Toronto: Why Are We Here?

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from Zak Homuth (LinkedIn, @zakhomuthGithub). Follow him on Twitter @zakhomuth. This post was originally published on February 1, 2012. And like many startups, Upverter is hiring.

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Its winter right now, and that means for those of us in the north east its cold. We try to pretend its a good thing; that it keeps us focused. But the reality is we dont live and work here because of the snow, we live and work here because smart people love, more than anything else in the world [pg], to work with other smart people. And, make as many snow jokes as you want, but…

Pay attention to Toronto

Canada is the best country in the world to do business in [forbes], Toronto is the most multi-cultural city in the world [wikipedia] (suck-it NYC ;)), we get tax incentives for R&D [gov], and its the only city within an hour of one of the worlds foremost engineering schools [uwaterloo,coop program].

So, I say again, you should be paying attention. And if you’ve got your shit together you should be trying to figure out how to get a footprint here. Because believe it or not, we dont all want/have to be in the valley [fred].

All that being said, I still get this question a lot

There is a (very reasonable) expectation that YC companies make every effort to relocate to silicon valley as part of the program. And the fact that we have most of our operations in Toronto raises some eyebrows. My answer is really simple: The talent is here and it wants to be here. Sometimes I even go as far as talking about how much further our investment takes us when we spend it here instead of in the US, but at its root its a talent thing.

Toronto isn’t the only place in the world

Its true. I still spend a tremendous amount of time in the valley. And we have customers all over the world. Simply put there is no perfect place for everything. But if youre building a product business, or looking for talent, you could do much, much worse! Toronto is great for talent, and its a great place to live. Oh… and Im sure its not supposed to matter but like my good friend dave [blog] would say, “look at the scenery”.

But, its also a terrible place to raise money. Like I said, nowhere is perfect.

About Me

Upverter is my 3rd startup. I dropped out of highschool, and then university, both times to run startups. I’ve worked in Ottawa, Waterloo, Stuttgart, Bangalore, and Mountain View. I have never lived in Toronto before, so its a first for me, but we’re here because its where our team wanted to be. We are currently 7/7 kick-ass, and 6/7 Uwaterloo engineers who would just rather be here at home in Canada, than down in the valley. Oh, and if you’re smart, we’re hiring.

Editor’s note: This is a cross post from Zak Homuth (LinkedIn, @zakhomuthGithub). Follow him on Twitter @zakhomuth. This post was originally published on February 1, 2012. And like many startups, Upverter is hiring.

GrowLab on tour

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Ok, it makes me laugh every time I read GrowLab. The only way it could be better is when someone describes the GrowLab companies as “GrowOps”. They really did a great job in creating a corporate name that has a set of nuanced meanings (well maybe it’s not so nuanced).

Our friends from GrowLab are heading out on tour to find their next cohort. They are coming to:

  • Toronto – February 13, 2012 Register
  • Waterloo – February 14, 2012 Register
  • Montreal – February 15, 2012 Register
  • Edmonton – February 22, 2012 Register
  • Calgary – February 23, 2012 Register

Sounds like an interesting night with Daniel Debow (LinkedIn, @ddebow), Debbie Landa (LinkedIn, @deblanda) and Jason Bailey (LinkedIn, @YVRJason) talking about startups, entrepreneurship, building companies in Canada, getting connected in the Valley, GrowConf, incubators and other fun things. The panel conversation is:

Are you an Entrepreneur or a Wantrepreneur?

What makes you different from other entrepreneurs trying to build start-ups? You are competing with thousands of entrepreneurs for the same resources, talent, and capital. How are you going to make sure that you attract the best people and funding? Is it about who you know or is it about how great your product is or the reach you have in the community?

In Toronto that I get to host the above conversation, it means that I’m going to have to represent for the “Wantrepreneur” side. Because there is too much awesomeness with Daniel, Jason and Debbie representing the “Entrepreneur” side. It should be a fun event and a great time for entrepreneurs to get or stay connected with each other. This is a great group to provide deep insight into the experience of building companies in Canada and selling them to Silicon Valley powerhouses.

Given the tour includes stops in Bucharest and Budapest, I can guarantee that someone will mention Summify (congrats guys).Also excited that Debbie and Jason will be joining us on Feb 16 for Founders & Funders.

Extreme Startups

Extreme Startups

Rob Lewis and TechVibes is reporting that ExtremeU (you can read our past coverage 2009, 2010, 2011) has launched a new Toronto based incubator that leverages their experience over the past 3 years. Mark Evans provides additional details that includes “$7-million in funding from Extreme Venture PartnersOMERS VenturesRho Canada VenturesBlackBerry Partners Fund and BDC.”

Extreme Startups includes a who’s who of  the Toronto startup scene as mentors:

  • David Ossip
  • Daniel Debow
  • Anand Agarwala
  • Michael McDermentt
  • Ameet Shah
  • Albert Lai
  • Leila Boujnane
  • Ali Asaria
  • Noah Godfrey
  • Ray Reddy
  • Rick Segal
  • Salim Teja
  • Derek Seto
  • Nick Koudas

Congrats to Andy Yang, Sunil Sharma and Amar Varma in getting this thing launched. Plus how can this not be awesome with Andy Yang as Harold and Sunil Sharma as Kumar in Extreme Startupping.

Andy Yang and Sunil Sharma go EXTREME STARTUPPING