Last year, when Vikram Rangnekar founded MOV North, a website that acts as a resource for global tech professionals to learn about Toronto and entice them to move here, he called Toronto “the best kept secret in North America.” The former LinkedIn engineer wanted to help showcase Toronto to the global tech community and Silicon Valley by talking about the city’s tech scene and explaining the simpler visa and permanent resident process.
Needless to say, Toronto isn’t a secret any longer. Rangnekar has successfully pitched Toronto, and with an influx of workers looking to make the jump to Canada, he has expanded the website with a new addition called MOV North Hire.
Essentially, what Rangnekar has created here is a database filled with prospecting tech talent of a wide array of skill sets that are looking to be connected with Toronto-area tech companies. He says that their skills include hot topics like machine learning and data science, and some have experience from companies like Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, and PayPal.
With the launch of MOV North Hire, we caught up with Rangnekar to talk about the new addition, and how he hopes to grow MOV North past it.
The following Q/A has been edited slightly for clarity.
ITWC: Since we spoke last summer, how has the journey been with MOV North? Did you grow as fast as you expected? Is this totally shocking to you?
Vikram Rangnekar: Alex, a lot has happened. I want to thank you for writing about us back then – that has now snowballed into a lot of great press. We’ve been covered by Globe and Mail, Newsweek, CNBC, Forbes, Quartz, etc. Yes, honestly MOV North went from a simple blog to a mini-movement that’s driving a massive global interest in Toronto and the tech ecosystem here. The site itself is highly ranked and more traffic than I could have ever imagined.
I believe there’s amazing tech talent all over the world and a lot of them are looking for a place like Canada with a high quality of life to call home. Going with how tech is absolutely dominating globally as the industry everyone wants to work in, and one that is bringing positive change to the world, it’s in all our interest to make Canada this tech destination.
ITWC: What event triggered this decision for you to add MOV North Hire? Did anything specific happen that made you realize you had to create this database?
VR: From day one I made my email available on the site for anyone to reach out with questions or just to connect. Let me just say it’s a lot more email than I had planned for but on the positive side, I get to interact with people and learn about their needs.
I found the number one request was for help with connecting with tech companies here for software related jobs. I initially tried to do this manually but it just couldn’t scale.
On the other hand, speaking with tech companies here I found they had the opposite problem finding and reaching this global tech talent. So many companies in Canada want to reach out overseas for highly experienced software talent to help scale their startups or build interesting tech. They even have a new fast work visa called Global Talent Stream (GTS). The problem is their hiring teams don’t know where to start looking.
This is the exact problem we solve with MOV North HIRE.
ITWC: Can you explain the database? How can Canadian companies take advantage of this new feature to acquire talent?
VR: MOV North Hire is a service where Canadian companies can just search for and reach out to experienced global tech talent that is interested in moving to Canada.
We have a fast-growing database of people covering skill sets like Software Engineering, Machine Learning, AI, Data Science, Mobile App Development, Hardware engineering, etc. And most importantly they all want to move to Canada.
It is really easy to use and our machine learning technology surfaces the best talent relative to the needs of the company. It’s a tool that empowers the internal hiring teams at companies to find and bring the best people they need to Canada.
ITWC: Are you able to share any numbers? You mention that 80% are from the U.S. on H1-B visas, but are there any concrete numbers like how many people are in the database?
VR: It’s a very large number (another thing that surprised me) but we don’t focus on this number since people could read it either way and that could limit us from getting all these people jobs in Canada.
Even though the number of people in our database is growing quite fast we want to focus on quality over quantity. What matters most is experienced people with in-demand tech skills who are interested in moving to Canada finding great jobs here and companies finding the talent they need.
Yes the last time I did the analysis over 80% were from the US that included for the majority H1B holders but surprisingly also a number of Canadians T1 or otherwise who are looking to move back after many years in the US. The other nationalities I’ve noticed are from the Singapore region, Dubai, Russia, and some Eastern Europe countries.
ITWC: What does the future of MOV North look like? Are you growing a team to manage the site? Where do you hope the new addition of MOV North Hire takes you?
VR: We have a small distributed team of software developers all friends of mine building out a pretty impressive cloud-based platform with powerful search capabilities and a machine learning based relevance engine. The tech’s gotta be solid to scale to our vision of it being the largest global talent hiring platform for all of Canada. My wife Deepa and I work on the ground trying to get this into the hands of hiring teams across the country.