Never Mind the Valley: Here’s Toronto

While not the political capital of Canada, Toronto is certainly the cultural and financial capital of the country. With over 5 million residents, Toronto is the largest city in Canada, sitting in a densely populated part of Southern Ontario. With over 200 ethnic groups speaking over 130 languages, Toronto’s cosmopolitan population makes it one of the world’s most diverse cities. Toronto also boasts a clean environment, low crime rates, a high standard of living, and incredibly nice folks who live there, all helping make it one of the world’s most livable cities and according to a recent Huffington Post article, “the capital of cool.”

It’s also by all accounts a thriving startup hub, with both strong investor presence – the National Angel Capital Organization and Extreme Venture Partners are headquartered there, for example – and with a lot of entrepreneurial talent and activities.

Events and Education for Entrepreneurs

“Obviously it’s no Silicon Valley,” says Sprouter Community Manager Erin Bury, “but it’s definitely a thriving community with a ton of tech entrepreneurs, some great funding opportunities, and a hopping event scene.” A Toronto-based startup itself, Sprouter helps facilitate networking and collaboration between entrepreneurs globally, but also sponsors regular meetup events.

RWW’s Never Mind the Valley series:

MaRS, located in Toronto’s Discovery District also holds numerous events as part of its mission to help early stage science and technology ventures grow in the Greater Toronto area. MaRS offers entrepreneurs a variety of services, including mentorship and strategic planning guidance. MaRS also has an Investment Accelerator Fund, a fund with an investment strategy to provide early stage seed capital for emerging science and technology companies.

A Culture of Entrepreneurship

Communitech, located in the neighboring city of Waterloo, in another organization helping to promote regional entrepreneurship through mentorship, training, networking and promotion. And while there are multiple universities in the area and strong government support for startup endeavors, Communitech CEO Iain Klugman attributes the vibrancy of the region to a “culture of entrepreneurship.” The region has a long, long history of fostering entrepreneurs (the Seagrams distillery was founded there in 1857, for example), and encouraging entrepreneurship happens not just at the business level, but with targeted school programs as well.

Joseph Puopolo, Director of Marketing and Community for the Toronto-based startup, OPENapps points to the important role that this supportive culture has played in helping OPENapps move forward. According to Puopolo, company has “benefited greatly from the technology community in Toronto and surrounding areas like Waterloo, due to the access to regular technology networking events and strong talent pool. Toronto and Waterloo truly foster a climate of innovation.”

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