By Moustafa Daly
Born a citizen of Bangladesh, 35-year-old serial entrepreneur Kamran Sarkar has lived in different countries throughout his life. Educated in the United Kingdom and with family and business in Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sarkar has led a digital nomad lifestyle. However, planning for his future, he landed in Canada, where he’d eventually like to settle down.
“I would like to retire in Canada,” said Sarkar, who currently serves as a chairman at two tech startups. “I will probably end up living in Prince Edward Island – I’m buying a lot there. It’s right next to the mountain and sea; I like the area a lot – away from the crowd, which I love.”
To pursue his dreamy image of the future in Canada, in 2017, Sarkar started contemplating applying for the Start-up Visa, using his many entrepreneurial ventures while also planning business operations in Canada. In 2019, he submitted a Start-up Visa application.
However, pandemic conditions delayed the arrival of Sarkar’s permanent residency. But that didn’t dissuade him from launching his investment in Canada. By 2022, his business had already injected $300,000 in marketing and beginning operations – an amount that surpasses the highest startup visa investment threshold of C$200,000 ($147,153) needed to be secured by applicants on the program’s Venture Capital stream.
Meanwhile, other foreign entrepreneurs may only need to secure C$75,000 ($55,000) when applying on the Angel stream, or no investment at all if the startup is in the incubation phase, which is overseen by an approved incubator in Canada.
Doing business and getting permanent residency and in Canada
Sarkar finally got his residency and was able to relocate to Canada in 2022. Despite the delay, he found the process quite straightforward.
“Honestly, it was pretty smooth,” recounted Sarkar. “All they all asked for was quintessentially the progress, which the startup had. Our business was already making investments in Canada, and that’s all they asked to see. Then the process was very easy.”
A year into his residency, Sarkar’s business is already doing well, slowly approaching the break-even point. He still sees room for growth. “Now we’re making roughly $30,000 a month in net profit, but we could probably do a lot more. There’s a really good potential growth opportunity here.”
His startup is called Purple Algorithm LTD. and provides data on international skilled labor to Canadian stakeholders so that the country can pursue its immigration goals effectively. “There are more than 3,000 immigration attorneys in Ontario alone. We’ve only got 30 of them,” he explains.
“We’ve got more than 2.1 million data of people who are skilled professionals who want to go abroad. We basically process their data and improve the accuracy of their records, because sometimes in countries like in Southeast Asia, the actual job listed doesn’t match the real job function, so these people, when applying for skilled migrant visas, get rejected,” he elaborates.
Challenges to Canada’s startup ecosystem
With operations in over four countries, Sarkar has had enough exposure to different startup ecosystems and to what makes a functioning one. Though he sees great potential in Canada, he remains somewhat underwhelmed by the startup scene there.
“The startup scene in Canada is a lot smaller than I imagined,” said Kamran, admitting that he shouldn’t be comparing to the much bigger scene in the neighboring United States.
“Still, the banks and financial institutions there are not necessarily as aggressive as they should be when it comes to funding and supporting startups,” he adds.
In other countries where his business operates, Sarkar could secure finance for his business amounting to 200 times the amount of profit, enabling it to expand and scale much faster than in Canada, where such financing options are not easily available yet.
Also, due to the bigger market sizes elsewhere, he’s able to make bigger revenue in economies not as well developed as Canada’s.
Despite these shortcomings, Sarkar still sees Canada as the land of opportunity. “Canada’s market is different than elsewhere, but it gives me and my business access to a lot more opportunities and a completely different demographic than we get elsewhere. So, the offerings there are pretty decent for businesses,” he concludes.
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