There is a major festival going on in Toronto where thousands of people clutch their show passes and fill theatres to fawn over their idols. If your first inkling is that this is the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), you’d be mistaken. This festival, with fans just as rabid, celebrates Toronto’s innovation and tech community.
Elevate Toronto, the brainchild of Razor Suleman, former CEO of Achievers, is a 3-day cheerleading session for the region’s corporate innovators, venture capitalists, incubators and tech talent – all highlighting Canadian success and the city’s commitment to sustained growth in this sector.
Some of the most recognized faces in the business took turns at the mike, sharing messages of inspiration, pride and the uniquely Canadian startup experience: Vinod Khosla, Anthony Lacavera, Salim Ismail, Michele Romanow, Alex Norman, Bilal Kahn, Bruce Croxon, to name just a few.
Cheerleader Mayor John Tory
Mayor John Tory boasted about the sheer number of tech companies, tech jobs and tech grads in the pipeline (a whopping 250,000); and spoke about the city’s first ever Director of Civic Innovation, and first Advocate for the Innovation Economy Portfolio.
Much was said about our enormous talent pool – and the importance of its diversity as a catalyst for success. There was also a fair bit of hand wringing over our far too modest approach to unqualified success; our inability to think bigger, take risks, get global.
Two messages came through loud and clear:
- It isn’t the big companies who are innovating. It’s the smaller ones changing the game.
- Not all cool innovation comes from fresh, new startups. Companies who have been growing steadily (and *surprise* are profitable, too!) are participating fully in the tech scene.
Startups aren’t the only success story
Take BlueCat, for instance. Our gregarious co-founder, Michael Hyatt, was a (caffeinated) fixture on panels and at networking events throughout the festival. Tonight, he will proudly accept the Elevate Centurion Spotlight Award for BlueCat for achieving an exit over $100M CDN. (Not to brag, but it was 4x that 🙂 )
We are paving an alternate path to Canadian tech success. Not exactly a startup, we’re a 15+ year old organization growing 20% annually and employ nearly 400 people. BlueCat is a $70M company whose success in DNS networking is now the launch pad for our next venture – network security. Oh, and we’re hiring.
BlueCat, and other companies like us, exemplify the spirit of innovation and unique culture celebrated at Elevate.
Mayor Tory summed it up nicely: “It is the prosperity created from our city’s technology sector that makes those other Toronto festivals possible.”
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