Best in Show: Octopz takes one home to MaRS at Canadian Innovation Exchange

Some very interesting companies could be found among the presenters at the Canadian Innovation Exchange event this week. It was great to see a range of companies hitting the stage. They included brand new players such as Sandy Ward, founder of local search startup Homezilla and the always colourful, angel investor and company builder Mark Dowd of Brainpark. Mark is building a peer to peer collaboration platform to tackle the very big and lucrative problem of managing knowledge within the enterprise. CIX also had a share of more established, venture-backed players such as Butch Langlois who presented the online travel site PlanetEye and Ron McKenzie, CEO of the online collaboration platform Octopz, a MaRS tenant.

Among many solid and “entertaining”? presentations at CIX, Ron McKenzie and the Octopz team stood out as the choice of attendees when the votes were tabulated. They took home top honours for the best presenting company at the event. This win follows on the heels of the amazing debut of Octopz’s latest software at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco last week where over 10000 attendees packed the Moscone Centre to see the latest stuff.

One of the key trends that could be seen in San Francisco last week and here at CIX was the continued momentum that the dynamic web is creating for startups that have focused on building clever, utility applications for customers and investors. There is still a continued appetite for innovative, low weight software platforms that solve a very targeted customer problem and seek to connect dynamically to a host of other infrastructure and value added services.

Even the big players understand the implications of this trend towards infinite interoperability and this emerging fabric of user and corporate collaboration. Witness companies such as Yahoo who freely admit they don’t want to build yet another social network. Instead,Yahoo’s CTO told more than 1,000 attendees at the Moscone Centre last week that their strategy is to “build social into everything they do.” Yahoo’s big plan is to make it easier for users to share information about themselves with other Yahoo users and on websites that run applications using Yahoo features. It’s how they are seeking to keep pace with players such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. And it’s this kind of development that is helping companies like Octopz cost-effectively, quickly and powerfully extend its collaborative software platform in some wondrous ways. Stay tuned.