#TechTO ends year with forward momentum ahead of City of Toronto takeover

#TechTO December

My first TechToronto event of 2015 was the last of the year. It took place Monday night at the Telus House, next door to the ACC where Kobe Bryant was playing his last game against the Toronto Raptors; the energy in both buildings was about the same.

If you have never been to a #TechTO event, the incongruities at first can seem alarming: it’s a beer and pizza community holding court within Telus’ lavish and modern event space (mind those shiny floors!); high-level executives at Toronto tech institutions actively mingle with new entrants looking for work; it’s a paid event but one where you get your money’s worth.

Much of that community spirit was driven by event co-founder (along with Alex Norman) Jason Goldlist. Also Wealthsimple’s CMO, Goldlist hosted the first half of the evening on a hoverboard, keeping the energy high, crowd chatter to a minimum, and deftly navigating ‘community open mic’, 10 seconds of freedom for anyone daring enough to pitch themselves or their company.

That’s not to dismiss the audience itself. Over 500 strong showed up on a frigid Monday (the #TechTO team told me that 600 tickets were sold), warming the room with lively conversation and a willingness to connect. After being approached by five random strangers in the first thirty minutes, it was clear that I was attending an event where the attendees actually wanted to meet each other.

The evening closed with a murderer’s row of presenters, speaking earnestly on important subjects: Casper Wong sharing Financeit’s growing pains; Cobi Druxerman explaining why Taplytics returned to Canada after a stint in the Valley; Jonah Midanik tracking the process from service agency to SaaS company. But it was Jim Estill who captivated the crowd with his successes, failures, and commitment to making a difference. “Don’t be afraid to give back,” Estill said, after explaining the process through which he sponsored 50 Syrian refugee families.

But not everyone could hear him, as Telus House could only provide seating capacity for approximately half the audience. Having outgrown its home for the last year, #TechTO is aiming for bigger and bolder in 2016, hosting its first event in the City of Toronto chamber of commerce (tickets are $10 in advance, or $20 at the door), before settling into more permanent digs (hint: watch this space for future announcements). Wherever #TechTO decides to plant its flag in the new year, it’s clear that the Toronto tech community will follow.

Photos courtesy Mirna Chacin.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.