How Toronto's tech startup scene is 'blowing up'

News May 25, 2017 by Hilary Caton City Centre Mirror

Toronto’s technology ecosystem is a breeding ground for the latest startups and innovative technology. Companies like Uber, and Twitter have flocked to Toronto to establish Canadian headquarters because it’s seen as the place to foster the next wave of technology to move society forward.

And it’s not on a whim.

There are more than 400,000 people employed in the tech sector in the city and it is still growing. Because of that, the City of Toronto is putting more emphasis on nurturing its tech talent. According to Scarborough Southwest councillor Michelle Holland, the city’s first appointed official as advocate for the innovation economy, it starts by tackling the sector’s branding issue.

“Toronto really punches above its weight when it comes to being a tech city. It’s the number 1 city for startups and a great place for people to start and grow a business,” Holland said.

“But the problem is our own Canadian-ness, we don’t beat the drum enough. These guys are top talent at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation and we need to show that. The tech talent in Toronto is doing phenomenal and we just need to get the word out and not be so shy about it. We need to get over that.”

Her role, although still in its infancy, was much needed, said Holland. She aims to create growth in the technology sector in Toronto and the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, with a focus on attracting and retaining talent with diverse backgrounds. Holland is currently working with a team out of the Civic Innovation Office at city hall to develop “a narrative” for Toronto’s global tech brand.

“We’re trying to retain talent and talent stays because they have opportunities to build their business. It’s not about the cuisine or the diversity, as amazing as that is. In this ecosystem to retain talent and draw it from other countries you need opportunities, and we’re always looking at how to do that,” Holland explained.

In the last few years, Toronto has continued to push and create these opportunities for startups by offering incubators, accelerators and access to the tech community and it’s beginning to pay off. Toronto has a growing startup ecosystem containing between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups, according to a 2016 report released by TechToronto. It also states Toronto is the strongest startup ecosystem in Canada.

“There’s this vast network of support and there’s great talent here. I think there’s also a really good community you can tap into,” said Chris Rickett, the manager of entrepreneurship services with Start Up Here Toronto. The economic development initiative was launched to support startups and connect entrepreneurs to programs, resources and events to help them start, grow and scale their business.

“There are over 60 incubators and accelerators from idea-stage programs like The Founder Institute to early-stage incubators like the DMZ, and bigger organizations like MaRs and OneEleven that (help at the) post-seed stage. So there’s support for tech companies at every level giving them a chance to connect and get the right support at the right time.”

But Toronto wasn’t always that way Rickett describes. Grant Brigden, the founder of Rover Parking, an app that allows residents to rent out their driveway as a parking spot in the city, remembers a time when Toronto was floundering to grasp what startups needed to thrive in the city.

“It’s gotten 300 per cent better in the last year and half. Just the way people are thinking about startups in Toronto will push it to become one of the top leaders for tech,” Brigden told Metroland Media.

He launched Rover Parking about two years ago and for eight years, until 2010, he worked in Silicon Valley for the company OpenWaves, which was later sold. He admits that when he decided to try and get funding for the company in the city, it was different from Silicon Valley, Toronto was “super frustrating”.

“When we started there wasn’t much help. The problem Toronto had, if I had to simplify it, was they were confused between scale up and startup,” he explained.

“When we went looking for money, they asked for things like metrics that startups don’t have yet. Those numbers come at the stage of a scale up.”

But Toronto has improved, he said, mainly due to the rush of companies like Facebook, Autodeck and Slack taking notice of Toronto’s potential.

“We’re starting to see a lot of organizations starting to realize they need to set up in Toronto because the next wave of entrepreneurs and startups will be a lot bigger in Toronto than the wave before that,” Brigden said.

Rickett agrees: “The tech landscape in Toronto has kind of blown up. That global recognition of talent and innovative thinking is happening. We’re just starting to scratch the surface on what Toronto’s tech communities can do.”

How Toronto's tech startup scene is 'blowing up'

Toronto seen as the place to start, establish a tech-based business

News May 25, 2017 by Hilary Caton City Centre Mirror

Toronto’s technology ecosystem is a breeding ground for the latest startups and innovative technology. Companies like Uber, and Twitter have flocked to Toronto to establish Canadian headquarters because it’s seen as the place to foster the next wave of technology to move society forward.

And it’s not on a whim.

There are more than 400,000 people employed in the tech sector in the city and it is still growing. Because of that, the City of Toronto is putting more emphasis on nurturing its tech talent. According to Scarborough Southwest councillor Michelle Holland, the city’s first appointed official as advocate for the innovation economy, it starts by tackling the sector’s branding issue.

“Toronto really punches above its weight when it comes to being a tech city. It’s the number 1 city for startups and a great place for people to start and grow a business,” Holland said.

“But the problem is our own Canadian-ness, we don’t beat the drum enough. These guys are top talent at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation and we need to show that. The tech talent in Toronto is doing phenomenal and we just need to get the word out and not be so shy about it. We need to get over that.”
~Toronto councillor Michelle Holland

“But the problem is our own Canadian-ness, we don’t beat the drum enough. These guys are top talent at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation and we need to show that. The tech talent in Toronto is doing phenomenal and we just need to get the word out and not be so shy about it. We need to get over that.”

Her role, although still in its infancy, was much needed, said Holland. She aims to create growth in the technology sector in Toronto and the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, with a focus on attracting and retaining talent with diverse backgrounds. Holland is currently working with a team out of the Civic Innovation Office at city hall to develop “a narrative” for Toronto’s global tech brand.

“We’re trying to retain talent and talent stays because they have opportunities to build their business. It’s not about the cuisine or the diversity, as amazing as that is. In this ecosystem to retain talent and draw it from other countries you need opportunities, and we’re always looking at how to do that,” Holland explained.

In the last few years, Toronto has continued to push and create these opportunities for startups by offering incubators, accelerators and access to the tech community and it’s beginning to pay off. Toronto has a growing startup ecosystem containing between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups, according to a 2016 report released by TechToronto. It also states Toronto is the strongest startup ecosystem in Canada.

“There’s this vast network of support and there’s great talent here. I think there’s also a really good community you can tap into,” said Chris Rickett, the manager of entrepreneurship services with Start Up Here Toronto. The economic development initiative was launched to support startups and connect entrepreneurs to programs, resources and events to help them start, grow and scale their business.

“There are over 60 incubators and accelerators from idea-stage programs like The Founder Institute to early-stage incubators like the DMZ, and bigger organizations like MaRs and OneEleven that (help at the) post-seed stage. So there’s support for tech companies at every level giving them a chance to connect and get the right support at the right time.”

But Toronto wasn’t always that way Rickett describes. Grant Brigden, the founder of Rover Parking, an app that allows residents to rent out their driveway as a parking spot in the city, remembers a time when Toronto was floundering to grasp what startups needed to thrive in the city.

“It’s gotten 300 per cent better in the last year and half. Just the way people are thinking about startups in Toronto will push it to become one of the top leaders for tech,” Brigden told Metroland Media.

He launched Rover Parking about two years ago and for eight years, until 2010, he worked in Silicon Valley for the company OpenWaves, which was later sold. He admits that when he decided to try and get funding for the company in the city, it was different from Silicon Valley, Toronto was “super frustrating”.

“When we started there wasn’t much help. The problem Toronto had, if I had to simplify it, was they were confused between scale up and startup,” he explained.

“When we went looking for money, they asked for things like metrics that startups don’t have yet. Those numbers come at the stage of a scale up.”

But Toronto has improved, he said, mainly due to the rush of companies like Facebook, Autodeck and Slack taking notice of Toronto’s potential.

“We’re starting to see a lot of organizations starting to realize they need to set up in Toronto because the next wave of entrepreneurs and startups will be a lot bigger in Toronto than the wave before that,” Brigden said.

Rickett agrees: “The tech landscape in Toronto has kind of blown up. That global recognition of talent and innovative thinking is happening. We’re just starting to scratch the surface on what Toronto’s tech communities can do.”

How Toronto's tech startup scene is 'blowing up'

Toronto seen as the place to start, establish a tech-based business

News May 25, 2017 by Hilary Caton City Centre Mirror

Toronto’s technology ecosystem is a breeding ground for the latest startups and innovative technology. Companies like Uber, and Twitter have flocked to Toronto to establish Canadian headquarters because it’s seen as the place to foster the next wave of technology to move society forward.

And it’s not on a whim.

There are more than 400,000 people employed in the tech sector in the city and it is still growing. Because of that, the City of Toronto is putting more emphasis on nurturing its tech talent. According to Scarborough Southwest councillor Michelle Holland, the city’s first appointed official as advocate for the innovation economy, it starts by tackling the sector’s branding issue.

“Toronto really punches above its weight when it comes to being a tech city. It’s the number 1 city for startups and a great place for people to start and grow a business,” Holland said.

“But the problem is our own Canadian-ness, we don’t beat the drum enough. These guys are top talent at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation and we need to show that. The tech talent in Toronto is doing phenomenal and we just need to get the word out and not be so shy about it. We need to get over that.”
~Toronto councillor Michelle Holland

“But the problem is our own Canadian-ness, we don’t beat the drum enough. These guys are top talent at the forefront of thought leadership and innovation and we need to show that. The tech talent in Toronto is doing phenomenal and we just need to get the word out and not be so shy about it. We need to get over that.”

Her role, although still in its infancy, was much needed, said Holland. She aims to create growth in the technology sector in Toronto and the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor, with a focus on attracting and retaining talent with diverse backgrounds. Holland is currently working with a team out of the Civic Innovation Office at city hall to develop “a narrative” for Toronto’s global tech brand.

“We’re trying to retain talent and talent stays because they have opportunities to build their business. It’s not about the cuisine or the diversity, as amazing as that is. In this ecosystem to retain talent and draw it from other countries you need opportunities, and we’re always looking at how to do that,” Holland explained.

In the last few years, Toronto has continued to push and create these opportunities for startups by offering incubators, accelerators and access to the tech community and it’s beginning to pay off. Toronto has a growing startup ecosystem containing between 2,500 and 4,100 active tech startups, according to a 2016 report released by TechToronto. It also states Toronto is the strongest startup ecosystem in Canada.

“There’s this vast network of support and there’s great talent here. I think there’s also a really good community you can tap into,” said Chris Rickett, the manager of entrepreneurship services with Start Up Here Toronto. The economic development initiative was launched to support startups and connect entrepreneurs to programs, resources and events to help them start, grow and scale their business.

“There are over 60 incubators and accelerators from idea-stage programs like The Founder Institute to early-stage incubators like the DMZ, and bigger organizations like MaRs and OneEleven that (help at the) post-seed stage. So there’s support for tech companies at every level giving them a chance to connect and get the right support at the right time.”

But Toronto wasn’t always that way Rickett describes. Grant Brigden, the founder of Rover Parking, an app that allows residents to rent out their driveway as a parking spot in the city, remembers a time when Toronto was floundering to grasp what startups needed to thrive in the city.

“It’s gotten 300 per cent better in the last year and half. Just the way people are thinking about startups in Toronto will push it to become one of the top leaders for tech,” Brigden told Metroland Media.

He launched Rover Parking about two years ago and for eight years, until 2010, he worked in Silicon Valley for the company OpenWaves, which was later sold. He admits that when he decided to try and get funding for the company in the city, it was different from Silicon Valley, Toronto was “super frustrating”.

“When we started there wasn’t much help. The problem Toronto had, if I had to simplify it, was they were confused between scale up and startup,” he explained.

“When we went looking for money, they asked for things like metrics that startups don’t have yet. Those numbers come at the stage of a scale up.”

But Toronto has improved, he said, mainly due to the rush of companies like Facebook, Autodeck and Slack taking notice of Toronto’s potential.

“We’re starting to see a lot of organizations starting to realize they need to set up in Toronto because the next wave of entrepreneurs and startups will be a lot bigger in Toronto than the wave before that,” Brigden said.

Rickett agrees: “The tech landscape in Toronto has kind of blown up. That global recognition of talent and innovative thinking is happening. We’re just starting to scratch the surface on what Toronto’s tech communities can do.”