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

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Last update 19-Mar-2021

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) 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 — http://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

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 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 — www.autonomic.ai

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

Drop — earnwithdrop.com https://joindrop.com

Ecobee — ecobee.com

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

Joist — joist.com/careers/

Influitive — influitive.com

PagerDuty — pagerduty.com/careers/

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

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

TribalScale — tribalscale.com

Wealthsimple — wealthsimple.com/jobs

Wattpad — wattpad.com/life/?jobs

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?

Pivotal (Pivotal Labs, former Xtreme Labs now part of VMware): http://pivotal.io

shopify.com/careers

Now, Ford owns Autonomic.ai www.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 — http://pivotal.io/labs VMware Pivotal Labs (Get one hour of free consulting: pivotal.io/product-consultation) tanzu.vmware.com/labs

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 — https://twg.io

Kinetic Cafe — http://kineticcafe.com

Playground Inc — http://playgroundinc.com

8. Who could write about my startup?

BetaKit — betakit.com/

BNN — bnn.ca/

TechVibes — techvibes.com/global

Yonge Street Media — yongestreetmedia.ca/

9. Who could fund my startup?

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 — http://www.startupcfo.ca

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

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

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

Christian Lassonde, Impression VC — https://twitter.com/classonde

John Ruffolo, OMERS Ventures — https://twitter.com/ruffoloj

Marcus Daniels, HIGHLINE — https://twitter.com/marcusdaniels

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

Two Small Fish Ventures — twosmallfishventures.com

Sunil — https://twitter.com/sunil_extreme

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

William Mougayar — https://twitter.com/wmougayar

(also see mapleleafstartups.ca)

Incubators

Communitech — communitech.ca

DMZ — http://dmz.ryerson.ca

MaRS Discovery District — marsdd.com

The Next 36 — thenext36.ca

(also see mapleleafstartups.ca)

Accelerators

Founder Institute Toronto — fi.co/s/toronto

Founder Institute has a Blockchain Founder Syndicate: fi.co/join/blockchain

[IN]cubes —incubes.ca

One Eleven — oneeleven.com

Techstars Toronto — techstars.com

techstars-announces-first-cohort-toronto-accelerator

(also see mapleleafstartups.ca)

Community Builders

Alex Norman, TechTO — https://twitter.com/alexandernorman

Arati Sharma, Shopify — https://twitter.com/aratisharma

Danielle Smith, DMZ — https://twitter.com/DaniMcSmith

Daryna Kulya [DK] — twitter.com/darynaku

Jason Goldlist, TechTO — https://twitter.com/goldlist

Nicole Kelly, OMERS Ventures — https://twitter.com/Nicole_Kelly

Nora Bieberstein, One Eleven — https://twitter.com/NoraVBieber

Ria Riaz, RIGHTSLEEVE — https://twitter.com/RoastedKeyboard

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

11. What online communities should I join?

Online Communities & Resources

Meetup.com

Communitech — communitech.ca

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

PH 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 — https://twitter.com/portlandvariety

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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