the U.K. government and the company, which employs more than 100 people now, is considering an expansion into the U.K., Mr. Wolfond said.
Meanwhile, the three founders of A Thinking Ape — which makes the popular iPhone and Android game, “Kingdoms at War,” among other mobile apps — have already made one major geographical move.
The Canadian trio all got their start working in Silicon Valley and launched their company in San Francisco in 2008. In mid-2010, they uprooted the company, and headed to Vancouver. The company now has between 40 and 50 employees and has opened a second office in Redmond, Wash.
The U.K. is now on the company’s radar as a potential hot spot for tech talent, an important commodity in the current competitive climate, co-founder Wilkins Chung said.

A Thinking Ape is mulling over the possibility of opening an office in London, he said, and the UKTI contest coincided with that objective.

“The reason we entered was kind of along the same lines of why we experimented in coming up to Vancouver to find talent,” Mr. Chung said. “Is there an opportunity where there is a large talent pool there and they don’t want to leave the U.K. and they want to work in a really interesting tech company?”

He said the trip will give him and his co-founders a chance to figure that out and determine whether an expansion makes sense.

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