Breaking into the Canadian startup ecosystem – How to break into the tech scene in Toronto, Canada 

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Last update 28-Nov-2022

Authors:

Erik Torenberg twitter.com/eriktorenberg

Daryna Kulya [DK] twitter.com/darynakulya

Mohammed Asaduallah twitter.com/heymosef

Paul Krajewski twitter.com/salesenablement

Kamil Rextin [KR] twitter.com/kamilrextin

Mustefa Jo’shen twitter.com/mustefaj

1. Toronto Tech Scene FAQs

Q: What word best describes Toronto’s tech/startup scene?

[DK] Breakthrough. With so many great companies in the city, a lot of support networks for entrepreneurs and, hopefully, more funding for local companies, feels like Toronto is about to have its breakthrough moment.

[KR] Diversity & Openness. Both in terms of backgrounds, gender, ethnicity & cultures but also the type of companies from marketplaces to financial technology, commerce, marketing technology & many more. There’s no ‘right’ kind of founder or company, they come in all shapes & sizes. The TO community is open, welcoming and embracing to anyone who wants to get involved.

Q: How does someone break into Toronto’s tech/startup scene?

[DK] Depends what you’d mean by “breaking in”. If it’s just about finding a job at a startup, section 4 with a list of some startups that are hiring could be a good place to start. However, if you’d like to get involved in the community, meet future co-founders and make friends, I’d have a different answer.

I believe that creating value for others is the best way to “break into” any industry, including tech. Based on your skills and talents, find a way to help someone with what they are working on. Don’t ask for anything in return. Repeat. Keep doing it until people start reaching out to you for help (this means you’re creating value). Same people will be much more willing to help you after you’ve helped them.

Volunteer at an event, design / redesign someone’s logo, build something people in the community want / need, step up to host a meetup, write and publish a thorough product review, connect two people who should know each other, find an answer to the question someone has, do research nobody volunteered for.

Don’t forget to share your story. If you have a compelling story, strangers will go out of their way to help you. Thanks to Ruben Harris for sharing this important point in his post.

[KR] Don’t ask for permission. You own the community as much as anyone else. As long as you aren’t rude or an a**h**** you will be welcome and embraced. Get involved by going to meetups, asking people out for coffee, writing about your experiences and being active on Twitter & relevant Facebook Groups.

2. Where should I meet Toronto’s Tech Community?

Meetups

https://ti.to/techtoronto/

UXResearch|TO — meetup.com/UXResearchTO/

UX Lightning Talks Toronto

TORONTO TECH: Wearable, IoT, Big Data, 3D, Energy, AI, Robot

(UXD / UX) User Experience Design Toronto — meetup.com/uxtoronto/

Product Hunt Toronto — producthunttoronto.com For all of you makers, hunters and early adopters.

#ProductTO — meetup.com/productto/

Tech Toronto (Meet & learn from Toronto’s tech founders) TechToronto / TechTO techto.org

#BotTO — meetup.com/Bot-TO/ (Get your bot on)

#DesignTO — meetup.com/DesignTO (Toronto’s monthly Design Meetup)

#DevTO — devto.ca

Girl Geeks Toronto — girlgeekstoronto.com/

LEAN Coffee Toronto — meetup.com/leancoffeeto/

MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 — Canada’s largest live & online entrepreneurship course — marsdd.com/entrepreneurship-101/

Startup Grind — meetup.com/Startup-Grind-Toronto/

SalesTOtechtoronto.org – Canada’s tech community – TechToronto / TechTO techto.org

Subscribe to the feed from startupdigest.com/digests/toronto from your own Google calendar to automatically see it filled with a good portion of events in the city

Conferences / Annual Events

DigiFest — torontodigifest.ca

FITC — fitc.ca/

HoHoTO — hohoto.ca

Startup Open House — startupopenhouse.com

Startupong — http://get.uberflip.com/startupong/

TEDxToronto — tedxtoronto.com

Uberflip Experience

Hackathons

Startup Weekend — toronto.startupweekend.org

U of T Hacks — uofthacks.com

3. Where should I pick up necessary skills?

Bitmaker Labs — bitmaker.co General Assembly generalassemb.ly

Brainstation — brainstation.io

HackerYou — hackeryou.com

Ladies Learning Code — ladieslearningcode.com

Lighthouse Labs — lighthouselabs.ca

Design Cofounders  designcofounders.com (UX/UI & Design Thinking courses)

RED Academy — redacademy.com

Founder Institute Toronto http://fi.co/s/toronto

4. What Toronto startups are hiring?

500px — https://about.500px.com/jobs/

Autonomic.ai — autonomic.ai

ConnectedLab — connectedlab.com connected.io

Drop — earnwithdrop.com joindrop.com

Influitive — influitive.com

Screen Shot 2022-01-28 at 9.28.28 amPostBeyond postbeyond.com @postbeyond cloud-based employee engagement & advocacy platform that enables employees & partners to post approved brand content to their personal networks in an efficient, consistent, & measurable way. $9M in revenue? PostBeyond Inc. Toronto, ON, Canada. 8-Dec-2021 Influitive Inc influitive.com @influitive (also Toronto, ON, Canada) acquired PostBeyond for an undisclosed amount.

Ecobee — ecobee.com

    • 1 Nov 2021 — Toronto-based smart home thermostat startup Ecobee acquired by generator manufacturer Generac Holdings for $770M

Hubba betakit.com/hubba-to-shut-down

Joist — joist.com/careers/

PagerDuty — careers.pagerduty.com/home

StreetContxt — http://streetcontxt.com/careers/

Shopify — shopify.com/careers#work-at-shopify

TribalScale — tribalscale.com

Wealthsimple — jobs.lever.co/wealthsimple

Wattpad — wattpad.com/life/?jobs

    • 20-Jan-2021. Wattpad acquired by Naver, the South Korean conglomerate, in a $600M cash-and-stock deal.

Hired — https://hired.com/ [The Hired Toronto team is awesome and if you get a chance, talk to them about all things Toronto, startups, recruiting]

Format — https://format.com/

Uberflip — https://uberflip.com/careers

Betakit Job Board — http://betakit.com/jobs/

5. What companies beyond startup stage are hiring?

See Canadian Sales Enablement companies

See Canadian loyalty programs

Pivotal (Pivotal Labs, former Xtreme Labs now part of VMware and called Tanzu Labs Toronto) awaits approval for an acquisition by chip maker Broadcom Inc.

shopify.com/careers

Now, Ford owns Autonomic.ai autonomic.ai

6. Where can I get office space?

Breather — https://breather.com/locations/toronto

DMZ — http://dmz.ryerson.ca

Lab T.O. http://labto.com

One Eleven — oneeleven.com

Project Spaces — http://www.projectspac.es

WeWork — wework.com/l/toronto

7. Who could help me build my product?

ConnectedLab connectedlab.com https://www.connected.io

Konrad Group — konradgroup.com

Pivotal Labs VMware Pivotal Labs (Used to have POH Product Office Hours: one hour of free consulting: pivotal.io/product-consultation) tanzu.vmware.com/labs awaits approval for an acquisition by chip maker Broadcom Inc.

Tiny Hearts— (Shopify acquired them)

Design Cofounders — designcofounders.com (UX/UI Design + Design Thinking)

TribalScale TRIBALSCALE LAUNCHES $100 MILLION VENTURE STUDIOS PROGRAM TO CO-CREATE AI AND BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

TWG — (TWG, a Deloitte business now) @TWG

Kinetic Cafe — http://kineticcafe.com

Playground Inc — http://playgroundinc.com

8. Who could write about my startup?

BetaKit — betakit.com

BNN — bnn.ca

Mark Evans @markevans / Marketing Spark marketingspark.co

TechVibes — techvibes.com/global

Yonge Street Media — yongestreetmedia.ca

9. Who could fund my startup?

loyal VC loyal.vc @LoyalVc

VersionOne versionone.vc @VersionOneVC

Golden VP — goldenvp.com golden.ventures/

OMERS Ventures — omersventures.com

Two Small Fish Ventures — twosmallfishventures.com

https://highlinebeta.com/about

BDC Venture Capital — bdc.ca

iNovia Capital — https://inovia.vc/

TribalScale TRIBALSCALE LAUNCHES $100 MILLION VENTURE STUDIOS PROGRAM TO CO-CREATE AI AND BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

10. Who should I follow online?

Operators

Andrew D’Souza — https://twitter.com/andrewdsouza

April Dunford — https://twitter.com/aprildunford

Ben Zifkin — https://twitter.com/Ben_Zifkin

Brandon Chu — https://twitter.com/BrandonMChu

Breanna Hughes — https://twitter.com/unbrelievable

Dan Debow — https://twitter.com/ddebow

David Crow — https://twitter.com/davidcrow

Farhan Thawar — https://twitter.com/fnthawar

Heather Payne — https://twitter.com/heatherpayne

Huda Idrees — https://twitter.com/hidrees

Ian Gerald King — https://twitter.com/iangeraldking

Ken Seto — https://twitter.com/kenseto

Kyle A Collier — @KyleACollier

Mark MacLeod — startupcfo.ca markmacleod.me @markmacleod_

Mark Evans — https://twitter.com/markevans

Marketing Spark marketingspark.co Mark Evans @markevans markevans.ca a B2B marketing consultant who drives client success with positioning, brand storytelling, strategic planning, & amazing content. He helps B2B SaaS companies with marketing. His latest book, Marketing Spark, is a how-to guide about the power of story-driven marketing. ME ConsultingMarketing Spark: Fractional CMO for B2B SaaS; Strategic positioning Wizard; Brand Storyteller; 3-time Writer Book Author; 🎙 Podcaster. Toronto, ON, Canada

Michael Serbinis — https://twitter.com/mserbinis

Sean Power — https://twitter.com/seanpower

Paul Teshima — https://twitter.com/pteshima

Satish Kanwar — https://twitter.com/skanwar

Amrita Chandra — https://twitter.com/amritachandra

Tara Hunt — https://twitter.com/missrogue

Investors

VersionOne versionone.vc @VersionOneVC

Ameet Shah, Golden VP @goldenventuresgolden.ventures/— twitter.com/ameetshah

Christian Lassonde, Impression VC — twitter.com/classonde

John Ruffolo, OMERS Ventures — twitter.com/ruffoloj

@OMERSVentures

Marcus Daniels, HIGHLINE — twitter.com/marcusdaniels

Matt Golden, Golden VP @goldenventures golden.ventures/ — https://twitter.com/MattGoldenVP

Two Small Fish Ventures — twosmallfishventures.com

Sunil — twitter.com/sunil_extreme

Sundeep Madra — twitter.com/sundeep angel.co/sundeepm

William Mougayar — twitter.com/wmougayar

loyal VC loyal.vc @LoyalVc

(also see mapleleafstartups.ca)

Incubators & Accelerators

Communitech — communitech.ca

MaRS Discovery District — marsdd.com

The Next 36 — thenext36.ca

(also see mapleleafstartups.ca)

Founder-Institute-Sacramento-1029x640Founder Institute Toronto — fi.co/s/toronto

[IN]cubes —incubes.ca

One Eleven — oneeleven.com

DMZ — The DMZ is Ryerson University’s business incubator for early-stage technology startups. Launched under the name Digital Media Zone in April 2010 — dmz.ryerson.ca

Techstars Toronto — techstars.com

techstars-announces-first-cohort-toronto-accelerator

Community Builders

Alex Norman, TechTO — twitter.com/alexandernorman

Arati Sharma, Shopify — twitter.com/aratisharma

Danielle Smith, DMZ — twitter.com/DaniMcSmith

Daryna Kulya [DK] — twitter.com/darynaku

Jason Goldlist, TechTO — twitter.com/goldlist

Nicole Kelly, OMERS Ventures — twitter.com/Nicole_Kelly

Nora Bieberstein, Tech Ecosystem Partnerships @RBC & Co-Founder of #TechLadiesPokerTO — twitter.com/NoraVBieber

Ria Riaz, RIGHTSLEEVE — twitter.com/RoastedKeyboard

Mohammed Asaduallah, Women & Color — twitter.com/heymosef

11. What online communities should I join?

Meetup.com

Communitech — communitech.ca

StartupNorth Facebook Group — facebook.com/groups/startupnorth/

PH [Product Hunt] Global Slack Community (Pick: “Toronto”) — phglobal.co

Startup Digest — startupdigest.com (“Toronto”)

12. Where does the Toronto Tech community hang out?

Bars / Hangout Spots

Rush Lane — rushlaneco.com

Soho House — sohohousetoronto.com/

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Coffee Shops

Dark Horse Espresso (Spadina or John St locations) — darkhorseespresso.com

Fahrenheit Espresso — fahrenheitcoffee.com

Jimmy’s Coffee — jimmyscoffee.ca

Quantum Coffee — quantumcoffee.io

Portland Variety

13. Further reading

Communitech — communitech.ca

blog.websummit.net/toronto-the-startup-city-guide/

Quora — Which startups are hiring in Toronto?

Quora — Startups in Toronto

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