Over 800 attendees descended upon Bingemans Conference Center in Kitchener recently for the 2015 Communitech Tech Leadership Conference. As I drove down the drive to the conference center, the first thing that caught my attention was the dress of people walking from the parking lot: your standard jeans and t-shirts crowd mixing with suits and ties – a reminder of the variety of sizes of businesses that make up to tech scene in Waterloo Region.
Communitech CEO Iain Klugman opened up the day with a focus on Communitech’s mission: to help not just startups but also support scale-ups, and help larger established companies find ways to innovate.
The collection of speakers truly represented this year’s theme – “What worked yesterday is obsolete tomorrow.” Noted TED presenter Susan Cain spoke about how there’s no difference in intelligence between introverts and extroverts, but rather in how they approach things. She also gave advice on how leaders can help both work together better. My favourite tip was to give introverts time to prepare for a meeting and to make room in the meeting for them to speak.
It took me years to figure out that ambivert is a thing and I am one. I'm loud and love people but I'm quiet and like to hide. #TLCWR
— Amaris (@amaris_g) May 28, 2015
— Jessica McElhone (@jessmcelhone) May 28, 2015
Internet of Things (IoT) expert Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino brought some much-needed clarity to what IoT is and what entrepreneurs need to know to tackle opportunities in the space. Her talk focused on how IoT is really a grassroots movement where startups need to look at things they’ve ignored before. Dechamps-Sonsino also touched on a topic that cuts close to home here in Waterloo: the economic downturn has created an opportunity for freelance hardware engineers. There are a number of startups around the area now started by former BlackBerry engineers – including Eleven-x and Swift Labs.
— Dinah Davis (@Dinah_Davis) May 28, 2015
The conference ended with the awe-inspiring energy of Eddie Obeng. Obeng spoke about how daily tasks such as email and meetings interfere with innovation. It was a great talk to tie back into the conference’s theme of what worked yesterday is obsolete tomorrow.
Image courtesy Communitech (Anthony Reinhart).