Canada’s pace in the technology industry is too slow. Commercializing innovation and business are a tough race. Only the swift and the lucky survive. I’m starting to believe the heart of the problem lies in our attitude. We plod along and make excuses as others pass us.
When you meet technology people from Silicon Valley, you’ll notice that they are in a race. They’re in a race to get to work, to get food and get back to work, and to do whatever they need to do to be productive as much as possible. They’re in a race to raise more money than their competitors, grab talent from anywhere they can, sign deals and build big companies. They’re in a race to thrive.
When you meet technology people from Africa, you’ll notice that they are in a different kind of race. They’re in a race to adopt mobile technology, to communicate easily where in recent memory it was quite difficult. They’re in a race to stop infectious disease, ease the burden of massive migrations of refugees, and stop the famine and drought that threaten so many. They’re in a race to survive.
When you meet technology people from Canada, we’re not in a race. We’re watching the race from the sideline. We act like technology entrepreneurship is closer to farming than shark hunting, as if risky business isn’t necessary to make the next Google or Microsoft. We putter around as if slow and steady actually wins races to innovate and grow technology businesses. We fail to light a fire under young entrepreneurs, like the ones that started every major tech company you can think of, and our best venture capitalists are putting their ships on “coast”. In a world of accelerating change, those are very dangerous habits. We need to lose our current attitude quickly.
If you have any illusions that our major media and technology conglomerates are going to take care of this job for us, please give up your fantasy now. Dinosaurs don’t know how to innovate. Our mobile data rates are worse than third world countries and they’re spending money to slow down your internet connection. That isn’t innovation, that’s strangling the golden goose before it can lay eggs. Startups are starving while they get fat on high prices for mediocre services.
My friends in the Canadian tech community are doing a lot to try and help technology startups. David Crow, Boris Mann, and Jevon MacDonald are all collaborating with multiple parties to improve the situation. I wholeheartedly support them in their efforts. But I think we have an entrenched culture of mediocrity that needs to be surgically removed.
The biggest change has to be in our attitude. We need to become bold, we need to embrace risk, we need to aim for the stars. We need to take big chances, learn the lessons from failures, and have some great successes. The only thing holding us back is the size of our own dreams, and our determination to see them fulfilled.