Written by Andrew Seale
Damien Véran may have just clinched his dual French/Canadian citizenship status in December but SlimCut Media, the startup he co-founded in 2011 with Thomas Davy, has been a transatlantic effort for much of that history, calling both Toronto-based incubator the Digital Media Zone and Paris-based co-working space Pépinière 27 home.
In fact, rather than clash, the differences between the “vibrant tech scene” in Toronto and effervescent entrepreneurial scene in his native France compliment one another, keeping SlimCut Media plugged into both the French- and English-speaking world. It’s vital, given that, as its name suggest, SlimCut Media is focused on the publishing world.
“We have developed technology that allows publishers to add video content advertisements in the middle of their content,” explains Damien. In addition to the platform itself, the DMZ startup has also created a premium video marketplace to pair ad-space buyers with some of the top publishers in North America.
“In Canada, we work with the majority of the tier one publishers – Postmedia, Rogers, Torstar, Quebecor and TC Media,” he says. “We’re very much publisher-focused technology, we (help them establish) what they need, how to satisfy their audience and how all these things generate revenue.”
Of course, Damien didn’t make the cross-Atlantic leap eight years ago in pursuit of repairing and re-envisioning the struggling publishing world; he was following a career and hoping to try out North American life in the meantime.
“I had a job opportunity in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry in marketing and I always wanted to live in North America,” says the Toulouse, France-born entrepreneur. “I wanted some place where they didn’t speak French so it was a little more challenging.”
After gathering experience working in marketing with companies like Procter & Gamble, Pepsico and Mars, Damien decided to put his entrepreneurial instincts to the test. Someone in he and his co-founders personal network mentioned the DMZ at Ryerson University in the heart of downtown Toronto. Damien did some research and met with the management team in 2014.
“I got immediately excited with the opportunity of working with them and that’s why we have been here since then,” he says.
Over the past half decade, even as the company has expanded its international footprint opening satellite offices in London and New York, the entrepreneur’s confidence in Toronto has grown. In fact, Damien is quick to credit the Canadian Digital Media Network (CDMN) Outbound Soft-Landing program run by Kitchener-based Communitech for helping the company establish a footprint south of the border.
“The quality of support you get in Toronto – incubators, accelerators – and the city is also doing a lot of things as well, in terms of offering funding, creating events… there’s a very vibrant ecosystem,” says Damien.
As a hub for international business’ Canadian operations, Toronto has proved invaluable for connecting SlimCut with markets throughout the U.S. where target publishers dwell.
“It’s a perfect place to conquer the rest of North America,” he says. “Within 200 km of Toronto you have some of the best universities in North America with amazing talent (that is) not quite as expensive as in the states or even in Europe – Toronto is a very exciting place to start a business.”