Two companies that were started in the DMZ have made TechVibes’ top 100 list of Canadian start-ups. COURTESY OF 500PX AND VISUALIZE.ME

Rye start-ups earn national recognition

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By Ryan Smith

Two companies that Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) helped incubate and accelerate have been named in TechVibes’ 2012 Canadian Startup Index. 500px (read 500 pixels), an online photography community, ranked in at number four and, a free service that transforms LinkedIn profile data into infographic resumes ranked in at number 68.

As Canada’s premier technology media website for all things social, mobile, and startup oriented, Tech Vibes curates a top 100 list of technology startups based on, a recognized website tracking company that uses their system to collect traffic data.

While some of the companies on the index are far from what you might call startups (e.g. HootSuite, PlentyofFish), it shows the calibre of those listed.

These two companies stand to gain awareness from this achievement because TechVibes’ has tens of thousands of social media followers.

“The exposure from a listing like this is great. We hope it translates into positive attention and new business for us,” said Eugene Woo, founder of and its parent company Venngage.

Exposure garnered from this and other events, including an upcoming public demo of the company’s other data visualization products, will be pivotal to long-term success as Venngage focuses its strategic eye on enterprise markets.

In an email, Roxy Keshavarznia, executive assistant at 500px, described the feeling of being a top Canadian startup as “great and surreal.” What began as a passion project for photography junkies Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarev has bloomed into a 24 person operation.

It provides hundreds of thousands of professional and amateur photographers around the world with a community to share, discuss, buy and sell photos.

Both companies have since moved on from the DMZ, but would be remiss not to acknowledge the impact it has had on them. “They provided us with tools, space, and resources to get us started. We made a lot of friends and connections during our time,” Keshavarznia said.

Woo noted that “the DMZ’s value is the collaboration and innovation you get from working with others in such a synergistic environment.”

He is also thankful of their hands off approach, “…[the approach] makes it the best deal in town from an equity standpoint, but it means you’re not being pushed. You must be ready to motivate yourself continuously.”

For students thinking of starting their own business, Woo shares some advice. “Success comes down to execution and survival. There were other companies trying what we were early on, but we got there first,” he said. “Now it’s about staying in the game; a lot of the time the companies that succeed are the ones who can survive longest. Get out there with your idea when you are young and stick with it.” Keshavarznia warns entrepreneurs to “do more homework. Learn from [others’] mistakes, use the resources available to you, network, [and] don’t ever sleep…just kidding,” she said.

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