StartUP Canada: Big Ideas to Propel Canadian Entrepreneurship Forward
I was fortunate enough to be on a panel yesterday at StartUP Canada’s final and largest #EveryEntrepreneur event in Toronto. It was hosted at MaRS and had over 1,200 entrepreneurs registered to attend.
The overall theme of the nationwide tour is to bring together the Canadian startup community, provide on-site inspiration, mentorship, training, and new opportunities to thousands of Canadian entrepreneurs as they start and grow their companies.
After spending some time with co-founder and CEO Victoria Lennox, I can see why StartUP Canada is gaining so much traction. Her passion to help entrepreneurs is palpable.
The panel was put together as a “Town Hall” to openly discuss how we can continue to elevate successful entrepreneurship in Canada, and what BIG ideas can help propel it forward. The panelists were:
- Lauren Robinson, HighlineVC (@LR_Ventures)
- Camille McInnis, Acquisition and Marketing Lead, Square & Startup Canada (@camillemcinnis)
- Lucas Chang, Startup York Region (@Lucas_Chang)
- Lana Tayara, Partnerships, Fundica (@LTayara)
- Douglas Soltys, BetaKit (@tron)
It had great energy because the discussion started in the Green Room well before we were on stage. I think there was a general sense that “something big is starting to happen”, but we need to continue to work as there are GAPs that need be filled with some big ideas.
Here are some of the big ideas that were discussed. StartUP Canada is going to select a few projects (from this list and other ideas) and ask for help to get them off the ground.
Well, not quite accurate, as Doug wanted it to go all the way to Montreal, and he wasn’t asking for a Hyperloop… just faster trains. But he has a point.
With a high speed, wirelessly enabled train from Waterloo, through Toronto to Ottawa and Montreal, it would bring the startup communities closer together, enable a greater resource pool, and allow the flow of ideas and capital more freely.
A More Integrated Community Effort
I am going to paraphrase, but between Camille and Lauren, they see tons of ongoing efforts to bring together, support and help the startup community, but it is not well coordinated between the different organizations. Why not have a Community Summit, where leaders and members can get together and plan how we all help each other.
In Toronto alone, I have attended Success Meetups, TechTO, C100 events, ProductHunt, and more. It would be great to see these groups come together in a more integrated effort.
Streamlining Hiring New Immigrants
An audience member proposed an increased focus on hiring new immigrants to Canada, many who have the skills and motivation to help a startup be successful.
The biggest challenge is that the ecosystem of what opportunities are available is not even known by the entrepreneurs themselves, so real work to be done here. But it would be great to establish an understanding of what the profile of the Canadian ecosystem looks like.
My addition to the dialogue. Silicon Valley works for many reasons, but one of them is an incredibly high “tech density” from San Francisco to San Jose, and because of that things sometimes happen through osmosis.
We need “tech density” in every major city in Canada. For Toronto, I would like to see a continued movement to the downtown core. Spaces like MaRS, OneEleven have already started to help this migration.
The challenge is that it is very expensive, so we need help with flexible space options, more funding opportunities and we need business leaders to believe that technology is one of the primary economic engines in our great cities.
Of course, all of these ideas are BIG projects and would require people, funding and time. But I like that the community is getting together and trying to find ways to continue to elevate entrepreneurship in Canada.
What is your BIG idea on how to make entrepreneurship more successful? Start a conversation in the comments below!