This month’s Technicity event aims to bring tech entrepreneurs, educators and IT professionals together to brainstorm on how to create and build innovative tech start-ups in the Greater Toronto Area.
The event, which is being held on Nov. 30 at Allstream Centre in Toronto, is being jointly produced by IT World Canada, the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, and the City of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Division.
David Crow, co-founder of marketing startup Influitive Corp. and a speaker at Technicity, said the event will mostly be about championing Toronto as a place to live and work for technology start-ups and IT professionals. He said his talk will build on this theme as he hopes more Toronto entrepreneurs hype Canada’s largest city as a hotspot for starting a tech business.
“If you want to start a mobile company, you shouldn’t need to move to the Valley,” he said.
Crow said the responsibility of strengthening Toronto’s IT and start-up community falls squarely on the shoulders of the area’s entrepreneurs.
While out raising money for start-ups in Silicon Valley, Crow said he always remembers to plug another entrepreneur or emerging company from Toronto. He said that fellow Toronto techies should bang at the same drum when dealing with investors abroad.
“There’s no direct benefit to doing that, but it will have every VC saying, ‘What the hell is going on in Toronto?’” Crow added.
Lou Milrad, chair and CEO of the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance, said the Technicity event will be a great starting point for Crow and others to push this idea to the forefront.
“This is a great opportunity to find out and collaborate on what’s happening in the GTA’s tech sector for entrepreneurs, SMEs and academia,” he said.
For Milrad, the event will be about creating more partnerships between entrepreneurs and local educational institutions and government agencies. He added that a portion of the attendees includes local councilors and academic leaders.
Milrad said the biggest challenges for emerging tech firms are the lack of access to venture capital and the difficulty of selling products and services in Canada. He hopes connecting senior IT and academic leaders through the event can help reverse this trend.
“After the event, we will be doing a very serious analysis of what we’ve learned and how it’s going to translate to opportunities for the Toronto region,” he said. “We’re not looking at this as a single event. It’s going to be an annual event.”
In addition to being excited for his own talk, Crow said he’s hoping to hear some great things from other speakers at the event. He ranked tax credits for angel investors on capital losses as an important theme he would like to hear addressed, among other government-related issues.
“I hope they talk about role of the local, provincial, and federal government in supporting and getting out of the way of entrepreneurs,” he said. “I hope they talk about attracting foreign capital. And I hope the talk about educational reforms to teach entrepreneurship as a career path at Canadian universities.”